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NBD!!!!! A Hammersmith 5 string in the wild! (Full review....finally)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by two fingers, Jul 14, 2017.

  1. Dude, leave it alone. You're being ridiculous.

    42 vote(s)
  2. Absolutely. My eyes were drawn right to them.

    31 vote(s)
  3. Cover them up with baby carrots and let it ride.

    17 vote(s)
  1. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    This post will be long. If you have a short attention span, skip to the pics at the end. :D

    Let's address the 400lb gorilla in the room right out of the gate. Hammersmith has some tightening up to do with regard to communication. I will only share SOME what I have heard first hand from Marko. When they first cranked up, they were promised turn around times by the manufacturer of their necks and bodies. Those promises were broken and Marko has literally been over there several times to get it straight. I won't go into a lot of detail because that's not my place. I do have faith that they will get it together and in a few months or so they will have parts in the pipeline at all times. That alone should tighten up turn around and delivery times. As for right now, more realistic promises and expectations on both sides would be advised. They are experiencing growing pains pure and simple. But communication is their biggest issue at present. The other issues (to me) are completely understandable. Enough about that.

    The bass was delivered packed well with a nice gig bag. Padding and bubble wrap everywhere.

    As far as price, Marko posted on his Facebook when he "unveiled" it that a bass like this could be had for around $1,400 if I remember correctly. If you Facebook, you may want to confirm that. If that is correct, it is a bargain in my view. I would have gladly paid that for this bass. Full disclosure, my deal was different for reasons that will remain private.

    I picked everything about this bass to reflect my favorite aspects of several of my favorite basses ever. Blacked out body and hardware, and satin finish neck, like a Carvin LB76 I owned some years back. 35" scale and 19mm spacing like the Ibanez BTB I did hundreds of gigs with. P bass pickup at the neck and simple volume and tone like....well...a P bass (of which I own several....including a 5 string which has been my main player up until now). The body style is Hammersmith's close-to-a-P-bass as well. Double coil pickup wired with series/single/parallel switch and a simple three-way neck/both/bridge pickup selector switch like a Fender Roscoe Beck Sig I used to own and loved. All passive. Extremely versatile.

    They all came together extremely well. It is exactly what I had hoped. Tonally, I have a P bass and three very usable "PJ" tones.

    The Nordstrand P pickup is beefy while still maintaining the true P bass tone and feel. It is a hot sucker. So I had to lower it to get a nice balance with the bridge and deal with a slight "chorus" sound issue due to magnetic string pull. (Thanks for your help with that issue TB community. I learned of this phenomenon from you guys while trying to fix it.) Soloed, it's a fat P bass sound. Perfect.

    The bridge pickup (Seymour Duncan NYC5) is not something I would use soloed. Even on the occasion that I slap, it's beefier than a solo bridge pickup in this position produces. So, where the beauty of this design comes in is the three varieties of "PJ" sound I get. If you are into the Jaco tone, this pickup and its placement would be pickup for you. It does the Jazz bridge pickup bark like nobody's business.

    With P+single, I get the typical scooped passive PJ sound. Very usable.

    With P+parallel, the tone is much sweeter than even the P soloed. It is very warm and round. It does drop volume though so I have to be mindful of that. It's a good ballad tone. When plucked near or over the neck this combination gets a leaning-toward-upright tone...not like the real thing, but in that direction.

    P+series is just balls out big. It maintains plenty of cut-trough clarity but the tone is just....huge. This combination with a pick? Oh em ghee. It begs to be rocked.

    Let's talk construction.
    -Fit and finish is fantastic. It is put together well! It weighs in at 8.4 pounds! For a long and wide 5 string bass, that alone is outstanding. The body paint is flawless....which I imagine is tough to pull off with matte black. (Although I bought it knowing that matte black will "wear well" and pick up "mojo" quickly. That was part of the plan from the beginning.)
    -The guard is great and the way the switches and knobs are mounted is solid.
    -Marko sent me a pic a while back of part of the inside of the cavity during wiring. I'll see if I can find it. It is shielded and neat.
    -Tuners are Hipshot Ultralites. Strap lock ready pins (which was a pleasant surprise).
    -My favorite part of the construction? The neck! The satin finish and shape of the neck is like an old baseball glove to my hands. (That's a good thing.) There was no "getting used to it" time with this bass. I started playing it as if I had owned it for years. It is not flat like an Ibanez, but not as thick as my 5 string USA P bass. It's a perfect in between. It went to number one in my stable immediately on playability alone. Don't let the pics with my big hands fool you. This neck is fast, but substantial.
    -The mini switches (as opposed to blades) was Marko's suggestion. I really like them. They are out of the way and accessible at the same time. If I were to pick nits, I would prefer they be black, but I may take care of that later....if I even bother.
    -Truss wheel at the neck heel should be required by law on all basses. Nice touch. I can't speak to its function because it needed no adjustment upon arrival.
    -The bridge is super easy to adjust. I raised the action only slightly and reset intonation and it was a snap. The bass shipped with all the Allen Wrenches needed for adjustment.
    -It came with D'Addario NYXL strings. I found them slightly barky for my taste. Once I slapped a set of my old trusty XL nickels on it, I was right at home.
    -I have huge hands, so this isn't an issue for me. But some of you who shy away from 35" basses may find this interesting. According to Marko, the position of the bridge and neck pocket allows them to only increase reach less then 3/8" over a 34" scale. It sits and balances perfectly for me...however they achieved it.
    -The low B feels awesome and sounds like "just another string". That's saying a lot coming from me. I play kind of hard and most B strings cave under the pressure.

    In short, it looks, sound and feels great....and is solid. I have not taken it to a club gig yet, but I played it in church through the Walkabout Sunday. When I started playing in sound check I could literally hear the sound guy giggling through the talk back mic in my IEMs. He was pleased to say the least. I used mainly the P pickup soloed, but switched to P+series for the "big finish" of one song and it PLOWED through the mix with low B hugeness.

    Fire away with any questions. In short, I am thrilled with the bass and highly recommend Hammersmith with regard to build quality, options and price. They may not be your builder if you want a bass delivered in a couple weeks, but the product is solid. I will go so far as to say that if this bass winds up being as essential to my playing as I think it will, I will order another one from them very similar, only in a brighter gloss color and possibly an MM bridge pickup just to mix it up a bit. That's how strong my first impression of it is.

    Note: Most of these pics still have the plastic on the guard. So if that looks "funny" in the unboxing pics, that's why. The only one with the plastic off is the first one. Some of the pics look a little "stretched". Probably just the angle with my phone cam.
    last night with rig. another whole bass in bag. whole bass in sun. body front in sun. head front. back of neck. back of body in shade. back of body in sun. in bag wrapped. the box.
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
    murphy, Rickter, JACink and 32 others like this.
  2. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    Nice! I love the stealth look, my Ray 34 is the same.
    two fingers likes this.
  3. TrentB


    Aug 10, 2010
    Yorba Linda, Ca
    Sweet! Love the matte black finish!
    two fingers likes this.
  4. JRA

    JRA what key? Supporting Member

    i'm a sucker for black basses = yours is really nice looking! congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:

    the pictures reveal that you actually have more than two fingers. who knew?
    andruca, five7 and two fingers like this.
  5. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It's the two I use to drop the hammer on bass strings that count the most. :D
    Wisebass, L Anthony and JRA like this.
  6. JRA

    JRA what key? Supporting Member

    i knew that, of course, but i couldn't resist! nice ax --- hope it's a real player for you, two fingers !
    two fingers likes this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Thanks. Really digging it so far.
    JRA likes this.
  8. Fat Freddy

    Fat Freddy Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2016
    Albany NY
    Seems to me that the end result justifies the hellish long wait.....

    Beautiful instrument man......

    Those switches and output jack though......:rollno:.....

  9. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid

    Jun 7, 2013
    It looks a lot like Diamond P5 Schecter.
    wmmj and two fingers like this.
  10. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Yeah I like a lot of design aspects of that bass too.
    Dr. Cheese and Sid the Kid like this.
  11. Sid the Kid

    Sid the Kid

    Jun 7, 2013
    Me too! The matching headstock is the touch though.
  12. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    It looks gorgeous. You can't even tell where I dropped it. Now you just need to get some tort on there. JUST KIDDING!

    I can't wait to see it in some gig reports.

    Nice job @MarkoYYZ

    You should edit the title to include "NBD".
    two fingers likes this.
  13. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Can we get a pic of the back of the headstock?
  14. Holdsg

    Holdsg I should be practicing Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    Alta Loma, CA
    Endorsing artist: Remic microphones
    excellent, I was wondering when the boys from YYZ were going to show more fivers.
    zortation and two fingers like this.
  15. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Good idea. And done.
    wintremute likes this.
  16. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Will do when I get back to town. I'm Raleigh in a hotel room waiting for Mrs.Fingers to get ready so we can walk 100 yards to the Tedeschi Trucks concert.
  17. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Shenanigans!! :rage:

    Seriously though, it looks great! Aces for it feeling and sounding as good as it does! :thumbsup:
    wmmj and two fingers like this.
  18. tkonbass

    tkonbass I'm just one of the out-of-focus guys. Supporting Member

    Mar 11, 2012
    Mobile, Alabama, USA
    Very nice! As far as your poll, IMO the D'addario skittles sticking out the back of the bridge is much more garish than the silver switches and jack. There are other silver bits visible that the switches/jack compliment. The rainbow ball ends not so much.
    two fingers and wintremute like this.
  19. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    That's my sentiment, too. With the bridge and pickups, those little selector switches just compliment. Those colors though...
    two fingers likes this.
  20. EdwardofHuncote

    EdwardofHuncote I Still Dream of Jeannie Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2013
    Southwest Virginia
    Congratulations & Compliments @two fingers. Just my ha-pennies' worth, but the switches and jack don't draw my eye away. The shiny pole-pieces stand out too, after all.

    *born in Greensboro, and raised in Raleigh by the way, but after 40 years up here in Roanoke, I'm a galvanized Virginian now. :D
    Spidey2112 and two fingers like this.