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Kiesel Vader Bass-Are they worth it?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jhu32, Jan 1, 2017.

  1. Jhu32


    Dec 14, 2016
    The void
    I have been eyeing one of these for a while and have come down to my favorite specs... but first things first, are they worth the money? What are they like (playing wise) and how's the playability?
  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Don't know about the basses, but a buddy of mine just got the newest model Kiesel Allan Holdsworth, which is a guitar that's sort of similar to the Vader, and it kicks much ass. So I think the Vader bass would have to be really good, no?
  3. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    Well worth it. Carvin has reeally kicked up the Kiesel basses. Solid bass, fun to play.
    corsa likes this.
  4. monsterthompson

    monsterthompson The Eighth Note Wonder Of The World Supporting Member

    Nov 25, 2008
    Define "worth it." One man's floor is another man's ceiling.

    Lots of people like their products.

    Also, if you think you might flip it, then probably not your best option financially, as Carvin gear seems to drop in price from retail more than other brands, in the secondary market (so I've heard).
    byoung93888, rodlages and Mr_O'B like this.
  5. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    What type of Vader do you have?
  6. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    10 days to try it (with most of their options). If you don't like it, send it back!

    I love my Kiesel/Carvin Icon.

    The Vader bass doesn't offer narrow spacing for the 5 string (which I prefer). But, if I ever buy another 4 string, I will heavily consider the Vader. I almost grabbed the surf green one which is currently in-stock, during Black Friday. It was like $900!!!
  7. MMiller28


    Apr 27, 2003
    As in Darth Vader?
  8. Depends on how much you're going to spend on it....and how much you want a headless bass.
    kesslari likes this.
  9. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    I read in another thread on here (or perhaps it was another forum) that the name did indeed come from Darth Vader.
  10. Boristhespyder

    Boristhespyder Guest

    Feb 12, 2016
    Now we have the answer to the age old question "Who is the best jedi for metal".
    Herrick and ajkula66 like this.
  11. jaybones

    jaybones Banned

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Darth fader lack of bass disturbing.

    I wonder if this is an actual fader knob. If it is I would get one for my mixer... No mistaking which one is the fader for the bass, even in total darkness.
    DiabolicLow B, MYLOWFREQ and Herrick like this.
  12. TRichardsbass

    TRichardsbass Banned Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2009
    Between Muscle Shoals and Nashville
    Bassgearu, Music Industry Consulting and Sales. Tech 21, NBE Corp, Sonosphere.
    None. Play them every NAMM and have borrowed one in Nash several times for '80s gigs. 4 string.
    Herrick likes this.
  13. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    I know these have been out for a while, but I've been out of the bass buying market for a minute, I just discovered them! I've been playing 24-fret, J-style Valenti's, which I adore(they're in my avatar), and my last foray into headless basses didn't go so well(I had a couple of NS Design CR5 Radius'), but I've become obsessed with Kiesel Vaders. I've got the Vader webpage in another window and I've probably "built" 10 of them with their bass builder, LOL! I think I'm gonna hafta order a VB5 this week...
    technocraft likes this.
  14. Toptube

    Toptube Supporting Member

    Feb 9, 2009
    Hey, just make sure to call. Only some of the options are loaded into their online builder. If you've had any ideas which weren't possible in the builder, they probably are, by calling. Some stuff will be non-returnable. But some stuff will be returnable.

    For example, doing a top with on an Antique Ash body, is not possible in the builder, for most models. But it is totally something you can do, which is returnable.

    They sent a Vader to a Storm Trooper, who plays in the "Galactic Empire" band:
    pbass6811 likes this.
  15. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    VB5 ordered!!
    Herrick, DrDAV14 and ShenmueTacos like this.
  16. 4StringTheorist

    4StringTheorist Supporting Member

    Way back in college in the late 90s I'd look at the Carvin catalog and dream of owning one.

    Then later on, I discovered that their founder shared my family name. I entertained the amusing thought of them cutting a deal for a (distant) relative.

    Now they're flat out making basses with my last name on them. I sort of have to buy one now, don't I? ^^
    Last edited: Feb 5, 2017
  17. Christcr

    Christcr Supporting Member

    Feb 8, 2015
    I have a Vader 4-string. I'm a big fan of short scale basses, so I got it in 30 inch scale. I'm also planning on ordering one of the 5-string Vaders in 30 inch (because it is one of the few 5-string short scale basses that is serious but doesn't cost three grand plus).

    I'll start with the sound because that's probably the most important thing for most and the one thing about the bass that I go back and forth on. Also keep in mind that the variability of wood from bass to bass does make a difference. Also, from what I've experienced over the years, a neck through tends to color the sound quite markedly in the "mellow" or "smooth" direction on basses. My bass has the standard humbuckers. Here is my opinion on the sound: honestly, I'm not overly thrilled, but I don't dislike it, either. Maybe it's just not quite the sound that "is in my head." I'm traditionally more of a single coil j-bass guy. When playing the bass by itself, to me, it sounds a bit "muted" and the high end is quite subdued, even with bright stainless steel strings. It's decent, but like I said, not overly thrilling. BUT, in a live situation or recording in a band situation, I must admit, it sounds WAY better to my ears and really shines in the mix. It cuts through the mix without being too in your face or obnoxious. It's never lost or wimpy sounding. There is a very definite low mid bump in the sound that just lends itself well to cutting through in a live situation. I don't really know if I can describe it with words other than to say top end subdued, low mid pronounced, and not at all muddy or swampy on the low end. Tight. Overall, a quite even response other than the pronounced low mids. Maybe a bit like Journey bassist Ross Valory's sound back in the early eighties. Or BOC bassist's sound at times.

    The neck pickup soloed does move into the p-bass direction although it certainly doesn't mimic that sound exactly (just a bit of that flavor). Both pickups on is probably my least favorite sound--maybe a bit flat and doesn't sound j-bassish much at all. I do really like the bridge pickup soloed, though. It gets that barking tight, punchy j-bass bridge pickup sound without being whimpy and harsh like a j-bass can be when soloed on the bridge pickup. I have considered loading the bass with Nordstrand big singles or the single coils made by Keisel. But I go back and forth because the bass does sound pretty damn good in a band situation, especially with the neck or bridge pickup soloed. But I just miss that "airiness" that j-bass single coils give. The Kiesel humbuckers don't get that sound (of course, they are not designed to). I may just leave it the way it is and order the 5-string with singles. But again, keep in mind the wood, finish, and neck through is going to color the sound too. My bass is alder with a maple top cap and opaque gloss poly finish. Different woods and finishes are going to change the character.

    Okay, now the parts that I am totally happy with. And that is pretty much everything else. The balance on the strap is heavenly as is the lighter weight. It's wonderful not having a headstock swinging around. It's just so much more compact, convenient, and easy to move around onstage. It's nice toting around that tiny case rather than the heavy monster bass bags/cases. The bass plays like a dream--possibly the easiest and best playing bass I've owned (I've owned hundreds over the years--yes, really). Build quality is impeccable. Changing strings, believe it or not is faster and easier than with a regular bass. I keep a set of roundwounds and flatwounds in the bag and I can change them twice as fast as usual. It's a breeze. Plus (which is especially nice with a short scale bass), you can put any strings you like on the Vader. I tend to string it with heavier strings to keep the string tension more long-scalish. I have used everything from 45-105 stainless steel XL and 40-95 nickel XL D'Addarios, to 45-107 Boomers, to 45-105 EB cobalt flats, to what I've been using lately, 50-110 DDT DR strings. Anything works! It's very easy to adjust the truss and bridge too. Tuning is easier and more stable. Once up to pitch and stretched, I rarely even have to tune it. Anyway, other than my little bit of hesitation with the sound, it really is a very, very nice bass.

    I split my time between the Vader and a Fender PJ Mustang. The Mustang is a bit more varied in sound but is also more muddy at times. The Vader has a more focused, tight sound (BTW, if you've been thinking of getting the new Mustang, do it! It's also a great bass). So, there are my thoughts on the Vader. It fits well live with whatever I'm playing: everything from Steely Dan to Blackberry Smoke to AC/DC to disco to George Straight. I would say, though, if you like a really swampy, tubby sound, the Vader isn't going to do that. Neither is it going to get a really scooped hi-fi slap tone with the humbuckers. But on the other hand, you will never not be heard clearly with the Vader either. I listened to a live recording I did last summer at a festival playing A Taste of Honey's Boogie Oogie Oogie, and it sounded great out front. Every note clear. Very focused on the "money frequencies" in the low mids and the sound guy got a good deal of highs out of it as well without being obnoxiously piercing. I have had several compliments on the sound since I got it a year or so ago. But then again, I've had several blank looks or mildly hostile squints concerning the "decapitated look" as well. Our keyboardist just does not like the look at all. Oh well.

    So, thus ends my Vader novel... (cue up the breathing sounds under the mask and helmet)
  18. FingerDub

    FingerDub Banned

    Jan 8, 2016
    I wish they had that body style with a headstock.
  19. Herrick


    Jul 21, 2010
    Munchkin Land
    Did they not have the single coil option back when you ordered yours?

    I'm glad to hear it's not an overly bright-sounding bass. I ordered one last week with the radium humbuckers. Kinda wish I called them and asked if they could just put one split-coil pickup in there.
  20. pbass6811

    pbass6811 Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2008
    Indy, IN
    Let me start by saying that I love these basses! I've gone from having no idea that the Vader existed to having one in my arsenal now(VB5 fretted), having one on order due next week(VB5 fretted), and having another one on order due mid-June(VB5 fretless). I guess you could say I kinda like the Vader...LOL!

    I would definitely echo some of Christcr's comments. It's pretty damn near perfect in alot of ways, but not every way. Although I feel like the look is gonna be more devisive(some folks, like all of us, LOVE headless instruments, some people hate 'em with a passion), the sound is going to be the most important factor. My current VB5 is Alder/Maple/Ebony with the humbuckers and the active/passive pre. This bass sounds MASSIVE! It does come through in a band mix exceptionally well. Our sound guy has been through a multitude of bass changes with me, and he never misses an opportunity to let me know how great the Vader sounds. I'm also playing Valenti basses which are Ash/Maple/Ebony with Nordstrand Big Singles and the Nordstrand 3B pre. The Vader has deeper lows and fuller mids. It's not as bright as the Valenti, which it shouldn't be, but the highs are just as present but not as cutting. It's a bigger sounding bass, which is what I was hoping for. The thing I really like about the active circuit is that the mid-range is semi-parametric, so it's quite a bit more flexible than most active circuits. I can get a pretty solid slap sound out of the Vader. I don't know if Christcr's Vader is active or passive, but the active basses can get pretty slap happy...

    I don't want a debate, but I feel like pickups and electronics play more of a part in how a bass sounds than the wood it's made of. I know the woods make some difference, but I feel electronics make more. I'm about to find out for certain, as the VB5 that's due next week is spec'd about the same as my current VB5, except it's Ash/Maple/Ebony. The only differences are my white/blue VB5 has Alder wings and block inlays and my incoming Jet Black VB5 has Ash wings and no inlays(Oh yeah, white one is glossy and the black one will be satin).

    The ergonomics are pretty fantastic but, again, it ain't perfect. The light weight, the balance, and the overall look are OUTSTANDING! There are those that may find the reach to the lower frets a very slight challenge, since the upper horn only goes to around the 15th fret or so. I don't have a problem with it, but I have heard others complain.

    My only other "complaint", was when I changed strings on the Vader. It's super easy, but be careful when you tighten the allen screws. I had already tightened the screws, cut the strings, unloosened the screws, pulled 'em in a bit to get them flush, and I was re-tightening the screws and I went too far and snapped the end off the G string. Panic. Is there enough string left to tighten it back up and tune it to pitch? BARELY! If I had snapped off another couple of millimeters, no way it would've worked. Just pay attention during string changes, LOL! LOVE my Vader's, can't wait to have a few more...
    Bassist4Eris, Herrick and Pyrat like this.

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