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Warwick Fortress Masterman 5 opportunity

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MAcsSNAcs, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. Ren1


    May 25, 2014
    that is definitely the same bass. thread also says sold locally and there's no way there's 3 basses with moved strap locks and the weird input jack in one city. It was posted for $775 USD (shipped), and you mentioned 800 CAD which is about 600 USD right now. Seems like you'd be getting a decent deal compared to the previous TB sale and other warwicks of that era recently sold on TB (they seem to be going for about 700-900+ these days depending on the bass. some fetch more if they're in great shape or unique - search the classifieds for examples).

    Extra holes drilled is never ideal... but someone appears to have done a decent job filling it and you won't be looking at them while playing. They won't 't affect sound or playability and that's probably why it's only 600 usd instead of 750+. I own a 97 Corvette and it's a great bass. The wenge necks are fantastic. the string spacing on warwick 5 strings is a bit narrow though and the MEC pickups do not do these basses justice (other people like em). I agree with a previous post about the jacks. Those deep barrel jacks need to be replaced at least every 1-2 years IME. The jack mod whoever added to that is ugly to me, but I'm sure it solved a real problem with these basses. If you don't like it, you can always change it!
    that 'rubber bumper' you referred to looks like a warwick strap lock. why someone would want a strap button/lock that low (below the bridge) is beyond me, probably why the next owner filled it in.
    All in, these seems like decent deal. If it comes with a decent case, I'd say you have a winner, I"d be hard pressed to find a better 5er for $600 usd.

    Hope that helps! Ultimately, go play the bass and see if it's worth the money to you. I always visit a music shop and try a bunch of basses before considering buying a new bass. always helps me calibrate what's worth what and what I'm looking for
    DiabolusInMusic and MattZilla like this.
  2. donahue

    donahue Supporting Member

    Jun 10, 2015
    I just bought '96 Warwick Fortress Masterman 5 string and I love it! My other basses paled in comparison almost instantly when I picked it up! I definitely suggest you play it a little first to make sure the mods are wonky though. Because, imo, they look to be. I would have left the hole there so the pin move was reversible and I'd pull that input jack off and put a barrel style back in if its possible.

    Like stated previous these basses balance really well and thats probably in part due to the factory strap pin placement. The wenge neck on mine looks like ancient petrified wood and has an almost stone-like feeling. Its awesome.
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  3. That is definitely the same bass. There are three scrapes parallel to each other in the same spot on both instruments.

    Edit to add: @Ren1 beat me to it.
  4. IMG_2889.JPG I have a '98 Fortress One 5-string I bought brand new in '98 and love it. I have replaced that damn output jack a few times since then, they are notorious. I can definitely say that locking output jack in your picture is not stock. I don't think they even made those yet back in 1998?

    My bass balances super nice with the strap locks in their stock position. Im very weary of the strap locks on this bass you are considering. The pic you dug up of the previously sold bass shows the strap lock mechanism inserted without a strap attached. (Compare to mine for reference) But... I can't imagine that's the stock location, that close to the output jack, near the bottom end of the bass? Here's a pic of my '98 Fortress One. (Not a master built, but I can't imagine the master built putting the strap lock way down there). I wonder if the strap lock has been moved more than once? The angle of the pic the seller sent you doesn't give the whole picture of that end of the bass... can't tell if the current strap button is at the middle of the bass, or closer to the top, like mine. Maybe there's another fill hole up there? Maybe someone with Master Built knowledge can talk about the strap lock position compared to mine?

    Edit: Masterman, not master built. Shows just how much I know about them!
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2017
  5. Ren1


    May 25, 2014
  6. One thing to know before you buy, these bridges require tapered, or step wound B strings. (Edit: you can see in my pic) It can be difficult to find a set of strings you like when limited to that requirement. That and the faulty output jack are the only downfalls I see in my Fortress, IMO.

    Go try it, and try it standing up with a strap to make sure it balances alright.

    Good luck!
    donahue likes this.
  7. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    The 98 Warwick's had internal strap buttons that only work with Dunlop straplocks. Many prefer external strap buttons so Warwick stopped doing it that way. Norwood and many others were seen with copious amounts of duct tape holding the straps on. I have one like that, but didn't play it enough to require duct taping. In general I prefer schaller locks over Dunlop, I don't trust the type that inserts into a hole, I like the way schaller style locks work better. With my 2000 wicks, the oversized strap buttons and a nice leather strap are fine, no locks needed. But the 98 necks are thinner and wenge vs ovangkol. It would be a good bass, I personally would maybe haggle a tad, but that depends on how many buyers there were. Warwick's tend to sit a while.
  8. ubernator


    Oct 30, 2004
    lost angels
    All Warwick 2 piece bridges until only.several years ago, need a taper B, but I had gotten DR to fit by filing down the string, since mine are all gold hardware I refuse to file the tailpiece. Crimping with the butt end of some really beefy pliers might work too, I had to do that to get .115 nickelsteels to fit in my Tbird bridge. I have a couple sets of non tapered blue steel 5s that I might try to crimp to fit my Warwick's, but first I have a set of clear tones, and a set of black labels that I soaked in the ether. And my wicks are in storage right now, don't need a 5 or wick look/tone in either band I'm in.
    Woofer likes this.
  9. MAcsSNAcs


    Jul 26, 2016
    Wow. Thanks for all the info. I'm thinking the strap peg was moved from the original position, to near the output jack, and then back, judging by the positioning in the photo sent by the seller, and one posted above over night by SloSurfer. I'll ask to be sure. Also thanks for the tip on the strings :) As for strap locks, I wouldn't play without them, and have been using some of the leather ones for decades without any issues. Have them on both my current basses ('68 Jazz and '69 Precision (fretless)). I have a strap for each, so I don't have to fiddle with swapping straps around. One set I bought, the other I made myself from an old belt ;)

    As for the price, I may see if I can try it out, and possibly haggle a little, due to the output jack having been put in, in an unprofessional manner. The strap peg doesn't concern me as it seems to have been moved back to where it was... cosmetically not so hot, but maybe my local guitar guy could improve it...

    My Precision was purchased after simply picking it up and holding it... the neck is like nothing I've experienced before or since! It had had the frets removed before I got it, and the neck was severely warped upwards, because the dude didn't fill in the spaces where the frets had been, so when strings were put on... well, you can imagine. But the neck just felt so amazing, and the price was right ($400), and it was playable, though with really high action. I took it back to the guy that took the frets out, and he basically planed down the fingerboard to get it back to as flat as possible, and it's great to play now. He did the work for free, being embarrassed by his fret job, and threw in a vintage yellow tweed hardshell case for my troubles. I've had that bass for nearly 25 years now, and wouldn't get rid of it for anything.
    HamOnTheCob and SLO Surfer like this.
  10. For what it's worth, I've had great success by squeezing my D'Addario B strings with vise grips to make them fit. Been doing it for 14 years with zero negative repercussions. YMMV, but I know lots of guys that do this.
    SLO Surfer and ubernator like this.
  11. Wow I've read all the posts and looked at the photo here as well as the one in the ad (that's definitely the same bass). At first, I thought the filled hole was the original strap button and that the output jack had been moved. Then I thought the new strap button was WAY up toward the top of the bass. I think it's just a weird angle on the photo.

    If looking directly straight on from the end of the bass, is the current strap button in the middle of the body? That's not bad.

    The filled hole looks to be from a strap button previously installed (possibly for a lefthanded player?)

    Whomever installed that jack and relocated the strap button (probably the same person?) obviously wasn't concerned about aesthetics. My only worry is whether or not they took more care with the actual execution of the work. If you can visually inspect the electronics cavity and it looks ok, and if it plays ok, and the strap button installed seems solid, then you're probably alright. I still think the bass might serve you well, but I wouldn't pay $800 for it. I think for that kind of money you may be able to find one in better shape.

  12. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    RE the price, I disagree with those alluding that this isn't a great deal. 5 years ago you may have found one a little cheaper, but used Warwick prices, from what I've seen, are finally beginning to rise.

    I own a Fortress One, and I'll never let it go. I also owned a Streamer Masterman and regret letting it go. They're great basses, the wenge necks can't be beat IMO (I've owned 5 Warwicks, with and without wenge). I'd say just go for it. I'll add that if with the conversion rate that really would come out to $600, then it's a no brainer. For me, anyhow :).
  13. MAcsSNAcs


    Jul 26, 2016
    Thanks for all your help with everything. From what I've been able to gather, the person that the current seller bought it from got it with the output jack already replaced. I remember seeing it, in fact on my local Kijiji, and dismissed it due to what looked like shoddy workmanship on the jack replacement... and now it's back!

    The strap peg was in the place where the filled in hole is, when the current seller bought it, and he's moved it back to closer to where it would have been originally, though I'm not sure it's exactly where it should be.

    I'm much more comfortable with a bass that hasn't had "stuff" done to it, and I'm going to pass on it at this time. If he's still trying to get rid of it in a month, I may revisit it.

    Thanks everyone for all your help. Love this place! :)
    SLO Surfer likes this.
  14. TinIndian

    TinIndian Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    Honestly, I think 800CDN (600US) is a pretty solid deal considering the weirdness going on with the Strap location. I own a 96 Masterman 4 string and that one clearly had the straplock location moved at one point then moved back. Perhaps for a left handed player as someone else suggested otherwise it makes no sense to me. Since those came with the recessed style Dunlops and how large the filled hole is I question the thought process of filling the hole to begin with? It would have looked better in my mind just leaving the extra strap lock in place and going back to the original.

    Anyway, If it plays well, the neck is good and the electronics work, 600 is a good deal ( mine ran me 800.00 US a few years ago ) but I would try to knock it down some because of the strap lock strangeness.


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    IMHO the late nineties was the end of an era at Warwick, that's a great bass.
    donahue and Joe Nerve like this.
  16. I apologize. I must admit I forgot we were talking $800 Canadian. That changes things a bit. For $800 USD, I'd be less impressed by the price. But for $800 Canadian, it's a good buy. Still, I'd want to get a good inspection of the electronics cavity before pulling the trigger. The jack install wasn't the neatest execution and the wiring that went with it might be questionable as well. I'm not saying it's a deal-breaker, but it's worth double checking.

    It's all a matter of personal preference (or how much kool-aid you drink). I think the ovankol necks are at least just as good, if not better. I've had 11 with ovankol necks, 13 with wenge, 1 with maple. The maple was different, but the other 2 I could interchange without a difference in tone, in my opinion.
  17. For what it's worth, I've had my 2004 Streamer Stage II a couple years now and it's the best bass I've ever owned, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Ovankol neck and all. It's one of the few Warwicks I've had that didn't have an output jack issue.
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2017
    godley69 and bassbooty like this.
  18. bassbooty

    bassbooty -Rey Supporting Member

    Jul 4, 2006
    ^^^^^^ SSIIs are the best IMO also :thumbsup:

    I've owned literally dozens of German wicks and the only 2 that I've kept are my '91 4-string SSII & my '94 5-string SSII.
    godley69 and HamOnTheCob like this.
  19. That's awesome. If I came across a good deal for a 4, I'd probably pick one up.

    (Sorry to the OP for getting off topic!)
    godley69 likes this.
  20. The problem is that we know what the seller paid for the bass, just recently. Doubtful he'll take a bath on it. Always worth a try though.
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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