Skjold Custom series vs. Sadowsky Metro!!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Biker4Him, Oct 11, 2005.

  1. I've had the Skjold's for a while now.. and I just picked up the Sadowsky. I've used it twice in live situations (and a bunch of rehearsal time).. and thought maybe I could share a little of my opinions.
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    Up until this past weekend.....

    Of the basses I have been blessed to have come through my hands.. my band and I are the most impressed with the Skjold. It's just amazing how versatile the bass is. The three band pre with sweepable mids... the 4 way pickup selector.. it's absolutely the best sounding most versatile bass I've ever seen/played/heard. Besides that the craftsmanship is top notch.. completely hand built. Not only that, the bass balances perfectly, has a neck that playes itself.. well.. you get the picture.

    Then.. I picked up the MV5 this weekend. It took a little getting used to the pre.. boost only bass & treble... (I really wish it had a midrange knob.. :crying: )... The VTC is a great tool though. Obviously the bass looks great. 59' burst with maple board, and mint green pickguard. It's "THE" bass I have coveted after for a long while. And it too sounds absolutely amazing. The bass boost is killer... even all the way up it's got a useable tone. I've also heard that the Maple Metro's can be a little too bright sounding... but I still found myself turning up the treble about 2/5 of the way.. and the bass boost about the same or maybe more depending on the song.. rolling off a little on the VTC. (For fingerstyle grooving!!) For slap stuff.. it was a little harder for me to dial in "my" tone.

    Now.. the band loved the Sadowsky.. it sat in the mix REALLY well. it had "the look", and was easy (and a blast) to play.

    So.. let's compare the two part by part:

    Neck: The necks on both of my Skjolds are to me one of the best things about the Skjolds. The smoothness makes it effortless to play. The depth (front front to back) is very shallow, which my hands immediately fell in love with the first time I played one. It felt a little reminiscent of my Roscoe's, yet it feels solid as rock!. (not the Roscoe's don't... this just feels better to me). The Sadowsky has a great neck as well... but my left hand did get a little fatigued after 90 minutes of straight playing, yet it wasn't very bad, and I easily kept on chugging. The neck is slightly chunkier.. and rounder. (slightly... were not talking inches here)

    Weight/Balance: My mahogany Skjold is one of the heaviest 5 strings Pete says he's ever built. It comes in at 9 lbs. The MV5 is right around the same. Neither is significantly heavier than the other. However; the MV5 doesn't balance all that well. It is heavier in the body, than in the neck.... it has the opposite effect of neck dive, and actually is a little harder on the left shoulder than a bass that balances better. (i'm using a 2 1/2 inch leather strap.. I'm hoping that going to a wider strap will alleviate this minor little problem).

    Craftsmanship: The MV5 is a very well put together bass. the finish is amazing, and the fit of the neck joint, the pup routes, everything is top notch. It couldn't be better. The Skjold is different in that it's a hand crafted bass. Completely different animal than the MV5. And yet.. Pete's work is every bit as good. The fretwork, the pup routes, the pup covers, the neck joint.. it's all as good as I've seen in ANY bass handmade or not.

    Electronics: I had played a couple of Pete's basses before he started using his own custom pup's and preamp. They were O.K. Pete's new Skjold (customized East) preamp & his custom pup's are the epitome of versatility, and useability. Everything you would ever need is right there on board. The 4 way selector (neck pup solo'd/both in series/both in parallel/bridge pup solo'd) combined with the three band cut/boost preamp with sweepable mids and a bright switch.. make it seemingly impossible not to find whatever tone you want. Besides that.. it has a passive type tone control as well.... which I use more than any other knob. Oh.. it also sounds great in passive mode. I know I've preached about "how great Pete's electronics are" before.. but it's not just me.. the people that are finally taking the plunge and getting his basses are starting to say the same thing!!! Even with the bass completely boosted.. or the mids all the way up.. or whatever you can think of that normally produces a tone you don't like... it's really..really hard to get a non-useable tone out of Pete's basses. Now.. for the MV5. WOW... it too is a tone MONSTER!!! The low end on the bass is so musical. You really have to just try it to believe it. The VTC is super useful.. and is a lot more than just taking treble out of the tone. Of course I like it because it's similar to what the tone control does on the Skjolds. The only thing I wish was available on the MV5 is a mid control. I find myself wanting to tweak the mids... and just can't. However; by adjusting the bass & treble boost, and using the VTC.. you can kind of do the same thing a mid control would do.. it just takes longer.. and would be a lot easier with a mid knob.

    Looks: Well, personally I really like the way both my Skjolds turned out. I love the tops, the fingerboards, the pup covers, and wooden knobs. I think they look great. However; there is just something (at least to me) about a jazz styled bass. And my favorite has always been The Sadowsky 59' burst. It just oozes class and style.

    As a whole.. the band was really impressed with the Sadowsky. They kept commenting about how much they like the tone. And me too... I loved the way it sat in the mix... it just fit. So, last night we did a little test.. I played each bass for two songs and switched. Then we played the same songs again but I reverse the basses... (i used the MV5 where I had used the Skjold the time before). Hmm.... it was a toss up. However; there were a couple of tunes the Skjold just does better than the Sadowsky. At least for now. And that is because of the preamp and the flexibility it offers. If I could sit and tweak knobs for a while before each song.. I'm sure I could probably get the tone I wanted out of the Sadowsky, or at least a useable alternative.... it's just easier with the Skjold because of the sweepable mids... and the tone control.

    After swearing off 34" scale basses... I think the MV5 is going to stay around a while. For fingerstyle grooves it is really hard to beat it. But the Skjold is probably still going to be my main bass. It will do everything the MV5 will do, and more. It's the perfect one bass solution for a giggin bassist. Thanfully... I'm in a position where I can have more than one.. so the MV5 will stay a while.. and see it fair share of stage time.

    Dang it's tough to have such great choices!!!:bassist: :D :hyper:
  2. Joe Turski

    Joe Turski

    Jul 29, 2003
    Very informative post. Thorough.

    I've never had GAS for a Sadowsky, but you just gave me GAS for a Skjold. :crying:
  3. rayzak


    Jan 13, 2001
    Louisville, KY
    Great comparison.
    I'm in love with my MV4. I do need to add the VTC though and I wish for a mid control sometimes as well. But, I don't see me ever getting rid of it.
    I've never even seen a Skjold in person or really even looked at them, but you've got me very curious.
    You've got some sweet basses.
  4. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Cool review Biker. I'm a Sadowsky nut and everything you commented on is right on, IMO. Never tried the brand you favor. They sound awesome.

  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I've never played a Sadowsky but from everything i have heard, it would difficult to beat it in a recording or mix type of situation. Those basses were purpose built for studio guys and them seem to excel in that environment. It must be the ultimate working bass. That said, i can see why a bassist who is really out for his or her own sound would look elsewhere. I don't think it is an accident that working stiffs and studio guys favor Sadowsky while soloist types gravitate more to Fodera, for example.

    In the end, I would love to be like Biker4Him and have both a Skjold and a Sadowsky Metro or NYC. I have already talked to Pete Skjold a few times and I have a good idea for a single pickup Skjold. It would actually be cheaper than a Metro! That said, I would like a Metro or AetelierZ because i want a super J bass.
  6. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    Great review, I had the opportunity to play Tombowlus's Skjold and I have two of Rogers a MV 5 (nyc) and a RV5 metro. I'm a Jazz guy myself so I prefer the Sadowsky but the preamp on the Skjold as the workmanship was very impressive. I certainly think they are one of the best values in a true boutique instrument.
  7. Halftooth

    Halftooth Supporting Member

    Nov 24, 2002
    Tri-Valley, NorCal
    I hear a lot that "bandmates" prefer the Sadowsky often times, but I think part of it is sub-conscious with the "standard look" of the Sadowsky that wins people over initially. I would say that often times when bands are looking for a bass player, more times than not, they're looking for the guy that plays a 4 string jazz bass that doesn't slap and tap all over the place and just holds things down. I've been to try-outs where bands will give you the stank-eye when you pull out a 5 or 6 string "modern" type bass, and they automaticly assume that you're a wanker and that your tone isn't going to get it done. While the tone of Sadowsky's is very good (The two that I owned were of the best), their look, especially the vintage type, is an easier sell to a lot bands, and if the choice is between a Sadowsky or an MTD/Skjold/Roscoe/Fbass/Etc, often times the choice for a Sadowsky, IMO, has every bit to do with the looks as it does with the tone. So why do I bring this up? I own a Skjold Custom 5, and it's easily the most flexible bass that I've owned and totally fits into any band setting, no matter the music. It's just a sad comentary that sometimes truely great basses get left behind because they don't have "the look."
  8. Thanks for the positive re-inforcement. I hope that no one took any of my comments as bad toward the MV5. It's a great bass, and I have a blast every time I strap it on. Seriously... while I'm playing it I can feel the smile on my face get THIS BIG :bassist: .

    The tone is great, the bass is great. I can certainly see why it would shine in the studio, and it sits in the live mix extremely well. The producer and engineer for our bands upcoming album has been floored by the skjold in the studio as well. When we go back in two weeks.. I'm going to take both to see what they say and think. I'll leave it up to them... they could care less what a bass looks like... all they care about is tone!

    Anyway.. I feel extremly lucky to have such great instruments in my stable. Now... back to practicing... one of these days I hope to actually learn how to play them!!;)
  9. bassjam


    Aug 2, 2004
    Lakland Basses,Genz Benz
    The tone is great, the bass is great. I can certainly see why it would shine in the studio, and it sits in the live mix extremely well. The producer and engineer for our bands upcoming album has been floored by the skjold in the studio as well. When we go back in two weeks.. I'm going to take both to see what they say and think. I'll leave it up to them... they could care less what a bass looks like... all they care about is tone!{quote from biker}

    hey biker-i will second this.i recorded last week in a studio i have recorded in many times using a lakland.i took my skjold fretted and fretless and the engeneer told me they both were the best sounding basses he had ever heard.we compared the tracks from last weeks project to some stuff i had done over the couple years id been recording there and i was even shocked at the difference.i have two album projects comming up and i cant wait to get these basses in there.
  10. Pruitt


    Jun 30, 2005
    Danbury, CT
    My GAS for a Skjold has been increasing exponentially over the last couple of days reading threeads about them. Damn you all!!! I'm trying to hold out until after the Holidays are over with before ordering a custom! :spit: :cool:
  11. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Excellent review, Henry! For a minute there, you had me hoping that you were going to say that the Sadowsky made you never want to pick up a Skjold again, and I was going to offer to buy both of your Skjolds, but alas, 'twas not the case! :p

    I also own a Sadowsky (25th Anniversary 24F 5-string), and I have spent a lot of time comparing/contrasting it to my Skjold Custom 5. First, a bit of history. When I decided that I wanted a custom bass, I was all set on a Sadowsky, but I really wanted a mahogany body, which Roger did not offer at the time. So, after a long search (I'm talking years, here!), I was leaning towards MTD (though I hadn't had a chance to play many) when by chance I found myself in the DFW area and I decided to look up Pete Skjold. The end result was an order placed for a bass from Pete, and I left Texas with every confidence that I had found my main gigging axe. Then, I hear that the Sadowsky 25th Anniversary instruments will have mahogany bodies and flamed koa tops! :eek: Okay, so I've got to get me one of these, too! I feel fortunate to have been able to snag one of these limited instruments, and my thoughts were that I would most likely never gig with this bass, but instead keep it in as pristine shape as possible.

    So, with that in mind, once I had both instruments in hand, the comparisons were inevitable. All that can be said about a Sadowsky instrument (impeccable fit and finish, great playability, tone for days, overall superb attention to detail, super nice staff) applies to my bass. It is everything I had hoped for and more. What amazes me, is that Pete Skjold builds an instrument of equal quality. This is not to take anything away from Roger and his crew. They're among the best at what they do, if you ask me. But I'll be darned if that Viking, Pete, doesn't put out an equally fine instrument! Obviously, they are very different instruments, with different esthetics and different tonal goals in mind. As such, I find them to be very complementary basses to have in my arsenal.

    I think that B4Him has done an excellent job comparing them, but let me add a few general observations. I should point out that except where noted, these comparisons were made with the tone controls set flat, and that the Sadowsky had Roger' SS strings, and the Skjold has nickel plated steel Labella Slappers. My Sadowsky has a more "traditional" tone, and it sits in a mix with a thickness (though not muddiness) that the Skjold (un-EQ'd) does not have. But, the Skjold is not thin by any means, and it is extremely clear (think MTD-clarity) and precise. The low B on my Skjold is the tightest, quickest I have heard, and this is with a very strong, deep tonal output. By comparison, the low B on my Sadowsky has more of a warm, round punch, versus the fast transient attack and simultaneous seismic rumble of my Skjold. With all tone controls set flat, the Skjold is the brighter of the two, and again, the Sadowsky is more full, warm, and round (though again, it's all tight and articulate - no mud, here!). I could approach the tone of one instrument with the other, but the low B response was probably the biggest remaining difference. I also noted that the pickups/preamp on the Skjold was more versatile, but the Sadowsky responded more dramatically to different playing hand positions. As for playability, the Sadowsky has slightly wider string spacing, and a slightly wider/thicker neck in general, but both basses feel good to my hands.

    Here's a shot of the two of them "hanging out":


    Ultimately, I did come down to what I intially suspected I would do with these two basses. The Skjold is my workhorse, and the Sadowsky is lovingly "preserved" in my home. I should add, though, that I fully intend on picking up a "gigging" Sadowsky (most likely a P/J 5) to compliment my Skjold Custom 5 - and I also have another Skjold (Exotic Custom 4) on the way, with a third (Custom 5 Fretless) possibly not far off!

    To be honest, I really do think that Skjolds and Sadowskys are very complimentary instruments to own. You can cover a lot of ground with these two brands. And it goes without saying that both companies are among the nicest, most dedicated people that you can find to work with!

    Take care, Tom.
  12. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Those are two great looking basses you have there! I've got to put a few pennies away and take care of my wife so I can order a Skjold. With all the press he is getting here, Pete is going to be back ordered like crazy and he will have to increase his prices. i better get one while I still can!
  13. Thanks!!

  14. Hello and nice review. Per the above, remember Tom's Sadowsky is very, very different from your Sadowsky and what most TBer's call the 'Sadowsky Sound'. Tom's bass is the 24 fret model with soapbar humbuckers. That, combined with the unusual woods result in a bass that is very different sounding than than a 'typical' Sadowsky, which is more in the Jazz Bass style... with the Vintage models in more of the 60's style and the Metro Ultra's more in the 70's style (primarily due to body size/and pickup placement). Tom's Sadowsky model is meant to cop a more 'hi fi boutique' sort of sound, much more similar to the Skjold style of custom made basses... which typically use soapbar pickups and many times are made using darker sounding body woods like Mahogany, Etimoe, etc.

    So, that explains much of the difference in your Sadowsky vs. Skjold comparisons. By the way, I had the pleasure of playing both of the basses Tom is talking about when he visited LDS a while back.... both wonderful instruments and (as usual) I totally agree with Tom's descriptions of the tones of each.

    Congrats on your beautiful basses :bassist:
  15. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Excellent point(s), as usual, Ken!
  16. Thought I would update this thread.

    This past week I spent a lot of time in the studio with the band recording some more songs. The producer and engineer has been working with us for the past couple of months. When I showed up to lay down my tracks, I pulled out the Sadowsky, and the Skjold. He already knew the Skjold from past sessions, but we started with the MV5. We set up the rig.. and started trying to find the tone.. and after only a minute, we found a great a tone. Just for kicks... we both decided to hook up the Skjold before we started recording. All we could both say was "Wow" The Skjold was a lot better sounding than the MV5. At least for what we were going for.

    Now.. I'm not knocking the Sadowsky. I still love playing it, and think it sounds great... but prop's to Pete for building a great bass, and for his work coming up with a great electronics package for them. The versatility is unreal!!!