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Warwick:Old vs New

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Feb 19, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    Somebody's gotta get this ball rollin, may as well be me.....

    As much as I want a Bongo and don't use my Warwick, I can't seem to let go of it. Had a buyer here on Talkbass and I backed out as soon as he said he'd take it. Why? I've gotten rid of lots of other gear. I'll tell you why.... they simply don't make em like they used to.

    I believe the value of Warwicks pre-1998 are going to begin to skyrocket once people start realizing the differences. I'm not sure of the details of what happened after this year, but I know the basses and the marketing of them changed dramatically. If anyone knows the changes that took place please post them. Here are some of the BIG, more evident changes I know of.

    -When I bought mine (1997) you could still only purchase Warwicks in stores that carried boutique basses. They were not available in any of the chain stores, and were still quite rare actually. I believe more time and care went into the creation of each bass, and a lot more of the work was done by hand.

    -The necks then were made entirely of wenge and were thinner than the newer models. Didn't feel like the baseball bats people complain of nowadays. The neck is rock solid. I think I've had to adjust the truss rod 3 times since 1997.

    -The just a nut was made of solid brass and quite simple to work with. The pole pieces simply screw up or down to adjust the height. I'm pretty sure the brass also adds to the sound.

    -The selection of woods seemed more carefully chosen. The grain in my corvette is stunning. It looks like a work of art.

    -The straplocks are recessed which gives a smooth, polished, more expensive look to the bass IMO.

    -My bass just feels and sounds completely different than any of the ones I play in stores now. When I bought my Warwick I was completely obsessed with Warwick, and needed more. I started playing them in stores a year or so later, and wondered what was up? They just seemed to start losing their magic.

    -This is a totally personal thing, but I feel like my Warwick has spirit for some reason. It feels like a one of a kind. As much as I love my MM Sterling and it's my main bass, it would be easier for me to sell that as I feel it could be replaced in a heartbeat. I'm positive the Warwick could never be replaced. I even had a Corvette for a month before I got the present one and exchanged it because I noticed the wood was cracked. The current one feels (and looks) like a completely different instrument. Both great, but different - the spirit thing.

    Your thoughts?
  2. The reason I hate Warwicks is because of everything the made after '98. Gradually slipping quality and features, but nice and steady high prices are, to me, quite obviously a sellout move. No brass nut, loss of wenge even when other builders can get almost plentiful supplies are excuses.

    My particular problem is the stock electronics. MEC pickups and electronics are bad. I've never seen anyone who defends them say theyre actually better than other brands, just that they like them instead of hate them vehemently like some other Warwick owners. Basses that cost over $2000 list have EMG ripoffs in them? No thanks.

    I played a '94 neck thru Thumb w/ EMG J's and it's the best four string fretless I've ever held. And I've played fretless Alembics, Pedullas and Laklands. If I bought used basses, I'd seriously consider a pre '98 Warwick, preferably with EMG's or Duncans, but if not I could live with changing the electronics. But, I like my basses to be new, so effectively I'll never own a Warwick - unless my tastes change or I can find a really, really old NOS one.
  3. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    I wouldn't sell or trade my 1997 Warwick for anything.

    The wood just gets better with age.

    Besides, my model was only manufactured for 4 years,
    nothing else like it.

    It has Mojo that increases with playing and the years.
  4. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
  5. jivetkr


    May 15, 2002
    I have a treamer stage II that was built in 2002. I think the build quality is top notch. I bought it used though & would never pay 2800 for a new one. For that money there is a lot more out there.

    I have owned some older warwicks in the past & I do miss the brass nuts & wenge necks. I dont understand why so many other builders can offer wenge necks/fretboards/tops, but warwick does not. Its really BS.
  6. I have owned many Warwick's from the very first models to the newest models. I personally tend to favor the older models. My favorite has been my 90 Stage II 4 string. It just seems to have the best sound and feel out of all of them. Maybe it has something to do with them still being handmade at that point. On the flip side, I owned a '00 Stage II about a year or so ago, and I thought that there were things about that bass that were better than the pre '98 models. I know everyone bags on them using Ovangkol necks now, but it's every bit as good as the Wenge necks IMO. Very stable and a very similar sound. I A/B mine with my buddies '97 Stage II, the newer one had every bit as nice a sound if not better. I was stunned because I thought for sure that the Wenge neck would sound substantially better. Was it luck? It could have been. I've played two since then that have been average as grits. Overall, I would have to admit that the '98 and newer models are pretty much hit or miss like any Fender bass. There are some good ones, and then there are plain junk. I think the quality of the very top models is still there, they just don't use quite the same quality of wood that they used to unless you do a custom order. Me personally, I'm going to hang on to my older models from now on. I agree, I think they are going to be a lot more collectable.
  7. jivetkr


    May 15, 2002
    I think this is very true.
  8. Bass Tranquil

    Bass Tranquil

    Nov 16, 2003
    Last time I was on their website I was not impressed with the pictures of the new Katana bass. The wood grain is just not... pretty. I agree with ya up there on the wood selection getting a little... off.
  9. Marlat


    Sep 17, 2002
    London UK
    I have to agree with Joe, my 97 Fortress FLashback 5 is a very cool bass. The wenge neck, brass nut etc are all a great part of the sound. In addition, the grain on the ash body is amazing! Definately up there with some of the F'Bass bodies in terms of figured grain!

    All of the Warwicks I have seen recently just don't look the the same care went into them as the older basses. There will definiately be a "vintage" Warwick market.

    The best Warwick I ever played was a 1995 thumb 5 neck through which had Ken SMith pickups and electronics installed in it (custom order) - the bass was just amazing, but I passed up an oportunity to buy it for $3000Aus (about $1500 US at the time!)
  10. I've prolly written enough about Warwicks that folks are tired of hearin' it again, but here goes. Several years back I ran into a wonderful Bartolini-equipped Dolphin (4-string) made in '90 and it ended up being a true keeper (thanks Jon). It wasn't long after that I ended up with a Streamer Stage II style as well, also made in '90 and it too was a keeper, hand picked by Peter Wilfer for a friend of the family. There was no actual "SII" model back then. Both of these basses are absolutely exceptional... and no baseball-bat necks on either of these. Interestingly there are also no volutes. I'm not certain when volutes were added but I would guess "mid-'90s".

    Since these basses moved in and made a permanent home here I've managed to end up with a few others too... a custom White Dolphin fiver with red landing lights, an Infinity 2000LTD which sounds fantastic and an early '90s Thumb N/T4 that is the best Thumb I've played.

    Now the sad part is that I've since found the bass of my dreams. These basses are hardly being played! The day may come when I manage to part with a few, but the two from 1990 are staying right here.
  11. DDXdesign

    DDXdesign formerly 'jammadave' Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 15, 2003
    Wash DC metro area
    Well, I have never played a pre-whenever Warwick - all mine are brand new and I, for one, love the neck profile. The depth actually makes my hand more comfortable playin' 4-strings. Then again, I like Spector necks and Greg Curbow's super flat necks too, so I think it's a per-bass issue.

    I'm working out fretless problems trying to find the right one (Thumb FL- balance/weight issue; Corvette passive- hummed like a bastid) but I still have three in the stable as of Monday, with i'm sure at least 2 more on the way before too long.
  12. Jackbass


    Dec 19, 2003
    Paris (FRANCE)
    Old warwick had a really better wood quality!!!
    Moreover, if you compare a pre 2003 and a 2003 warwick you will be surprised by the difference of sounding!
  13. I too have a Fortress Flashback 5 with a 2 Tek bridge. Very nice, solid instrument. I get compliments on it a lot.
  14. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    The Warwicks that were back in 88-89 and real early1990 (JD Dunlap) were bar far the best playing & sounding Warwicks there was
  15. Saetia


    Mar 27, 2003
    How do I find out how old my Corvette is?
  16. Finger Blister

    Finger Blister

    Jul 8, 2003
    Most Warwicks are dated on the back of the Headstock by the Serial Number:

    Ex. -

    My Warwick's SSN is:
    H-0399576-97 = August 1997.

    The letter is the month of manufacture.

    B=February, etc.

    The last two digits is the year.
  17. mrbungle


    Nov 13, 2000
    tampere, finland
    This is true. I changed the pickups from my 'Vette to Basslines QP thru passive electronics set and the sound changed dramatically. Definitely a high end sound now. The stock MEC:s didn't even cancel hum in 50/50 setting!

    On the other hand, I'm quite satisfied with the active MEC setup of my '94 Thumb. I might change them to EMG:s later, though. Just for fun.

    Considering the changes in '98; the new ovangkol necks seems nice to me, but a friend of mine broke his graphite just-a-nut II. The brass one is bullet proof and looks nicer. And I like the recessed strap locks on older models more than the ordinary ones in current models.
  18. Anyone know when exactly they changed to the graphite nute? I think my Warwick is a '98, and it has a graphite nut, but it still has an all wenge neck, and the recessed strap locks.

    By the way, I recently had the opportunity to play two early Warwick Streamers. I think one was early '90s, and the other was an '88 or something. They certaintly felt a lot different than the newer Warwicks. The neck was much thinner, and the basses seemed to be a bit more solidly built. As for the sound, though, neither one sounded that much different than my bass, which by the way, is a Fortress One. The difference was mostly in the feel of the neck.
  19. Yeah, I'm a little fuzzy on the dating too. I just sold a 99 Thumb Bolt On with the standard strap buttons (not recessed) and graphite Just-a-Nut, but it had a wenge neck and board. But anyhow, I usually hear 98 being the year that the major changes happened, but I'm guessing that at least some got through with the older features.
  20. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    i'm pretty certain the nut change (that sounds funny) came in 98. almost immediately after buying mine i remember going back to the store and seeing the new black one. at first i thought i got taken, as newer is always supposed to be better - took a while to be thankful for the brass, feel as though i made it just in time. the necks changed shortly after the nut did, that's when i realized something was up. actually, when they started flooding the guitar centers is when i knew somethiing big had changed. i liked for the whole first 6 months that i had my bass that noone knew what a warwick was.

    the electronics - i have active mec electronics. i dont' really like them but i'm too chicken (and cheap) to change them. the bass gets a great growl, and when played softly sounds unbelievably warm, deep and beautiful. my problem is they're wicked hot. if i put the treble past midway it sizzles, and the bass pretty much thunders past that point also. i usually wind up using the controls to cut tone as opposed to boost it (and i'm a put it all on 11 type of guy). what kind of effect does changing the electronics have on the sizzle and thump??? how do active barts effect the midrange also, i wouldn't mind a little more midrange. anybody????

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