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Key elements for the Warwick sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by eukatheude, Mar 20, 2013.


  1. Hi,
    This probably has been discussed to death already, but i'm wondering what one should do to get the Warwick "zing" and thump, because i just love that attack for slap. For instance, the Ric sound is mostly derived from pickup placement. But Warwicks use different pups and different pup configuration, and yet they all have that signature sound. So im wondering what can achieve that in a custom build. My money's on the bridge, but who knows. Any thoughts on that?
     
  2. mp40smg

    mp40smg

    Aug 11, 2010
    Worcester, Ma.
    Tons of Dollars in marketing??
    And endorsing anybody?

    I think the German WW were very well made and very nice. But, to my ears I never thought of them as having a real signature sound. To me they all tended to sound like generic "modern" sounding active basses.
     
  3. Skygoneblue

    Skygoneblue

    Nov 13, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Well, as I understand it, the body, neck, and fretboard woods are what make them unique. It varies from bass to bass, but combinations of Bubinga in the body and Ovangkol or Wenge in the neck and fretboard seem common.

    The pickup position also probably adds to it. The Thumb models differ slightly from your average jazz (the 5 moreso than the 4).
     
  4. Skygoneblue

    Skygoneblue

    Nov 13, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Sadly, I've been noticing that more and more lately as well. I remember first hearing Mudvayne (Thumb 5 NT) and being floored at the tone Ryan was getting out of it. But I can't recall hearing anyone who makes a Warwick sound that distinct since that LD50 album... :bawl:
     
  5. I'd say the bridge is the least contributing factor. The exotic woods and the high quality in fit and construction are the main factors to the Warwick sound. Some think that the bell brass frets are a part of it as well - though I can't estimate how big a part they play.
     
  6. mp40smg

    mp40smg

    Aug 11, 2010
    Worcester, Ma.
    The store I worked for in the 90s. Was one of the bigger stocking WW dealers. On pretty much a daily basis I was receiving in all sorts of basses, checking them out tuning them up and tweaking set up before they went on the wall for sale. At the time, all there was were German made instruments. So, I probably played well over 100 of the different models and configs. At the time, I was floored by their aesthetics, the woods were nice, finish was always perfect, etc and they were just very different from the other things out there.

    But, of all the ones I tried and all the Warwick demos and sales, I don't think that anybody that tried or BOUGHT a Warwick, at that time, based primarily on their sound. They bought based on their look, quality and playability. Yes, they did sound good, but not once do I recall anybody looking for or buying a Warwick based on a "Warwick signature sound".
     
  7. beggar98

    beggar98

    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think Warwicks have a noticeable bump in the low-mids which gives them a great tone for aggressive rock, the famous "Warwick growl". But I don't play aggressive rock (at all) and I still love the tone of my 'wick.

    mp40smg, what was the shop you worked at? Was it in the Worcester area? I grew up in Marlboro and I had to drive all over to find a Warwick dealer in 1997. Ended up at Matt's Music in Weymouth.
     
  8. mp40smg

    mp40smg

    Aug 11, 2010
    Worcester, Ma.
    Wurlitzer. in Boston. IIRC they were long gone by 97.
     
  9. Fair Warning

    Fair Warning Deliverin' the Goods!

    The natural frequency of the super hard/stiff woods contributes to something special, I have found. My Bubinga Corvette STD 5 is over 12 pounds, and it feels like I am playing concrete. There is a higher frequency ring to it. Not for everyone, but definitely aggressive.

    I am a fan of Ryan Martinie's sound as well as the guy from Incubus. I think Korn's bassist also uses Warwick
     
  10. Daywalker

    Daywalker

    Apr 13, 2005
    SOCAL
    If I were in your shoes, I'd simply save my pennies and buy a German built Warwick. If you really like that tone, no "substitue" will ever really satisfy you. My first 'Wick was a rockbass, but it didn't have the same tone, feel, or build quality of the German stuff and I was never really satisfied with it. So I saved up, for a while, and bought the real deal...
     
  11. bigsnaketex

    bigsnaketex

    Dec 29, 2011
    Down South
    I personally think it's the extremely thick necks that cause them to resonate that causes what I consider to be the "Warwick Sound". But this is all very individual impressions. There is no universal answer nor can their be!! YMMV
     
  12. beggar98

    beggar98

    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    They might have been. I used to go by Wurlitzer in Framingham, but they only had used gear.
     
  13. mp40smg

    mp40smg

    Aug 11, 2010
    Worcester, Ma.
    Yup.. land of Crazz and Dean... They had some new. but used is where they made all the money..

    If you are old enough to remember when they were on the other side of the street, where tropic isle is (was?).. That was when that store was amazing..
     
  14. beggar98

    beggar98

    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think I only knew it in the one location. There were some good deals in there, especially on lower-end stuff. Between them and Daddy's Junky Music in Shrewsbury I never paid too much.
     
  15. beggar98

    beggar98

    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    The extremely thick necks didn't show up until 1998. The pre-'98 stuff still has the growl. I think its the woods, the pickup placement and the electronics. The MEC stuff is very mellow on the high end with a big mid bump. I replaced my MEC preamp with an Aguilar two-band and the tone changed pretty drastically, though if I roll off the highs on the Aggie I can still get the Warwick sound.
     
  16. Ian_Flash

    Ian_Flash

    Jan 17, 2013
    Beggar's right. It's mainly the choice of body woods, P/U placement and the proprietary electronics. And yes... If you change the electronics you still get strong elements of the woods' sound. Ovangkol (Shedua) and Bubinga are used in acoustic Xylophones (among other instruments) and have excellent musical qualities. Both types were used in various necks, yet a "signature sound" is still there. Larry DiMarzio once told me: "I hate to say this, but the pickups are NOT the most important part the sound". TRUST IN WOOD!
     
  17. I think the brass frets are a HUGE contribution. Still, even their fretlesses have that "thump". The woods are important, but i don't think WW are the only ones using those. As for electronics, unless the MEC preamp significantly colours the tone, i don't think they're responsible. Why not the bridge?
     
  18. Ian_Flash

    Ian_Flash

    Jan 17, 2013
    Bridge helps a bit, since it rests on a metal plate which helps to distribute vibration... HOWEVER, many will argue that a Fender String-through on a cheap barrel saddle puts more DOWNPRESSURE due to the severe break angle of the string and THAT makes it a superior bridge design. Frets help a bit, due to the greater density of the bell brass... HOWEVER, many will argue that a nickel-silver fret does a better job of distributing string vibration... HOWEVER, many will argue that the Fretboard Wood has more to do with transferring vibration HOWEVER... there is no doubt that it's not any ONE THING that creates the Warwick Sound. It is the unique interaction of all these materials and design elements, which is based on years of building, exceptional knowledge and VISION that makes Warwicks do what they do. Now... anybody want to discuss Fodera, Alembic, Tobias, Ritter, Sadowsky, Dingwall, Pedulla, etc. etc.? Remember: "Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no substitute for a good Blaster at your side!"
     
  19. beggar98

    beggar98

    Jan 23, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    I think all preamps significantly color the tone. When I was hunting down my Warwick there was a shop in southern New Hampshire that only stocked passive Warwicks, and they just weren't the same. Try any bass with an active/passive switch and notice the difference between the two, even with the EQ set flat.
     
  20. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    I think a lot of it is in the preamp as mine underwhelms me when passive, even though I love it in active.
     

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