Tried a Sadowsky - again

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by abngourmet, Nov 8, 2005.

  1. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Well, I went to Indoor Storm today and tried two Sadowskys - both Metros (an R5 and MS4). Here's how it went:

    Both were tested using a Genz Benz GBE 400 head and a Genz Benz GB 210TT cabinet. Controls were set flat.

    Both basses appeared to have Sadowsky nickel wound strings on them, standard gauge.

    Each bass was played approximately 1/2 hour. I played fingerstyle, used a pick, slap and pop, and tapping (I'm a lousy tapper, though!). I also did some harmonic stuff, but I'm not that great at that either!

    A 10 foot Lava Cable was used to connect each bass to the amp. No effects were used.

    Pickups were tried together, individually, and blended to varying degrees, favoring either the bridge or neck pickup accordingly.

    The bass knob on each bass was full up, and the treble knob adjusted to achieve different tones.

    Both basses were tried both passive and active.

    Before anyone asks, I couldn't try them either live or in a studio - it just wasn't possible (I don't think the dealer would loan me a $2K Sadowsky just so I could try it on a gig - God help me if some drunk knocked it off a stand and cracked the headstock or something!).

    Before reading the following, please read the following disclaimer: I'M NOT BASHING SADOWSKYS.

    Again, I came away less than impressed. And I desperately want to be. There is no denying the build quality and attention to detail - it is second to none. The fretwork is flawless, as is the fit and finish. The woods are beautiful, and the instruments I tried (R5 was alder/rosewood, MS4 was swamp ash/maple) were both light and very comfortable. And they both played wonderfully (I'd have preferred a lower action on the MS4, but that's just me). The tone just didn't do anything for me, though the R5 was more appealing than the MS4 for some reason (the R5 had soap bars).

    Sadowsky owners, is there something I'm doing wrong when testing one? Should I take my rig (or part of it anyway) with me next time (I severely doubt the dealer will let me take one home as I live over an hour away from the store)? I just can't seem to get the tones out of them that Sadowsky owners here say they get. Again, I really want to like them, but I'm just not getting the tone I'm looking for (Jaco-esque with overtones of Geddy and John Paul Jones thrown in, if you can imagine that). Suggestions?


  2. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    It's okay to not like Sadowsky. It's a free country.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Im not extremely moved by them either, its okay.
  4. jacove


    Apr 12, 2003
    Aalborg, Denmark
    did you try them with the Humcancelling or the single coils?...The single coils will give you a bit more authentic fender vibe in my opinion...the hc are great!, but will give you a less growly and open sound...
  5. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Before (potentially) a Sadowsky owner takes this the wrong way, let me say this: my intent in starting this thread was not to create a "bash Sadowsky" parade. My intent is to learn if there is something I don't know about Sadowskys or something I'm doing wrong when playing them in order to coax the sound I'm looking for out of them. Yes, it's OK not to prefer a Sadowsky bass, but I really like the feel and quality, and want to justify (to myself only) picking one up. The way to do this is to get what I'm looking for out if it. In order to cover all the bases, I'm asking Sadowsky owners for their input so I can try everything (short of a live use or studio use which, unfortunately, isn't possible for me at the moment) before I make the ultimate decision.

    I say all of this because the last time I said something about a Sadowsky, I got flamed big time. Not that that bothers me much. It's just that I'd rather spend the time learning about what I'm potentially doing wrong so I can make an informed decision on whether to buy one or not.


  6. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    According to the Sadowsky website, all basses in Metro line have humcancellers.
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    Sadowsky basses (not the company or Roger, I'm talking the actual instruments) are solely responsible for world famine. !!!


    There. Now it's all on me. Say whatever you want.
  8. I wasn't crazy about the playability when I bought one, but the tone WITH A BAND kills! No two ways about it!
  9. SteveC


    Nov 12, 2004
    North Dakota
    I've never tried a Sadowsky. I've had the preamp and pups in one of my MIM jazz basses and it sounded great. Roger even answered the phone and helped me with my install. Very nice.

    It's OK to not like them. Basses are a pretty personal thing. I currently like my cheap old Yamaha BB605 with Bartolini electronics. Wouldn't trade it for anything right now.
  10. Sorry to threadjack, but I guess this is kind of on topic...

    I happen to think that you've been spoiled by playing Alembics.

    I just received an Alembic Spoiler today and man... while it's not the most sophisticated, I had never played an Alembic until today.

    Sorry all, but you cannot compare bass X to an Alembic, even a relatively low-end one.
  11. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    not necessarily doing anything wrong, but lets tease out some things from your VERY detailed and thoughtful post:

    - GB rig vs. your own
    right there might be your first misstep. you were using a rig unlike your own. no offense to the Indoorstorm or GB guys, but the GB rig is not my rig o' choice. conversely, what if you did love the sound, only to bring it home to hate it thru your real life rig? you'll be paying $2000k on a bass, might as well do everything within your power to make sure it sure as heck plays nice with your gear.

    - nickel vs. steel
    are you a steel string user? if yes, then the nickels might be a little too mellow for you, thus giving you a totally different impression of the tone. not a big deal to some, but to myself a rather large one, being an avid Sadowsky Nickel string user myself.

    - bass knob cranked?
    IMHO, i never liked the sound of anything "cranked". one should be judicious in all forms of cranking, and at least find a range of sounds throughout the bass' tone controls. heck, i only use 50% of the boost knobs on my Sad's, and LOVE the tone.

    already own a jazz like bass?
    do you dig the jazz bass pickup sound? or do you own a humbucker/soapbar'd bass? some sounds we're weaned to more than others. myself? i cant stand certain Pbass sounds. so, sue me.

    again, while a few gents here seem to make Sadowsky's sound like Excalibur, (and yes, i own three) i humbly agree that they are not.

    sad's will fit some guys, and wont others. i happen to love the tones of my sad's thru my rig (Demeter HBP-1, Demeter 300M tube power amp, Acme & Epifani cabs), and cant imagine gigging w/ anything else.

    and yet, others will come away unimpressed. no thing but a chicken wing.

    again, bring in your rig, listen closely. like it? great. dont? eh, there are PLENTY of other fender jazz boutique clones out there to choose from. heck, if i wasnt a Sadowsky man, i'd more than happliy pick up a Lakland JO, Pensa jazz, or a KSD jazz.
  12. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA

    i own a ferreals NYC Sadowsky, which the Metro's are patterned after, and i'm still impressed by the Metro's.

    heck, i'm also a Fodera, MTD, and soon to be Ken Smith guy, too. ;)
  13. Niskamies


    Jan 13, 2004
    IMO, Sadowsky basses sound about a thousand times better in the mix with a band than soloed. The tone just kills when it has a band around it. I don't know why that is, it just is. Good thing that I play one mostly in a band.

    I just love my MS5. Haven't seen a bass, yet, that I feel more comfortable with.

    And with the settings. I hardly never have the bass pot at over 75%. The tone just gets too boomy. I normally have the bass at 50% and treble at zero. When I slap, I lower the bass and raise the treble to about 25%. I have the pickup blend most of the time in the middle, but sometimes I like to play Jaco and put the pickup blend a little more to the bridge pickup. Then I raise the bass to about 75%.

    Just my two cents.
  14. Craig Garfinkel

    Craig Garfinkel

    Aug 25, 2000
    Hartford, CT
    Endorsing Artist: Sadowsky Guitars
    Bass knobs full up? Yes, you were doing something wrong. IME with rigs of varying sizes and quality, I've never gone past half way with the bass knob. In case you're not aware, the Sadowsky preamp is boost only, so the EQ is flat when the knob is completely off, and as you turn up you're continually adding bass (or treble).

    And ditto with the try it through your own rig opinion, if at all possible. Certainly if you may actually buy the bass. And you can try the bass on a gig, but granted you would need to pay for it first. Sadowsky dealers must offer the same 7 day approval period the Sadowsky shop does.
  15. Every experienced bassist has a particular sound in his/her head...

    what I mean by "experienced" is anyone who has been playing for a while (could be a couple of months even) and is heading for a particular tone.

    That sound in your head is the mark from which you say "yes, this thing ROCKS"...or "no, sorry, just doesn't do it for me".

    That sound is like a song...that song may be the most popular song in history...sold 100 million copies...and adored by billions...but you may think that song is less than spectacular.

    It is's a personal thing...and you're not doing anything wrong...

    Sadowsky is a great company...they make fantastic instruments...they have great service...and they're loved by many...but if a Sadowsky doesn't grab you...its alright...

    that's what WISHBASS is for :D (sorry...I couldn't resist)
  16. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004

    Hey, thanks for the insights. I'm definitely going to take my rig next time, probably take my '73 and my '05 Deluxe to do an A/B comparison. It really helps me to get the skinny from a Sad owner, though - Sad owners are a ferociously loyal bunch, so there must be something about them that I'm missing somewhere.

    Thanks again,

  17. jokerjkny


    Jan 19, 2002
    NY / NJ / PA
    well, unless you are that exact very same person, you're missing everything! :p cause in the end, still boils down to personal choice. again, we all have our favs, and its what makes TB, well... TB.

    but good idea on taking your basses. a much better comparison to help you realize if the Sad's are indeed a good fit, especially w/ your ears tuned to something you're well versed.

    and again, i could say this to anyone looking at any bass. you like what you like, and i could care less if someone else doesnt dig it. my bass, my sound, and most of all, my moolah. ;)
  18. thewanderer24


    Apr 29, 2002
    SJ, CA
    Let me echo the sentiments about the bass knob being cranked. This is definitely NOT a place you want to start. My Sadowsky has more bottom with the bass flat than any other bass I have ever played (and I've heard that from several other bass players that have played my bass). I hardly ever boost the bass, because of this.

    By cranking the bass up all the way, you basically were adding 16db centered at 40hz. I gotta think this is a horribly extreme and hardly useable sound, solo or in the mix.

    You may or may not like the Sadowsky for what you do, but I strongly suggest you play it with the pre- set flat for starters.

    Also, IMO, the Sadowsky preamp is MUCH less useful without the passive treble roll off.
  19. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    IMO, the humcancelling pickups don't "burp" the same way single coils do. It not so much a tone comment as a dynamic one. I agree with you that you don't really get "that Jaco tone" from the humcancelling bridge pickup. My favorite tone on the metro RV5 I had was 50/50 blend with just a tiny bit of bass boost. That was a big, fat, defined rock sound that killed with a band. Its not a J-bass, its its own thing.

    If you love the playability and feel, then you could think about getting one and dropping in some single coils, I was just about to do that before I tried my skyline DJ5 :ninja:

    I really wanted a J-bass sound, so the DJ5 is a better fit for me right now. I can see myself having a Sadowsky in the future as my gigs dictate, they are fantastic in their own way.
  20. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    Wow, gents, this is great stuff. Keep it coming, and I truly appreciate it.