Mike Lull M5V, Nordy J5, or Sadowsky RV5?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jondiener, Jan 2, 2008.

  1. jondiener

    jondiener Just trying to serve the song. Gold Supporting Member

    Asking for opinions from anyone who has had first-hand experience with these instruments. Since I don't really have access to a store near me to play any of these, I was hoping for some help from my bass brethren.

    I will be replacing my Lakland 55-94 with one of the above basses soon. It's a great bass, but since recently purchasing a Sadowsky HPJ4, the Lakland doesn't have the same impact it used to. So I'm looking for a versatile 5er that can do warm round tones for ballads, as well as a growlier midrange tone for some funkier stuff. My budget is around $2500 and I think I've narrowed it down to the Lull M5V, the Nordy J5, or the Sadowsky RV5. Or if there's something else out there worth consideration, I'm all ears.

    Thanks for any input.
  2. albass111


    Feb 13, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
  3. albass111


    Feb 13, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Can you please expand on what you mean by "impact" from your Lakland?

    I had a 55-02 with Lakland electronics, and couldn't get used to the 35" scale. It is a very versatile bass though.

    Like yourself, I have a Sadowsky, and could not imagine my arsenal without one. If it were me, since you already have a Sadowsky, I'd highly consider the Nordy vJ5. All work, except for finishing, is done right in house. The neck is perfect for me, and very comfortable, but it is not for everyone. He uses a compound radius which gives it a sleeker feel. Since you need it to be versatile, I'd talk to one of the dealers about which pickups are most appropriate for your needs, but the good thing is that they have many, many options. I like the Big Singles, but my understanding is that the Big Splits are great, versatile pickups too. At any price, the Nordy is an amazing bass, but at its current pricing, it's an unbelievable value considering what you get in terms of man hours and workmanship.

    Personally, I have not spent much time with Lull 5 strings or anytime with the LEJ, so I can not comment on those. However, I have owned a total of 13 different jazz basses.

  4. jondiener

    jondiener Just trying to serve the song. Gold Supporting Member


    Thanks for the link to that thread - very helpful.

    As for the lack of 'impact' with the 55-94, I guess what I'm talking about is the 'life' you feel in each note as you play it. It may have something to do with the 35" scale. And by 'Life', I mean a quick transient response, strong fundamental, the right balance of overtones, and a blooming sustain that seems very organic. Not sure if that's very helpful, but you know it when you hear it. Like when you play a bass for the first time, and it's like someone pulls away a sound blanket from your ears. My Sadowsky HPJ was that way for me. That bass just 'sings'.

    After reading through the other thread, I think what I'm looking for is a slightly more 'modern' sounding J-bass, with a range of tones - rather than a traditional, passive J sound.

    Does that make any sense? :confused:
  5. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I've got a Lull 5 and Sadowsky Modern 5 (just came in). Never played a Nordy. The Lull sports Basslines SC pups and a 3 band preamp; closest thing to a Jazz in my fleet. I believe stacked HBs are also an option. It has the Jazz vibe but warms up quickly with a 50/50 blend and a slight roll-off on the treble. Passive mode is super-smooth with little or no volume loss (preamp trim pot is accessible thru the back cavity for easy matching). The midrange control is voice nicely in the low mids (not sure what the center point is). Like Sadowsky, Mike Lull uses outsourced components but does the majority of the finish work in his own shop.

    It may not matter but a Lull 5 will save you a few bucks over a comparably equipped Sadowsky. Either way, you can't go wrong.

  6. Fran Diaz

    Fran Diaz

    Mar 28, 2002
    Santander, Spain
    You already have a Sadowsky 4 string that you love, Why don't you get another Sadowsky to cover your 5 string needs?
    IIRC, Sadowsky is going to release the 5 string version of your bass for NAMM so they should be available very soon.
  7. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I don't know if our Lull's have the same preamp, but the center frequencies on the Aggie OBP-3 that's in my Lull are 400 hz and 800 hz.

    I'm another satisfied Lull player. My Lull M5V has Duncan single coils with a 3-band Aguilar OBP-3 preamp. IMHO it's sound and playability are second to none. Lull basses normally feature Bartolini or Duncan pickups. But I remember a Lull PJ5 that had Nordstrand pickups on the Blueberry Hill Bass site. For preamps Mike normally intalls Bartolini and Aguilar preamps. But IIRC Mike recently built a bass for Adrian Garcia that had an Audere preamp. His basses also feature Hipshot bridges and ultralite tuning gears.

    Man, that Mike sure offers a lot of different options on his basses!

    I've always been mainly a Fender player, and out of my favorite Fenders, all have had alder bodies. My Lull's body is made of swamp ash. When I ordered it I was a little worried that a swamp ash body wouldn't get the kind of sound that I wanted, which was more of a vintage Fender sound. IMO it cops the classic Fender Jazz sound very well -and more. It's fit, finish, fretwork and setup are flawless.

    I'm also a big fan of Lakland's JO5, and the Nordy's look really appealing to me. I haven't played a Sadowsky, but they have a stellar reputation, especially here on TB.

    Whichever brand you buy, you'll have a fantastic bass. I hope you can get the opportunity to out try all the basses that you're interested in first hand with an open mind and open ears.
  8. I wouldn't leave out Valenti.
    But of the three you listed (and I have spent time on all three) I would say Sadowsky or Nordy- in no particular order.
  9. Another +1 for getting a Sadowsky J to go with your Metro P 4.

    In owning and playing most of these 'boutique' J's, I've become a big fan of instruments that have a 'unified' approach. By that, I mean that the instrument is designed by the luthier to have all the components work together... proprietary pickups, preamps, in some cases hardware, etc.

    The basses that come to mind are the Sadowsky bass, the Alleva's, and the Celinder's. I have never found basses like the Lull that use 'off the shelf' preamps and pickups just kind of 'thrown together' to really have that 'signature tone' that the other instruments have, whether that tone is 'the best Fender ever', or 'J on steroids' or 'modern updated J tone' or whatever.

    The Nordstrand seems 'halfway there', in that the pickups and basses are made by the same manufacturer, but the preamp options are not to my liking at all. However, if you are going passive, the Nordy's are very nice IMO and IME.

    I would also consider the Lakland JO and DJ Skyline models if you are interested in passive basses. The new Lakland pickups are very good. Similar to the Nordy and Lull, the active versions of these basses, which basically just cram in an off the shelf J Retro, Audere or other pre, seem to diminish these instruments versus improve them (again, obviously IMO and IME).

    If you are interested in an active bass, I would recommend the Sadowsky by a WIDE margin over the other two you are considering.

    IMO and IME.
  10. Rano Bass

    Rano Bass

    Sep 9, 2006
    Tijuana Mex.
    I guess that leaves out the Lull since it has a 35" scale.

    If i were you i would buy the Sadowsky since you already like the one you have.

  11. IMO and IME that has nothing to do with the scale. You are describing the difference in tone between a J bass style instrument and an instrument with soap bar style hum cancelling pickups (especially if you have the older Bartolini circuit in your Lakland). While many love the warm mid punch and polite top end of the Bartolini's used in the 55-94 type instruments, others hear that particular circuit as somewhat lifeless and a little 'woolly' sounding.

    The Sadowsky is 'king' of the modern J tone IMO and IME, and the J model will give you all the 'life' in the notes you are looking for. I prefer the RV versions to the MV versions... still plenty of sizzle and top end, but more growl and punch in the lower mids versus a little upper mid clackiness that I hear in the MV models.

    I would also recommend ordering a Metro directly from Roger. You have the no questions asked 7 day return policy, the staff going over the bass prior to shipping, and all the Metro's that Roger orders have the VTC installed, which is a nice option on these basses IMO. You can also have the humbuckers replaced with single coils if you so choose.

    Edit: If you do have the old Bart pickups and pre in your 55-94, you might consider having Dan and the boys at Lakland doing the very low cost upgrade to the new pickups and pre. They have much more 'life' to them... deeper bass, more sizzly top end if you want it, and an almost infinite number of mid EQ center points that all sound quite good. Contact Lakland directly.. they turn around the upgrades very quickly, and include a 'buffing, polishing' and 'make your bass like new' going over as part of the deal. Top notch!
  12. basadam


    Nov 29, 2005
    More 'modern' sounding J-bass is what Sadowsky J is. It sounds different than a Hybrid P (or PJ). If you're looking for the same sound in a 5-string wait until Sadowsky releases Hybrid 5. If you're looking for variety get RV5 (or MV5).

    I don't know the other basses you've mentioned.
  13. sadowsky
  14. I have different experiences with those basses. While I always got a very good sound from Lull, Celinder and Nordy I had some not-so-good experiences with Sadowsky (although everybody wouldn't agree with that). My RV5 was kind of dull. Could be that this was just this very bass. I bought another used MV5 from internet today and hope that this one will be better. I'll let you know as soon as I get it! Here's a picture...
  15. +1... the Sadowsky will not be as aggressive as the Celinder or the particular Nordy you have in the treble sizzle area... more organic and growly than the 'Marcus Miller' tone of the Celinder Update, or the more modern, boutique tone of your particular Nordy (that I believe is quite similar to the one I had).

    I'm not a big fan of the MV's, due to that upper mid sort of thing that I hear in those basses, but they are a touch more aggressive than the RV's. My guess is the Sadowsky is probably not your thing, given the other basses you like.
  16. Thanks, Ken! We have discussed this topic some time ago and I have the feeling that this was more about that particular bass. I liked it's sound (That is - the sound of the pickups and preamp) but the wooden parts didn't feel resonant enough. It was like raping my bass to get out the tone. :D
    I tried some other Sadowskys meanwhile and they were completely different story.
  17. Cool! I really do love my RV5... unique sounding... not like a Fender at all, but still sounds like a 'J Bass', if that makes any sense. Let us know how the MV works for you!
  18. rickr

    rickr Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2003
    You should really check out the new Lowend Jazz basses.
    I just purchased a Lowend Jazz 6 string and it is truly one of the most fantastic instruments I have come across......

  19. Definitely!
  20. Adam Wright

    Adam Wright Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Mike Lull Artist
    +1 for the Low End Jazz.