Help me pick my (botique) dream bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SirFunk, Jan 30, 2013.

  1. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Hey all, so I am seriously considering upgrading basses to finally obtain my dream bass! I have done all the listening and reading I can. Unfortunately where I live there is nowhere nearby to actually try any of these out so I am turning to you all at TalkBass to help.

    Let me start by talking about the bass I currently have.

    My Current bass is a Benavente SCD 6-string. It is gorgeous. Has a nice fat sound and tons of punch (bolt on neck and maple board). Great for slapping and grooving.

    Now, why I want to move on: I never use the B string. This is a big bass, my hands are not. I rarely use the B string so I am looking to move to a 5er with a high C and a 33" scale. Also, sonically the high end isn't my cup of tea anymore. It's great for playing funk and R&B but my taste lies more in jazz/fusion. I am looking for something with a smoother more round and melodic high end.

    What I am looking for:

    • 5 String - High C
    • Single Cut
    • Nice articulate and fat bottom for grooving
    • Clean/smooth and melodic high end
    • Excellent ease of motion and playability
    • I don't slap much anymore but it's nice to have a bass that can slap a little when needed
    • Something with a wide tonal range

    The basses I am looking at:

    1. Fodera MG Standard -
    • I have listened to and love the sound of a bunch of guys that play very simliar basses (Janek Gwizdala, Tony Grey, etc.) Particularly the upper range of the instrument is gorgeous.
    • Quality - Fodera is well known for high quality instruments
    • Resale - Not that I would ever plan on selling it but there is no doubt these things hold their value well

    • Price - This would be quite a budget stretch even selling my old bass and some other gear.
    • Looks - The standards are not the most gorgeous compared to other customs but this is a minor detail

    2. Zakrzewski Superior -
    • Looks - GORGEOUS
    • Sound - the clips I have heard sound great but they are all mostly people grooving. I feel like at this price range any bass will groove good.
    • Custom - I could get it exactly how I want

    • Ordering from Europe makes me a bit nervous.
    • Sound - I have read they sound a lot like foderas but haven't heard much or any good examples of their solo tone.

    3. Skjold Whaleback - Erskine-ish
    • Sound - I love Damian's grooving sound, super clear and percussive
    • Custom - I could get it exactly how I want

    • Sound - The only clips I have heard seem a little less distinct in the solo range

    These are the 3 that I am considering thus far. If anyone has any suggestions for something else I should look at or has played any or all of these and has thoughts I would love to hear.

    Also, if you know of any recordings or youtube videos of people playing basses like these I would love to check those out too.

    Thanks for any suggestions.

  2. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
    You should be able to get a Zakrzewski from Dan Ledard at He's a great guy to deal with too
  3. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    theres so many builders out there that im sure any one of them could get what you want.

    as someone who was a fodera owner for nearly a decade, i think theres money better spent. you want that sound?get some dual coils placed in fenderish spacing and turn your tone control down.

    i battled with the bigness of my fodera for years. went to a 17.5 mm bridge but still was too wide feeling in the left hand. ive come to realize that im not really comfortable above a 1.75 nut.
  4. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Yeah. I have been eyeballing the two he has but neither are really what I want spec wise and i'd be a little nervous about commissioning a custom without getting an idea what it would sound like first. The thing that is appealing about the Fodera's is that I have heard the exact models and I know what I would be getting.

    Luthiers access group is a good point though. That would ease my reservations about buying from Europe a little.
  5. None of the specs you listed are exclusive to any luthiers that I can think of.

    Perhaps start with pickups (and electronics).
  6. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    This is a very good point. I know some luthiers have more experience doing the 33" scale 5-string thing but I'm certain they all can.

    As far as electronics. I'm not really sure. I know the sound I am looking for- I don't really know what goes into that from an electronics pov.

    Secondary to the sound I am looking for I would say playability is a concern. Besides it's size - my Benavente plays great. If something can play even easier, I'd love that.


    Jan 28, 2013
    Have you checked out Modulus?
  8. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    I haven't considered them recently. I'm checking out their current offerings now. Just as an aside their slogan is aparently "The sound in your head is this bass". Guess that answers my question :p

    They also seem to only do 35" scale in their quantum series. I don't think they are quite for me. Thanks for the suggestion though.
  9. curt basner

    curt basner

    May 11, 2006
    Las Vegas, NV
    You could not possibly go wrong with the Fodera. Their Standards are priced really well (for Fodera!) and probably hold their value better than the custom instruments, PLUS they are built just as well. In my opinion, go Fodera!
  10. EduardoK

    EduardoK Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2004
    Nordstrand, Bordwell, Stambaugh.
  11. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Is nordstrand still doing customs? I used to GAS after some of his Single Cuts but it seems like he mainly does Jazz Bass style these days
  12. Jared Lash

    Jared Lash Born under punches Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2006
    Northern California
    I currently have Alan at ACG and Chris Stambaugh building me 33" fivers so they are obviously my choice, but of course there's no way for me to know what's right for you.

    There are quite a few luthiers that could do what you're asking for. Are there other specs that you need or electronics that you're looking for etc?

    And of course, getting a chance to actually get out and play as many of the basses that you're considering is the best way to narrow down your list.
  13. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    If you have the budget, a custom Alembic is always a true work of art. More specific to your wants would be a 5 string Stanley Clarke Deluxe, strung E-C. They are 30.5" scale which might not work for you but the other features you can get in an Alembic should suit you to a T.



    Jan 28, 2013
  15. 39-Bassist


    Jul 7, 2010
    Endorsing Artist for: Brace Audio; Duncan Pickups; Line6, Hipshot, GHS Strings
    Have you considered Suhr basses?.....Great Quality & options.
  16. I'll also give Nordstrand (are they still building the custom models?, Stambaugh, Bordwell, and ACG a healthy nod.

    Among the latter 3, the specs are no problem whatsoever.

    Still, finding the pickup+electronic combo is most of your sound. At a certain point, you'll need to start getting exact.

    Most people will just name their favorite bass, regardless of your goals and specs. Fine n' dandy, but this is your bass.
  17. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    Everyone seems to be saying electronics, electronics, electronics (which makes sense I suppose). The most I can go on is by comparing to what I have played and what I have heard on recordings.

    I had an elrick platinum a while ago with barts (I don't remember the electronics). It was too dark for my taste.

    My benavente (with their custom pickups/electronics). I love the low-range/groove and the slap/pop sound. The upper register isn't really my cup of tea anymore.

    Fodera MG's - I absolutely adore the guys playing MGs (standard and not) - Tony Grey, Janek Gwizdala and Hadrian Feraud. So I guess I dig the fodera/pope and the fodera/duncan pickups -- I'm not sure what really comes close to that. I think Zakrzewski is using pope pre's on their top line now, perhaps?
  18. MrChrizmo


    Mar 31, 2012
    Vienna, Austria

    Sander De Gier built me a Custom 5 String Elevation recently, check them out, they are really awesome.

    I have Nordstrand DualCoils in there, with Serial/CoilSplit/Parallel Switching and just love the sound of these pickups.

    The price is also really ok, in my opinion.
  19. SirFunk


    May 24, 2001
    Lincoln, NE
    These are new to me. They look pretty slick (and sound good too) Definitely adding them to my radar. Doesn't look like they have a dealer in the US though?
  20. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    most of hadriens recorded output has been on that mij ken smith burner. total budget bass.

    the pope preamp wasnt any magical preamp ime. it sounded like an active pre. the duncan duals are where its at. they have upper mid grind that other duals dont. the barts are notorious for being dark due to lack of upper mids and only extended glassy highs. the aero duals that fodera uses are probably closer to the humbuckers in the benevente id imagine. the aeros are very hifi and wide sounding.