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Stambaugh's playability and sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BassSaxMan, Sep 8, 2008.

  1. BassSaxMan


    Jul 11, 2008
    Hey Guys-

    Longtime Fodera user here, thinking of moving to something cheaper but am aware of the old adage "you get what you pay for." I'm interested in a few builders, but one of them is Stambaugh. I've played only one, several years ago and it was kind of a turd. However the story behind it was that he had recommended against it's design and the buyer went ahead with it anyway. Some of his work looks pretty nice I think. Can anyone directly compare the sound and playability of his stuff against the more popular higher end basses, most notably Fodera? I am thinking of taking the plunge since his stuff is so "cheap." Thanks all.
  2. jordanm


    Feb 24, 2005
    Atlanta, GA
    There all built to your specs so if you want a certain sound, string spacing, scale, width at nut, neck shape etc etc you can get it. He is also very good with picking out woods and electronics to suit the sound your going for. If your getting something built and you want something specific you wont be disappointed. I dont know how he feels about cloning exact body shapes and such, but I'm sure if you tell him you want a Fodera sound and playability he could definitely nail it.

    I told him pretty much exactly what I wanted, he obviously gave me input on the best thing to do, but he definitely gave me what I asked for.
  3. blowinblue

    blowinblue Blue in name only. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    Maybe the reason you have received so few responses so far could be...players who can afford Foderas are not likely to own Stambaughs. I'm guessing very few players have extensive time with both brands. When you mention the word 'turd' that might keep some Stambaugh owners from chiming in. Why? Stambaugh owners rarely feel the need to defend their purchase. Another reason Stambaugh owners might be reluctant to step up and share their impressions is...the more folks that buy basses from Chris, the longer present Stambaugh owners have to wait in line for their next order. Personally, I think your money could be better spent elsewhere. :eek:;):D

    M. M.
  4. mark roberts

    mark roberts Supporting Member

    Nov 13, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    Talk to Chris. You'll learn that he has built basses for Fodera users before. Inexpensive, yes. Cheap, no. It's about his philosophy about building which is posted on his website. I've been fortunate to have him build 4 basses over time. A 7, 8, 9, and now 10-string (all single-course). The 8, 9, and 10 were his first attempts and are incredible instruments. I sold the 7, 8, 9 and all buyers were very pleased with their purchases and their responses were filled with superlatives. To me, this 10 is another step in Chris' ability to create masterpieces at a reasonable cost.

    You tell him what you are looking for...he will work with you to nail it...as long as you don't move your target (I had to say that)...'cause you'll be waiting close to a year for your creation...and if you're an off-the-rack new-or-used buyer and you find your tastes change over time for whatever reason, or you have THE rig and it's set and the bass has to fit it or dial in with the 1, 2, 3+ other basses you have at a job...better make sure Chris knows this, too.

    Check the Stammie threads here. Lots of happy owners.

    One thing for absolute sure...Chris builds the neck his way and it's stable. Read the threads.
  5. It has been a couple of years since I've played a Fodera, but decided to give Stambaugh a try since the price ain't bad. Mine is due sometime around December, so I'll know then. I'm not too worried. Builders like Chris Stambaugh and Cliff Bordwell could potentially be the next Fodera if or when their name really takes off.
  6. BassSaxMan


    Jul 11, 2008
    Sorry, I didn't mean anything bad by "turd", the story I had heard was the buyer had the bass built against Chris' recommendations, so I just meant that it wasn't a good sample. I really like his philosophy and I have read all of the threads here I think, by using the search, but very few sound clips exist of these things in action. Maybe just Lokire's old bass. I'm very intrigued by Chris' work.
  7. willsellout

    willsellout Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2002
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Sweetwater Sales Engineer
    His basses are very well spoken of and honestly there isn't going to be much difference in playability between one of his basses and a Fodera and having spent time with both I wouldn't think twice about laying down money on a Stambaugh, should I want something custom-ey:D

    Of course if I was looking at a custom option, the first place I'd look is Pete Hanewinckel. Of all the basses I've played or owned, Pete's work has yet to be outdone by anyone. He's a bit more expensive than Stambaugh, but waaaaaaay below a Fodera.

  8. blowinblue

    blowinblue Blue in name only. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    No worries, mate. I knew what you meant. I've heard what might be the same story about possibly that same bass. In all fairness, every builder has a few 'turds'. One thing I remember about Chris during our discussions re: my basses...there were certain things I asked about that he just wouldn't do. Period. Maybe he learned a few lessons along the way. I have come to trust his judgment. Funny thing is, he's young enough to be my son. Now that's scary! :eek::)

    M. M.
  9. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    Chris's basses are outstanding. You certainly wouldn't be disappointed in any way. One thing that I will say though that compared to a Fodera, Chris's basses have a warmer, earthier, more organic quality to them...if that makes sense. He prefers to use oil finishes which I think contributes to the sound. As far as construction and feel of the instrument are concerned, you'll be extremely impressed.

    ...also, on a side note, many years ago after I had gotten my first bass from Chris, I was down at the Fodera shop. When they saw my bass they told me to let Chris know that if he ever wanted a job to call them.....he didn't but they were certainly impressed enough to say such a thing....that was quite a few years ago now and his work has improved ten fold since.
  10. Wonderful luthier. When I finally tired of that huge Fodera neck and boat anchor weight, I decided to try a Stambaugh single cut with Aero Dual coils and a custom Mike Pope pre. While it didn't sound that similar to the Fodera (it was warmer, a little darker, and more 'woody/organic' sounding), IMO it was every bit as high quality regarding playability and fit and finish. The neck was actually much more stable than my Fodera, and the somewhat tighter spacing at the nut made it feel less 'surfboard like' versus the Fodera.

    It was a relatively dark, very warm sounding instrument (closer to the tone that Garrison gets, for example, versus Bona).

    As long as you don't 'overspec' and ask Chris to do something he doesn't want to do, these are VERY nice instruments.
  11. emjazz

    emjazz Supporting Member

    Feb 23, 2003
    Brooklyn, NY
    This is key. There aren't too many things that Chris is uncomfortable doing at this point, but if he's against it than trust what he says. He has enough experience at this point....I'd say that goes with any experienced builder.
  12. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    I've owned two of Chris's basses.
    Construction, playability, tone.
    All top shelf.
    His basses a a steal at what he charges.
  13. I have never had the opportunity to play a Fodera. That being said I ordered a bass from Chris about 4 years ago. I told him what I was looking for and he made suggestions that I listened to. I love my Stammie and have every day since I've had it. I don't even think about getting another bass because I don't need to. If you knew me you would be impressed. I got exactly what I was looking for.
  14. Out of curiosity, what are the things that Chris doesn't like doing? I don't think I have him doing anything that he hates at this point, but just wondering.
  15. That is a good question. I know that 4 years ago he wasn't a big fan of the electronics layout I wanted. That's the one point I stuck with and I've had some wiring issues recently but if you look at the picture below you could see why anyone would not be thrilled about it.

    I'm not sure what else could be added to that list but I'm sure some others might know.

  16. blowinblue

    blowinblue Blue in name only. Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2006
    SoCal USA
    I'm not sure what others have experienced, but I was referring to wood combinations, pickup/preamp configurations. There are certain mixtures that he feels will lead to disappointment. Also, at the time of my last build, he was not able to do 34.5" scale length. That may have changed. As a builder, he shouldn't allow himself to be pressured into putting out an instrument that will end up as a 'turd'. That will only serve to diminish his reputation. The best way to find out what he won't do...is call him. ;)

    M. M.
  17. Since Chris is a custom builder, he will do special pickup placements, special neck radius, special scale lengths, special neck profiles, etc, based on the customers request. This is usually a BAD idea, since most customers think they know what they want, but are then sometimes appalled when the builder actually does it:D

    For example, I know a guy who had Chris make a bass that had as close to the large Fodera neck profile as possible, but with a single Music Man type pickup in the exact MM position, but on a 35" scale instrument. Quite frankly, it is a mess.

    As long as you stick to Chris's design(s) and specs, they are as good as any bass I've ever played (again, if you are looking for a warm, fat, organic, woody type tone and feel).

    IMO and IME.
  18. Here is another reason to go with Chris.

    I have a couple of issues with my electronics. I have received estimates to have it gone through and fixed locally for anywhere from $300 to $500. Ouch!

    I just called him and he said $50 plus shipping if no replacement parts are needed. Wow! That's what I'm talking about.
  19. JehuJava

    JehuJava Bass Frequency Technician

    Oct 15, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    I have two that I bought...both used. So I can't comment on the ordering procedure. However, both basses are completely different but both rule in different ways. I love them sooo much and don't even care about getting any other basses. If I do though, it'll be a Stambaugh by my own design. I've played many other high end basses (Elrick, Pedulla, Pucinella...though no Fodera) and these two basses leave each and every one of 'em in the dust. Even the Elricks that I never thought I get rid of.

    My only real thought is that I can't see why someone would pay that much money for a bass when a Stambaugh is all one needs.
  20. macboy


    Jan 21, 2008
    +100 on stambaugh basses!

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