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Zon Sonus Retrofit

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ehque, Mar 6, 2006.

Zon Retrofit with Piezo Saddles

Poll closed Jun 4, 2006.
  1. Do It Myself

  2. Get a Local Luthier

  3. Get a US Luthier

  4. Get Joe Zon

  5. Save the money, and buy carrots.

  1. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    Hey guys, youve seen my new zon sonus 6. I gave it the good eyeball disassembly yesterday, after playing it for 2 weeks straight. its got one of those wilkinson bridges.

    which set me thinking. id really like series-parallel switching (for the J-pups) and piezos installed (heard many companies doing wilkinson saddles). its got the vol-vol stack and treb-bass stack so new holes definitely need to appear. its just a question of how many.

    but its my only bass now that my cort has gone the good old bye-bye. AND i cant afford to ruin a zon. or any bass, for that matter, but especially my zon. anyway, with all that in mind, should i -

    1. Do it myself, because it isnt too difficult.
    2. Get a local luthier to do it. (insurance?) Do note that there isnt a bass luthier in Singapore at all, i believe, they do e-guits and a-guits. there's an e-guit builder, the rest are mostly techs.
    3. Get a US luthier to do it. This will cost me. any recommendations?
    4. Get Joe Zon to do it. Will he? i bet this will cost me even more.
    5. Save the money and buy carrots.
  2. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    The best thing to do is call ZON. They may be able to reccomend somebody closer to you, or they'll have you send it in. If you have the work done by ZON or someone they stand behind, then you won't go wrong.

    Good luck, they're great basses!
  3. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    after a really short think, i dont think im going to be able to do this myself. i forgot that the outputs from the piezos must go SOMEWHERE... and im not about to drill out from under my bridge unless joe himself is standing behind me.
  4. i was thinking about that when i read your first post.....
    i would get in touch with Zon if i were you, seems like they'd know best, ya know
  5. Carrots-good for the eyes!:p :D :D :oops: :spit: :D :p :)
  6. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    ok i just bumped a message off to joe about this. hopefully a slow reply, im really broke right now! and i wonder how much it will cost.

    (still paying off the zon)
  7. Charmand G

    Charmand G

    Nov 30, 2005
    You can always tell him what economic situation you`re in. Maybe he`ll charge less since you have to deal with shipping, or recommend someone close to you with a little discount.
  8. MODNY

    MODNY Guest

    Nov 9, 2004
    sh1T, i love carrots
  9. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    The series/parallel switching is something you might be able to do yourself. If not, any decent guitar tech could handle it even if they're not bass experts.

    Installing piezos, on the other hand, is a major undertaking and likely to be expensive and take a little while. It's not something I'd consider unless I were absolutely sure that's a sound I really wanted! My Curbow 6 has 'em--it ended up being an "everything but LEDs and the kitchen sink" custom bass :eek: , but to be honest it's not a sound I really use very much. Have you played any basses with piezos before?

    For that matter, is there something you're hoping to gain with the series/parallel switching that you can't do with the active EQ? In that situation, I'm not sure it offers nearly the benefit it does on a passive bass...

  10. J.Wolf

    J.Wolf Gear Reviewer - Bass Musician Magazine Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    If you want to install piezos, I'd highly reccomend sending the bass to Joe. Most likely, he will replace the Wilkinson bridge with one of his newer RMC piezo loaded bridges. I think his newer bridges are a much better design than the wilkinson anyways.

    But as for the piezos, another luthier could do it, but Joe is kind of the man for piezos. The best piezo tones I've heard in a solidbody bass have been ZON's. So, I think it would be worth it to have them do it, and make sure its dialed in right, make sure it has the proper buffer for that circuit, yadda yadda yadda.

    Of course it's still a matter of cost, but if you can swing it, I think you will get what you pay for.
  11. TBalls


    Mar 18, 2005
    I pretty much agree with what everyone here is saying. See what Joe says. I'm guessing the odds of him knowing a local luthier are pretty slim (local being Singapore), but he might be willing to give you a break.

    I've had nothing but good experiences with Joe and his whole crew.
  12. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    ok, he hasnt replied me yet.

    mikez, regarding the piezo, i used to play the contrabass in school, which is an ABG tuned EADGBE (1 octave down). it didnt have any electronics, mine being a niborii ensemble, but i liked the sound, and if the piezos will get me that, i think i will use it quite often (or even just to add a little spice to the jazz).

    wolfbass, ive heard complains about the wilkinson, but i love mine, its rock solid. im thinking since quite a few companies produce wilkinson piezo saddles, it might be cheaper just to change the saddles. plus no leftover screw holes under my bridge. i was always frightened of those things.

    i went poking around zon's website, apparently (now, anyway, not back in '94) they have an active volume circuit. will this affect the installation of a S/P switch? (is this what Fender calls a S1 switch?)
  13. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Well, IMHO the main reason the "piezo" sound is associated with an "acoustic" tone is because most acoustic guitars and basses use piezo pickups. So, a solidbody with piezo pickups can sound a little like an amplified acoustic with piezo pickups. But that's not anywhere near the same as the unamplified sound of the acoustic instrument. Does that make sense? My Curbow's piezos can give a tone that's got some similarity to my EVD acoustic bass plugged into my amp, but that's very different from the beautiful acoustic tone I get from the EVD unamplified.

    So, I'd say you really need to try a piezo-equipped bass--or at least listen before sinking a lot of time and money into getting them installed on your Zon.

    Oh, if you want an example of the "piezo" sound, check out this MP3 that Dave Grossman posted of his RMC-equipped Hanewinckel:
    http://www.unpronounceable.com/solobass/audio/improv-2003-02-13-2345.mp3 Keep in mind that this bass is equipped with Thomastik-Infield Acousticore strings, which are nylon-cored strings optimized for use with piezos--they don't work with magnetic pickups at all.

  14. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    mike, yup, that does make sense. thanks for knocking some reality into the train of thought. ill go listen to that clip when i get home, work computer is blocking mp3 downloads.

    a question for you mike, since you have piezos... do you run them together with your magnet pickups? or usually a one or the other thing (this is, of course, when you did use your piezos)
  15. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    I tend to use mostly one or the other, and not blend them very often. That's partly because the output seems a little lower with the mag/piezo blend set towards the middle, though--I probably need to fiddle with the individual gains on the RMC buffer preamp a little bit.

    But also, in a loud live music situation with drums and guitars, the distinction between 100% mags and, say, 75% mags and 25% piezo winds up being too subtle to make much real difference in my experience. The piezo is definately its own sound, but to my ears, on a solidbody it tends to come across as rather compressed, without the same wide dynamic range as piezos on an acoustic instrument have, so the magnetic pickups seem to dominate the overall tone when they're blended together. (This is with RMC piezos and buffer preamp--top of the line stuff!)

    Hope this helps!

  16. bassjigga


    Aug 6, 2003
    I would call Joe Zon and ask him if he'll do it. He's a very helpful guy. I'm sure it would be no problem. Don't get discouraged by communication problems though... it might take you a few tries to get a hold of him.
  17. Call ZON if you need the answer fast. Martin told me just a few weeks back that they were having email troubles, but every time I called during business hours I got someone on the phone (usually Martin). Joe is building someone's bass, so don't freak if you don't get him on the phone.
  18. Mongo Slade

    Mongo Slade Supporting Member

    Dec 1, 2005
    Northern New Jersey
    Something to keep in mind is what kind of preamp does your bass have. Typically in order to integrate a piezo system with a magnetic system, you need a preamp with a dual stage buffer because if the impedence differences between the two. If Joe is busy, speak to Mark who has been there forever and is extremely polite, honest, and helpful.
  19. ehque


    Jan 8, 2006
    id call if i lived in the same country. right now, (i believe exactly 12 time zones apart), id rather send the email and wait a few weeks. (minus the toll charges arguement). that is, if the email ever gets read. does anyone from zon patrol talkbass?

    and if i got anyone to do the piezo, he'd have to change out the entire wiring assembly to accomodate it. ie, if it was zon, i'd ask for something which would go into one of his piezo equipped sonus customs. or the studio, but im not sure if that works with piezos.

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