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Kawai FIIB Zebra

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lhoward, Oct 28, 2004.

  1. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    Last night, 10/27, I was in a music store that had a used Kawai 4-string FIIB EBG, made of maple and zebrawood, on sale. It was in very good condition and is exactly as shown in the below link:


    The action was low and fast and comfortable. The link below gave a current selling price of $459 for a mahagony version (not listed on Kawai's page above):


    Prior to last night, I didn't know Kawai had made any EBG instruments. I'd like to hear from anyone who owns or previously owned an FIIB. The price in the store seems a little high. I'd like to compare what others have paid, what their opinion of the bass is and what they think a decent price for the instrument would be.

  2. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I just got one. It's a high quality instrument. Can't say I think $459 is high for one. Mine is Koa/Maple, the action is ridiculously low and the bass is very easy to play way too fast. I'll be selling mine, not because there's anything wrong with it, I just have a couple of other basses I play more;)

    I'll most likely sell mine somewhere in this price range, I think it's a bargain for what it does.
  3. Shoot me an email when you decide to 86 the Kawaii. I've been wanting one for a while, so maybe we can work something.

  4. skunkrawk


    Apr 25, 2003
    ive got one with maple/koa and the characteristic gold gotoh hardware found on the later imports. i love it to death and its currently my main bass. i can get just about any sound ive ever wanted with the character switches, it especially sounds like an alembic (like stanley clarks 'school days' i think its called.) i paid 500 for mine but would have paid much more. my only complaint is that its relatively heavy, but overall its excellent bass.

    - i dont recall them ever making a mahagony version, the koa on mine looks a lot like some mahagony instruments ive seen though, maybe the persion mistook the koa top for a mahagony one
  5. I've got that exact model - Maple/Zebra. Bought it from Vintage Instruments in Virginia via Ebay for about $450 four years ago. Probably bid too high for the market at the time but I was not going to back down for this one. Mine's one of the older models with the large brass bridge and thru body stringing. Serial #XXXX2074. I call it my "poor man's Alembic" and it is stellar in the role. All the piano tone you could want, a boxful of other tones, and a stable, fast neck. Even the body shape doesn't dive as much as you might think just by looking at it.
  6. I played a zebrawood one in a store some years ago but didn't buy it.
    Ever bang away on a CIJ Fender Jazz reissue and then check out the MIA reissue? That difference isn't too far off from the distance between an Alembic Signature model and the Kawai. They sure don't suck, but you won't get 8,000 posts if you buy it and post photos on TB. The "filter" EQ is a lot of fun, but can be a pain when you want a straight bass or treble boost/cut from the bass itself.
    I'm confused about where you found it...were you physically in a music store, or on-line? $459 seems average from what I've seen.
  7. A9X


    Dec 27, 2003
    Sinny, Oztraya
    Nice. I'll have to add them to my list to look at if I ever see one come up for sale locally.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Just curious... what's a CIJ? If it's the same as MIJ, I've found MIJ Jazzes to be on par with MIA ones. Not a good analogy, at least as you intended it:D

    These basses have passive tone controls with active pickups, not a very common combination. It would be no more of a pain to deal with than any other bass with passive tone controls IME... head back to your amp, go outboard, install an inboard, etc.;). In that respect they're more flexible than straight passive basses because they do have the pickup EQ switching.

    It's true you probably won't generate a mega thread like the Alembic price increase one... but you won't spend megabucks acquiring one either. Not bad for a bass that I found to actually be easier to play than my Series I (or was it a Series II?).
  9. CIJ=Crafted In Japan. Sounds snazzier than Made in Japan, doesn't it? :eyebrow:
    Passive tone controls? The one I played had a treble rolloff for each pup that could be toggled to Alembic-like "Q" controls. Have they stopped building them this way?
    If your Series displeases you, we should talk. :cool:
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Cool... then it's probably the same as MIJ. The MIJ quality has been excellent IMO.

    A treble rolloff is passive. That's all it does.

    The toggle switches pick internal pickup EQ settings. That's where the preamps are.

    My Series has been long gone. Great looking bass.
  11. I don't know if you know but there really ARE examples of CIJ and MIJ. I know because I own examples of both.

    From what I've learned and deduced, the CIJ moniker was used for instruments in the Japanese market and the MIJ marking was for the American market. Of course, this could be wrong. I can only say that my 1996 CIJ 62 RI Jazz is better built than my 1987 MIJ 62 RI. The differences are clear.

    but my Kawai still rawks! :bassist:
  12. lhoward


    Apr 27, 2003
    Western NY State
    As a followup to my original post, Friday I went back to that music store, World Of Music in Erie, PA and talked to them about options on buying that bass; with and without a trade, and even layaway. They had the price set at $699 and the best price was a straight purchase for which they took off $100. It became evident last night that the store had probably given about $500 for the bass taken in on a trade and so attempts to get a price of around $450 was not a possibility.

    I went back this morning when they opened and bought the bass and have been having a fun time today getting more familiar with it. I'm primarily a dbl bassist and so the low, quick action is somewhat of a challenge for me as I'm not used to such a light touch. Its a great instrument though and well worth the price.

    I appreciate all the info from everyone who responded. I must have been more tired Wednesday that I realized. When I was researching info on the bass and also doing the original post, I mistakenly typed zebra wood when the one in the store was actually koa. I agree with the suggestion that what was called mohagany was probably actually koa. I lived in Hawaii for 6 years and used to get koa locally for woodworking projects and am familiar with the various appearances that koa presents. It appears that maple/koa may be more common that maple/zebra, but that may not be true. I also got a response back from Kawai and they said the suggested retail price for the bass was $1495.

    Thanks again for all the help/info.
  13. First, I have to say, that it's your money and if YOU are happy with what you got for what you paid, there's no problem, so skip the rest of this post.
    But since this place is a resource, and I feel like typing, here's the economics lesson for the day.
    {Nader voice on.} :oops:
    Simple math: manufacturer's suggested retail price for this brand-new bass is $1495. The store gets it for wholesale cost, roughly $750, and tacks on 50% or so and sells the bass (new, mind you) for $1200. This means they have to provide a certain level of service if they want to keep selling Kawai products (their pianos are often seen at "full-service" music stores), and might get you a free setup and new strings.
    I don't know offhand what the Blue Book price on this bass is (the price a dealer will pay YOU for your used bass, and sell it for that plus whatever profit they deem necessary) but I doubt it's 50% of list.
    What happened here is some employee screwed up and gave too much in trade so the store was forced to ask a lot for the bass just to break even. I'm sure they're great people at World of Music, but I've bought real Alembics for less, close to what Hambone and skunkrawk paid for their Kawais.
    Again, if lhoward is happy with his bass, that's what matters at the end of the day. But a lot of folks here write like they're young, and I hate seeing people not get the best value for their dollar.
    {Nader voice off.} :bag:
  14. Pardon my skepticism kungpao but are we talking series I or II Alembics (the subject of Kawais replication) or are we speaking of Rogues, Distillates, Essences, and other lower end Alembics? And, does "close to what Hambone and skunkrawk paid for their Kawais" mean only the south side of $1000? Because if you have been able to acquire Alembic Series I's or II's for the $500 we've been discussing, you are an absolute fool not to have a closet full of them, selling one off every year or so to feed your own GAS demons. Give us some examples of these great finds.

    As far as I'm concerned, Howard couldn't have touched the the look-a-like Alembic for under $1000 unless there was one supremely motivated buyer out there.

    I pretty much agree with your price structure analysis except that I believe that quality instruments never hit a real rock bottom when it comes to value. I think they lose market value as a percentage of original purchase price but, because of their quality, usually bring that downslide to a halt earlier than with lowend instruments. Then, as the years mount, demand goes up because of low supply and prices rise with it. I thiink the Kawais have bottomed out in the market and are finding their way back up the price chart again.

    I couldn't agree more. In fact I HAVE to to justify my own purchase! :D

    Hey Howard, did this come with a case? That seems to be a rare bird for these basses. I would also be extemely interested if I could find one of these in a true factory fretless. I don't know if they made one but that would make a nice addition to the fretted.
  15. joeeg33

    joeeg33 Supporting Member

    Sep 11, 2002
    Central New Jersey
    Hey All,
    This is the Kawai I just purchased off of eBay. It is the bolt on GRAPHITE neck that they offered in the late 80's. I had one back then and always regreted selling it. So, when I saw this one (with a 2 piece solid flamed Koa body for BIN $350) I had to jump all over it. I should receive it on Tuesday, I will let you all know if it is the player that I am expecting it to be.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    I agree... Alembics for $500, especially ones that play like this?

    Agree on this too. At some point the value stabilizes. Retail price has practically nothing to do with what these discontinued basses actually sell for IME

    Mine did. Interesting case... possibly the thinnest hardshell case I've come across for something of this quality. Probably chipboard.
  17. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    I've a Zebra F2B myself. Professionally defretted, and it's a demon. I'm absolutely taken by it. My only beef is that it's nowhere near as loud an instrument as my G&L, but them G&Ls are a hot bunch. It does play too well for it's own good. Which, of course, is utterly fantastic

    I can't say I've been much for knob twiddling and switch flicking, but there are so many options in this bass, it's astounding. It's very easily as versatile as a G&L L2000, and built extremely well. Hammy's right in that it does balance much better than it looks like it should. I'm using rounds on it right now, and with a pick and a little distortion, this thing produces one of the meanest, most rawk tones I've ever heard.

    My only beef is that 1)I have no idea what tool I need to adust this hex bolt truss rod thing. 2) the saddle screws use alan wrenches again, instead of regular screws (it's the older, massive string through bridge, not the Schaller).

    However, neither of these things has slowed down the fact that this is an amazing bass, and as a fretless, it's farkin' spiffy. I haven't touched my oher bass but once since I got this a couple weeks ago.

    Say hello to my little friend-
  18. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Mine even came with the tool;). It's a socket with a 90 degree handle that has a Phillips screwdriver tip for removing the trussrod cover. Works great.

    Allen screws on bridges are very common. Look at Hipshot bridges for example.
  19. Wow, that's interesting. I've seen only one F-2B being sold with a case and it looked like a molded plastic sort of thing. Not bad. It didn't occur to me that it wasn't the original because it fit so well. Maybe it was from some Gibson or other shorthorn bass that would fit it. I've always considered building one for mine.

    Joee, that's another cool find. I've had my eyes on these for some time but just haven't found THE deal yet. I really like the natural finishes like yours.
  20. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    Hey man I had this EXACT same bass in 88'.I payed $400.00 NEW w/case and it played like a dream the only difference was mine had EMGS.Great basses for the money