Review of Valenti #015 - Tonal Flexibility, Great Tone, Even Better Customer Service

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Poon, Aug 30, 2005.

  1. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA

    Valenti #15: Incredible Flexibility, Great Tone, Near Flawless Construction, and The best Customer Service I’ve received.

    Let me start off by apologizing for the delay in getting this review out. I had promised Nino that I would publish this review a few weeks after I received the bass, however, it’s been about 3 months since I first received the bass. My original thread on talkbass is located here , where you can read all about my decision making process from the wood, pickups, to the choice of where the knobs go. The process of designing bass couldn’t have been easier with the help of Nino Valenti.

    The Specs for the bass.

    Ash Body
    Flame Maple Top
    Maple Neck
    Ebony Board with Mother of Pearl Dots
    Nordstrand Dual-Coil Pickups - Series Parallel Coil Tap for Each located in the knobs
    Aguilar OBP-3 w/ Active/Passive Bypass with mid selector switch located in mid knob
    All Knobs are going to be push pull except for blend.
    Hipshot Type A Bridge Satin Black
    Hipshot Ultralites Satin Black
    Black Accent Line
    Stringed with Sadowsky Stainless Steel Strings
    Schaller Strap Locks

    Features: If I were to rate this bass on the same system that Harmony Central uses, I would give the features list a 9. Let first say that talking with Nino about the options you want on your bass is like going into a candy store and making the sweetest thing (no pun intended) that you’ve ever seen. He has a plethora of options at your disposals, which in my opinion, puts him at an advantage to many other manufacturers. Why the 1 point deduction then? The reason I say this is because of the options that aren’t available from Warmoth. For those of you who don’t know, Valenti basses are expertly created with the help of his parts supplier Warmoth. This is no knock on Nino by any means. To Nino’s admission, he’s a bass assembler, not a Luthier and doesn’t have control over all of the things the Warmoth will or will not do. One of the options that I had originally wanted and wasn’t available when I ordered my Valenti was Block inlays, and 2 months later, they have them available for their 5 string models. Another feature that I’d like to see from Warmoth is the ability to change the neck profile of their basses. I think that it would be a nice option for bassists to be able to have a slimmer profile if so desired. On Nino’s end of the spectrum, every option imaginable was bestowed upon me. I had the choice of pickups, pre-amps, hardware, knob configuration, as well as the gamut of other choices that came with Nino’s expertise. Nino does an excellent job of throwing out options for his perspective clients, leading them, but not pushing them in certain directions. Nino offered me options I hadn’t even thought of and I’m quite happy that he did, because this bass literally drops jaws every time I play it.

    Sound: Tonal Chameleon. I’d give this bass a 10. It definitely has a unique sound, unlike any of my other basses, however, it has so many usable tones, it’s ridiculous. I can get sounds that resemble if not nail all of the basses you want. I get an almost growly stingray sound if I solo the bridge pickup and EQ it correctly. Sometimes I swear it sounds like an MTD, with the sort of Bart sound. It does have somewhat of a signature sound that stays with it, like all basses do. And here is the comparison that everyone is waiting for…It reminds me (at times) of playing the Sadowsky Metro RV5 that I used to own. The difference, although it may be sacrilegious to say, is that I believe that this Valenti is more usable than my Sadowsky Metro and definitely more akin to the sound I hear in my head. Sadowsky has its signature sound that people either find mediocre or love (and I MEAN LOVE). Ultimately, I like it a lot better in terms of sound and versatility. If you’re comparing what I have in my personal bass collection, this bass is definitely one of my favorites in terms of sound. It’s probably tied with the F-Bass (which is just different, not necessarily better). So far, my favorite pickup position is to have the bridge pickup on single coil (or series mode) with the neck pickup on dual coil (or parallel mode). It has warmth, clarity, definition, punchiness, versatility, and musicality. I really love the pickup/pre-amp setup on this bass because I literally have a tonal arsenal under my fingertips. The Aguilar OBP-3 in conjunction with the Nordstrand Dual Coil Pickups (which I greatly recommend) is a perfect match. The OBP-3, while slightly noisy, is an incredibly usable pre-amp that allows for gradual changes as you move in the cut or boost direction. I can’t say enough about the sound of this bass. My roommate (a bassist in another band) found this bass to be his favorite amongst our collective arsenal. I have a pretty nice collection of basses too. He liked it so much that he took the bass (with my permission of course) to the studio to record his band’s new album with acclaimed guitarist and producer John Seables of Eve 6. Be sure to check out for updates when the CD comes out to hear the Valenti on at least 5 tracks. You should just check it out because they are a great band and great guys.
    Back to my experience with this bass: The amps I’ve used are my Ginormous Aguilar Rig, My Euphonic Audio Rig, A Gallien Krueger Rig, and an Ampeg 8x10 Rig. It sounded stellar through all of them, although I feel like it worked best with the Aggie and the EA rigs, but I’m biased. I’ve played a variety of styles of music with this bass. Rock (Both with a pick and finger style), Jazz, Funk (the slap sound is incredible.)

    Action, Fit & Finish: 10. On par with the sound quality is the fit and finish on this bass. The fretwork was excellent, no gaps anywhere to be seen. The action out of the box felt just like the Sadowsky RV-5 that I owned when I pulled it out of the box. Nino even told me he uses the same specifications for his setups as Sadowsky. The problem is that the Sadowsky had action that was a little high for my liking, so you can guess how the Valenti felt out of the box. After I made a few adjustments to action, I got it playing exactly the way I wanted it to play. I’ve been using this or trading this off as my main bass depending on what type of bar or club we’re playing in and I can tell you it plays like a dream. The neck is a little chunkier than I’m used to, however I’ve grown accustomed to the neck width and I like it. It’s much closer to the feel of a Sadowsky neck than that of a Lakland. It taps well, it slaps well, and the finger style feel is absolutely great.

    Reliability/Durability: 10. I can’t imagine this falling apart. If it did, I wouldn’t let Nino hear the end of it. The parts are all A+++ quality. You know where Nino gets his products and he is very up front about his opinions on the quality and performance of the options he’s had exposure to. The finish on the bass is awesome, and I really have no complaints at all in this department. I’ll most likely be going out on tour with it in October or after December, and I’ll look forward to seeing how it holds up on the road.

    Customer Service: 10. Some of the best I’ve had thus far. I’ve been lucky to support companies that have people who support their products very well. I really think that Nino goes a step beyond any other bass or amp builder/manufacturer. Nino really establishes a good relationship with his customers. Nino hasn’t forgotten my name, the bands I’ve played in, the types of music I like. The man knows his customers almost as well as he knows his basses. Nino doesn’t hesitate to just say “what’s up?” and really makes me feel like I’m having a conversation with a friend, while keeping things professional all the time. I’m a big person on communication. I used to be a CSR for an automotive stereo company and I’m really particular about timely e-mail responses and phone calls. Nino far exceeded my expectations, answering e-mails while he’s at work, at home, and even once when he was on vacation. The man really works hard to keep you satisfied and informed on everything that’s going on with the process. I honestly believe that Nino stands behind his products and makes every effort to keep his customers happy even after the bass has been delivered. I just talked with Nino on instant messenger about 5 minutes ago, he’s a funny guy. Damn shame about the Passat though.

    Improvements: Mainly due to Warmoth. The accent line wasn’t perfect. It has a few faded looking spots on the top, but nothing to cry about. Block inlays would have been nice, but they weren’t available at the time. The more I play this bass, the more I like the B string. Although, the B string is damn good, I think my Lakland has a more solid B due to the 35” scale and string thru body construction. I think each bass has a different natural sound and I think that plays a role into it, however if we’re going by subjective preferences, I would say that the Lakland has a better B. Then again, I preferred the Lakland B string to the Sadowsky B, even though Roger’s camp proved a B string can be solid with a 34” scale. For the B string, I think I’m going to try different strings to see if that helps. I think a string “without” a tapered core might actually help.
    Like stated earlier, the Aguilar pre-amp is a little noisy. I occasionally will get radio transmissions coming through my bass, but it’s pretty faint. It only happens occasionally. When talking with Nino about the problem, Nino helped me through some troubleshooting and determined that it’s “California’s fault” and I agree. After reading many reviews on talkbass, I know this is not a problem isolated to my Valenti’s or my bass, so this isn’t even attributable to Nino’s work.

    Overall Vibe: 10. The moment I took her out of the case, I knew I was in love. She looks absolutely gorgeous. The curves of her body, the fretwork, the wiring in her control cavity, and knob configuration all speak serious words. She’s looks, feels, smells like a boutique bass. You would expect a boutique price, yes? Nino’s prices are incredible for what you are getting. You’re getting a bass built to your specifications in between what the highest end Skyline and Metro would fall. But which of these three would be built entirely in the U.S.A and entirely to your liking? And best of all, which would be built by one of our very own TBers? (I realize Roger Sadowsky and people from the Lakland Camp have made appearances on Talkbass, but I think the point still applies) Ultimately, this bass definitely has a huge J sound. It’s definitely of the J-Bass Camp in shape and sound. However, it can get a pseudo PJ sound, Stingrayish sound, dual soapbar, normal vintage J sound…etc. All sounds which are definitely convincing. I’d feel comfortable taking this as my only bass to any gig. I’ve played with Rock bands, Jazz Combos, Funk bands, Pop groups, acoustic acts, blues bands, and even filled in a few times for worship and country gigs, and in any of these situations, the Valenti would have completed the job with aplomb. This bass is the most versatile bass I’ve ever owned while retaining its own signature character. Several of my local bassist friends have seen all the basses that have come in and out of my collection. I believe that I’ve gotten the most positive comments on this bass in terms of sound and looks. Everyone is in love with this bass and there is good reason. I would not hesitate to get another Valenti, as the experience has been tremendously positive, from the moment I got the quote to 5 minutes ago when talking with Nino.

  2. sheepdog


    Feb 20, 2003
    Birmingham, AL

    some day I will have me at least 1 Valenti.....some day

  3. syciprider

    syciprider Banned

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    Congrats to Poon

    and very nice work Nino :bassist:
  4. ahhh i can't wait till mine is done!!! :D

    Once again, very sweet poon!
  5. The Reff

    The Reff

    Feb 11, 2004
    Congrats on the ultra nice bass :hyper:
  6. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    WOW, that's really sweet, and a great review to boot!!

    How "hot" are the Nordstrands? Output wise how do they compare with some of your other axes? I'm sure the Aggy playes a role, but what's your "gut feeling" on how they drive?
  7. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    They are about the same as my Bart Equipped Lakland. They are higher output than my F-Bass. I usually end up tweaking the EQ to my liking. The push/pull series parallel pickup configuration makes a difference(although not a huge one) in output. With both soapbars on parallel, it's output is pretty strong, I usually keep the neck soapbar on and the bridge on single coil (series). Sounds very PJish.
  8. Cliff Bordwell

    Cliff Bordwell Commercial User

    Jan 6, 2004
    USA , Orlando , Florida
    Owner of CB BASSES
    I bet you love those pickups :bassist:
  9. Poon


    May 20, 2003
    Los Angeles, CA
    I do... and from what I understand they are very similar to the Aero Dual Coils as well.

    Oh and Cliff, compliments on your beautiful work.
  10. Beautiful work and an excellent review!

  11. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    aw3sum. The body and neck are beautiful.
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Very nice!:cool: Which reminds me. I need to finish my Valenti review!
  13. YES YOU DO :mad: :p :D
  14. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Another great job by Nino. well done and great choices of body and neck. good luck with it.
  15. LukeMan970


    Jun 22, 2005
    Seattle, WA
    Whats the website for valenti?
  16. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
  17. j-raj

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

    Jan 14, 2003
    Atlanta, GA!
    that is the nicest Valenti I have seen.
  18. michele

    michele Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2004
    Definitely (IMO) one of the best Valenti EVER! Simple, classy, elegant ... definitely a winner! Enjoy this great bass, man ... and Nino.. what a masterpiece!!!! ;)
  19. TaySte_2000


    Jun 23, 2001
    Manchester, UK
    Endorsing Artist: Mojohand, Subdecay, Overwater, Matamp
    *Makes note of next Valenti Bass to be made :p *