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New Custom 5-string Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vicenzajay, Jan 4, 2006.


  1. Received my DP Custom 5-string Fretless about two weeks ago. I've had the chance to play it about 5 times (once out). Review (so far) will follow in the next post.

    Specs:

    - Walnut body
    - Cocobolo topcap and matching headstock
    - Maple/Purpleheart/Cocobolo neck (through neck const.)
    - Kingwood fingerboard
    - Bartolini soapbars and 3 band EQ (selectable mids and separate tap/coil switches); active/passive push/pull volume pot
    - 24K Optima strings

    Pictures:

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  2. look real nice man. love that head and the color of it. neck is real nice too. damn just all around great looking bass.
     
  3. Posted this in the other Pushic thread earlier, but here is the review. Please keep in mind that these are first impressions as I've only had the bass a couple of weeks:

    Positives:
    - The bass is visually beautiful. The wood selection was superb (walnut body, cocobolo top and matching headstock, kingwood fingerboard, neck laminations include maple, purpleheart, and cocobolo). The headstock cocobolo topcap is simply stunning, and the kingwood fingerboard is probably the nicest piece of wood I could imagine period.
    - Nice gold hardware - although I stuck with his "generic" hardware selections, I am impressed with the way everything "works" together.
    - Outstanding electronics. I have Bartolini soapbars with the fantastic 3-way Bart EQ (selectable mid controls at 250, 500, and 800 hz), seperate coil/tap selectors for each pickup, and push/pull active/passive switch on the volume pot. The bass is quiet and very, very versatile with all these choices.
    - The bass sounds characteristically like a fretless bass - very buttery and "woody" for a basic sound. Putting the pickups both into series and boosting the lows and high mids will get a nice rock, growly tone as well. All in all it's a very well-intonated, exceptionally "sounding" instrument.
    - The weight and balance of the bass are great - even with the wood choices, the bass is lighter than my G&L L2K - I'm guessing it's right at 10 lbs. Balance is perfect and the bass is very comfortable on the strap.
    - The neck is both a positive and a negative. It's a player's neck...assymetrical in design in that the curvature is larger on the bass side and thinner on the treble side. Well done, but it will take some getting used to (sorry for the grammar there). It does play very easily and quickly in any case.
    - I love the oil finish - nice to the touch and a definite "players" finish...the paste wax final finish should have been more complete and "ample"; however, this is something I can renew easily.
    - Dave's communication and response time are both excellent - more on this later.

    Negatives:
    - The bass took 14 months to complete (the site advertised 32-34 weeks when I ordered the bass). This is not completely Dave's fault as he had several things happen in his life during the past year. No harm, no foul - but prospective buyers should know this.
    - Given that it took this long - and this has been said by several people here - the fit and finish are not what they should be, even at his price point. There are four distinct places (near the nut, on the fingerboard, on the neck, and on the horns) where the wood was not sanded/steel-wool'd enough and the bass is noticeably rough (even through the oil/paste wax finish). The fingerboard has two noticeable faults - one spot looks like glue or something got spread onto the wood and then the wax finish was applied over it - pretty permanent. The sides of the fingerboard/neck are not completely straight - Dave does not use routers but does this by hand and feel; however, it took me no time to notice it when sliding my hand up and down the neck/fingerboard. There are unfinished sanding marks on the side of the fingerboard (bass side - right by the nut) The "ramp" down of the neck/fingerboard into the body on the front has a pretty big error in the execution/joining to the cocobolo topcap.
    - Concerning the fingerboard...the upper edge is angled too far "in" toward the center of the neck....more than just beveled. Doesn't affect playability at all, but not quite right.
    - The strap button on the upper horn was attached directly to the very end of the horn so that the button "bottom" does not sit flush against the wood...this is a very puzzling decision to me, but perhaps it's for the best given the angle of the button through the strap. It is, at least, very solidly attached.
    - Here's another puzzling "other" - the B string is not as defined and tight as I expected it to be from ALL DP's reviews (even from those instruments with problems, all users seem to remark on his very strong B string). I did send him strings - a brand new Optima 24K gold 5 string set. He remarked that the B string wasn't as defined and/or "tight" as he is used to, and this might very well be a function of the strings...more to follow in about a year when I may change the strings out. At this point, after spending 60+ bucks on a string set, I'm going to wait a while and see how the bass "settles" in before changing strings. It's definitely a usable B string with a nice low end sound - as this is my first 5 string, my expectations might be unrealistic.

    I will mitigate some of my negatives by saying that Dave has offered to work/fix all of them. I have decided to wait until I'm physically living on the Eastern side of the U.S. - I'll just carry the bass to him in a few years if I feel there's really a need. Some of the fine finishing stuff I've mentioned I'll take care of myself as I've worked quite a bit with wood during my life as well.

    Hope this makes sense,
    Jay
     
  4. Thanks - I love the wood in this bass. The walnut is very resonant and I'm a sucker for cocobolo. The surprise for me was the kingwood. I knew it would be pretty, but I had no idea how beautiful the fingerboard would be.
     
  5. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Nice cocobolo, beautiful bass.
     
  6. The headstock inlay looks pretty classy!
     
  7. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Do you have pics of the problem areas? (glue, sanding, etc)? This bass looks very nice otherwise. I'd like to think that DP is getting better than what I've been reading here.
     
  8. Not yet - running around like the proverbial headless chicken tonight...got to finalize the service for Sunday, and there's a chance the band will get booked for Friday/Saturday.

    Give me a few days, and I'll get you some "problem area" pictures.

    Jay
     
  9. Actually, in some ways, the headstock (as a unit) is the most perfect part of the bass. I was blown away with the cocobolo topcap and the inlay against the gold hardware.
     
  10. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks...
     
  11. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    Very nice, especially the fingerboard. I read that Dave doesn't care for epoxy coatings on fretlesses, so is the Kingwood a naturally harder wood to counteract that? (I'd imagine the Optima strings must be fairly hard on a softer wood, but I could be wrong about that as well :help: )
     
  12. Yes,

    As a true member of the rosewood family...kingwood is VERY hard and dense (think purpleheart/cocobolo - not quite that dense, but close). He does do a paste wax finish on the fingerboard, so the scoring of the strings should mostly affect that. I will renew the wax finish every 6 months or so; however, the fingerboard piece is very nice and thick and should stand up nicely through several resurfacings over the passage of years (thanks, Dave).

    Jay

    Edit - also the gold covering on the Optima's is fairly thick...really a pretty soft metal overall.
     
  13. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!
    Came out nicely!

    How do you like the strings? I've never tried 24K gold strings. What kind of sound do they produce?
     
  14. As far as tone goes, I'm very happy - with the fretless and the gold rounds, I get a very "signature modern fretless" tone with lots of "mwah" - especially if I'm in single coil on the pickups and/or the bass is in passive mode. Obviously if I blend the pickups to favor the bridge pickup, I really increase the mwah across the fretboard as well.

    The strings are very comfortable to the fingers...the strings slide easily and transmit vibrato well.

    As I mentioned earlier, the B string was not as defined as I was hoping for - probably due to the strings (given the constant of Dave's great B strings). However, the string seems to be settling in nicely, and lately the B string is sounding better (each day is an improvement). Could be a humidity/temp thing.

    Hope this all helps.
    Jay
     
  15. Thats one very nice bass you have there!

    I dig the fingerboard and the top!

    Congrats :)
     
  16. I appreciate the nice comments....one thing I'm very fond of is the fact that the tung oil finish allows the wood to be very resonant as I play. It's a very "personal" instrument, if that makes any sense.

    Jay
     
  17. Friday morning bump....

    Only 5 comments...is this bass really that boring?

    Kronos - I'll do pictures this weekend and pm you when they're downloaded.

    Jay
     
  18. klocwerk

    klocwerk

    May 19, 2005
    Somerville, MA

    'cause DP isn't a loaded issue around here or anything... :D
    I think people with strong opinions are just trying to keep their hands clean. I knew nothing about this guy's rep until you posted this, so it's all new to me.

    It's a very sweet looking bass, I dig it. Congrats!
     
  19. Kronos

    Kronos

    Dec 28, 2005
    Philadelphia, PA
    Thanks again vincenzajay...and I do like the bass. If it wasn't for DP's reputation on here, and reading what you posted in the other thread, I would've thought this bass to not only be a beauty but a heck of a bargain as well. I really hope he's getting better at the job, because if his work improves, I may be a customer (once I get some money up!) :D
     
  20. I appreciate the comments...I was hoping former or current owners would at least chime in with their impressions or thoughts as well.

    Have a great weekend in any case, and thanks for the nice words!

    Jay