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Lightwave SA-5 + La Bella Tapewounds = Upright Sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by uglybassplayer, Jul 18, 2005.


  1. uglybassplayer

    uglybassplayer

    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    Well, not exactly, but pretty darn close.

    The 2004 Lightwave Saber fretless five string I bought on ebay finally arrived last week. As I expected, the light gauge roundwounds it came with really didn't compliment this bass, so I replaced them with a set of La Bella nylon tapewounds. Because the difference in gauge was significant, I had to readjust the tension on the neck, reset the action and realign the optics. The first problem I had was that I couldn't get the volume of the B and E strings to match the others. Not a major issue though, as the lightwave has individual trim pots for each string on the circuit board, so lowering the volume on the other three strings remedied the situation

    Then on to the next issue. The B string had a slight overtone of distortion that I didn't notice on the other strings. Playing through several amps yielded the same results. At first I thought maybe the optics for that string still needed to be adjusted, but nothing I did seemed to remove it. I finally decided to give up for the evening. Just for the heck of it I recharged the bass for a few hours and when I went back to it, sure enough the distortion was gone. Note to self: Make sure bass is fully charged before taking it out on a gig.

    With these issues out of the way, it was time to get familiar with my new acquisition. First off, it's among the lightest basses I've ever held. While it doesn't exibit any neck dive, it feels like it should when you pick it up because the body is so light. The overall fit & finish is very good, on par with a production instrument selling within the 1k range... The biggest nit I have is that the inside of the sound cavity is a bit rough. It's painted flat black so you really wouldn't notice it unless you stick your finger inside and feel around, but for an instrument that was intended to sell in the $1500 range, it's a bit dissapointing. Everything else however appeared flawless. The neck is just the way I like it. Flat and thin (thickness, not width), satin finish on the back... somewhat similar to my Cirrus 5 string. This it the first bass I've had with an ebony fingerboard, and I must say that it may just have become my favorite wood for a fretless... It's as smooth as glass. Very cool :cool:

    So, how does it sound? Well, depends on what you're looking for. It's definately a monster in the "mwah" department. I was looking to get more of an upright sound out of it, and with the tapewounds it doesn't dissapoint (I've included a short soundclip below to give you an idea of the tone). As others have noted, the lightwave optical pickup does not have much in the way of high end, and when used by itself, the sound (while very deep in the bass), lacks definition. Dial in the "ice-tone" piezo however, and it springs to life, adding a percussive "woodiness" to the tone. So much so, that I found myself rolling off the midrange to tame the beast. The piezo is very sensitive in that it picks up and amplifies finger squeaks, taps and thuds which makes the instrument an unforgiving mistress to poor technique (which by the way is not good for me). Hopefully it will become an inspirational tool for me to improve mine.

    The soundclip below was recorded straight to the board. The bass was set flat, the mids were rolled off, the piezo was dialed in half way, and the "mag switch" was set to warm.

    http://SergeRocks.com/tmp/Lightwave_SA-5_Fretless_1.mp3

    Here's a pic:
    [​IMG]

    All in all for what I paid for it, I'd say it's a keeper :) .

    Peace,

    Frank.
     
  2. Congrats on your lightwave...those are very nice instruments.

    Those LaBella strings kick serious fretless butt, don't they?

    Your bass sounds magnificent!
     
  3. uglybassplayer

    uglybassplayer

    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    They sure do. I purchased them through Carvin as soon as I won the auction on the bass. After hearing a number of glowing reviews from other Lightwavers of the TI Acousticore strings, I was beginning to think I should have purchased those instead, but once I slapped on the La Bella's and reset the optics I knew I had made the right choice for this bass.

    - Frank.
     
  4. uglybassplayer

    uglybassplayer

    Aug 24, 2001
    New Jersey
    The guy I bought my Lightwave from is selling another one that he had purchased back in April (an amber quilt Classica 4 string) on ebay for $495.

    Lightwave CA-4 on ebay

    - Frank.