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Sadowsky P5 review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Fuzzbass, Apr 9, 2005.

  1. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Ok, as noted in the Custom Bass Support Group thread, I'm off the waiting list! Mine arrived on Thursday.

    Wait time was 9 months and 1 week. At time of order, I was told that the bass would probably take no longer than six months: this because the first four P5 bodies were already cut, and only three were spoken for. My hunch is that the unspoken-for body was routed PJ (I wanted P only), or made of swamp ash (I wanted alder). Regardless, the P5 was a brand new model -- not even being advertised yet! -- so I'm sure it just took longer than they expected: stuff happens. And that is fine with me: I would rather have it done right than done quickly. Kevin et al at Sadowsky were great to deal with.

    Oh... I am extremely grateful to a certain Sadowsky Nut who tipped me off that Sadowsky Co. was indeed building a 5-string vintage Precision bass!!

    Some of you may recall that I owned a Lull P5. It was a very nice bass... fit and finish in the same ballpark as Sadowsky. However the main reason I didn't stick with it was that string spacing was narrower than I prefer. It also had a boutiquey quilt maple top, which was very pretty, but I've decided that I'm not a boutiquey kind of guy... gimme a painted Fender-style bass, I won't feel bad about whacking it around some (not that I ever do so intentionally! :p).

    Pics are at my Webshots site linked just below. Apologies for that... I need to get myself a real website sometime. :rolleyes:

    As you can see, it's bassic black/black, with maple neck. My one boutiquey flourish is the premium birdseye maple fretboard, which is decently freckled. One reason I chose birdseye is because it tends to have a richer beige color than unfigured rock maple... looks aged from a distance.

    I ordered an additional pickguard in faux-tort in case I want a more vintage look. The tort is nice and dark rather than bright red and yellow.

    I have just the one P pickup. Controls are as follows:
    1) Master volume
    2) VTC, i.e. passive tone control. Pull for preamp bypass (VTC works in both active and passive modes)
    3) (stack) Active treble and bass

    When I first plugged the Sadowsky into my little Bassman 25 practice amp, I heard harsh treble and 60Hz buzz. But this is because all the knobs were maxxed on the Sadowsky, and my poor little Bassman was set up for my passive Fender RB5, which has low output even for a passive bass. With the tone knobs maxxed, the Sadowsky is MUCH MUCH hotter than the RB5. I rolled back the volume on the Bassman and all was well.

    The control cavity is extremely neat and clean, with shielding paint all around. Also, the rear control cover is secured with machine screws and inserts, which is very cool. I'll get a picture up soon.

    The absolute bomb, eleven out of eleven. I knew it as soon as I pulled it out of the case and played my first riff. Neck has a sexy satiny smooth nitro finish, with rounded fingerboard edges and fret ends. I still prefer the asymmetric curvature of the MTD 535, but even so, the Sadowsky has the most comfortable 5-string neck I've ever played. This sucka is light, too... I'm guessing 8.5 pounds. When the box first arrived, I wondered if Sadowsky had sent the case without the bass! :D

    Addendum: the Sadowsky neck pocket is deeper than most, the result being that the strings are closer to the body than on a typical Fender or clone. My right hand does notice the difference between the P5 and my other basses. Also: with the pickguard taken into account, there isn't as much space between strings and body for slap. However: I mention this simply as an FYI. I don't see this as being a problem for me.

    Very P-bassy. Moreso than the Lull. I believe this is because the Lull was 35" scale and the Sadowsky is standard 34". I also notice the difference on the A string: on the Lull and Fender P5 basses, the A-string polepieces are on the coil closer to the bridge, which is incorrect compared to a 4-string P-bass. I don't know how many other bassists care about that, but I do. I could've always reversed the coils on the Lull.

    As noted in another thread, the Sadowsky P5 (and Sadowsky basses in general, perhaps) don't sound as thick as regular Fenders. This doesn't bother me. I believe the additional clarity does make for a better defined B string. Speaking of that, the B string on my P5 is simply outstanding: nice and tight, no mud or flab.

    My P5 does not have the common Fender dead spot, which is generally found on the G string somewhere between frets 5 and 8. I haven't done a rigorous search, but I haven't yet noticed a dead spot anywhere.

    I like the voicing of the Sadowsky active EQ. With both knobs full up there's a fairly severe mid scoop that I doubt I'll ever use. But boosting treble and bass in moderation adds the right amount of clarity and depth to my ears. Passive mode also sounds sweet. Active with EQ flat sounds similar to passive; active has a bit more volume and high end.

    The real test will be at a gig, but sadly this is a very slow month for me, and my next gig isn't until 4/30. :( I will know more at rehearsal this Tuesday.

    The neck pocket is as perfect as I've seen, and I can't find any flaws in the finish. I've already discussed the neck. Aside from that: well, it's a bolt-on bass! It has Hipshot Ultralight tuners, a nice sturdy Fender-style bridge, and vintage-style chrome knurled knobs.

    I dig the case and goodies. It comes with tools: allen screwdriver for the bridge and a spoke for trussrod adjustment. Also: long straps for the case, cloth guitar-stand covers (because apparently the rubber on some guitar stands will damage a nitro finish), polish and cloth, and misc (warranty card, information card, postcard, Straplok strap sections). The case itself is a soft hardshell... or maybe hard softshell, I dunno. Very sturdy, nicely padded, decent amount of room for storage. There's a pocket on the outside to hold strings, etc. The spare pickguard fit nicely into that pocket (and was protected with foam).

    Last word:
    Well gee, I hope I've covered everything. In short, this one's almost certainly a keeper (and I truly don't believe that's new-gear euphoria speaking). I did wonder whether or not to get a PJ config... but I don't slap much, and at this time the only tune where I might miss a bridge pup is "Aeroplane" by the Chili Peppers. Even so, this bass has a nice clear slap sound even when unplugged, and of course the Sadowsky preamp is very slap-friendly even with a P pup. I'm definitely looking forward to gigging with it!

    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    Congrats :hyper: Sadowsky Rocks. :bassist:
  3. PunkerTrav


    Jul 18, 2001
    Canada & USA
    Great bass. Enjoy. :D
  4. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Play the heck out of it. Good move!!


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    Hi Rob, would you ever get one?.
  6. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    I doubt it. I'm really a jazz bass type player. I'd get another pj in a second.

  7. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Well, the P5 can have a PJ configuration. But if you're a J type player then you no doubt prefer the J body style, just as I prefer the P body style.
  8. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks everyone... I'm happy. If Roger & Co ever come out with a P5 Metro, I'm going to get a sister for my Black Beauty. Maybe ash blonde with tort...

    I've gotta add that the B string is impressing me more and more. And overall, this is a very transparent and dynamic bass: gotta be careful, it can be a clam magnifying glass. :p
  9. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    I like it :bassist:
  10. Jeff Rader

    Jeff Rader Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2000
    Lone Star State
    Very nice!! Congrats!
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
  12. Las Olas

    Las Olas

    Apr 20, 2003
    Scarborough, UK
    Congratulations on a wonderful bass. I hope to own a Sadowsky one day. Can you please tell me the make of the case, if there is one?

    Many thanks

  13. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    That P is great. maybe, maybe I'll get one one day.
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Thanks everyone, I really dig it. There are plenty of fancier basses out there, but I consider this a blue-collar bass, which fits the kind of player I am. :p
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    The case is embroidered with the Sadowsky logo. The zippers say "TKL, world class cases". Pictures here:

    Speaking of pictures, I have to take some new ones. The bass looks even better with the protective film removed!
  16. Las Olas

    Las Olas

    Apr 20, 2003
    Scarborough, UK
    Thanks a lot. I just picked up one virtually identical, and it protects very well indeed.

    Enjoy the wonderful bass!
  17. Congratulations on a beautiful bass!!!
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Hey, I've updated the Playability as follows:


    MAJOR METAL The Beagle Father Staff Member Supporting Member

    Thats a really nice fingerboard.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Yep! It's the exact color I was hoping for, a rich creamy ivory beige-y kinda thing. :)