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Zon Sonus "facelift"...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Vic, Apr 20, 2007.


  1. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    So I bought this bass used/excellent a while back, and while it wasn't real bad, there was just enough relief in the neck I needed it changed. It was non-warranty and I did have to pay for it, but IMHO, it was well worth it. Here's a pic of the original bass, the only one I have, sorry for the quality:

    zon_s5_blue.

    Ahhh, but there's more...

    While I had them on the phone, I found out they offer a trussrod upgrade/option on their basses for not much money, so I figured heck, put it in, then it doesn't matter what the factory setting is, I can set/forget to whatever I want. On these, the adjustment is hidden in the neck pocket, because this is not a seasonal thing. You (again) set it, and forget it. With the trussrod option, the neck is just as rigid and stable as it was before, doesn't move under string tension or enviromental change, but its proprietary design is strong enough to just give enough adjustment to cover a good range of relief adjustment, and it doesn't add much weight to the bass (it does NOT neck dive AT ALL and seems to weigh about what it did before, which is heavy for a Zon, but at least it didn't gain much -- about 10 pounds).

    Stop! Don't order yet! There's MORE!

    So this past NAMM, I finally got to meat Joe at his booth. I started drooling over the models with humbuckers in there, and lamented that this one was basically just like my beloved redwood top'd model, so I asked about a "humbucker upgrade". At first, Joe didn't think it could be done, but about a week later, he tells me he could, would, and recommended these SD narrow aperature humbuckers like he uses in his Sonus "Classic" models. I told him to "go for it". Which he did.

    The results are in... just got it back today, played it, and it's AWESOME! Sits right between my Custom and redwood Sonus tonally, and gives me another humbucking Zon to choose from at "nasty" venues with lots of electrical crap going on. Ironically, the relief is dead perfect on it now... :D

    Hope you like it... put pictures of my redwood Zon with it, so you can see "sorta'" before/after diffs, and also my Custom, so you can see the how it's diff as well...

    zons5r.

    zons5b.

    zons5c.
     
  2. Very nice Vic! I especially like the redwood one. Is it a 519?
     
  3. aidan_r

    aidan_r

    Jun 22, 2006
    Vancouver, Canada
    Looks great! I should post some pictures of my 4/2 that I received late last year, biggest pickups known to man but they're awesome.
     
  4. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Nope. I'm not as much into those... one of the attractions of the regular Sonus models for me is the 34" scale and extra few frets. Plus, this keeps the scale and spacing consistent between my Zons.

    They're still quite different, however, even without the pickup swap... the blue one is maple topped vs redwood, and is much heavier... the redwood one is only 7.5 pounds, which is very light. Most Zon Sonus' are right around 9 pounds. Now, however, they're even more complimentary, which is great.

    The redwood one, is absolutely the king of the hill, and the main reason I'm so addicted to Zons. It was absolute dumb luck I got it, but I'm so glad I did. In fact, it's the main reason I was bothered enough by the blue one to have its neck redone, because it wasn't really all that bad to begin with, but after playing perfection, anything less is just irritating. :)
     
  5. Akito

    Akito

    Dec 1, 2003
    Spokane
    Those are some stunning Zons! You are a lucky fellow!
     
  6. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks! That blue one is SUPER punchy now, too... it's exactly what I wanted... it's pretty much just like the single-coil Sonus, except a little less bite and a little more phat punch. It seriously rocks my socks. :)
     
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    Wow, Vic! I'm glad it's cherried out for you. Did Joe do the rout for you? That's quite an arsenal.
     
  8. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Joe did it all. It's all from Zon direct. No home mods here... it's literally exactly as if I'd ordered the bass this way brand new. The cool part is, this model doesn't exist, and these pickups currently don't exist as a standard option for a Sonus 5, BUT THEY SHOULD! :)
     
  9. DEVILMAN

    DEVILMAN

    Nov 24, 2001
    New York,NY
    Cool! Joe definetly delivers!

    ~S~
     
  10. turnuptheBASS

    turnuptheBASS

    Jan 30, 2005
    So. CA.
    Seriously that the Zon that you upgraded looks fantastic!
    You have a mini ZON museum right there!
     
  11. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks! They're all different, but they all slice mixes like a Ginsu. :D
     
  12. That's really nice, Vic.

    Do the pickups still have that signature Zon tone? I really cannot articulate it into words without generalizing (clean highs, really apparent low-mid emphasis), but every Zon I've played (from Legacy Elites to the Sonus line) have had it.

    I really dig the aesthetic, but at the same time am a big fan of the Bartolini pickups they use at Zon. They do not sound like anything else.
     
  13. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks! Yes, they do. They're totally customs for Joe. FYI, the Barts Joe uses are also custom for him. From their web site:

    "Make: Exclusively designed for Zon by Duncan custom shop.
    Type: Neck: narrow aperture, passive, dual coil design. Soapbar style shell.
    Bridge: narrow aperture, passive, dual coil design. Soapbar style shell."

    These SD's don't sound to me like any others I've played through, which I think often sacrifice some "even-ness of tone" for extra bite and aggression. Don't get me wrong, I love both of those things, but if it's over the top, it's not as musical to my ears. These pickups sound like a "fuller" version of the single-coils in the redwood bass. Can't get a bad sound out of it. :)
     
  14. That's excellent to hear. Play those basses in good health. By the way, ever try a Legacy Elite? It pained me so much to sell my Sonus 5, but I could not justify keeping it around with the Legacy Elite :)
     
  15. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    No, not yet... I'm afraid to. :)
     
  16. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Glad to hear how well that all worked out for you, Vic! :) I totally loved that redwood topped one, and I just GOTTA play that blue one! Tell me more about that third Zon. I forget the details on that one. And can you give us a brief description of each one's tone, and strong/weak points? That'd be awesome.

    Of course, I really am bitten by the Legacy Elite bug... :help:
     
  17. thejohnkim

    thejohnkim

    Sep 30, 2003
    NYC
    sigh, one day I'll find a way to make my Trans Black Sonus 5 transform into a natural blonde top version. But Sonus 5's, on man, they just play like buttah.... i freaking love playing it.
     
  18. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I gotta claim (VERY likely a happy) ignorance on that line, but here goes on the stuff I know...

    The Redwood/Ash Sonus:
    This one is most "J-like." I won't say exactly like a J, especially around Ken ;) (jk Ken :)), but it's the most similar... probably due to the single-coild pickups. I LOVE the tone of this bass!!! Great bite and clarity from low to high, never a dull or overemphasized note anywhere, dead perfect action, lightning fast neck profile (especially for fingerstyle), nice rich neck tone, incredible B string... a great and very practical and musical instrument in every way. Also, this one is a featherweight... even among Sonii... it's a paltry 7.5 pounds (whereas most Sonii I've checked out are generally around 9 pounds). However, it sounds MUCH larger. This one is definitely a FMCDH bass... for sure.

    The Maple/Ash (blue) Sonus:
    Anyway... now imagine that same sound, but with more meat added... ALMOST like a touch of that "mahogany" sound added. The tone punches you a little lower in the gut but still has plenty of sparkle and bite. Thing "big" J bass... kinda... :) Thing is, with that little bit of extra meat, when you dial in some low mids to the bridge pickup, you get a tone that is so dynamic, you could almost stop someone's heart with the impact. :D I "turned it up" before the kids got home yesterday and jammed with an MP3, and I felt like I was getting my arse kicked by a thug. Still nursing the black eye... :D This one is 10.1 pounds, and probably the heaviest Zon I've ever played/owned. The ergos are good, tho, so strapped on, it's not bad at all, but it's a far cry from the Redwood bass for sure.

    The Custom
    This one is a whole different ballgame. It's much closer to the sound of an EMG system despite the fact it's still bart pickups and not an EMG preamp either. Very modern tone. All the pickups Joe uses AFAIK are custom, so that's probably part of it, but it's also because it's a ZP (Polyfusion) preamp. The ZP preamps have a really cool tone to them, and the EQ points are very well chosen, but they are a bit noisier (hissier). This one is a comfy and typical 9 pounds.


    In general,
    I would say the Sonus' have only one downside. At 17mm and a fairly close-to-the-neck neck pickup, it's a bit snug for slap, but that doesn't impact me, and I've seen people slap the heck out of these, so I know it's not a big problem.
     
  19. tombowlus

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

    Apr 3, 2003
    North central Ohio
    Editor-in-Chief, Bass Gear Magazine
    Cool, thanks, Vic! You have successfully made me desire all three of them! :p
     
  20. ConspiracyBass

    ConspiracyBass Leo Got It Right.

    Jan 22, 2007
    Fort Wayne, IN
    Those Zon's are gorgeous. Blessed? Yes you are!
     

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