Sadowsky - Not impressed

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by abngourmet, Jun 4, 2005.

  1. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Well, I finally had the opportunity to play a Sadowsky today, an MV four string. I know some folks here love them, but I gotta tell ya, I wasn't impressed.

    The workmanship was great quality wise, it played very well, and it was very light compared to my '73 Jazz. I just didn't like the tone - way too sterile for my tastes.

    Of course, this wasn't an NYC model, so I'm going to reserve final judgment until I can play one of those, which I understand are outstanding.

    I guess what really got me was the price - $2K. Yikes! For a bolt on? I don't get it.

    Again, I know some here really love them, but I just don't see why. Anyone else here feel the same?

    Bottom line is it won't be replacing my '73 Jazz anytime soon.

    Major Metal - not trying to step on anyone's toes here, OK? ;) Hell, some people said the same thing about my beloved Alembics! :bawl:

  2. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    I had the same experience with the 4 metro's that Ive played.
  3. eric234

    eric234 Guest

    Mar 11, 2005
    you'd better delete this before major sees it ;)
  4. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Yeah, I know. Major's going to kill me for such blasphemous comments!

    I wanted to be impressed, but I wasn't. Like I said, it played fine, and it's obviously an extremely well made instrument. It just didn't have any personality to me, very sterile sounding, no warmth. All personal preference, of course, and to each his own.

    I came home and sat down again with my '73 Jazz, and I gotta say that I find it superior to the Sadowsky MV. It's warm, has that classic tone, and is like an old shoe ... it fits. I guess maybe I'm so used to what I have that anything else doesn't feel right. I had a conversation with the music store owner about this, and he told me the same thing - guys used to older instruments and heavier instruments tend not to like Sadowskys in his experience. My Jazz is much heavier, probably 10 pounds, but to me it just sounds better. For that matter, my Jazz Deluxe (USA made) sounds better to me than the Sadowsky.

    I need to try an NYC model. I hear they are the bomb.

  5. Ostinato

    Ostinato Guest

    Feb 7, 2005
    Toronto ON
    Don't worry you're not alone. IMO It's the Sadowsky pickups he uses in his basses which are the weak link. Otherwise they are a work of art.

    I had a set put in my old MIJ Jazz about ten years ago because I was young and dumb and thought they would give me the Sadowsky sound. Lol then I played a few Sadowskys and to my surprise, I was underwelmed, tonally speaking.

    Other than the fact that they are hum cancelling, Sadowsky pu's are mediocre at best. If I was ever to order one (not anytime soon mind you) I would send him a decent set of pickups to put in my bass.
  6. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Sadowsky's sound great in a mix, live and in the studio. Many, many top players use them exclusively. With that said, I've never played one, metro or NYC, that I've liked. Just not my thing. I'd rather spend the money on a mexican fender J and put better pickups, a bridge and tuners on it. I also feel that the Metro's are way over priced. To each their own of coarse.
  7. Joelc73

    Joelc73 Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2000
    New York
    I have to disagree on this one. I'm a big Jazz bass fan and I think Roger makes an incredibly well built instrument that would work in 95% of the musical environments one might potentially find themself in. I also feel that you are much safer buying a Sadowsky than anything on the vintage Fender market.

    Plus Roger's customer service is really well worth any premium you feel you may be paying. I was in his shop last week and he treated me like Will Lee or Marcus. He gave us the full tour of the shop and let us spend as much time trying various instruments as we wanted - and since I do not carry his products, for all intents and purposes I'm a competitor!

    Great guy, wonderful instruments - but of course not everything is going to work for everyone. We're lucky to have so many great choices in this crazy world of bass that we all live in!
  8. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    That's what it comes down to for sure.
  9. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Another viewpoint: first, I totally respect your opinion, and there certainly is nothing wrong with Alembics and old Jazzes, if that's what you enjoy! However, let me say this. When I play my Sadowsky all by myself, there is nothing at all exceptional about the sound. If I went to a store and listened to a Sadowsky the way you typically audition basses, I may well not have bought it.

    However, if you rely on your opinion of Sadowskys by listening to them by themselves, you are doing yourself a disservice. As opposed to the humdrum sound by itself, when playing with other instruments, it is probably, IMO, one of the best sounding basses anywhere. There is something almost indefinable about the way it provides a solid bottom, but has enough overtones to really get through the mix. The tone is ballsy, and almost on the border of aggressive, but not so much as to be grating. Before you come to a final decision on what you think of Sadowskys, please play one or at least listen to one playing with a band. If you still don't like it, then I guess that's why they have chocolate and strawberry!
  10. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004


    Exactly. I want to try a NYC model before I decide they're not for me. I can see where they'd cut through the mix - they are very clean sounding. However, the one I played just had no warmth. Some folks like that, but I'm not one of them. Again, to each his own.

    My view is that the bass should sound great by itself. If it doesn't, no way is it going to sound good in a band or a mix. This being said, if you think the Sadowsky is good in the mix, or in a band, cool. It works for you, and that's all that matters in the long run. I just can't get over the sterile sound. There was no bite, life, etc. to it. It just doesn't work for me personally.

    I probably won't get to try one with a band. I will, however, try to listen to one being played with a band. And I definitely need to try a NYC model. Uhh, anyone have one for sale? :p
  11. kjones

    kjones Supporting Member

    Dec 4, 2004
    Don't know how often you get up north, but if you look at the stickys in Off-topic, you'll see a get-together being planned for VA. If you can make it, you are welcome to play mine until your fingers bleed.

    BTW, using Roger's nickel strings instead of the stainless steel also made a big difference for me in terms of warmth.
  12. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    Hmm..."sterile" was never the adjective that came to mind of the Sadowskys that I played. In fact, I'd say it was the opposite...lots of "balls."

    I'm not overly impressed with the Sadowsky at that price point, even for the Metros. They're great basses, and they are consistently good from bass to bass, but they just don't blow me away at that price. That being said, I think it's the most consistent jazz bass that I've played, so I know at least what I'm getting into with a Sadowsky which I can't say that about the others.

    MAJOR METAL HARVESTER OF SORROW Staff Member Supporting Member


    Thats great you got to try one and i hope you get your hands on an NYC, play what makes you happy and helps you rock at your best. :)
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    I've been trying different strings on my P5. I also prefer Sadowsky nickels to Sadowsky steels, and I'm normally a steel guy.

    But as to the main point: nobody can deny the build quality of a Sadowsky, but they have a certain tone and a certain playability that simply won't work for everyone. Roger & co understand this... it's why they offer a very generous 7 day return policy.
  15. I know a studio bass player and session man who has always felt his Sadowsky jazz was nothing special on it's own[/io] but EVERY time he played out and then listened to the mix he was blown away by the tone of the bass and how it sat in the mix.
  16. I just sold mine. Here are my thoughts. As mentioned above you HAVE to play it in a band setting to appreciate the tone. EVERY time I played it at a rehersal or a gig I got big compliments on my tone. I took it to a recording session and the engineer had never heard of one before, by the time we were done he was talking about ordering one for himself. The electronics are the exact same in the Metro as the NYC so I'd think the tone will be very close

    Now the bad news... I and a few different techs. couldn't get it to play with anything like low action without massive fret buzz. We tried 4 different kinds of strings, different gauges, put it down for a few days and re-approach with a clear head. No luck. I've played Geddy Lee jazz basses at GC that played better out of the box for $600. But I think the tone is the real deal fo' shizzle, but for $2,000 bucks.......ouch, trust me I know.
  17. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    I love my RV5 Metro, but I must admit I've played some ash/maple metros that had too much sizzle. I don't even think you need to play a NY, just check a Rosewood/Alder Metro with the VTC option. My bass is so warm and fat I'm backing of the low end. But Rogers pre combined with a maple board tends to have too much snap, all the maples I played needed the VTC option and nickel strings. But to me the Roger's RV series are the only basses I've played that give great tone with definition and don't lose the low end warmth when you go up the neck.
  18. JRBrown


    Jun 21, 2000
    North Carolina
    Let's not forget the Sadowsky Single-coil and PJ options.
  19. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Couldnt disagree more. Best sounding live and studio basses I've ever owned. If you play in your living room, dont bother. If you gig and record, try one out

  20. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I think this is a great point to be made. I've personally not played one with the VTC control. I'm sure that would make a difference.

    I also played one at a shop that was a Sadowsky dealer (it was a metro) that had problems that prevented it from ever being setup properly. There was something going on with the neck. It buzzed all over the place. My feeling is, to be fair, that this happens to every company though. I have a feeling that the bass could have been returned to Roger without a problem but it did sell after all. Sometimes a bass sells just for it's name.

    I think that it's important for those that use Sadowsky religiously to remember that this is purely a personal thing and it's not an attack on Roger or his instruments. I play regularly, and very well, but I also don't play music that warrants the Sadowsky sound. More importantly it's not the sound that I hear in my head. That's the bottom line for me. That's why there are so many other great builders out there though. It certainly is a great time to be a player.