Most Consistent High End Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Scott Green, Mar 7, 2002.

  1. Scott Green

    Scott Green

    Sep 16, 2001
    I thought this might be a fun one. I would give Lakland props here,very consistent quality. We can also address some of the not so consistent. I think Roscoes are great, but I have seen some fluctuation in quality bass to bass. Only my opinion, let the games begin.
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I don't see that many U.S. highend basses, but the German top companies are VERY consistent.
    The most respected brands like Le Fay, Marleaux, Ritter, Basslab, Human Base, Schack, Bassline, Sandberg, Clover, Esh, Christof Kost etc. have very high quality standards.
    They probably have less employees than brands like Lakland, so quality control is much easier.
    E.g. Clover are 6 guys, Marleaux 2, Le Fay 1, so the boss sees and (co)builds every bass.
  3. I have to chime in with the one that started it all...

  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    No offense, but I cut my fingers once on a 5000$ Alembic with undressed fretends. It was brand new.
  5. Sorry...don't believe. You must have been playing a Fender and wishing it was an Alembic.:D

    In all seriousness, that is the exception, not the rule. All of these high end people err. I have played every Alembic I could get my hands on for almost 30 years and can't remember a handfull of any kind of glitch with them.
  6. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    It probably didn't leave the Alembic shop that way. Ebony fretboards shrink much worse than rosewood when the air gets very dry. If a music shop leaves the instrument out hanging on a rack, without controlling the humidity or oiling the fretboard, this will almost always happen in the wintertime when the heat is on, and sometimes even in the summer if they use the AC a lot.

    Fortunately, if the fret ends are filed when the air is at it's driest and the fretboard is shrunk about as much as it's going to, they probably won't ever need to be filed again. That's another reason why you're more likely to see this problem on new ebony boards than older ones--the old ones have already been filed.

  7. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    well, i have 9 conklin custom instruments, and they all kick butt. the oldest is from '92, the newest i recieved this month. they all rock.
  8. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I examined it very closely, no shrinking, and there were sharp edges at the fretends.

    It came up in another thread way way back, and I wasn't the only one who reported this.
  9. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Persons with very consistent output (at least in terms of QC):

  10. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I'm having the same problem with my Cirrus. The fretwork was perfect when I bought it, but during the winter the lack of humidity has caused the ebony to shrink and exposed the fret ends. OUCH!
  11. I thought ebony doesn't need to be oiled?? I knew that from the Alembic website. So who's right?
  12. This thread is kinda silly...all of these luthiers are going to be consistent, of course. It is their livelyhood and in their best interest to be consistent in all areas. The real question should be which of the cookie cutter instruments are going to have consisitency of QC in comparison to the masters of the trade, from JT's Conklins to my Alembics. One of Lakin's Korean models or Tobias' Czech editions might come up short, but trust me...from Roger Sadowsky to Ron Wickersham to Karl Hoyt, an instrument is not leaving their shop with their tattoo on it for the kind of scratch they ask for them in anything less than perfect condition. Sorry, JMX...and whoever else...I know Ron Wickersham checks out each Alembic that leaves Santa Rosa. None of these people will say..."oh, what the ****. Let's just leave the frets unfinished".


    That is why you can buy a high end instrument from A to Z sight unseen and unplayed and be guaranteed it will be a killer instrument as long as it has not been tampered with. Over time, if left to the forces of nature, they will change. Wood is organic. Hence guarantees...lifetime in most cases. Were the inconsistencies we are asking about based on materials or craftsmanship?

    These people are VERY consistent.
  13. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Not to belabor the point, but I'm a bit curious how you decided there was no shrinking? The fret ends were extending past the edge of the fretboard enough to feel them, right?

    I've noticed this phenomenon on every bass I've had with an ebony fretboard, and there's no doubt that it's from the lack of humidity rather than lack of care by the builder -- it's a lot more obvious when you have the opportunity to watch it change over time.

    Folks seem to notice it (and comment on it) more on Alembics because Alembic is pretty much the only bass maker of any size to use ebony on almost all their fretboards, and Alembics are expensive enough that they can end up hanging on the racks of music shops for a while. It's a much more commonly recognized problem with high-end acoustic guitars, where ebony fretboards are the norm.

  14. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The Alembic website says:

  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Not quite. Remember the five string shootout in Bass Player magazine a few years back? They included a Roscoe bass, in spite of it's flaws, because it sounded so good. The flaws were pretty surprising because they were so obvious it was hard to understand how it could have left like that. OTOH I had a Roscoe LG-3005 that was flawless but in the meantime a few people have complained about less than adequate QC.

    I'm sure Alembics don't leave the factory with the fret ends protruding but the reason that I now look at frets before I lay hands on any unfamiliar bass is because an Alembic bit me...hard. Actually cut four of my fingers when I slid my hand up the neck... enough to draw blood. I haven't seen that problem with Carvin's ebony boards so I don't know exactly what the difference is. Anyway, getting this fixed is not a major expense.

    I agree that "most" upper end builders are very consistent with their product. People have to understand the difference between how a bass leaves the builder and how it may change depending on how it's handled.
  16. nanook


    Feb 9, 2000
    Unfortunately, factory run basses are more consistant than custom shop or limited run basses.

    I would say the best combination of consistancy and quality would be Yamaha and Conklin.
  17. My point exactly.

    That is just do to volume, maybe? Think that might me a numbers consideration?

    As far as Bass Player goes, well...let's just say that the "shootouts" don't do a lot for me. And over the years more than a few memories attempt to bubble up throught the old mental sludge of not quite the best example of a manufacturer's work making it to the big showdown. For whatever reason...who knows.
  18. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    I like Modulus, er, ah, Moduli.
  19. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    It depends...I really like Alembics. But, I've picked up several with Ebony fretboards that did this...I think it's because of the ever-changing environment in Chicago, though, combining with Ebony on Alembic's basses.
  20. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    I agree that most of the "higher-end price range" luthiers tend to be very consistent. But, there's consistency with instruments in the "mid-price range" as well. I've noticed every MM that I've ever picked up was consistent. So were the G&L's.

    I'm surprised nobody mentioned Spector and MTD for being very high-quality and very consistent.

    This ebony thing, with Alembic, is very interesting. I've found every one that I've ever touched was very well made, extremely consistent. It's just that the frets on some did stick out and hurt the hand.
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