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NBD Brice Defiant 53437 (pics)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ShadowImage, Dec 20, 2016.

  1. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    Brice Defiant 53437 RN Natural Bubinga, 5 string bass
    I recently ordered this which was on sale for $499. Rondo was quick with processing and it arrived in about a week with UPS tracking the whole way.

    20161220_121912. 20161220_122115.
    The good:
    Arrived well packed, no visible damage, everything looks good. Strings were semi-loose and after tuning up it plays great. It has much better, low action compared to my Aria IGB and very little fret buzz. I've heard stories about Rondo ranging from bad strings, broken pickups, bad nuts, shipping damage etc but there were none of these problems. Before plugging in, it has an almost clavinet tone to the strings when plucked. Plugging into my rig it sounds great. I'm actually happy with the pickups and see no reason to immediately change them out. So I'm hoping my roll of the dice payed off and I now have a good bass which I can turn into a great bass with a little work.
    20161220_181344. 20161220_181351. 20161220_181356. 20161220_181411. 20161220_181457.
    The bad:
    The nut is kinda rough cut and cheap looking as my guess it's the only "hand made" custom piece on the guitar. (after comparing to a new slab, it appears this stock nut is actually a Graphtec Black Tusq XL nut) The B string slot on the nut isn't cut large enough for the string which I estimate to be about 120g. The truss rod cover is kind of tweaked out of square but that should be an easy fix. I'm not crazy about the "bubinga" veneer but it was on sale so I went for it and plan to refinish the guitar. The pickups and neck sit rather high, making the body look like it was intended to have an actual top installed but never did. IMO the exposed ribbon on the pickups would look much better hidden by a ring.
    I think the pickup switch is wired backwards because switched toward the beck, the bass is much more
    prominent, which I would expect of the bridge pickup.
    Unfortunately the 37" scale doesn't really help with the B string tone. It still sounds muddy and dark compared to the other strings' clear tone. I quickly replaced the B string with a Super Bright 135g D'Addario ProSteelXl Round Wound hoping it would solve this issue but no use... so now I'm considering re-tuning this to EADGC as I have my other 5 strings.
    Also, while the action is fairly good and low, the bridge adjustment is already bottomed out on most of the saddles and good luck adjusting the "nut" or finding a replacement.
    20161220_181534. 20161220_181518. 20161220_182233.
    The ugly?
    This is my first Brice/Agile guitar so I'm not sure if the headstock is intentionally twisted away from the body but it was shocking at first. Can any other owners confirm this is... normal? It's really obvious when the guitar is on a flat surface. It sounds great, so I don't think this is an accident but I can't be certain since no other guitar I've ever seen was made that way... **Rondo's Response: "The neck angle for the Defiant is correct. The headstock in on an angle so there will be a certain amount of break over the nut for the strings. This helps prevent buzzing at the nut."**
    20161220_190729. 20161220_190611.
    Summary (TLDR)
    Plays well, great bass so far, I really like it. Color is kinda boring, plan to refinish. Stock pickups and strings aren't bad. Minor issues with nut. B string still sounds like poop to me.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
    MMatFoCBass and seang15 like this.
  2. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Banned

    You need a B string that's taperwound at the bridge.
    ShadowImage likes this.
  3. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    hmm, haven't tried that. It will make a difference? Can you comment on the tilt to the headstock? I can't figure out if that's normal with these basses...
  4. bridgecables


    Jan 11, 2016
    My guess about the headstock angle is that it's a manufacturing mess-up on par with the quality of the nut. I have heard it is fine for necks to have a slight twist in them as long as it is in (the direction your headstock twists), so even if it is not just the headstock, and the neck has a twist, this direction of twist should not be a bad thing, as long as it plays fine and has good action.

    What surprises me far more was your dissatisfaction of the B string tone. But that could be because of that horribly cut nut. If if kept that bass I would put an entirely new nut on it, spacing is all off, B slot doesn't sit right (as you said), that might be some of the problem, how does the low B sound fretted?

    Strings tapered at the bridge will take care of the bottomed-out saddle action and may also improve the tone. But you've got more issues here than string choice. If everything together is rubbing you the wrong way, take advantage of the rondo return policy before you work on it, exchange it for a different one. Several guys on another forum I read have bought one of these, and none there mentioned a twisted headstock.
    ShadowImage likes this.
  5. MMatFoCBass


    Feb 21, 2012
    I'm digging that monorail style bridge.

    I've personally wanted an Ibanez BTB bass since seeing Shavo Odajian playing them in his early career. BTB's had one of their primo features being a monorail bridge. That fanned neck looks pretty cool as well, I'm sure people will give you props for the finish and hardware.

    That being said I'd fix that nut. I'm not sure how the pickup covers would look on the bass, but I've been looking at Nordstrand pickups for a while and they look like they'd fit. Some of the housing on certain pickup models cover the ribbon etc.

    Either way, congratulations on the new bass.
    ShadowImage likes this.
  6. It looks like the headstock was intentionally machined that way - you can tell because of the 2 dark strips that run the length of the neck remain parallel, but appear crooked at the end.

    It looks good to me - nice score.
    Matthew_84 likes this.
  7. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    Right, I'm investigating other basses from this line to see if it's intentional or not. Given it's the holidays, I'll probably be waiting a month for a replacement if I do send it back and wouldn't it be funny if the replacement has the same twist if it's intentional.

    Now that you mention it, the B string sounds ok fretted, it's the open B that sounds lifeless so maybe a replacement nut is in order. Trouble is finding a replacement blank which would fit, it's really oddly shaped and appears to be glued in there tightly.

    Thanks for the advice about the taper, I didn't consider that. Now how rare is a 130g+ tapered 38" wound string going to be...

    Oh good point, I didn't think about that but it makes sense, like it was cut that way purposely.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Have to agree that nut is a disaster. My vote would be to make a new one in brass, yum.
  9. dabbler


    Aug 17, 2007
    Bowie, MD
    It is indeed intentional. I have one. I questioned it at first, like you, but think about it. A normal headstock is bent along the nut line. Since this nut is angled, the bend MUST also be bent at an angle... as it is. This allows the string to exit the nut perpendicular to it and minimizes the length of string that is actually in the nut.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  10. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Yeah, it's bent back properly for both the typical angle of the headstock as well as the fanned angle of the nut - to keep the string break angle close, they almost have to machine the headstock like that, I would think. Pretty cool looking, actually. Now if you want to see something that really makes your eyes cross, check out the Torzal twist fanned fret models!
  11. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    Have not seen brass used before but it's an interesting idea. How would that effect tone?

    Okay that makes sense, thank you. Since a few others have also chimed in, I'm comfortable to say it must be intentional and it's not twisted :D

    Wow that is seriously beautiful. Trans-white looks amazing there and I would love to have a bass like that. Sadly at about $4k, that's never going to happen ;_;
  12. Session1969


    Dec 2, 2010
    I like the Bubinga top, big time. You'd be crazy to refinish it, imo.
    ShadowImage likes this.
  13. Atshen


    Mar 13, 2003
    Grim Cold Québec
    The open B sounds muddy, but you did mention that the B-string slot at the nut is too narrow...
    ShadowImage likes this.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    Brass nut makes for brighter more even open notes IMHO.
  15. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
    Right seems like the first order of business is a new nut.

    Interesting, due to the dimensions I would probably have to make one from small 360 grade brass bar stock. I like Tusq nuts so I may see if one of their XL blanks would fit...
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2016
  16. I have a Brice 5 string and I agree tapered strings are the way to go. I put DR's on mine and it sounds great.
  17. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    central NY state
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Not much fun to file slots in brass, but yeah, they sound great. BRAAAaaaaaaAAANG!
  18. Zarathustra3


    Aug 21, 2012
    If your B string sounds bad at 37 inch scale....something is wrong.
    bholder and ShadowImage like this.
  19. ShadowImage

    ShadowImage Guest

    Jan 12, 2016
  20. KickingBass

    KickingBass Look into it

    When you have the neck pickup engaged that typically makes the bass more prominent. If you have the bridge pickup engaged it makes the treble more prominent.
    ShadowImage likes this.

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