Valenti #15: Incredible Flexibility, Great Tone, Near Flawless Construction, and The best Customer Service Ive 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, its 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 couldnt 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 youve 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 arent available from Warmoth. For those of you who dont know, Valenti basses are expertly created with the help of his parts supplier Warmoth. This is no knock on Nino by any means. To Ninos admission, hes a bass assembler, not a Luthier and doesnt have control over all of the things the Warmoth will or will not do. One of the options that I had originally wanted and wasnt 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 Id 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 Ninos 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 Ninos 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 hadnt even thought of and Im quite happy that he did, because this bass literally drops jaws every time I play it. Sound: Tonal Chameleon. Id give this bass a 10. It definitely has a unique sound, unlike any of my other basses, however, it has so many usable tones, its 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 youre comparing what I have in my personal bass collection, this bass is definitely one of my favorites in terms of sound. Its 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 cant 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 bands new album with acclaimed guitarist and producer John Seables of Eve 6. Be sure to check out www.myformerself.com 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 Ive 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 Im biased. Ive 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. Ive been using this or trading this off as my main bass depending on what type of bar or club were playing in and I can tell you it plays like a dream. The neck is a little chunkier than Im used to, however Ive grown accustomed to the neck width and I like it. Its 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 cant imagine this falling apart. If it did, I wouldnt 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 hes had exposure to. The finish on the bass is awesome, and I really have no complaints at all in this department. Ill most likely be going out on tour with it in October or after December, and Ill look forward to seeing how it holds up on the road. Customer Service: 10. Some of the best Ive had thus far. Ive 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 hasnt forgotten my name, the bands Ive played in, the types of music I like. The man knows his customers almost as well as he knows his basses. Nino doesnt hesitate to just say whats up? and really makes me feel like Im having a conversation with a friend, while keeping things professional all the time. Im a big person on communication. I used to be a CSR for an automotive stereo company and Im really particular about timely e-mail responses and phone calls. Nino far exceeded my expectations, answering e-mails while hes 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 thats 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, hes a funny guy. Damn shame about the Passat though. Improvements: Mainly due to Warmoth. The accent line wasnt perfect. It has a few faded looking spots on the top, but nothing to cry about. Block inlays would have been nice, but they werent 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 were 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 Rogers camp proved a B string can be solid with a 34 scale. For the B string, I think Im 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 its pretty faint. It only happens occasionally. When talking with Nino about the problem, Nino helped me through some troubleshooting and determined that its Californias fault and I agree. After reading many reviews on talkbass, I know this is not a problem isolated to my Valentis or my bass, so this isnt even attributable to Ninos 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. Shes looks, feels, smells like a boutique bass. You would expect a boutique price, yes? Ninos prices are incredible for what you are getting. Youre 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. Its 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. Id feel comfortable taking this as my only bass to any gig. Ive 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 Ive 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 Ive 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.