Review of my new CB Bass...................

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Matt Power, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. Matt Power

    Matt Power Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    Magnolia, TX
    Good Mornin' to you all!

    This is the first Saturday that I haven't had to go to an early morning rehearsal in almost 3 months! :hyper: I'm a professional percussionist and bassist, and this is the busy season for me. So, over several cups of coffee, I'm going to do a lil' review of my newly-aquired CB Bass direct from Cliff Bordwell's shop. I will have some detailed pics up by tonight or early tomorrow am, so bear with me as I go through my new aquisition with you.....

    First: Construction

    This bass has a Spanish Cedar core, a RIDICULOUS piece of amboyna burl for the top, and an equally-obscene piece of birdseye maple for the back. There are bloodwood accents throughout the body. The neck is a five piece neck made of 3 pieces of quartersawn maple with 2 black stringers (of which wood I do not know the origin), a nicely figured birdseye maple board, an amboyna burl headstock cap, and a bloodwood nut. The bass is a set-neck design with a deeply carved neck heel. It is a 34" scale bass, has medium-small frets and the neck has a J-bass taper. It came with a Levy's gig bag.

    Second: Electronics

    It is fitted with an Aguilar OBP-3 preamp, with a layout of v/v/t/m/b, and a pair of Nordstrand single-coil J-pickups.

    Weight: 6.7 we say in Boston, "It's a feathah!"

    All Hipshot chrome (Style A bridge), and chrome barrel knobs.


    Well, the bass came from humid Florida to sunny, windy and dry Southern California, and right out of the bag, it was VERY playable! All I really needed to do was put a 1/2 turn on the truss rod, and the neck was DEAD-flat, and it needed no saddle adjustments whatsoever! Cliff really knows how to dial-in the action on a bass! Usually (with the exception of any of Carey Nordstrand's basses), I need to do an extensive setup to get the relief/string saddle relationship just right, but Cliff had it nailed! Speaking of the truss rods, I do believe that Cliff makes his own, since he has a machinist's background. I've gotta tell you, I don't know how he achieves it, but that rod feels as if it's gliding on teflon when you adjust it...smooooooovvvveeee as silk!!! :D Very nice touch!! It screams "This is how every truss rod should feel!" Seriously, every boutique luthier should be getting their truss rods from nothing I've experienced.

    The action is nearly laying on the deck....about 3/64ths or so. It's DOWN there! I play primarily over the back pickup, so I can get away with low action without the string travel "bottoming out" on the frets. Well, the frets are so well seated and leveled that even when I dig in over the back pickup, there is NO fret rattle whatsoever, even when it's played unplugged! Plugged in, it's got this evenness about the feel of each string. I usually feel that when I'm playing around the 12th fret or so, as I'm coming down in one position, I have to dig in on the A string a bit to keep even "burp" on the notes, but this one doesn't require any change in my right hand to keep the punch coming out of each note evenly! A sign of a very well built and layed-out design. Kudos!!!!!
    I play with the pickups adjusted so they are right under the strings, and they were setup perfectly (for me) right out of the box.


    Here's where I get giddy! I have been a dear friend of Carey Nordstrand for over 12 years....I've known him since his days at the Redlands Guitar Shop, and seen his rise as one of the prominent bass builders around today. I've played and owned his earliest pickups and basses, and have been proud to watch his business flourish to where it is today. I am sad to say, however, that I never gave his single-coil J pickups a chance....I was always drawn to his SE design, since it sounds so damn GOOD!!!! I figured, why mess with the possibility of 60 cycle hum when I can get all of this Jacoey-goodness out of the SEs? Oops.....big, BIG mistake!
    The single coil pickups in this bass are THE TRUTH!!!!!!!! Just freakin' UNREAL!!!!! All of the punch of the SEs, but with so much more detail in the top end...anyone who thinks these pickups sound thin does not hear good tone the way I hear it...sorry. Jaco burp for DAYS, and the slap tone is wicked with both pickups fully on! These pickups have made me a true believer in his single-coil design! It doesn't hurt, however, that Cliff has the cavity shielded up like the Franklin mint!!!! Silent. Even with one pickup soloed. Yowza!!!!!
    They work incredibly well with the OPB-3, especially the mid boost. The Aggie bass boost can get a bit unruly, but due to the nature of singles, I think this is a good thing, especially if you want to thicken up the bridge pickup sound. These pickups were undoubtably THE match for this bass....thanks Carey and Cliff!'s where it shines...THE GIG!!! I played 4 sets each with the CB on Wednesday and Friday night in a jazz setting (Real Book gig). It was a medium/medium low-volume gig, so I got a chance to hear the tone of the bass without dealing with high-decible masking of what was coming through the amp. I used an EA iAMP 350 paired with a 4-ohm 2X8 cabinet built by Lou Furlinetto (George's brother)...a killer cab that can handle an insane amount of lows and volume.
    All I can say is that it sounds SO good in the mix, and you can hear the organic, meaty tone of the bass at the same time! It doesn't get buried AT ALL, and you can hear the character of the bass shine through, as if all the other instruments were saying politely "It's can have your sonic space"...kind of like how a wise-guy would react when he found out that Tony Soprano was pissed at him!
    It's light as a feather on your back, and has ridiculous good looks as an added bonus!

    The only basses I've owned/played that I feel are at this level are Nordstrand, F Bass, R bass, and one Fodera I played which I felt was spectacular! Now, I know this is only one man's opinion, but after owning over 100 basses (mostly high end/customs), I feel that for me, this is an accurate statement! I have to state that I have NO affiliation with CB basses other than the fact that I am one happy owner of one of his creations. I owned a CB Bass which is now (happily) owned by Wilbyman, which I feel is also at the same level of craftsmenship/playability/tone...just different, as Will's has an ash body, rosewood board, mesquite burl top, and this one is its fraternal twin!

    Pics to follow...I promise! I am going to attempt to host my own for the first time, so bear with me....I am just a bass playing and drumming neandrathal, so it may take me a minute to go from scratching on cave walls to the digital age! ;)

    Hope you enjoyed my rantings/ravings.

  2. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    I'm going to take some pics of mine today, it looks stunning with some Smith wax on it.

    I really want a fretless S-Bass pretty bad. That would be quite the business.
  3. Human Bass

    Human Bass

    Aug 26, 2005
    The dark wood of the neck is wenge...i guess...
  4. soniq


    Apr 19, 2006
    El Dorado Hills, CA
    That was a great write-up and a good read...thanks :bassist: .
  5. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Nice right-up. Matt.

    I'd be interested in info/pics of the F cab. I just picked up an iAmp 350 with VL-110 cab.
  6. Matt Power

    Matt Power Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2000
    Magnolia, TX
    Hey are ya?
    The Furlinetto cab I have is tolex-covered, and has 2-4 ohm 8" speakers...I got it second hand from a guy in Canada (no surprise, eh? ;) ), so I don't know that much about it other than the fact that Lou Furlinetto made it, it sounds GREAT, is super portable (smaller than a 2X10), relatively light (maybe 30+ lbs), but what I like is that I can go into a jazz gig with one trip, but have enough power to fill most any room that I'd need. I'd say call George at F bass, and I'm sure he could put you in touch with Lou.

    Thanks for the props...I didn't mean to derail my own thread! :rolleyes: :D

    Now...back to our regularly scheduled thread......
  7. BEADG


    Jan 8, 2006
    North Carolina
    Very nice write up. I play my Bordwell every day and I just can't say enough great things about it. Mine is only 7lbs and the feel, balance, and action (though mine is a bit higher that yours) is all amazing. If I'm not mistaken the birdseye back on yours is from the same board as the top on mine as they were done at about the same time. I may be able to tell once you get the pictures up.

    Enjoy and welcome to the CB club! :D
  8. Wilbyman


    Sep 10, 2003
    Parkersburg, WV
    Here are some pics of my D-Bass, just thought I'd add to bump the thread a little. Thanks Matt, I'm still digging it!


  9. Papersen


    Mar 22, 2002
    My goodness :eek: That bass is incredibly beautiful !!
    After reading such a "tempting" review and watching the pics, Cliff´s work is becoming one of my favs.
  10. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Inactive

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Doing well, Matt, looks like you are too. I'll check with George on that cab, I'm in the market for another rig for no apparent reason. Looking for something powerful, small and front ported to complement my rear ported main rig.

    Like we need reasons:D

    Back on topic... I came so close to pulling the triiger on this one. If I didn't have a fretless six in the works...

  11. rabass6

    rabass6 Commercial User

    Jun 3, 2004
    How does the spanish cedar body sounds?
    I'm really interested in one of CB work, and I see many spanish cedar body, how it compares versus alder or ash, just to have an idea of the sound achieved.
    Thank you
  12. SuperDuck

    SuperDuck Guest

    Sep 26, 2000
    Wilby, that is a pretty sexy body shape.

    (That is an awkward sentence when taken out of context. :ninja: )