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Seriously considering a Warr guitar....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Benjamin Strange, Jan 4, 2005.


  1. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Yup. I've been thinking about it for a long time, and I'm starting to get it into me head that I may just take the plunge and do it. I'm scared to death though, since I have relatively little experience with tapping instruments. I've owned a Chapman Stick - hated it. I've owned a used Warr - loved it, but way too heavy and it would not accommodate the tuning I envisioned. I would say that I have about 6-8 months total experience with an instrument of this kind. As I consider myself somewhat of a competent musician, I can't bring myself to just settle for something that isn't going to be 100% to my standards anymore - but this would cost me close to $5000! GAH! I've never spent anywhere close to that amount of cash on any musical equipment in one shot, much less on an instrument I have almost zero experience playing.

    Freud said when it comes to justifying ourselves, we are all geniuses. My reasoning for custom ordering one of these guys is this: I need a light instrument. I am a small guy, and don't want to be gigging on an instrument that weighs 10% of what I do. Secondly, my band (and other projects that float about in me head) require keyboard textures, which this Warr would allow me to achieve. MIDI equipped Warrs aren't standard, so that adds a few extra hundred bucks. Also, most tapping instruments are tuned with the bass strings played by the left hand, and treble on the right - which necessitates reaching WAY over the fretboard to reach some of the strings. I could custom order one that would reverse this, putting the strings in a much closer and comfortable spot. All in all what I want doesn't come standard on any instrument.

    It's a pretty crazy thought for me to consider spending this kind of bread on something I've barely even played, but these instruments just can't be found floating around every Guitar Center. If I ended up not playing it much I'd lose my shirt if I sold it. I'd have to get really good with this thing to justify spending that much, but I have no real way of knowing until I actually have it and start practicing to see if it's really me or not.

    Anybody here ever had a similar experience? Of wanting to play a certain instrument that didn't exist, and had to pay tons of money just to start?

    EDIT: By the way, I'd have to sell off a ton of gear (Boogie stuff) that I'm not currently using to afford this sucker.
     
  2. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    Almost anytime I have money, I consider a tapping instrument. But if it was me, I wouldn't do it, at that price, without knowing what I was up to. Warr will set up any Austin Douglas Guitar with any tuning, they say. Megatars can be set up with any tuning. Those are in the $1500 range. I can't speak to either instrument, though, except the ADGs are sometimes preferred to Warrs by players. The TrebleBass, if you can find Sanducci (I may have his name wrong even), comes in around 2K. (He lives in New York. I talked to him once after dinking around with 1-411 for a while.) Even Bunkers are cheaper than your hypothetical Warr, and, to my ears, sound the best of the lot. (And you could probably drive to their shop and try one -- West Coast somewhere.) Box guitars have a new low cost line; if I remember right, about $1200 once you get it to the U.S.

    Sticks, however, elude me. I don't see how anyone plays them. I've been through two.

    (Now I'm waiting around for the used ADG angel to bless me. Unfortunately, I'm not living anywhere where that's likely to happen. If some more of those used Warrs show up, give me a buzz.)

    Anyway, $5000 seems like a lot if there's some other way to test your approach out. If it was me (and it's not!), I'd try the tuning/technique out on one of the others, and if it worked for me sell the less expensive instrument (to me!) and pony up for the Warr.

    And it's none of my business -- but you asked. I wouldn't have answered if I didn't think about these things all of the time.
     
  3. Hey Benjamin,
    Well as a satisfied Warr owner I have to say, have you played one? I mean I used to have a stick for years that just never did it for me, the big problem was the un adjustable bridge, and the upside down bass strings. I got a Warr Artist 8 string with midi/piezo. It sounds to me like you're talking a phalanx? I love the concept and when I have a spare couple grand I would get one. But my suggestion is try an 8 first, I mean if your going from a 4 string berger, 8 is a quantum leap. :)
    The quality of the Warr is top shelf and well worth the 8 month wait that I had to endure. And in hindsite, I would have gotten the neck-through, but the bolt on still rocks. Another question is do you tap now on your regular basses? I guess what I mean to ask is the style of music you're playing going to work with tapping only? I forced myself to play a regular R&B gig with it all night and it was quite interesting, though not ultimate nor completely accepted by the rest of the band. :) LOL
    The looks of the ADG's do nothing for me, they look like a boring piece of dull wood, but perhaps I'm spoiled with the quilt on mine. :)
    Good luck on your quest.
    Dirk
     
  4. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    I'm not certain, but I think Warr would build you an 8 with un-crossed hands layout no problem. Custom tunings and string arrangements are pretty common in the Stick/Warr/etc world, and Warrs are all hand-made to the customer's specs anyway. And yes, there is also the Phalanx model which is designed that way (has a bit of a bigger space between the two halves).

    Where did you get the $5000 number from? The most expensive model on the price list is $4900 (Phalanx 14-string with piezo and midi).
     
  5. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Yes, I have owned a Warr in the past - an 8 string with piezos. I got it used from Dave Grossman (thanks Dave!), and I played a couple of gigs with it. Ultimately it was just way to heavy, and wouldn't accomodate my tuning. I've looked at other options, and the Stick just plain sucks, the Megatar is the ugliest thing I have ever seen, and the Bunker looks like a high school shop project. The ADG's look interesting, but they don't do the MIDI thing, which is a big reason I'm thinking of getting into this. I have experience with both the Stick and the Warr, so I sort of know what I might be getting myself into. It seems that the Warr is the only thing out there that comes close to fitting my needs.

    So I'm looking at a 10 string Artist with MIDI on each string ($4195), neck through ($395), and painted purple ($460), which adds up to $5050. Since I live in California, I'd have to pay sales tax as well ($429.25). Ouch! Perhaps I could talk them into giving me a deal on it, or have it shipped to somebody out of state to at least avoid the tax.

    Turns out that I have that kind of scratch wrapped up into gear that I never use: lots of Boogie amps, pedals, Parker Fly guitar, etc. Since I got such great deals on most of this stuff, I'd actually make a profit selling them, so I guess I'd be getting a deal on the Warr in a roundabout sort of way. It's a pretty scary proposition, though. If I really suck on this thing I'd be kicking myself.

    I do generally do alot of tapping on my 4 string bass, and find that I run out of strings/frets quite often when I'm wanting to grab chords and higher melodies. If I had a Warr with MIDI I could also play bass and keys in my current band at the same time - we're fruitlessly looking for a keyboard player right now. If I could do both then I could demand to get paid twice as much!
     
  6. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Just got an email from Jim at Warr guitars. He says I have to put down $1100 to get it started, and build time would be around 4-7 months. I guess I could come up with the rest of the money by that time, no problem.

    Now, one of my big points with this thing is that it has to be light. Jim recommended mahogany for the body to make for a lighter instrument, which is pretty hip since I understand mahogany to be a darker sounding wood, which is what I would want anyway. Hmmm.... time to do some serious soul searching....
     
  7. Muzique Fann

    Muzique Fann Howzit brah

    Dec 8, 2003
    Kauai, HI
    Not that this will influence your decision at all...
    but this guy is a great bassist/warrist and it's a neato pic/interview (he's a big KC fan too) - note the Eden head on top a Bergie and Bag End. I still can't believe that this band never toured in big stadiums or at least theaters.

    http://www.livemusicbeth.homestead.com/BrianOConnell_2.html

    The guy is super cool and gives lessons in the Boston, Mass area. I almost moved there for the summer just to pick his brain.

    http://www.loopers-delight.com/LDarchive/200205/msg00588.html

    http://alumni.berklee.edu/dir_detail.cgi?id=2061

    Didn't mean to hijack this plane...or thread.

    Just buy the damned "Peace" guitar already and make some noise!
     
  8. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    I'd say you're best bet is to search through all of the Warr forums, usergroups, etc. until you find someone with a Warr similar to the one you want within a couple of states from you, and then invest some money in taking a day or two off and driving there to try it. Ordering a custom bass is one thing, as you know it's going to come out a bass, but when it's going to be basically an instrument you've never tried (which yours would basically be when you consider the tunings you want but have never tried), you're better safe than sorry.

    I saw Greg Howard live once, and he played a mind-blowing set on a Chapman Stick. The one thing I noticed was that to really make the most of the instument, you really need to have great independance between your hands and really be able to play separate rhythm and melody parts simultaneously-the tapping instruments are very much like pianos to me.
     
  9. Veej007

    Veej007

    Sep 6, 2004
    I can't claim to be well versed in all sorts of tapping instruments, since I've really only had experience with my own stick and those of a few Stickists I know.

    My old guitar teacher used to play with a Warr Guitar player, and the guy certainly sounded great. My major problem with Warr is that they use standard guitar frets. Sticks use specially designed frets that are practically indestructible and are painstakingly optimized for the tapping technique. I can really feel the difference between the special Stick frets and regular guitar frets, at least when switching between my Stick and a Telecaster that I've heavily modded for Stanley Jordan-style playing.

    Tunings are occasionally customized, but the overwhelming majority of serious tappers use some form of 4ths in the treble paired with inverted 5ths in the bass. It's quite common for intrigued bassists to inquire about tuning a Stick like a bass guitar, but that causes all sorts of ergonomic problems for the left wrist. All a relatively new Stickist, I can vouch for the fact that Emmett's tuning system is absolutely brilliant, if perhaps deceptively complex at first. This is the most sensible instrument I have ever seen -- it's more logical than a piano.

    Santucci's name is, well, spelled with a T, as you can see...

    Also, here's one of my favorite videos, for anyone that's interested: http://www.eyeoncville.com/005/005vid02.htm

    Regarding the cost, Greg is a good friend of mine, and he always says that since used Sticks hold their value ridiculously well (check ebay, they're going for more than the price of a new one sometimes) you can always recoup your investment. I've never traded tapping instruments around myself, but I'd imagine that the name recognition of The Stick has something to do with that (John Myung, Tony Levin, etc) and you might not have as much luck with a Warr or TrebleBass or another lesser-known instrument.
     
  10. jvbjr

    jvbjr

    Jan 8, 2005
    There was a Warr 11 string on ebay last week that did not hit reserve and ended at $800 something. Buy a used one, have it modified and save 50% of the investment.
     
  11. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
  12. oversoul

    oversoul fretless by fate

    Feb 16, 2004
    Portugal
    An ERB would not satisfy you needs Benjamin??
     
  13. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    Connecticut
    In his second post he said they look interesting but don't handle MIDI, which is one of the big reasons he wants a tapping instrument.
     
  14. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Yes you can get them with MIDI.. I asked when I got mine but decided against it. It is an available option.
     
  15. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    Hmm. I didn't see that about MIDI being an option on the ADG. That may be an option.

    My biggest issue is the tuning, really. Since I will be putting the bass strings on the left hand side, it would require a different route for the tone block on the bridge. On the old one, it was impossible to tune it the way I wanted because the strings would either not fit through the bridge or wouldn't catch and hold in there.

    As silly as it sounds, the visual aspect of it is important too. I'm going to be playing this thing live as well, and most of these other instruments just look silly and cheap. The Warr is a classy instrument - one that my band might actually accept and not laugh at me if I try to bring it on stage. :D
     
  16. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    No it's not on the website.. I talked extinsively with Jim about it before deciding (You do know that Warr builds ADG, right?). I'd suggest calling Jim and talking to him regarding the ADGs with these ideas you want. He may be able to work with you. Yes, the Warr is a classy instrument but don't be fooled be the ADGs "plian-Jane" appearance. It is a HIGH QUALITY instrument through and through and in the end that's what matters most (IMO).
     
  17. Also, don't forget you can also buy a Roland divided pickup and attach it to your ADG which although less pretty, may be another (and possibly cheaper) option.

    Mark, did you get an 8-string or a 10-string, and what tuning did you use?
     
  18. mark beem

    mark beem Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 20, 2001
    New Hope, Alabama
    Jim told me to be careful about using the aftermarket MIDI pups.. There was an issue with the mounting but I can't remember exactly what it was (been over a year)..

    I had the 10 string in the standard tuning (inverted 5ths/standard 4ths). Looking back, I should have gotten an 8 string model in standard 4ths.
     
  19. Benjamin Strange

    Benjamin Strange Commercial User

    Dec 25, 2002
    New Orleans, LA
    Owner / Tech: Strange Guitarworks
    I would imagine it was due to the fact that the pickups are radiused, and designed to handle guitar tuning. Yet another reason Sticks suck. They are a flat fingerboard, yet they use the GKs. Bah.
     
  20. geshel

    geshel

    Oct 2, 2001
    Seattle
    Emmett does a custom install of the GK that corrects for that.