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Sandberg Custom Thinline 5 Fretless - quick review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by macmrkt, Aug 9, 2007.

  1. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    Just got a Sandberg fretless 5 from Low Down Sound in Detroit. It's the Custom Thinline chambered bass with what looks like an inset spruce top to enhance the acoustic sound. And it works - this bass is a lot louder unplugged than a typical BG. The 3 band active EQ + passive electronics are made by Glockenklang and the pickup is a Delano. The bridge is wood. The bass sells for $1700 or so.

    This bass is easily in the top class of fretless basses I've tried. For me, it might end up being THE keeper. I tried it playing solo and on a blues jam last night. A HUGE low end, nice warm and punchy mids and highs, and very audible in the mix in a band that's typcially hard to cut through. That low end is so big and so deep, you can make interesting 'tunable drum-like' sounds that work great on percussion breaks. I'm happy to say that there's nice balance overall so the upper notes don't get overpowered by the big low end.

    Besides the sound, there are a few other notables. First, the weight and balance. This bass is a feather - about 5-6 lbs. But...it doesn't dive! Nice balance on your lap or a strap. Don't know how they pulled that off. Second, the EQ. I was hoping the Glock was as good as their rep, and it is. I ran the settings near the center indents most of the night, but the bass, mid and treble controls add just what you need - all very useable, especially the boost settings. But I was able to run it near 'flat' all night. And lastly, the construction. Just as nice as basses costing a lot more. It is made in Germany.

    Maybe the comparisons show how good this bass is. I'm doing this from memory, so YMMV. The 3 best fretless basses I've tried recently were the Alain Caron 5 from F Bass (in the $4500 range), a Worp Acoustic 5 from Bassline (about $5000) and the Rick Turner Rennaissance 5 (around $1700). I didn't keep the Alain Caron because the string height is not adjustable - and I was getting strange 'flanger' like tone in the first few positions. Not a bad tone, but not useable much of the time. I also didn't like the EQ - had to run it wide open to get the right tone and this ended up being limiting. The Worp's EQ was also not to my liking - hard to find the right sound combination. You could get a great tone, but it required a lot of tinkering on the gig. I also found the unusual neck design tiring. It required you to always keep your thumb under the fingerboard - which is the proper position to play in, but on a gig, sometimes I have to 'cheat'. Not possible on the Worp. I didn't keep the Worp either. I did keep the Rick Turner till now. It's a very acoustic sounding instrument, with wonderful tone that's super responsive to your touch. But there are a few limitations. You hear everything - the bass is like a big mic. So any wrist movements across the body are amp'ed. That is a factor as the body is much like a classical guitar and not easy to get comfortable with. Making this more of an issue is the terrible neck dive of the Turner. I use a wide leather strap and brace the bass with my right arm, but it's not fun. I really don't like neck dive, so the fact that I even have the RT this long says something about its tone.

    Does the extra effort of playing the Turner justify its tone when the Sandberg sounds a bit less acoustic but as good, with no effort? That requires more time. I will say that the Turner seems slightly more touch responsive, but at a price. The Sandberg has a full EQ on board which will help tame many rooms and give you a wider range of tones. The Turner has no EQ settings, just a master tone.

    All in all, the Sandberg is easy to use, easy to play, great sounding and very nicely priced. The best all around fretless I've tried.
  2. Very cool. I played that bass acoustically a couple times and was very impressed. Never heard it plugged in, but it sounds like a winner. It's a beautiful piece of work.


  3. macmrkt

    macmrkt Banned

    Dec 4, 2002
    "What's good for Low Down Sound, is good for America" I always say...
  4. tombowlus

    tombowlus If it sounds good, it is good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Cool beans! I played that bass up at Low Down Sound and either that bass or another one very similar to it at NAMM. They definitely make some nice basses, and IMHO, Sandberg gives you a lot of bass for the money. :)



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