#1
Hello.
I play the guitar, not really the bass as of yet (so there's technique to be built), and I'm looking for a 5-stringer that I could use to record at home, pretty much.

I'm looking at second hand listings in my country, and there weren't many options anyway, but 3 seemed to fit my range price-wise:
The cheapest (converted to $155) is an Ibanez GSR205. Seller doesn't say much in the ad other than "used" and "nice bass for a good price"; it's hard to tell much from the pictures. To my understanding, this guitar was made in Indonesia (?).

The second in price ($335) is a Warwick RockBass Vampyre 5. The condition is stated as "like new".

And the most expensive option ($413) is another RockBass: the seller simply wrote "Warwick Streamer 5", but looking at its design it seems like the RockBass Streamer Standard 5. The person says it's "new from the store", supposedly never have been used, "sold because I'm switching to electronic music".

Well, as far as I understand, the RockBass brand is made in China. Also, regarding electric guitars, I usually don't like the sound of active pickups much, and the Vampyre 5 seems to be using them, but I don't know about their sound within bass guitars. All three have a 34" scale length, but the GSR205 has only 22 frets while the Warwicks have 24. Perhaps I should also mention that for some reason, I can see some photos of RockBass headstocks show a "RockBass" logo and some show a "W" logo, and here the Vampyre listing shows the "RockBass" logo while the Streamer one shows the "W". I don't know why is that and whether that matters. Year of manufacturing, perhaps?

So, any thoughts from people familiar with these?

Thanks in advance.

EDIT: OK, I found a listing for a $260 Squier Vintage Modified Jaguar Bass V Special (the name was again truncated, but that's what I get from the pictures). Someone recommended it to me on another forum, but A. the used-to-new price ratio is not as good in this listing and B. I listened to a couple of demos and I felt like its tone is less punchy than the Ibanez and RockBass ones I've heard, so I'm not sure whether it would even fit the sound I want.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 28, 2016,
#2
I ad a Warwick Corvette 5-string and I couldn't play it.
Fortunately, I did sell it for a profit, so not all bad.
Their high end instruments may be good, but the budget ones maybe not so good.
#3
What kind of a sound are you looking for? What styles would you play?

I have not tried any bass you listed, but I'm pretty sure they're all "okay", probably not spectacular. But keep in mind that I've used a 80$ bass for recording with nice results.

My 5 string bass at the moment is a Marcus Miller V7. About 450$ new, could fit your budget used, and it's fantastic. It is geared towards jazz and funk though. If you're more into metal, I would look into some Ibanez models that are a bit better quality, I don't have good experiences with their low end instruments to be honest. Squier also makes great basses with low prices, if you can find a 5 string VM P-bass that's a good option. Warwick is generally a respected brand, but I have no experience with their basses, sorry.

Where do you live? Any chance you could grab a 5 string squier? That would be my number one recommendation. If you can't, I'd look into some higher quality Ibanez ones. Just my 2c.
Quote by Jet Penguin
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Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#4
Kevätuhri Hey. I play kind of progressive stuff, can't really pinpoint it to specific genres, but I do like the bass being somewhat punchy.

I live in Israel, and A. I cannot find anything you've suggested, B. everything is more expensive here, so barely anything that is a great deal in the US would be a very good deal over here.
#5
This appears to be an Israeli listing for Yamaha dealers. They tend to offer inexpensive products for all music types.
http://asia.yamaha.com/en/support/distributors/2_middle_east/israel/

Thomann, which I hear is reliable in the EU, seems to ship to Israel.
https://www.thomann.de/gb/helpdesk_shipping.html?country=ISR

And finally, reverb which you can sort by ships to Israel.
https://reverb.com/ca/marketplace/bass-guitars?ships_to=IL&item_region=XX&sort=price%7Casc

I hope something there helps

Edit:

I just started looking up various brands Israeli dealers.

Godin:
Israel
Marom Musical Instruments Ltd.
D’mall 1
Jabotinsky Ramat-Gan
Israël
52520

Fender doesn't have one in Israel but they do have one in Jordan and Lebanon which if memory serves, you are close to. (If you don't feel close, remember that as a Canadian, I can drive for a week and still be in the same country.)

Gibson also has one in Lebanon, which also covers Epiphone, so probably safe to say anything under the Gibson brand will be sold there.

Ibanez retails through here:

R.B.X. International Co., Ltd.

P.O.Box 10245, Petach-Tikva, 49002, Israel
Tel.3-9256900
Fax.3-9220612
mail: rbx-imp@zahav.net.il

I have seen that store come up several times, perhaps try there?

Jackson's closest was greece (omg)

Esp was not useful.
Last edited by SovietStar at Nov 27, 2016,
#6
SovietStar Hey. There are dealers for these brands, but they don't seem to offer all of the models, so a bunch of 5-stringers are unavailable in local stores (and even what's available is sometimes twice as expensive – I'd have had to buy a warm turd if I wanted something new and cheap from a store).

Lebanon? Yeah, no can do. Maybe I'll ask them to send one to me attached to a Katyusha rocket. Jordan? I'm not sure how viable that is, either.
#7
That sucks, couldn't imagine you didn't have access to Squiers, those things are everywhere. You sure you couldn't order from Thomann? And I live in Finland btw, so I can't get those sweet US deals either.

The used instruments you listed, well I'd skip the Vampyre personally, but both the GSR and the more expensive Warwick would probably work fine for home recording and practice. Not sure if they'd be ideal, but definitely functional. If you play progressive stuff, active bass pups would work fine, no need to avoid them. The Jaguar V has both a single coil and a humbucking pickup, so it's pretty versatile as far as passive pickups go. Keep in mind that as with guitar, the amplifier impacts the tone a lot, what would you use as a bass amp? Even if something sounds punchy in a demo, doesn't mean it would sound punchy with your setup.

But if you're going for that modern, progressive tone, maybe the Ibanez or the Warwick would work better than the Jaguar. The Ibanez has pretty good reviews so maybe I'm wrong about it, and it's also the cheapest option.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#8
Kevätuhri Well, I've already ordered a keyboard from Thomann a few months ago, and the price came out good, but that's only because it was already a rather expensive purchase. They have a flat €50 shipping rate to Israel, so ordering something that only costs ~300 bucks would be worth it with the additional shipping charges.

Regarding the Vampyre, any reason you would skip it? At least price wise, a new Vampyre actually costs more than the Streamer Standard. I know the seller of the Streamer said it's unused (why would they even get it without playing it once?), but a "like new" used Vampyre is a better value (on the surface, at least). It seems like the Vampyre has a humbucker at the bridge and a single at the neck?

The Jaguar V has only 20 frets, though, which somewhat puts me off because I see many bassist prefer at least 21 frets so they could get a high E up there.

I'm actually recording DI into the computer using a sound card (RME Babyface Pro) and software amp.

Do you have by any chance any idea of the Warwicks' and Ibanez's years of manufacturing? I now read that the RockBass guitars used that "RockBass" logo on the headstock (instead of the "W") until 2010, and they also used a 1-piece bridge instead of their current 2-piece bridge. None of the sellers disclosed their bass' age, but I can see the Vampyre is of the older kind. Is there any advantage with a 2-piece bridge instead of the 1-piece the older ones have?
#9
Yes, the Vampyre seems to have a H/S configuration. I said that I would personally skip it, based mostly on looks. Again, I don't have personal experience on Warwicks, but they're generally liked. I don't think the bridge matters much, both the one-piece and the two-piece probably work fine.

Look, I still stand by my point in my first post. All of those basses are okay, and you might not find anything that's better than "okay". For a home recording and practice instrument, all of them would probably work. When it comes to cheaper instruments, I'd trust a squier or a yamaha over Ibanez any day, but you have a trickier situation and not a whole lot of options. I only have experience with Ibanez, and my experience is that they make mostly good instruments, but the cheap ones suck. But, that one does have generally good reviews. The Warwicks I've never tried, but they're a respected brand. The reason I'd pick the Ibanez in the end is that they're all low-end basses, and the Ibby is the cheapest one. I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money on a bass I'd replace anyway in a couple of years. And I can't help with the year of manufacturing, sorry.

This is again personal preference, but I can safely say that I have never used the frets above 20 for anything serious. I play a wide variety of styles, and practically everything stays below fret 15. The highest frets are often uncomfortable and on cheaper instruments, out of tune, and I avoid playing up there as much as I can. The lower notes just work better with bass.

Do you have a lot of experience going DI with amp sims? You can definitely get good results that way. Have any specific software in mind?
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#10
Kevätuhri Well, I actually ended up crossing out the Ibanez and the Vampyre because they have both been sold. The Streamer was traded by the seller for an electric guitar with some store that now actually sells it for $26 less (the dude would've probably been flexible, though). He said he actually got a "not so good" deal from them value-wise, but that he did want that electric and didn't end up getting the hang of having 5 strings anyway. Which also revealed it wasn't really "unused", but rather "never on stage" and "just a bit at home". Doesn't mean it's not in perfect quality, but that's obviously not "unused".

I don't have any better options so it seems, so I might actually end up driving to that store and possibly buying it later this week. I listened to a few demos and some of them sounded quite good, but I did see some players complained its signal output is pretty low, which results in narrow tonal variety from the on-board electronics. Do you think replacing the pickups or the EQ would be a hassle?

Regarding the software, I own ReValver 4, but I haven't tried it with a bass. There's probably a couple more bass modules which I don't currently own and might come handy.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 28, 2016,
#11
Well, that settles it then I guess. And yeah, the good old "never used" trick, never gets old.

Pickups are simple enough to swap, not really a hassle if you know a thing or two about soldering. If we're talking about the same bass (Warwick RB Streamer 5), it doesn't have active electronics, so by "EQ" I guess you mean the tone pots and electronics? That's not really any more difficult than swapping the pickups. Passive electronics don't really have the same on-board tonal variety as active pickups with an EQ, and most of the tone sculpting is done with the amp.

If the bass is on sale in a store, you could probably try it before buying? You should be able to check it out with a decent amp at the shop if it's a decent place.

I can recommend you a free product I use quite a lot, it's the TSE B.O.D plugin: a TransAmp style bass preamp/overdrive. It's pretty cool for a free product.

https://www.tseaudio.com/software/tseBOD
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#12
Kevätuhri Yeah, that's what I meant. I've never modded a guitar, so I don't really know how its electronics go, but the tone pots roll-off the higher frequencies so it's kind of like a "treble equalizer", if I may? I don't know if they can be wired to roll-off the bass, and they obviously can't amplify anything when it's passive electronics. The question is whether you can completely disregard it when you think about post-production. A guitar's own output is obviously crucial to the final tone you may get in mix, and it seems from my recent search that basses have active electronics much more often then electric guitars.

The question is whether changing the pickups or electronics to active ones usually requires modifying the body. I know some pickups could fit without routing the wood, but what about the pots for active electronics? The Streamer Standard as it is has 3 knobs.
#13
Basses do have actives more often. Both of my main basses during the last couple of years have had active electronics.

And it does impact the tone, but it's still a minority - the amp still makes up a clear majority of the tone. The pickup type matters much, much more than the tone pots, and I think those humbuckers suit you fine. I think you can get great results with just that, but I'm not a tone snob.

You need a battery cavity if you want to swap actives into a passive bass. That isn't a huge deal, but requires some carpentry. If you get an active 3 band EQ for example, you obviously need more pots, and if the electronics cavity isn't big enough you need to expand it a bit. Basically, you'd need to expand the cavities and drill some new holes, nothing more than that really. But even that is a lot of work on a cheap bass, obviously.

I think that the first thing you need to do is test the bass at the shop, and see if you like the tone. If you do, that's it. If you don't, you need to decide if you can live with it until you get more money, or if you'd rather wait for a new opportunity. I wouldn't buy a cheap bass and instantly start routing it for active electronics, as you could probably get a better bass with actives for the price of the cheaper bass+new pups and electronics+work. But first things first, you can't really decide anything before you try the bass.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#14
Kevätuhri Well, someone elsewhere wrote that the Streamer's cavity is pretty roomy, so perhaps adding an active preamp wouldn't require any woodworking. But, I also read that the pots they used on the Streamer are only 25k, which are usually used with active preamps. I have the Babyface Pro interface which houses a preamp, but wouldn't such low resistance at the pots kill much of the higher end of the tone?
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 28, 2016,
#15
Do the passive Warwicks have the easily removable (no screws) plastic backplate too?
#17
That looks the same as an active; it's just held in place by three tabs and there's plenty of space inside.
You might want to cross-check what I've said though...
#18
prowla Well, I did mention it was told somewhere else that it should have plenty of space.
But what do you think about the pots being 25k with passive electronics? To my understanding it doesn't make much sense. Should putting 500k (because it's a humbucker) give it a stronger output and probably retain more of its treble?
#19
Higher pots won't make your bass louder; the loudest point is where the wiper inside is rotated to be next to the input connection, so zero resistance.
The loudest & clearest you could get would be to wire the pickups directly to the jack socket! (Actually, I don't tend to use the controls on the guitar much anyway...)
#20
prowla OK, from what I read about tone pots, the lower the pots' resistance the more treble is grounded, and a pot's Ohm rating refers to when it's set all the way up (like tone@10). Basically, turning a 500kOhm pot down until it has half its resistance results in the same tonal effect of having a 250kOhm pot on max.

Now, I assume it could very well be the same with the volume pot, which basically adds resistance to the ground for the entire spectrum of the signal rather than just the highs. I don't know whether they usually use the same kOhm rating as the tone pots within the same guitar, but the volume pot could very well be too low in this bass, resulting in a weak output amplitude.

So having only 25kOhm pots on a passive bass (when it seems to be way out of standard) sounds like a bad idea.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 29, 2016,
#21
Ah, I misread the 25k as a typo for 250k.
The difference between it and earth won't be enough and it will be interacting with the tone capacitor.
After a quick google it seems that 25k is appropriate for actives, but 250k (A) is the one for a passive volume.
Fortunately, swapping pots is easy and inexpensive.
It might be an idea to take a picture of or sketch the connections before you do any surgery.
I've just rewired a Precision with 250k A (A = audio or logarithmic, B = linear) (your ears are logarithmic) vol and tone pots.
#22
prowla What does it interacting with the tone capacitor mean in practice?

This is the model's schematic from the Warwick website:


It seems like even the A-B pot types they used are exactly opposite to the way you stated. I also suspect now that my Les Paul Studio has a linear pot for the volume for some reason. I kept wondering why the volume barely decreases through 90% of the knob's range and then dies out very quickly within the remaining degrees.

But does having 25kohm at the volume pot actually make the output power 10 times as weak compared to 250kohm (maybe not 10 times to our ears because they hear logarithmically, but in linear measurement)?
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 29, 2016,
#23
Hi.

Yes, the characteristics of a linear (B) pot is that the change won't sound uniform as you turn the knob.

What I meant about the interaction is that there is not a volume pot I, volume pot 2 and a tone control, but rather a circuit comprising 3 pots and a capacitor, plus the pickups (plus the instrument cable), so they interact; if they aren't correctly sized then things will sound off.

The way a pot works is that one end is the input, which is the highest voltage (eg. 0.5V), the other end is earth (0V) and the middle one is a contact or "tap" which moves along/around a resistive surface and picks up the voltage at that point, so half way round on a linear (B) pot is 0.25V, three quarters is .125V, one quarter is 0.375, etc.

It doesn't matter whether the pot is 25k, 250k, or 500k; that will always be the case, unless it is so low that it is effectively a short and the wire burns out (which a passive pickup could never provide enough voltage to do, but there would be no sound coming out).

(With a log or A pot, the principle is precisely the same, but half way is half as loud, etc.)

With a tone pot, a capacitor is just a device which passes through high frequencies, so if you put it as a tap off a pot, then it will tend to bleed the high frequencies out of the signal and pass them to earth; the lower the resistance between the signal and the end of the capacitor, the more HF gets bled away (ie. as you turn the knob).

(Incidentally, you can do the opposite and bleed away the low frequencies by putting a cap in series - Rickenbacker do this on the treble pickup on some models.)

Generally guitars seem to use the same value pots (though they may choose A or B types as to their preference) for tone & volume, so things balance out. I think having different value pots (eg. one 25k one 250k and one 500k) in the above would not work out very well.

I've been re-wiring a Precision bass, which uses 250k pots, but I'm not familiar with 25k ones and they're generally considered to be more appropriate for actives; however, if Warwick say that the correct pot to use with their pickups are 25k ones, then so be it - I'll accept that they know better how their systems work than I do!
#24
prowla Well, my father is an electrical engineer, but not all that good at explaining things to a layman. I asked him about this and he gave that general explanation, going a bit more into filtering and simple functions I don't remember. He did say that it seems like a guitar's circuit is as simple and straightforward ("dumb" was his word of choice) as it gets.

Regarding the potentiometers' resistance, I came to the understanding that passive pickups have high self-impedance, which is why you'd want to combine them with high-resistance pots. Else, as with putting 25kohm pots with passive pickups, the impedance towards the earth (probably not the right phrasing) would relatively be low and a significant amount of the signal would bleed to the earth. Active pickups have low self-impedance, allowing them to operate well with low resistance pots.

I found some thread about it on another forum from 2013. The person asked because the 2007 Streamer Standard he'd bought had 500kohm pots while the updated schematic on Warwick's website showed the 25kohm pots. A representative of Warwick's replied that "We overworked the pickups for the Streamer Standard, and the best sound we got with 25k. Using 250k is also possible if you want to replace them, I guess it is a matter of taste".

Sounds pretty dumb, and I can see many people complain that though they love its tone, the output from their Streamer is too weak (while a few say it's regular, which is even weirder as an inconsistency), requiring them to use an external preamp.

Considering that person said replacing the pots to 250kohm is fine (though it has humbuckers, so I'd believe 500kohm would still be more standard), how much buying 3 such log pots should cost?
Last edited by TLGuitar at Nov 29, 2016,
#25
Your dad sounds like he has a clue!
(Actually, my degree was Electronics, but I didn't opt to work in that field, so I'm probably just an enthusiastic amateur :-) )
Well, I bought some CTS branded pots for under £5 a piece - that's the kind of money you can just have a try and see what you think.
Heck, on the bass I'm playing with, I put some tiny connectors on the cables, so I could swap things around without soldering. But I've got that bass just to play around with, not to play (unless it turns out to be really good!).
You might need to look at the height of the pots though, as they might need to be taller to go through wood rather than a thin plastic scratchplate.
On the high impedance and so-on, you also need to consider the amplifier's input; typically an audio amp might have 1M input impedance and for a voltage circuit, the source should be low impedance and the input high.
I guess there are two options: accept the manufacturer's designs, or play around and see if you can better them!
The bottom line is you aren't going to break anything by having a play, so go for it!
(Might be an idea to keep the original components as-is, so you can put things back to stock if you do find you want to.)
#26
prowla I mean, I don't see anything that should become out of the ordinary by switching the pots. It seems like these pickups should normally be fitted with high resistance pots and this combination was just a strange whim by the company.

But I do want to be certain – should I'll change all of the pots to 250/500, will I also need to get a capacitor of a different value to replace the one shown in the schematic? Or does it just decide what frequency range may be filtered out so it's down to preference?
#27
If it was me, I would try 250k A pots - if you make up a whole assembly, then you can swap it in or back quite easily.
You could make one with 250k pots and one with 500k ones and see if they make a difference.
Similarly with caps, you could try a .22uF against a .047uF and see what the effect is.
#28
prowla Does it require me to cut the wires in the guitar's circuitry and solder them to the new set of pots to test it out?

And as far as I understand, the higher the capacitor's value, the lower the resonance peak (or something like that, I don't really remember). The .22uF would basically filter out a larger frequency range than a .047uF?
#29
I don't know why you are worrying about this if the bass is for home recording. The bass will work, you wouldn't roll off the treble anyway when recording where you want the cleanest signal you can get and your DAW is where you would do all your tone shaping. Some bassists do swap for higher impedance pots but the difference is marginal depending upon the input impedance of the amp. Again for recording that is very unlikely to matter. This is effectively your starter bass and a good one at that. Warwicks have their own sound that some people like a lot and others aren't so keen on. If you are happy with the sound when you buy it then you should be able to replicate or improve on that sound once you have recorded it. If you don't like the sound then don't buy it thinking you can change the sound later, you don't know enough to achieve the changes you might want. Changing strings makes as much difference as changing the pups. You are better off worrying about things like how well it plays.

I'd still go for a Fender Jazz or Precision style bass for what you want (they are a bit more standard) but the Warwick is a lovely bass so stop worrying and enjoy.

I hope you love it when you try it. Good luck
#30
Phil Starr It doesn't seem like any other bass uses 25kohm with passive pickups. When other bassists swap to higher pots, they probably do something like 250-to-500, or have active electronics but just want to experiment with different pots. The electronic issue here is that the Streamer's pots' impedance is likely too close to the the passive pickups' impedance, which will results in unwanted roll off of signal even when the knobs are set to 10. From what I read, the typical impedance of an electric guitar's (passive) PU is 20 to 40kohm.
#32
I think Phil Starr has a point - if it sounds alright, then it is alright!
I might try out 25k pots in my frankenbass at some point...
...but that's a machine I'm playing around with, just for the heck of it!
#33
HedvigAhlgren It's Israel, everything's "local" in a way. But your notion is rather arbitrary; there's no reason why the shops near me won't have terrible prices.

prowla Well, I'll know how it sounds tomorrow. But I was speaking logically: unless its pickups produce unusually high voltages, having such low resistance pots will result in a very weak output after rolling off a lot of the signal, and comments from people who own the bass seem to support this. Most of them said they like how it sounds, but that the Streamer Standard is their weakest-output bass. And I've watched some YouTube video which compared 500kohm volume & 250kohm tone pots with 1mohm pots on a Fender Jaguar: it made the guitar overdrive the amp. That's obviously not my aim with the bass, but it means having only 25kohm could have extreme effects the other way around.
Last edited by TLGuitar at Dec 1, 2016,
#34
I don't know if I'm posting this too late, but I've had really good luck with my Sterling SUB 5 which is like the Squier equivalent for Music Man and that has active electronics and a two way EQ instead of a tone which I think is pretty cool!
#35
freakinsweet7 I ended up buying the Warwick RockBass Streamer Standard 5, but it's output is WEAK, I can only get to -19dB with it when using maximum gain on my Babyface Pro soundcard. I then measured the pickups' resistance and it shows only 1.4kohm.

I'll apparently return it to the store later this week (they actually told me yesterday I have to go back in an instant if I want to return it due to a "48 hours used guitar returning policy", but that was not feasible), but I don't know what else to get. I currently cannot find any second hand options and don't know what to buy new.

I'd been suggested to buy the SUB5 before I got this, but it costs here almost double than its US price which made it seem not as good of a deal. Now I need to go all the way back to this store to return the Streamer, and I think they at least believe I'll get another guitar from them instead but I cannot find much viable options (they don't have the SUB).