Roscoe fretless vs. Zon fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JayJay, Feb 26, 2003.

  1. Roscoe SKB

    14 vote(s)
  2. Zon Sonus

    27 vote(s)
  1. JayJay


    May 13, 2002
    Well, I know it's tough especially since both are great fretless basses. But say you can only get either, which one would you go for?

    I am narrowing it down to the SKB 3005 fretless with diamondwood fingerboard (yummy) vers. the Zon Sonus.

    Let us know your experiences especially if you happened to own/played both basses extensively before.

    I will just put in a poll here to quantify the results.

    Let's get rollin....
  2. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    Hello again Jay Jay. I have owned both. The Zon I had was a 5 string Sonus Special 5. It was a very good sounding bass. Played nice and had excellent mwah. The Roscoe fretless 5 I have now is the best fretless I've played/owned. It has more mwah, a much more versatile tone, unmatched playability, and will do everything the Zon could plus much more. I usually don't gush over basses but this one deserves it.
  3. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    our very own John Bowen bought a fretless Roscoe from me- i wondered how hed like it-- two days after he took delivery of it he put the Zon for sale.. i just ordered one for myself. Scott ( Peter Parker) above raves about his-
    disclaimer- we are both Roscoe dealers... we will do a Texas death cage match to see who gets to sell you one!!!:eek: :D
  4. Thanks for the intro, Adrian. It's true. I had a Sonus Custom 5 that I liked very much, but once I bought the Roscoe (thanks Adrian) I never looked back. My reason was to get a more "organic" sound from my fretless, with a cocobolo top (something Zon does not offer). I wanted a 35" scale w/o extra wide spacing. I ordered my Roscoe with the upgrade electronics which has the push/pull 2-band mids. I like the flexibility that affords. Jay, the TONE is great. The Roscoe just sings - it's very punchy but warm. It has a tenor voice that is just what I was looking for.

    Here's some things to consider:

    1. 35" scale. You CAN get a Zon w/ a 35" but it's extra wide spacing - something I did not want.
    2. You can get a little more of a custom axe with Keith. Joe seems to have his "recipe" in place on woods and, of course, necks.
    3. HUGE tone! The Roscoe electronics package just roars! (May be too much for some based upon some bassgear and Talkbass comments)
    4. If you don't like graphite necks, the choice is obvious

    1. If you DO like graphite necks, the choice is obvious
    2. When calling Zon, you get the sense you're calling a "company". Keith is pretty much a one-man operation. Zon as a whole is a very efficient operation, where Keith has his own timeline and tastes.;)
    3. OCCASIONALLY, Keith will put out a bass with a few construction "niggles". Is this a big deal to you? Mine has some "cloudy" areas in the upper and lower cutaway that were not buffed as much as the rest of the bass. It wasn't a big deal for me.

    I'm sure I left out a ton of other points. Anybody else care to build on this?

    Zon seems to offer more electronics choices, with single-coil Jazz or soapbar pickups. Keith just offers Bart soapbars. I guess you could ask Keith if he'll build you one with Aero jazz single coils. Zon offers Bart or Polyfusion preamps - Keith offers Barts and Aguilars. You decide which one you want.

    Let me say that you DO have a ton of choices on retailers. I went with Adrian because of price negotiations initially (and because he's Latin American like me:D ). But I appreciated Adrian's extra effort in getting me a "custom" axe; one that was my own. He had 100% follow through on everything he said he would do. I love his sense of humor and we have become friends too. Maybe you can say that about other retailers - but my choice was

    email me at and I can send you some mp3's of my bass so you can hear it. Here is a pic too!!

    Hope this helps.
  5. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    This is a "win-win" situation!


    Like Adrian and Peter, I work at a Roscoe dealer (3-way Texas death cage match! :bassist: ), AND at a Zon dealership.

    I own a Zon fretless, and I think it's a screamer...but I will own both a fretted AND fretless Roscoe one day, they're amazing.

    You can't go wrong, here's my "quick & dirty" description of the difference:

    Zon does the "Jaco on steriods J-bass" tone better than anything I've ever heard (particularly my Sonus Special :D).

    Roscoe does the "thumpy/punchy/but clear/B string that will kick your @$$" thing better than anything I've ever heard.

    No way to lose!
  6. Either way you're going to have one of the best fretless basses built.

    Gard's assessment is very accurate. Zon's are great at Jaco growl, particularly from the graphite neck. Roscoes can do the punchy Jaco thing but has a bit of a smoother, less growly texture. Of course the B string RAAAAWWKKSS! It's thunderous!

    It will come down to your personal preference (and maybe price).
  7. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    Zons are available with lightwaves, nothing on the Roscoe site about those at all, so if lightwave is a want, Roscoe doesnt have em, as far as I can tell at least.
  8. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Given a choice today, I'd opt for the Zon...because I already have a fretless Roscoe SKB3006 and I just picked up a pretty awesome Zon Legacy Standard. But the new (to me) Zon is fretted. And I have a great fondness for graphite necks, in general. One of my very favorite basses is a Modulus Quantum 6 with EMG's. In this type of comparison, it's strictly a matter of personal taste as both of those basses are top-notch.
  9. adrian garcia

    adrian garcia

    Apr 9, 2001
    las vegas. nevada
    Endorsing Artist: Nordy Basses, Schroeder Cabs, Gallien Krueger Amps
    well, i am compelled to post this, In all fairness , it may seem like i push what i sell all the time, and thats because i believe in the lines i carry- but a good friend , and wonderfu bassist, Trip Wamsley was playign a Zon fretless when i first heard him and the sound was absolutely out of this world... i recently picked up that bass at NAMM where he had it with him and will testify that it is an unreal bass- incredible fretless, so yes, both are fine basses and it comes down to personal preference-
  10. Bassmanbob

    Bassmanbob Supporting Member


    I'm sorry I didn't quote you specifically, but I haven't learned how to quote someone in this text.

    I noticed that you said that occationally there are some flaws in workmanship to the Roscoe Basses.

    I was wondering how old your Roscoe is. I've heard that over the last few years, Keith Roscoe has increased quality assurance and no longer has these types of problems on his new basses.

    Your comments would be appreciated. I'm currently looking to get either an MTD or a Roscoe.

    Sorry this may be slightly off topic.
  11. Hey Bob,
    I ordered my bass in July, and it was delivered to me in November. I cannot address whether his quality is better now - Gard, you still there? Yeah, I read the 5-string shootout article, but I also played 3 of his basses here in Dallas and they all were fine. I called Keith and asked him about it. He said that if I didn't like the bass, I could have him fix any problems, or he would swap it for another in his stock until I was satisfied. That seemed like a "can't lose" offer.

    I have received consistent compliments on the looks and the tone of my Roscoe -- moreso than when I was playing the Zon.

    Does the fact that I sold my Zon mean I don't like Zons? No, not at all. If Zon made a Sonus with a 24 fret, 35" scale neck AND a cocobolo top, I would have gone with Zon. Also, my fretted bass is a Zon Legacy Standard and I love it. For me, It was a matter of looking for a sound and I found the Roscoe did a good job of bringing it out.

    I also called about 3 different bass retailers and the Roscoes were consistently less expensive than the Zons. For example, the matching headstock is standard with the Roscoe, but extra $ for the Zon so cost was a factor.

    Hope that helps.
  12. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Yeah, I'm here! :D

    Here's the deal: Both Keith Roscoe & Joe Zon are exceptional people, as "stand-up" as they come. It helps that they both make incredible instruments. The quality of both is exemplary in my experience, and if I HAD to choose one, I would probably go insane. Thankfully, when the opportunity came for me to get the Zon I have now (you don't wanna know what I have in it! :p), there was no Roscoe around to make the decision difficult...


    That said, I will eventually own both.

  13. Stachio

    Stachio Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2002
    I thought I'd give an opinion on the Sonus LW for some variation...I believe that they offer a more organic/natural sound than the rest of the Sonus line.
    In chosing my Roscoe fretted, I also tried a few fretlesses. Redwood top I believe. Hard to make a generalization, as I tried it out for a few minutes while I've had the Zon for a few months. The Roscoe seemed to be rounder and a bit more subtle still then the Zon. I want to say the Zon had the edge on versatility, but I didn't have enough time on the Roscoe. Also, the Zon's B seemed a bit more "even" with the other strings. But then again, a lot of factors play into that
    My new LG fretted smokes though :) . The killer B stung me :rolleyes: :) .
  14. I concur. I chalk all that up to the graphite neck. The Zon has more growl so by comparison, the Roscoe sounds rounder and smoother...but definitely not muddy!

    Roscoe B's definitely have some kind of "turbocharging" to them. I love it, but it's not universally loved.

    I guess you just have to:bassist: try it for yourself:D

    BTW Stachio, the bass in your attachment has a flame maple top.
  15. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Cool! Now I don't need to bring an example of a Roscoe to the get together! That means other neat toys can make the trip. :cool:

    Nice bass Stachio! :D
  16. Peter Parker

    Peter Parker Banned

    Jun 10, 2001
    Adrian, Gard- I'd be happy to meet the both of you in a cage match. You'd both go down faster than a cheap hooker. I'm 6'4" and mean as hell. I also fight dirty. But please, don't hit me in the nose... I bleed easy:D

    I probably am a little biased but I have owned a Zon fretless, one just like Gard's, and think my Roscoe growls more and can easily do the jaco thing but much more. Though, you really can't go wrong with either.
    If you decide to go with a Roscoe, whether you get it from Adrian, Gard, or myself, you are guaranteed a great bass and fantastic customer service. Good luck.
  17. Stachio

    Stachio Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2002
    Right. I meant that the fretless I tried had a redwood top. Mine has a maple top with a mahogany body.
    Sorry for the confusion.

    Gard - I bought the bass just so you could bring some more goodies, so they better be good :D :D.
  18. JayJay


    May 13, 2002
    Thanks for all the inputs and I must say they are really very accurate to the point! That the Zon growl and mwah is more pronounce whereas the Roscoe tone is rounder and more punchy.

    By the way is growl on the fretless the same as mwah if I got that right? :p

    To make it interesting, what if you already has a fretted Roscoe LG3005 in your arsenal, would you still go for a fretless Zon or another fretless SKB?

    What is a great recipe (body wood, fingerboard, electronics etc.) for a great mmmwwwahhh Roscoe fretless. (sorry that my preference is a tad towards the Roscoe) :p
  19. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    I haven't played any fretless that played or sounded as nice as the Roscoe's. The first time I picked up a Roscoe fretless it was very clear to me why Keith takes special pride in his fretless basses! They setup extremely well and have incredible tones. I would definetely go with the Diamondwood finger board. It really sings!
  20. JOME77

    JOME77 Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    My fretted Roscoe (LG) sounds nothing like my fretless Roscoe (SKB). I definetely recommend one of each!
    As far as the recipe for great mmmwwahhh, I sure some will disagree, but I found any top with Spanish Cedar core, Diamondwood fingerboard, and 3-band EQ will have you crying tears of joy! I've played Roscoe fretless basses with flame/quilt maple tops and mine w/Box Elder Burl top and IMO they don't sound noticably different.