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Marchlewski 5 String - A Review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by malthumb, May 8, 2004.

  1. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    Okay, now that I've had my Marchlewski long enough to be able to talk about it objectively, it's time for a review. I've taken it to 3 band rehearsals and have put in a bunch of hours with it at home. I'm past the "omigawd-I-have-a-new-bass-and-it's-totally-the-shiznit" stage, so hopefully this review will be a lot more objective.

    Bottom Line: This bass IS the shiznit. Build quality is top notch, tone is excellent and well suited to most situations. Definitely the situations where I expect to use it. Playability is a strong point. It's very light, and even with a five string headstock and a wide neck, it's not the least bit neck heavy and doesn't dive. It stays put.

    I would recommend this bass to anyone who wants a high end vibe without a high end price tag.

    Tone: I'll go out on a limb and suggest that it sounds like a souped up J-bass. I owned a Marcus Miller 4 string with a U-Retro pre for a few months. It was the best sounding slap bass that I'd ever owned at that point. I sold it, so I can't A/B it with the Marchlewski, but I'll go so far as to say that I think the Marchlewski sounds better. For those of you that know "Fantastic Voyage" by Lakeside, play the opening run. The part where you thump the G on the E string then pop D on the G string and do a D - C# lift off....sounds awesome and clear as glass on this bass. I ordered maple core and maple board to make this a bright snappy sounding bass and Jacob delivered. My Alembic Series II 5 has a heavy fundamental unless I work to dial it out and dial in the crisp bite that the Marchlewski has naturally. My Hanewinckel 6 has a bite that's similar to the Marchlewski, but it's more pronounced with the Marchlewski. I changed the strings on the Hanewinckel so that they were both wearing the same new strings (Ken Smith Slap Bass). The Hanewinckel makes the best A/B comparison with this bass, so for the most part, it should be my point of comparison. Only thing is, I've yet to use the Hannie 6 with the new band.

    Basically, the Hanewinckel does more things well, but the things they both do well, I think the Marchlewski does slightly better. Both basses have Bartolini pre-amps and pickups, but the Marchlewski has an 18v circuit, the Hanewinckel has a 9v. In active mode, with the volume to both pickups cranked, the Marchlewski has more output.

    The Hannie can get seriously funky, bright and crisp, but also does a real nice buttery finger funk / jazzy type of tone when I need it. The Marchlewski does funky better. The Hanewinckel does buttery better. The Marchlewski is a more aggressive sound. In a way, I think the Marchlewski sounds like what I would have expected the Hannie to sound like, if it had a maple fretboard.

    The one "dislike" I have with the Marchlewski is the difference in output and tone between passive mode and active mode is pretty severe. I'll probably never have it in passive. I almost never have the Hannie in passive mode either, so it's not a big deal to me.

    Playability: For the most part, this is a dead heat with the Hannie. I specced the neck of the Marchlewski to be almost exactly like my two Hannies, though maybe a wee bit wider string spacing. The better to thump you my dear. That may contribute to my assessment of the Hannie doing a better buttery fingerstyle. I don't have to work my right hand as hard with the slightly closer spacing on the Hannie, so my fingering is probably better. Likewise, when I thump the Marchlewski, the slightly wider spacing means fewer mistakes with the thumb, and probably better tone as a result.

    Intangibles: When my new band members saw the Marchlewski, they were unanimous in the opinion that it was the most beautiful instrument they had ever seen. The next week they saw my Alembic 5 string. Now they're split evenly down the middle. Not bad company to keep.

    So what does all this mean?: I have 5 basses; An Alembic 4 fretted, an Alembic 5 fretted, a Hanewinckel 6 fretted, a Hanewinckel 6 fretless, and the Marchlewski. The Alembic 5 is still my primary bass. The Marchlewski and the fretted Hannie will split back up duty, probably depending on gig and set list. In church, I'll probably carry the Alembic and the Hannie fretless. In funky, 70's - '80s r&b situations, it's probably the Alembic and the Marchlewski. In more jazzy type settings, it's probably the Alembic and the Hannie fretted.


  2. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Cool! Nice review. I can't believe, though, that you didn't take the opportunity to post the pics again! :D
    It is a knockout. Congrats on having such a great collection.
  3. Great review..and i thnk i missed the pics...so i wouldnt mind seein them :D
  4. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

  5. Mal. That has got to be one of the most beautiful basses ive ever seen on this message board. Congrats!
  6. Wolfehollow


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    Great review James! The only difference with my Marchlewski is that I rarely play it in active mode... I have aeros in mine though, so that could be the difference right there. Nows my chance to post the brothers side by side! hehe

  7. Wolfehollow


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    sorry for the blur... :meh:

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    Very Nice James you truly have a work of art. :bassist:
  9. Scott D

    Scott D

    Apr 21, 2003
    Minneapolis, MN
  10. jello


    Apr 13, 2004
    Cumming, GA
    Those are indeed some stunning basses. While I'm not in the market for one now (very first bass ever just showed up) I am curious as to what the rough price range for those are? When (if) I get to the point of buying a custom, those are nearly exactly what I am looking at.
  11. Wow, I'm loving the wooden pickguards.
    Sweet bass, malthumb
    You too, wolfehollow
    I feel the GAS coming...
  12. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland
    Why do I that........I say to myself you have what you need you don't need more basses your basses are great................but NO!!!!! I go and check out this thread and now I want a Marchlewski..........thanks a lot guys:spit:

    ;) :D
  13. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    So you would probably consider it to be sadistic if I were to repost the link to the website Wolfehollow set up to track the build progress......

    Marchlewski Build Progress



  14. Limo


    Sep 22, 2002
    Reykjavik Iceland

    damn you I clicked it:bawl:
  15. grooveguru


    Sep 14, 2000
    Central PA
    James, what happened to the 3 bass rule imposed by the little lady? ;)
  16. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City

    Achieving Superdad status a couple years ago got me a pass for #4. Two really good bonus years, plus actually making some money gigging made #5 possible. The faucet is about to tighten again, though. My youngest is about to start school in the fall. Detroit public schools suck. Two kids in private school = no more new basses for daddy for a while. I won't complain. I'll be too busy playing my current stable of goodies to complain.


  17. Rusty Chainsaw

    Rusty Chainsaw Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2002
    NJ via London
    Gorgeous looking basses, definitely. Not 100% on the pickguards, but I love the body shape. Are there pics anywhere of examples with more strings?

    Russ :bassist:
  18. bgartist


    Feb 4, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    These basses look fabulous. I can only imagine what they sound like. Where can I get more info?
  19. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Manufacturer's link? Please? *GAS*
  20. Wolfehollow


    Jan 21, 2003
    Pensacola, FL
    I have been doing my best to act as jakes internet contact. He lives near me and I speak to him 3-5 times a week about bass stuff. He will have a website soon but for now, just pm me and I can get you any info you want.