Sadowsky vs. Fender

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by john nam, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Not to beat a dead horse, but I went from being a staunch Sadowsky guy to now having a Fender as my main bass and here's why:

    Btw, I've owned/own Sadowsky NYC 5s, Metro 5s, Fender Custom Shop 5s, American P and J 5s (2010 & 2012), MIM 5s, and Squier 5s.

    1) Sound: They don't sound the same at all; the only similarities they share is the headstock shape and that's it. IMO, Fender sounds more "analog" and Sads sounds more "digital", meaning, Fender has more grit to it's sound, a bit more humming/buzzing when the pickups are soloed, less high end treble, but IMO, they sound fuller in the types of situations that I play in, especially the D and G strings.

    2) Looks: Sads win in this category, hands down, unless you have a thing for the Fender logo.

    2) Playability: Sadowskys are consistently made well, whereas there is a lot of variance in Fender, even in the Custom Shops, so you just have to find a Fender that doesn't have that infamous ramp on the fretboard and one where the nut slots and neck pockets have been cut correctly. So in a way, by the time you find a good Fender, you might be saving money by just getting an NYC; then again, you can get lucky and find a good Fender right off the bat, especially if you're getting a 2010+ Fender. For me, "good" Fenders were more playable than Sadowskys NYCs because of the narrower neck (side-to-side; same nut width as Sadowsky, but Sads fan out wider as you go up the neck), 18mm spacing vs. 19mm, radiused neck and fretboard vs Sad's very flat radiused boards. I've had no trouble slapping on 18mm, but some may prefer 19mm for this reason. The neck thickness (front-to-back) and the overall craftsmanship on the 2010 and later Fender 5s rival that of Sadowsky, I see no real differences there (there, i said it :bag:). I can play difficult passages a bit easier on my 2012 Am Jazz Std V than on my Sad NYC 5.

    Sadowksy NYCs definitely win in the weight category, but then again, there is a very slight neck dive, which makes your shirt bunch up on your left shoulder whereas most Fender 5s balance evenly because of the longer body shape. Again, I've had Fender 5s that were 9.5-11.0 lbs, so you just have to pick a good one. Btw, Sweetwater posts pics and weights of each individual bass, so if you're considering a Fender, you should check them out.

    This was important to me too: The shorter body of the Sads extends the headstock further away from your body, not only causing a slight neck dive, but making the bass look a lot longer when you're playing it. Also, when you're fretting the low F on the E string, it and forces you to reach a little further with your left hand, kinda as if you were playing a 35" scale. That's why 35" with longer bodies don't really feel long, such as with MTDs. I was playing my Sad once and a friend said "damn, that's a biiig bass", I think he was commenting on how long it looked on me (i'm 5'10", 165).

    As far as NYC vs. Metro, the differences are weight, fancy top options available only on NYCs, and slight neck thickness differences, with NYCs being thinner. Sadowsky says that there are no differences in the NYC vs. Metro necks, but I've played them side by side for months and there is a difference; maybe I'm crazy.

    So again, it boils down to personal preference, but all I'm saying is that you don't have to pay Sadowsky prices to get a top notch Fender style bass anymore, especially after the 2010 & 12 Fender Vs came out. Don't get me wrong, I still love me a good Sad that's under 8.5 lbs with single coils and a fancy top and board :).
    Meypelnek likes this.
  2. cavix


    Aug 6, 2010
    I only played Sadowsky few times in stores, but the key difference to me is that the Sadowsky preamp give you the possibility to play almost everything with only one bass.
    Fender sound more "analog" as you said, that's why is less versatile.
    But - again - my experience is more with the passive Fender...

    I think I'll never buy a Sadowsky, otherwise all my other basses will be stored somewhere... :smug:
  3. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think you gave a bunch of solid reasons why you like what you like. I don't see how anybody can tell you why what you like doesn't work for you!

    I have really liked all of the Sadowskys I have ever played, however, I have never felt deprived or inadequately equipped whenever I have pklayed a Fender.:bassist:
    TheBear likes this.
  4. I don't understand why people make a choice on an instrument and feel the need to write a short story, announcing it to the world in a defensive manner.
  5. boristhespider9


    Sep 9, 2008
    The problem is that you didn't play a Lakland USA!

    .77 neck depth at the first fret on a Joe Osborn.
  6. modern growl, i actually didn't decide to only play fenders, i still love my foderas, etc. there are just a lot of fender players out there feeling the need to "upgrade" to a sadowsky and i just want to say that they're different, not necessarily better and hopefully it will save someone some money and GAS.
    Meypelnek likes this.
  7. Bean639


    Aug 18, 2010
    Richmond, Va
    To communicate experiences that others may not have/didn't think about.

    To me, its kinda the purpose of talkbass.
  8. Bean639


    Aug 18, 2010
    Richmond, Va
    OP. Great and well thought out review! Thanks!
    VWbug likes this.
  9. johng999


    Jul 14, 2008
    I have an old jazz bass that has been my benchmark for Fenders and for a long time Fender products weren't cutting it. I especially found the fret edges to be irritating - not well finished at all ( although occasionally a good one popped up). My 2010 American Deluxe 5 is a superb bass - can't find any fault in it's mechanical construction. To me, it is as good as any I've played, up to par with the Sadowsky's I've played (which I think are very good basses). I had electrical problems with mine. On the first new one I got the bridge pickup died in the first week. I returned this one and got a second one which was noisy as hell. I decided to fix it myself ( I am an EE and have been building/repairing amps for years) and found an unsoldered ground wire at the input jack. I put it back together and although the noise was less, it was still there. This time I opened it up connected to an amp and i found out that when I removed the preamp from the body cavity the noise vanished. Using this as a guide, I rerouted some of the wiring and put it back together and it is now dead quiet and sounds great.
    Long story, but it was still disappointing that I had to fix a brand new bass. And calls to Fender were frustrating - they told me the pickups were reacting to the flourescent lights in the room!
    On the other hand, my custom shop jazz is perfect for the work I do today and was perfect when I got it.
  10. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    I love them both for what they are. Right now I play Fenders.
  11. bass12

    bass12 And Grace, too Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    When I want a "Fender sound" or Fender playing experience I pick up my Fender. When I want a "Sadowsky sound" or Sadowsky playing experience I pick up my Sadowsky. I don't think of these basses as being interchangeable sound-wise or playing-wise at all. They're very different instruments and I love both.
    TMARK likes this.
  12. Baird6869

    Baird6869 LET'S GO BLUE JAYS...(in 2016)...LET'S GO!!

    I love Sadowskys and have owned 3. Great basses.

    To each their own though.... IMO, Sadowskys are more consistent in build quality, are generally lighter, look better and are more modern sounding (to generalize). MUCH better customer service too.

    No right answer here, just personal preference.

    I own vintage Fenders but am currently playing active Modulus, MTD and Spector basses.
  13. Mike M.

    Mike M.

    Feb 14, 2010
    Of the three music stores I frequent that carry Lakland (one independant, two GC's) I have yet to see a passive Lakland bass to try out. I've never asked them, but I wonder if they're hard to come by? I love to try one just to see for myself what they're all about.

    My only Sadowsky encounter was a used 5 string Jazz style bass at the independant store I go to. HUGE neck. Very wide, very deep and too uncomfortable for me to play. But somebody bought it so it must have been perfect for them.
  14. Biggbass


    Dec 14, 2011
    Planet Earth
    Speaking from a 4 string only observation....

    on #1 - Different sound. Of course. What would you expect? For them to sound the same?
    on #2 - agree. I like the looks of both.
    on #2b - Playability. I've come across many Fenders that had horrible set up, less than desirable fingerboard profiles, undressed frets, etc. I'm not so sure one can say that about Sadowskys. I've also come across Fenders that were dialed in a perfect.
    Fenders are going to be less consistent due to the volume of production. That's a given. But a good set up can make a big difference. I have several Fenders. I also have a Sadowsky. One thing I can say about my
    NYC bass is that there isn't a hot spot or dead spot on it. Every fretted note sings out with the same fullness and sustain. I cannot say that about any of my Fenders. And therein lies the main difference for me.

    on the rest - Haven't experienced any neck dive with my NYC J bass. And the lighter weight of the NYC bass is a nice feature.

    So the bottom line of it is; Some like Fenders, some like Sadowskys, some like both, Some don't like either.
    Like they say in the car business...'there's a butt for every seat'. I like both.
  15. I had a friend who had a Sadowsky (I think it was a Metro) J5, and a Fender Am. Deluxe Fretless J4 (It had active electronics), and he preferred the Sadowsky as did just about everyone. It just sounded right. I liked playing it, and I'm not a huge 5-string jazz fan.
  16. mmbongo

    mmbongo Chicken Pot Pie. My three favorite things!! Supporting Member

    This whole thing makes me want a Spector Coda!
  17. I just purchased a fuzz pedal. I picked one out of the many out there. Care to hear all the pro's and con's and the reason's why I made the decision I did? No, you probably don't. Who really cares?

    This will just turn into another 8 page thread of nothingness.
  18. Bean639


    Aug 18, 2010
    Richmond, Va
    Yes I would. I spend hours researching anything I buy. As do many people here on talkbass. AGAIN, kinda the point of talkbass. If you dont want to read about it, then don't. I am constantly baffled to why people log on to a forum and ask why other people feel the need to talk about things. Do you ever wonder why its hot in the kitchen?
    Nomogram and VWbug like this.
  19. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    los angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    uh, you don't go to the effects forum much, eh? :D
    VWbug likes this.
  20. This. +8
    VWbug likes this.