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Sadowsky 5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lump, Mar 1, 2001.

  1. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    I'm doing a little goal-setting here, and could use some constructive input. Despite my protestations in the past against fivers, I'm reaching the point where I need one. I may still make a 4 my main axe for rock/pop stuff, but for slower, church-y music a five would make my life a lot easier - everything I played this weekend was in Eb or F. That low Eb sure would have been nice, and I'm tired of playing down at the first fret. It's time.

    And as much as I love my Carvin, I've vowed to shoot for the top with my next bass; I'm not a collector and I don't need another stepping stone. Since I prefer J-style basses, I am VERY interested in a Sadowsky (there is a beauty Vintage 5 on their website that is allegedly still in stock), which leads me to my basic question - are their fives and good as their fours? I don't think there's any question that their fours are unsurpassed, but do other high-end makers (Modulus, Zon, etc.) do a better job with the fives? As has been mentioned here in the past, Sadowsky didn't do so hot in the BP Mag Shoot-out, but that was back in '97. The big complaint was that the necks were pretty hefty, and I definitely prefer a thinner neck. How is their playability? And how about that B string? BP said it was pretty boomy. Have things improved?

    Anyway, that's about it. Keep in mind that although I'm no pro I'm a fairly solid player, and compared to "real" ;) instruments, a $3K bass is still pretty cheap. But I'd like to get some input from some of you that have some experience with Sadowsky before I make a move on anything. Any informed advice would be appreciated. Thanks!
  2. Regarding the Sadowsky PJ5, a country player wrote on BGRA that if he had the purchase to do again, he'd take the reverse-stagger P pickup (low string pickup section closer to the bridge) instead to tighten up the B string sound. Also seems folks like the new passive tone control a lot.
  3. Lump,

    Unfortunately you're a bit far from the Sadowsky shop to simply pop in and try one yourself. $3K plus for a bass you've never played is a tough decision.

    I haven't played a Sadowsky 5, So I can't really help, but I'm interested because I'm considering one for my next bass, too. Roger does post here from time to time - maybe he'll have some insight.

    Does anyone here play a Sad. 5?
  4. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    I have a Vintage 5 much like the one posted on Roger's site. I bought it after going thru many brands looking for the "ultimate" 5 for me.

    I can say without hesitation I have found it in my Sadowsky. I have never owned or played a better bass. The workmanship is flawless. The tone seems to be just right for every situation (I also have a church gig). The "B" is tight and very articulate (better than the fretted Zon Custom I used to have - which I had thought was outstanding). The neck feels great - not as flat as my last Zon but very easy to play - I've come to prefer it to thinner necks and I have small hands. Further, with all the bass swapping I've done over the years, this is the first bass that bandmates and even audence members have said they can clearly hear the difference and it's a tone they love.

    Roger may let you try the bass. Give him a call. If I can be of any further help, let me know. If you happen to live around Dallas, I'd be happy to let you try my bass.

  5. red_rhino

    red_rhino Gold Supporting Member

    Roger does a 7 day approval period. If it isn't what you want, all you're out of pocket for is the shipping charges. That's definitely enough time to determine if it's what you want. The folks there are incredibly helpful through the whole process.

  6. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Yep, the folks at Sadowksy are super nice and easy going. The 7 day trial is superb.

    Also, the reverse pickup tightens the pop on the G...if I'm not mistaken.

    I have a Sadowsky 4: I love it. If I ever get a 5 it would probably be a Sadowsky. BP mag ran an article about pro's tips and gear: the most common bass was a Sadowsky PJ 5.
  7. There is only one PJ5 review on BGRA, and I wrote it.

    I said nothing of the kind. I would NOT get the reverse P. The B string is awesome just as it is.
    I've played a reverse P and both the new owner and I preferred the sound of my bass over his.

    Dunno how you got the idea you posted above, but it's not from a PJ5 review by a country player on BGRA.

    I did, however, have the passive tone control retrofitted, and it's absolutely necessary as far as I'm concerned. I think it should be standard, but it's an option.
  8. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    Thanks for the input, guys. Jeff, I thought about emailing you, but I figured I'd post and let you share with everyone. I especially appreciate your experience with other high-end fives. I know it's all subjective, but the input is encouraging.

    I emailed Sadowsky about bass #3508, and got a reply from the man himself (or at least someone using his signature). It's still available, as is another model identical to that one but without the maple top. I mainly wanted to check to see if they'll ship to an APO address, and if in-stock models are any cheaper than having one custom made. The do, and they ain't. What's funny though is that I've been pricing tubas lately too, so when I told my wife how much the bass was, she said "Is that all? I thought it would be a lot more." She also cleared me to buy it (I might add she likes rock music and drinks beer - the perfect woman :) ). But.....

    The only thing you save by buying an in-stock model is the 6-month wait, and I'm not in any real rush. I'm also not sure whether I want the Vintage (w/pickguard) or the standard (without). I'm not a big fan of pickguards (especially over that gorgeous finish), but a classic look might be better for the long-haul. I dunno. I'd also kinda like a birdseye maple fingerboard. But that one is SO pretty. Ugh - someone else buy it and make it go away...

    Any additional input you guys have on options (is the passive tone control worth anything on a straight J-style?) would be helpful too. I'm going to try to drag my feet on this though...we'll see what happens. :)
  9. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Roger answer the e-mails himself.

    If you love the body on the bass, Roger might switch the neck to one with the figured maple board you desire. I'm sure he would: whether he'd charge for the extra labor is between you two or up to him.

    Roger can put a clear pickguard on the bass, and it can even be made to be removable without mounting screws into the wood. This option is not cheap. I have a Sadowsky AAAAA quilt top J bass and sometimes want a pickguard because it significantly alters my technique for popping and attempts at double thumping. I may (as yet undecided) spring for the option of the clear removable pickguard.

    My 4 string J has the optional passive tone; I think it is well worthwhile, have no regrets about getting it, and it's very fairly priced. I don't use it often but I'm glad it's there when I want it.
  10. Oops, sorry, Mike, I read that WAY too fast (was getting behind that day). It is a great review for anyone to read: http://www-eksl.cs.umass.edu/~schmill/reviews/sadowsky-guitars-vintage-pj5-1-rvw.html

    I re-read it today and I see what you mean. However, I did give it more credence when I saw you said you were a country fingerstyle player, and I remember the part about the B string being tighter with the reverse stagger, and how you liked your Lakland's B better, but forgot the part about the G popping better (probably 'cause it didn't seem right).

    Anyway, the things I did get out of your review were very profitable. It affirmed or settled a lot of things, like 34" scale, reverse stagger P, a reminder to ask for lots of shielding, etc.--thanks for a super-detailed review!
  11. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    As Strother Martin's character said in "Cool Hand Luke," "You've got to get your mind right." That's exactly what I see happening here, lump ... you're "getting your mind right." You're moving to the right number of strings and the right bass. I will guarantee you that, after you've played the five for a month, your four will start gathering a thick coat of dust. Also, don't be too afraid of buying a bass unplayed, as long as it's a Sadowsky. I bought my first Lakland without ever having seen on in person, and I had no regrets. Which brings up a point. You may want to consider Lakland as well. They play themselves, and a lot of pros use them on stage and in the studio. Just a thought.
  12. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    No need to ask. Sadowsky arguably has the best shielding in the industry. Look inside the cavity. Then, ask Roger about what they do to shield against RF.
  13. Jeff in TX

    Jeff in TX Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Just another point on the Sadowsky...

    I went to the studio today with my Sadowsky. It is the first time I have attempted to record with it. We plugged in and the engineer started to EQ. It sounded great straight into the board! EQ'd FLAT! Now, we were just getting some intitial reads for rehersal and I would think we will need/want to dial it in when we get serious about the recording, but it was great not to have to spend a ton of time just getting it to sound good in the mix. I've recorded in the same studio with a Modulus, Tobias and a couple of Zons. And, although they all sounded good, we had to spend a bunch of time to get them that way.

    I just thought it was cool! :)

  14. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    "What we have here...is a failure...to communicate."

    Yeah, resistance is futile. For the stuff I LIKE to play, a four works most of the time. For the stuff I actually DO play, a five is where it's at. As for Lakland, I have no doubt they are fine basses, but I don't care for their shape and that round bridge plate. To each his own.

    I emailed Roger about swapping out the neck, and since it would cost $150 and take several months, he suggested I have one made from scratch, which is what I think I'm gonna do. It's a $500 deposit, which I was surprised to learn, is refundable as long as the bass you're having built isn't something too out of the ordinary. I think I'm going to time it so it arrives around Christmas time (which is, coincidentally, when my van is paid off :) ). That'll give me time to make sure I know what I want, too.

    My main dilemma is Vintage vs. Standard. I know I want a flamed maple top, and a birdseye maple neck. I'll probably skip the passive tone control - I'd rather minimize the electronics. My original thought was to go with a standard with black hardware, but now I'm kind of leaning more towards just a straight classic look. Hmmm...

    Nice dilemma to have though, I guess. Any additional thoughts/comments are certainly welcome.
  15. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    The Standard vs Vintage is a highly personal decision. I have gorgeous carmel burst AAAAA quilt Standard. I love it.

    But sometimes I wish had a Vintage with a a '59 quilt top and pickguard. However, if I did own a Vintage, then I know I'd sometimes desire a Standard.

    So either way, I'm extemely happy yet still thinking about the other 'mistress'.

    Good luck.
  16. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    Here I am going to tell you my story:

    Jan 2001 finally I ordered Sadowsky vintage 4 with ash body/quilt maple with maple fingerboard, and paid deposit.
    In the waiting time I happened to buy from ebay a nice AAAAA SadowskyVintage J4 and knowing later after arrived [I live in Indonesia] that the body is ash and the fret board is ebony [Roger told me so]. It sounds marvelous, it beats all my collection from Alembic, Warwick,Lakland , Pedulla etc.etc [15].

    So I told Roger if I could change my order to something else [hopefully different sound], he agreed , and we come up with Alder body and morado fingerboard plus passive tone control.
    I play mostly Jazz, Pop Oldies, Country .
    Let me have your opinion, did I make the right decision?
  17. Tuomas


    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    I have tried only three sadowsky basses but every single time i ended up thinkin' how could I get enough money for one. Nothing else to be said. Sadowsky basses are awesome.
  18. lump


    Jan 17, 2000
    St. Neots, UK
    This arrived today:


    Style: Vintage 5 string
    Finish: '59 sunburst
    Wood: Quilt Maple top on Swamp Ash
    Fingerboard: Maple
    Pickguard: Pearloid
    Hardware: Chrome
    Pickups: Sadowsky humcancelling
    Serial #: 3552

    I was not planning to make a move on anything 'til the end of the year, but Roger held a gun to my head. After much research and dithering, I had decided I would order a '59 burst with a quilt maple top and humcancelling pups, but with a pearloid pickguard instead of the aforementioned birdseye maple neck (I was afraid getting both would make it a little TOO "pimped out" ;)).

    So, with this in mind, I was casually checking out his site last week, AND THERE IT WAS - MY DREAM BASS. I couldn't believe it. It was fate, kismet, blind luck, whatever, but I couldn't let it go. So, I bought it (which explains my rant here - Waiting until the end of the year would have been more fiscally responsible, but after all of the goings on in the last coupla weeks, I was feeling particularly mortal. Sometimes you've just got to say "what the f***."

    I'll spare you the review - it's perfect, of course. The neck is a little wider than I expected, but I'll get used to it. And I'm not gonna sweat dings and dents - they just build character. I look forward to it being 20 years old and beat to $h!t, but sounding better than ever.

    Thanks for all of the input. I'd like to thank Munji especially - your "buy the best equipment you can afford" philosophy factored into my decision quite a bit. True wisdom, and probably much cheaper in the long run.

    Back to the shed...:)
  19. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    My drool just ruined my computer keyboard!

    Sadowsky is the way to go. Clearly I love his instruments. I've never had the desire to trade or let one of my Sadowsky guitars or bass go. Top it off with great access to superlative customer service. What more can a player want? My bass cost around $3k. Divide that by future decades of awesome tone and fun. No sweat.
  20. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    My pleasure. DANG! That is a BEAUTIFUL thang.

    ... I must have one ... I must have one ...

    brb ... gotta go take a handful of Gas-X ...

    Congratulations, man! Now you can help preach the gospel of premium gear. Doesn't it just feel bitchen to play it?

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