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Sadowsky, Alleva Coppolo, Pensa Suhr and Fender: j-day in NYC

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by mheintz, Dec 9, 2006.

  1. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    I escaped work during the afternoon and went to Brooklyn to play some Sadowsky Metros. After coming back to Manhattan, I decided to make a day of it and play some Alleva Coppolo's at NYC Guitar and Bass Botique, some Pensa Suhr's at Rudy's and some Fenders at Sam Ash.

    In short, all of the botiques were great. I was absolutely floored by the Alleva Coppolo 1600, limited edition. I also really enjoyed the Sadowsky Metro MV4.

    Here's my j-day review in NYC:

    1. Sadowsky.

      When I peeked into Sadowsky's, the first person that I saw was Nino. Meeting someone from talkbass for the first time is rather like deja vu; strange, but familiar.

      Both Nino and Dave are very nice guys and Sadowsky's is a great place to test basses. The shop is welcoming and quiet, and I had a whole room of basses to myself. Nino and Dave brought me basses of my choice, all of which were Metros:

      1. Vintage 4, '59 burst, maple board
      2. Ultra-Vintage 4, black body, maple board, block inlays
      3. Modern 5 (24 frets), '59 Burst, maple board
      4. Vintage 5, '59 burst, maple board

      Nino and Dave introduced me to each bass and made adjustments where necessary, but otherwise left me to play and listen.

      I did not play any NYC models or any rosewood boards. I regret not playing the others, but I hadn't yet planned on visiting other stores and I was playing with the mind to buy. After playing the Metros, I don't really have the urge to buy an NYC. The quality on the Metros was superb and while the maple board wasn't as stunning as the birdseye maple board on one of the NYC's, for me, it probably wouldn't be worth the extra cash.

      I generally play upright and passive Fender four strings, so I started off with the Vintage 4. Nice! It was much lighter than my Fender and the undersize body felt very comfortable. The neck is incredibly smooth.

      The V4 had the vintage tone control and the Sadowsky bass/treble boost. Push-pull for passive. Adding a little bass goes a long way and provides very thick lows. The Sadowsky's had the thickest low end of the basses that I tried today. Simply rumbling. I found the treble boost a little troubling, probably because I'm used to passive basses. With the maple boards on all of the basses, the basses were on the brighter side, which I like. Even with a darker bass, I couldn't foresee ever using much more than 15% of the treble boost. I loved the vintage tone control and wouldn't get a Metro without it. The VTC never really got muddy. In fact, all of the Sadowsky's were clear all the way up the neck. I noticed more difference in volume when switching between active and passive than on the Alleva Coppolo or the Pensa Suhr, but I didn't test this thoroughly.

      The UV4 was the best looking of the Metros. The block inlays and binding look classy. The UV4 was slightly heavier than the V4, but still light. In terms of sound, I could go either way, V4 or UV4, if both had the VTC. However, the V4 felt more comfortable to me.

      The MV5 was tight and more focused than the others. The B string seemed tighter than the V5, but that could have been the setup of the V5, which had been in its case. (It's freakin' cold in New York!) I wanted to like the MV more, but the 24-fret and pickup placement was just off for me. Not a design fault; I'm just not as flexible as I would like to be. The V4 and V5 felt like home.

      The V5 had everything that I liked about the 4 (but not the VTC) and the neck was very comfortable. The B string wasn't as tight as the Modern, but on the whole, it seemed a little funkier to me. With the Sadowsky low end, the B and E really stood out. If it had the VTC, this would have been my favorite amongst the Sadowsky's.

    2. Alleva Coppolo

      Next up was a visit to Jimmy at NYC Guitar and Bass Botique. I first tried a Standard 4, rosewood board, silver, gloss neck. This bass had the most vintage feel of the basses. If you want vintage, Alleva Coppolo is it. The Standard has Jimmy's two band eq and an easy access battery box, but the vibe is vintage.

      The sound was very smooth and warm. The bass boost seemed more subtle to me than the Sadowsky, a little less growl than the Sadowsky, but it seemed a little more useful. Turning the Sadowsky past 50% was too much for me, whereas the Alleva Coppolo had useful tones from top to bottom. I also found that the treble was more useful. The bass was a little warmer, so the treble could add a little sparkle without too much edge. The pickups were single coils, so there is some hum if the pickups aren't at the same levels. Overall, this bass was nice, but I didn't like the gloss on the neck so I moved onto a five string.

      I was floored by the Alleva Coppolo 1600. It had a limited edition, spalted top. A nice light finish on the body and neck. The most comfortable neck of the basses that I tried today. The fit and finish was fantastic, better than the Standard 4 (which was preowned). (Although I do like the truss rod wheel on the Sadowsky's more...) I know that some people don't dig the headstocks, but in person, it was just beautiful. The bass was light and balanced well. Again, the preamp was really useful and transparent, but the 1600 also had a passive tone control like the VTC. Switching between passive and active was really transparent.

      Jimmy also told me about his plans for NAMM. He described some fantastic stuff, which I won't relay, but I'm excited for him. He seemed like a really nice guy and absolutely committed to delivering a quality product.

    3. Pensa Suhr.

      I played two Pensa Suhr's at Rudy's. I take back anything bad that I have ever said about Rudy's. Dean was in the shop and he was helping out some other customers. Let's just say that he has patience and seemed like a really nice guy. The Times Square crowd must be tough to deal with. They have a great selection, so if you want to stop by, I recommend seeing if Dean is there.

      I played a four string and a five string, both with sunburst finishes and rosewood boards. These were shop models and had some wear. Two band eq with bass boost and treble boost/cut. Switch for passive. I like the treble boost/cut. It provided a lot of useable tones. Neither Pensa rocked me like the Sadowsky or the Alleva Coppolo. The four string had a gloss neck, which I didn't like, but of course, they can make it any way that you like.

      Of the basses that I tried today, the Pensa five string neck felt most like a 4 string neck. Wider spacing at the nut than the other basses. Nice for digging in and slapping. The neck was also a little chunkier, but had a nice smooth finish and feel. I'll have to try these again sometime.

    4. Fender.

      Trying to escape Times Square, I passed by Sam Ash and couldn't resist. I hadn't played a Fender yet today and I needed to get my bearings. I played a Marcus Miller and a Victor Bailey. I didn't spend a lot of time with either, because neither were particularly well set up, particularly the VB, which needed a serious adjustment. After playing the Sadowsky UV4, the Marcus Miller just didn't feel up to par. It just didn't have the Sadowsky rumble and the gloss on the neck bothered me. The VB seemed a little smoother to me, a little warmer, but was so poorly setup that I couldn't evaluate it. The guy at Sam Ash was very nice, but obviously tending holiday traffic.

    5. Summary.

      It's a little unfair to compare the basses, because I didn't play an NYC Sadowsky and the Fenders weren't even the same ballpark on price, but if had to put them in order (comparing apples to oranges), my list would be:

      1. Alleva Coppolo, 1600, limited edition
      2. Sadowsky Metro MV4
      3. Sadowsky Metro MV5
      4. Sadowsky Metro UV4
      5. Alleva Coppolo, Standard 4
      6. Sadowsky Metro M5
      7. Pensa Suhr 5 string
      8. Pensa Suhr 4 string
      9. Victor Bailey
      10. Marcus Miller
  2. BartmanPDX

    BartmanPDX Supporting Member

    Very interesting review!!

    An exceptionally nice lineup to try. :)
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    That was nice, useful information.
  4. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PHL
    love the AC preamp, but honestly, the headstocks are pretty ugly.
  5. Ale


    Jul 5, 2006
    Endorsing Artist: IGiG Cases
    Interesting reading , thanks man.
  6. DrSmaggs


    Oct 15, 2003
    Endorsing Artist:
    wow! A nice read! Very thorough!
  7. Mr_Dave


    Mar 11, 2005
    Melbourne, Australia
    Employee - Basscentre Melbourne
    Yeah, thanks very much for writing such a detailed report! interesting thoughts
  8. vAns-826-


    Jun 11, 2006
    what a nice trip, thanks for the review bro...:smug:
  9. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Nice review! Regarding the Sadowsky pre, I love a very present, bright, sizzly high end to my sound, and I've never, ever boosted the treble control on my Sadowsky on a gig (and I have a Rosewood/Alder model)! The basses, as you say, are VERY bright, but the VTC is just perfect to 'take the edge' off a little... wonderful sounding basses IMO.

    Also, as you found out, that bass control is very powerful (and boost only, like the treble control).... most Sadowsky users rarely boost that control more than 20% or so.

    I guess if you have a vintage cab and amp, the VTC wouldn't be that important, but if you have a modern, articulate, full range rig, the VTC on a Sadowsky is VERY useful. I, like you, would never consider a Sadowsky J style instrument without the VTC.

    I also agree that there is a certain 'growl' in the Sadowsky sound (at least the J models) that seems to be missing from most other J style models I've played.

    Sounds like you had a fun day!!!
  10. depalm


    Apr 22, 2004
    São Paulo
    Nice reviews, thanks!
    I'm on marketing for a J and this was very helpful and inspiring!
  11. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I have a good friend that plays professionally and while at his house he passes me this bass, It was one of Jimmy's 5 strings. OMG the setup was rediculous, the weight was awesome, my buddy told me he is putting down his endorsement bass he has been playing for the new Coppolo. Btw my buddy has a lot of fans here at talkbass and it's just a matter of time before someone notices and brings it up here. :)
  12. Excellent thread, thanks. I can't wait to see what Jimmy Coppolo has in store.
  13. Nice reviews..Thanks for the GAS , now I want a Sadowsky!
  14. musicman5string

    musicman5string Banned

    Jan 17, 2006

    I had the same experience a couple weeks ago and agree. BTW, did you see the F bass fretless at Rudy's? Oh man....that thing killed me.

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Supporting Member

    Sounds like a really nice day , Sadowsky rocks ! :bassist:
  16. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Thanks for the review. I`ve found it very helpful.
    You`ve been really lucky to test all those basses the same day.
  17. mheintz


    Nov 18, 2004
    Thanks for the compliments.
    I really liked the VTC. Without the pre, the Sadowsky's definitely had zing and rumble. Boost the low end just a little and cut a little high and you could really dig in and feel the low end.
    It was the growliest of the basses I tried today. The Alleva Coppolo had a passive++ feeling to it, whereas the Sadosky was a little more juiced. I'd really like to find something like your Celinder to try.
    I drooled a bit over a lot of basses, but I was on a mission. I'll have to go back to Rudy's.
    Thanks. He offered to email when the new bodies come in so that I can check them out.
    Very light and comfortable. Both the 1600 and MV4 were striking in how comfortable they were. The 1600 had the added benefit of a satin finish and it felt broken in.
    It was a blast! Why should I let the tourists have all of the fun? This is when I love living in NYC. Next up will be Nino's.
  18. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Great info! I'd love to play one of Jimmy Coppolo's basses one of these days soon. If I were looking to buy a higher end J I'd look most seriously at Jimmy's stuff.
  19. ThumbyAche

    ThumbyAche Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2005
    Pacific NW
    I want one of Jimmy's basses badly and I can tell you after buying an F-Bass from him years ago, he is a super cool guy to deal with for sure.
  20. nice report. thanks.

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