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Are weird basses any good?


conguiño

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Recently I've been checking out basses with unusual stuff on 'em and one question comes to mind. Is any of this s___ good? As I've been told many times before on the forum, "good" or "bad" is very subjective and I totally agree. Nevertheless once in a while someone comes up with something that's so bad that it's no longer a matter of whether or not you like how it sounds, but about what a pain in the ass it is to use it.

 

More specifically I'm wondering what experience you gentlemen have had with:

 

1. A pickup configuration like the one on Billy Sheehan's Yamaha Signature (separate outputs for each pickup)

 

2. Headless basses

 

3. Space age materials like carbon fiber, luthite (found on Ibanez Ergodynes), graphite, etc.

 

????????????????????????????????????????????????

Does it hurt?

 

Only when I'm awake.

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When I saw the topic headline I wondered...

 

1. Separate outputs for each pickup are no problem as long as they sum to mono if you only use one output jack.

 

2.Headless basses can be pretty damn great. Even the cheapy Steinbergers and Hohners can be a hella lot of bass for the bux. If you've ever read about Ned Steinberger's design rationalizations, you might have heard about increased sustain. Maybe lessened chances of obvious dead spots too. Caveat: string sets are pretty much limited to roundwounds I think. Doesn't bother everybody.

 

See some of the David King and the Status designs. Wood or composite, I like many of them and have heard good reports about playability and tone. Watch out for some of those oddities with real weird tuners though; they look scary ; }

 

3. People say luthite smells funny : }}}}

 

Carbon-graphite fiber stuff has really placed well on a lot of instruments like Peavey G basses (in the body too), and their discontinued ones whose model number I just blanked on that had Modulus-supplied necks on them. And Modulus etc, and Moses necks. It's a different sound; I liked it the first time I heard how focused and tight Steinbergers sounded. I've heard that some manufacturers early runs could have benefited from truss rods, and later they were added for those particular ones, and that you don't want to leave them out in the sun behind a car windshield ; }

 

Seems the trend for the upwardly-mobile swung back around to wood a few years ago, so I expect graphite etc to become more popular again ; }

 

Phenolic fingerboards are another one: found on some pretty cheap crappy instruments, and some good ones too.

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My Zon had a composite body, graphite neck and phenolic board and sounded great ampped, but strange while acoustic and only weighed 4 or 5 lbs. That Peavey bass with the Modulus neck was a nice bass, but it didn't go over too well.

 

Headless basses are a lot better than they used to be. I remember seeing them in the Sears catalog years ago. They have a lot more double-ball end strings now, but I just can't get used to not having a headstock and end up playing 5 frets up from where I should be playing.

 

I've seen a few of the double output guitars in my day and have noticed many people using Y-cables. If I remember correctly, the Rickenbacker 4001's had stereo outs and most people would just run Y-cables or 2 taped together to the amp.

 

I think manufacturers have come a long way lately andhave worked out a lot of the bugs. Of course, you do get what you pay for, whether or not they employ these "wierd" things or not.

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Sorry, but graphite materials, multiple outputs, and headless basses are not weird construction methods anymore.

 

The Flea model bass has a graphite neck. Even new Fenders come with graphite strips inlayed in the neck. There are numerous companies successfully making graphite instruments and headless instruments. And multiple outputs, even though less useful to the average player, have been around for a long time.

 

I thought you were talking about weird construction methods...how about carving a bass out of glacial ice? Using radioactive pickups? A one piece neck, fingerboard, and body carved from a mastodon's tusk? A string-less bass with just a touch sensitive fingerboard with "pressure-zones" (kind of like some of the new drum controllers)? Anti-gravity packs attached to subwoofers to make them easier to carry? A "reverse-reverb" switch to make the bass easier to use in echoey rooms?

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Doh! Peavey B-Quad! They usually command good resale on eBay; seem to have some respect. A guy that's a monster bassist and guitarist here got the five-string version about the time he was encouraging me to go straight to five or six and bypass four if that was what really interested me. He has a few basses but he still plays that one quite a bit.

 

It has some of the first piezos out there on a solid body, designed by [legend?] Rick Turner, with an individual string 4-to-2 (or 5-to-2) mixer/preamp that's really quiet, but in early runs I think had a recall. The neck is faster then KFC secret sauce!

 

Actually I think composite materials are pretty cool but as the trend swings around they don't get mentioned maybe as much as they did back when I was getting my first bass. The whole "warm" thing comes into play (like nobody has knobs or sliders for 3 dB more of lower mids fercrutchsake?) and lots of the basses that do use them are pretty spendy so you don't hear of them as much.

 

But they kind of make sense with dwindling quality exotic woods supplies. In fact, there was a acoustic bass guitar called the Rainbird, I think, that was composite layered body and carbob-graphite neck...

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That's weird, man ; }

 

Yeah, that real expensive one profiled in BP awhile back? And aren't quite a few basses coming from "reclaimed" wood sources these days?

 

Those Wish basses you mentioned awhile back do this, and sometimes use some unconventional easily-available wood choices. I actually quit hanging out on one forum because lots of the peeps there were cutting on Wish and sending him nasty emails and then publicly dumping on him for getting defensive.

 

Ironically, more than a few of the forum members there later ended up buying Wishes and quite liked them at the price for playability and tone, though some thought they looked too weord still...

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Yeah, Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews is getting a Warwick made out of some ancient wood pulled from the bottom of one of the Great Lakes. Guess it's more bottom-heavy?

 

I don't like graphite basses; neck or body, or both for that matter. Just don't like the way they feel, I guess. And that phenolic stuff I don't like either. Maybe I'm more of a wood kind of guy. Who knows?

 

I've played a few Luthite Ibanez's, and they sound alright, but again, not my taste.

 

The Modulus' are great basses, but for that much money I could be banging on a good ole Alembic...well, not really...maybe a nice Warwick.

 

Anywho, I guess all that I'm trying to say is that I'm glad the wood is back 'in style', because that's all I'm playing.

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I'm partial to real wood. Maple and ebony just seem to produce a better tone and sustain than a lot of the composits. Maybe I'm just old fashioned, but I don't like to EQ the hell out of a bass to get a good tone and sustain. I'm not down on EQ's, effects or any of the cool stuff we have available now. I wish we'd had them back when a pair of Dual-Showmans and E-V waterclosets was considered a "killer" rig. I'm sure most of us have played in rooms where the acoustics were so bad that equalizers and compressors were the only things that made the place playable.

As far as seperate outputs for the pickups, I've never had that, but I just recently got a new Carvin 6-string that has adjustable output piezos for each string as well as active/passive balancing and neck/bridge pickup panning. I love it.

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greenboy, I'm not 100% certain, but I thought the B-Quad's had a wood neck with graphite reinforcements. They had the 18-volt preamp/pickups. I played one when they first came out some years back. I'm headed to my trusty dealer tomorrow, or later on today, and I'll ask. They still have the same salesman who sold me my first bass 15 years ago. Of course, this really has nothing to do with this thread.

 

I really would like to see one of those subs with the anti-gravity pack. I wonder if you can retrofit them to your gear you already have? :idea:

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Originally posted by jeremyc:

A "reverse-reverb" switch to make the bass easier to use in echoey rooms?

LMAO: absolutely the most genius thing I've heard in a month.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Cornbread, I'm pretty sure the neck was made to Peavey specs by Modulus out of carbon-graphite.

 

Raven, cool bass. I really think Carvin gets fantastic ebony; no shrinkage, very dense and even in coloration and grain. On a fretless this translates into definite sustain and fatser transients. Their piezo layout looks nice.

 

As far as sustain, the little I've played on quality composite basses, not only the fundamental and first obvertone hangs in there; the higher overtones seem to decay less, and there seems to be less variance of this in any and every spot on the neck. Top-line Steinbergers really have clarity and the sustain seems to be as good as a string allows. Unplugged, they really show this.

 

I don't really have a preference one way or another since the composite-oriented basses I'd like to try these days cost more than I will spend.

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I've always really liked the concept of graphite necked basses and I finally got the chance to A/B vs wood necks in the Gallery in Camden. I tried a whole selection of Stingrays and one of these had a graphite neck.

 

My conclusion was that although the faster attack and slightly increased top and bottom were nice, it seemed to lack the midrange complexity of the same bass with a wood neck. It almost seemed like a lack of growl and character.

 

I would have imagined that they don't record quite as well as a wood necked bass due to this 'deficiency' in the mids, but are fantastic live with such big tight bass and clear treble - however, Flea gets a great tone on the latest RHCP albums and from what I've heard Moduluses are becoming one of the session standards (particularly in Nashville IIRC).

 

My first bass was a headless Hohner and it took a while to get used to my Warwick after that. It's now fretless and it looks like a pretty minimalist bass - no paint, no frets, no head, one pickup and two knobs - which is always considered way cooler than my lurvely Warwick.

 

Alex

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Brunettefox_00, I have seen that selection at bunnybass and that's what I thought about as well !!

 

I played a Steinberger headless (my guitarist has one). My only problem is that I haven't learned how to stop my hand when I move to lower notes - I fall off the end. Higher end (David King, etc.) carve a small volute to prevent this problem.

 

Try LincLuthier.com. Try Zacharyguitars.com (body made from HomeDepot scrap, or from an Ikea table).

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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Originally posted by patrick_dont_fret:

[QB]Yeah, Stefan Lessard of Dave Matthews is getting a Warwick made out of some ancient wood pulled from the bottom of one of the Great Lakes. Guess it's more bottom-heavy?

knows? QB]

Speak only with reverance for DMB :) And no, there is no sarcasm there.

 

"Eat drink and be merry...for tommorow we die..."

Your Friendly Neighborhood Pirate- Idnarb
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greenboy--you were right about the B-Quad. I was thinking of the Cirrus. The B-Quad was the Brian Bromberg signature model. I remember this bass now. It was a sweet player. Peavey is starting to make some nice gear, and have been for a few years now. It's starting to lose that "beginners gear" stigma.
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It'll take longer for them to lose the stigma than should be. I often see guys dumping on companies based on experiences with gear two or three decades old ; }

ya know... that's SO true...

Peavey has a lousy reputation, and that's not really fair anymore. They're making some pretty sweet stuff these days.

 

A buddy of mine has one of those Cirrus basses. It's kinda corny looking (IMO) but sounds great. Their cabinets are practically indestructible.

 

Our drummer plays one of those spacey-looking Peavey kits... that fucking thing sounds AMAZING!

\m/

Erik

"To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting."

--Sun Tzu

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Peavey's had a lot of cool basses and cabs over the past couple decades. The Tim Landers jobbies, the Rudy Sarzo ones... those are a little more to the non-standard side of the equation.

 

Some of those Black Widow 15 cabs sound punchier than most and seem to keep on ticking (and I love the replaceable baskets: beats reconing all to hell). Actually they've had some great boards and other SR stuff too (invariably I hear someone complaining about their Peavey board and when I see it, it is circa 1975; Peavey must have done something right to still have all these relics in operation).

 

Yeah, you are right about those Radial drums. Real sound cannons and great tone! Hardly need to mic anything but the kick in a small-to-mid-sized club when there is a real hitter behind the tubs.

 

Some of the Cirrus basses I've seen look pretty attractive, but I'm not into post-hippy-sandwitch appearance as much as I used to be. Now that even some cheaper basses look all warm and woody I can dig paint and sparkles ; }

 

Speaking of which, anybody got a Carvin with the Prismatic finish? Shades of Hair Bands!

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new member Norm Stockton has nice bits on a few instruments including the Carvin AC50F and the B-Quad 5, linked from here.

 

Not many weird basses been discussed here, just alluded to (BunnyBass mention). I really think the preponderance of advice to play/buy just a few brands and styles of basses has given some the idea that certain things are kosher and the rest is out of bounds.

 

Myself, I am shooting for a headless fan-fretted 7- or 8-string with a semi-acoustic body for my next bass, and I'll consider that "normal" : }}}}

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