Should I sell my...(GULP)...ZON??!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Basso Gruvitas, Feb 8, 2002.

  1. Okay guys, I need some input here. Brad Johnson, Jeff Rader, Embellisher, Fred...ALL you guys, come here!

    I have a Zon Sonus Custom fretless 5 that I'm thinking about selling. Yes, it's a great bass...easy to play...100 different sounds you can get...plays like buttah...the whole 9 yards. It probably has a poplar or alder body with a Sable finish which is a root beer brown finish that is opaque. It's in great condition and all, it's just that....

    I have always wanted a fretless bass with some exotic tone woods for a singing, earthy sound. I've also thought about putting a Lightwave pickup in it. And I have always liked the look (and I'm sure the sound) of a single cut-away. I've been in touch with a builder who will put this all together for just slightly more $ than the selling price of the Zon. I have received high endorsements from the builder and have talked to him.

    So the question is, what would you do? I'm VERY tempted.
  2. John,

    First, take a deep breath... ;)

    Zon makes great fretless basses. The Custom is, IMHO, their best fretless model. The LW is a different animal and I wouldn't say it sound better than the the Custom, only different.

    I only know of a few builders that would build a custom fretless for the price of a used Zon. I don't think any of them could build a better instrument than you have now, but I've been wrong before...

    I know of only a handful of fretless basses that have the sustain and "singing" quality of a Sonus Custom. And, they're not cheap.

    Who is the builder?

    Hey, we're here for ya! We'll help you through this. Just don't do anything rash!

  3. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    From reading posts here and elsewhere, Zon quality is extremely consistent. If your dream fretless doesn't turn out to be as good as you hope, you can always get another Zon. I say go for it.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    John, unless you can play a fretless that this luthier has built in the past and like the tone of it more(or at least as much as) than your Zon, I wouldn't do it.

    My Zon is the best fretless I have ever played. It's not going anywhere, even for a Fodera or a USA Conklin.
  5. Guys,

    The luthier is Chris Stambaugh. He comes highly recommended from other bassists. Once I leave work, I plan to call him and ask to ship me one of his basses to try. Go to his website

    His instruments look well-made. He's been at it for 10 years, he just doesn't have any overhead.

    The stakes are high however. I'm married with 3 kids. If I blow this, there's no turning back.
  6. I'm sending you a PM...
  7. Buy another Zon with exotic woods then.
  8. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000

    I just moved from Hew Hampshire and has been very tempted by Stambaugh basses. The prices are amazing compared to other custom luithers and the choice of designs/woods is what you'd expect from a custom design. I have not tryed their basses.:(

    I own a Zon Legacy standard fretless 5. Compared to other fretless basses, my Zon has the look, feel (action and string spacing), & sound that make me and everyone else who play it say "wow". When I went to Redwood City, I played three fretted Zon's and choice the fretless over all three! IMHO, Zon's fretless ie THE fretless:cool:

    If you like your Zon, you'll love their fretless.

    (Wife and 2 kids)
  9. I'd like to add a wrinkle. How about sending the Zon back to Joe and having him defret it?

    I just did that. Cost $450 and now I have the ultimate fretless in the works.

    Could work y'know.
  10. Sammy


    Aug 31, 2000
    Here's another thought;

    In Bass Player Magazine (so take it for what is worth), they stated that fretless wood fret boards played with round wound strings (yes, nickel) would need to be re-boarded every number of years. This is not true for the Zon.

    Since the Zon is the only fretless I've owned, I can't say how true this is.
  11. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Another fretless Zon-bie pipes up....

    I'm sure that the Stambaugh is an excellent bass, but you KNOW that the Zon is. I'd follow Sammy's advice, and send that Custom back to Joe & Company for a crew-cut. You'll be thrilled with it, trust me!

    I just had some work done by them myself on my Special fretless 5. The Polyfusion pre had developed some....idiocyncracies....they replaced it, changed the chrome hardware to black, refinished the neck with his new satin finish (VERY NICE, highly recommended), and while they had it there they filled in and releveled my fingerboard (nice guys, did it for gratis). It plays, sounds and looks like a brand-new bass now, pretty amazing for a bass that was originally built in '95 :D.
  12. Hey Gard,
    Was all of that covered by Joe? That is really cool!

    My advice if you haven't played a natural wood fingerboard fretless is to avoid it. At least the softer woods. My strings ate through the pau ferro fingerboard on my peavey fretless in less than 6 months. I haven't had any probs with my Zon Sonus Special fretless in the 3 years that I've owned it.
    I am very reluctant to buy anything fretless without the phenolic/birch fringerboard on it.

    But do what makes you happy!

  13. I agree with everyone else, don't sell the Zon till you are sure. Cause if you do and your not happy with what you get there is no turning back.
  14. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Ad -

    No, it wasn't ALL covered by Joe, the preamp was out of warranty (heck it's what 6-7 years old?), and there was nothing wrong with the hardware, it was just a cosmetic thing. The neck he did for me very cheaply, and he releveled the board gratis.

    On a side note, I've had a fretless with a pau ferro board for 7 years, use stainless steel roundwounds on it, and it's just fine. It's all in your touch, I think.
  15. I appreciate all the replys guys. Let me clarify some things -- which is probably creating the temptation for me.

    First, my Zon IS ALREADY a fretless. I have the phenowood fingerboard on it.

    Second, I've been in touch with Moses graphite AND Chris Stambaugh about building the fretless with the Diamondwood fingerboard, the same process as Zon's phenowood. I have had similar experiences with the strings chewing up wood fingerboards. Chris said that would be no problem.

    Gard, you bring up a good point -- give the Zon a "facelift." I would like to swap for black hardware too. Perhaps give it a different finish. Gard, if you're out there, do you have a picture of your bass with the satin finish? My finish is opaque, so it's probably not much too look at underneath.

    So far it's about 8 in favor of keeping the Zon, 2 in favor of "going for it." Your advice is good -- keep it comin'!!
  16. Gard, as far as my touch goes, I do tend to dig in quite a bit. I show fretware on my fretted basses but I destroy fretless natural wood fingerboards.
    I'd love to get a fretless Spector or a Warwick Thumb fretless but I fear for the worst if I do.

    "... "Why did you sting me Mr. Scorpion?" asked the frog "Now we will both die!".
    The scorpion replied "I couldn't help myself, it is my nature to sting."..."


    Moses necks are great! If you're looking for a replacement then that would be the way to go.
    But I would either keep the Zon or get another one.

  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Zon4John, I've been in contact with Chris Stambaugh over the last couple of years and, while I still haven't held one of his basses, people whose opinions I trust have, as players and owners. Nothing but glowing reviews and his prices reflect his low overhead.

    Fuzzbass made an excellent point... Joe Zon consistently makes very nice fretlesses. Finding another one wouldn't exactly be hard. OTOH a single cut Stambaugh (like the Amber fretless 6 on his website) has been on my short list for a while. I really like my Legacy fretless (big surprise, right?) but I like my Elrick fretless just as much... they're both world class and just plain excellent in their own ways.

    The single cut Stambaughs seem to have good resale value too, though there was a "different" looking 5 with a big inlay on the upper horn that shows up repeatedly on eBay. It looks odd IMO.

    I'd explore the Stambaugh. Email me if I can further add to the confusion ;)
  18. If you look on Chris Stambaugh's website...

    then click on "Customer photots". Then scroll down to the Jon Clark bass, but mine would be a 5-string. THAT'S THE ONE! I think it's beautiful! To me it looks like an Elrick, and that single cut-away would be great. Chris puts graphite support in the necks, plus I would install the diamondwood fingerboard. I would either go with Bartolini soapbars or a Lightwave pickup.

    So again, you might understand my Dilemma!!