Sunday, 30 March 2008
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Hi all, This is a continuation of my Z3 initial impressions listed in this thread ([url:2qugwguh]http://www.dingwallguitars.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=871&start=15[/url:2qugwguh]). I decided to start a new one as to not hi-jack the other. I should be able to post photos as well later today. So here's my review...enjoy! --- Ok, I've managed to spend a LOT more time with the Z3 over the weekend and so I have a lot more to report. This is my in-depth review of the instrument, but if you would like clarification or for me to try something I did not mention here, feel free to respond and I'll do my best to help you out. [b:2qugwguh]First some background:[/b:2qugwguh] as a frame of reference, I've been playing an early Afterburner I, made around 2002 (I acquired it in 2004), for about 4 years as my main instrument. It replaced a Warwick Thumb 5 neck-through mainly because of the weight and the neck radius. Although I loved the active electronics and the growl of the Warwick, it became too unwieldy to play for an entire night (I'm in a rock cover band and we play 3 sets, 4 hours per show), and so I started to look for a replacement. After a lot of discussion and advice from fellow players, I took a flyer on the Dingwall without ever having played one (they were very hard to find in those days and there were no local dealers at the time) and I haven't looked back. I ordered the Z (then a Z1) in July of 2005 and played the AB I from then until now. I change my strings every 3-4 months (my band plays around 24-30 times a year plus practice once a week) and I love the sound of new strings. In December of 2007, I purchased a 4-string Dingwall Super J4 to rotate into my bass arsenal. The bass is substantially different in tone from that of my Afterburner (which is passive and has Bartolinis in it), and while I primarily use a 5 string, the tone and sound of the Super J was so nice in the music store that I bought it on the spot. Since then, I've put a deposit down on a Super J5 and when that comes in, I'll most likely be selling the 4 string version. Ok, so hopefully I haven't bored you yet, but if I have, we're now getting to the good stuff. [b:2qugwguh]Equipment used:[/b:2qugwguh] Dingwall Z3 bass, cable into an Alembic F-1X preamp driven by a QSC PLX-1602 power amp in bridged mode. Cabinet is a Bergantino HT-322 (2x10, 1x12). No effects, preamp run almost flat. [b:2qugwguh]Controls overview:[/b:2qugwguh] there are 5 knobs and 3 switches. The three switches are: (1) allows you to put the bass in active or passive mode, (2 & 3) allows you to put your middle or neck pickup in series (Mach II) or parallel (normal). For the 5 knobs, you have a master volume, a rotary pickup selector, and three eq controls (bass, mid, treble). In passive mode, the eq is disabled. There are basically 7 different pickup combinations to choose from. Sheldon has created a PDF file which illustrates this. As long as he's cool with it, I can post it here or he can. It will illustrate to a greater degree what I am talking about. And, I'll use his terms so that when you see the sheet, you will understand what I'm referring to. [b:2qugwguh]Tone:[/b:2qugwguh] Since tone is a tough thing to describe, I'll do my best, but remember it's pretty much subjective. What's good for me might not be good for you (my main gig is in a hard rock cover band and I play with my fingers) and if I use a term like "punchy," it may not mean the same thing to everyone. [b:2qugwguh]Passive Mode:[/b:2qugwguh] first, let's talk about the biggest difference between the tones of this bass: active vs. passive. Having played Dingwalls with both (the passive AB and the active/passive Super J), I find each have their benefits. I started playing the Z3 in passive mode and I have to tell you, it sounds amazing. Simply amazing. The tonal range of this bass in passive mode is nothing short of spectacular. MUCH more than I had expected. In passive mode, I think my initial favorite sounds were the Bright Humbucker (rotary knob in position 2, middle pickup switch in parallel (normal)) and the Punchy Humbucker (same settings as Bright, but middle pickup switch is in series (mach II). These settings engage the bridge and middle pickups. The more I played, I really also got into the J Combo settings (rotary knob in position 3, right pickup switch up for both hot, down for bridge hot only) and ultimately I'll probably stick with these. I found the other settings (bridge pickup soloed, neck pickup sweet and neck pickup fat) to be a little more specialized sounding, but could easily see using them for the right applications. [b:2qugwguh]Active Mode:[/b:2qugwguh] My first experimentations with the active mode involved comparing my favorite passive settings with the active switch flipped. With just running the active eq flat, I noticed the sound to be a lot more focused. I'm not sure how else to describe it. It's much more noticeable on the A, D and G strings than on the low B and E. Again, I was primarily concentrating on my favorite settings (the J Combo Hot and the Bright & Punchy Humbucker). One other item to note: the eq is VERY responsive. Imagine the knob has numbers from 1-10 painted on it. Turning the knob up 1 number makes a noticeable difference. Flipping the active switch is like opening another door in a huge house; you get to try all of the settings again, this time with totally different results. [b:2qugwguh]Aesthetics/Construction:[/b:2qugwguh] Compared to my Afterburner, this bass does everything just a little bit better. The fit and finish are very nice, as are the contours. The bass is thinner, more rounded, and sleeker looking than my AB I. The neck is a bit thinner than my AB and is more reminiscent of the Super J4 than anything else. The finish on the back of the neck is a smooth satin which absolutely glides. I think the matching headstock looks fantastic and I'm very pleased with the tone of the wenge neck (maple is also an option). [b:2qugwguh]Gripes:[/b:2qugwguh] Well, I'm guessing you're thinking it can't be all good, right? Unfortunately, that's pretty much what it is. When you spend this kind of money on a bass, I'm here to tell you Sheldon is giving you what you pay for. My only complaints were that some of the rubber knobs were not perfectly concentric, resulting in a slightly off-center turn. Yes, I'm picky, but don't I have the right to be? Other than that, the eq can be a little noisy when the treble is way up, but I believe this is normal considering what is happening to the signal. I noticed it a LOT more with my headphone amp than with my normal setup. When I emailed Sheldon about it, I was told that the high impedance of the preamp allowed for a small amount of noise. No worries here. [b:2qugwguh]Summary:[/b:2qugwguh] I could go on and on about the different tones this bass produces, but suffice it to say that the one word I would use for this bass is versatile. You WILL find a tone you like (most likely more than one) no matter what your tastes or style of playing. I am very pleased with the instrument thus far, and will report back if I have anything to add down the line. In a matter of days, this bass has rendered my AB-1 more 1-dimensional and even has left the Super J in the dust. Hats off to Sheldon and crew for the new pickups and the Z3 design in general. That's it. Any questions? Whew! Rob
13 years ago
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#9401
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Before we proceed...PICS!!
13 years ago
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#9402
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Here are some photos I just shot in the daylight. Sorry about all the reflections... http://gallery.mac.com/robh#100009 Rob
13 years ago
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#9403
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And here are some posted in-thread...
13 years ago
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#9404
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A few more...
13 years ago
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#9405
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Rob, Great review - thanks for the writeup, i enjoyed reading it. Oh, and awesome pics, the reflections really show off the finish. One detail I noticed - I think the fret marker side dots are amazing with that white ring binding. Really cool. I'm glad to hear the Z3 is a notch up from your other Dingwalls...Sheldon didn't disappoint you. Can't wait to hear how it sounds in the live band setting or even recorded!
13 years ago
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#9406
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Great review on a fantastic bass. Great pics as well. Hopefully, mine is not that far away
13 years ago
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#9410
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Brim, the side-markers were a Sheldon creation. We went with aluminum rings around the dots to match the silver inlays. I thought they came out pretty well. Rob
13 years ago
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#9411
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I also really like how the fingerboard "overhangs" onto the body right where it ends. It's such a subtle but killer detail.
13 years ago
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#9414
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Hey Rob, Never mind the bass, what kind of stand is that? :wink: Seriously, that is a sweet bass. Also seriously, I have been looking for a stand like that. What is the brand? Zac
13 years ago
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#9416
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Looks like a Hercules. I have the same one. They are great stands. [url:36471b0f]http://www.herculesstands.com/guitars/GS414B.html[/url:36471b0f]
13 years ago
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#9418
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Brim has it right, it's a Hercules. I am totally sold on these stands and I've tried them all. Trust me. What I like about this stand is that the only way the bass is coming out of there is if the whole thing goes down. Dingwalls, because of the shape of the headstock, tend to wiggle their way out of the Ultimate stands I've tried (I was an Ultimate stand guy until I discovered the Hercules stands) and could actually fall out if not for the rubber strap that Ultimate includes. This particular Hercules stand goes for about $35 at Guitar Center and is also available online at Musician's Friend I believe. Hope that helps. Rob
13 years ago
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#9419
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Rob, I enjoyed the review and the pics. What an awesome bass!!! I agree with you and Brim, the Hercules stands are excellant. I own two - a single bass model and a two-bass model - and they've worked great for me.
13 years ago
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#9420
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This maybe a question for Sheldon but I will post it here in hopes Sheldon will chime in on the subject. Does hanging a Bass (Guitar) by the neck for hours at a time pose any structural or any other problems to the neck?
13 years ago
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#9421
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I've also wondered about this. I leave both my basses on wall hangers when they're home (keep them up high away from my toddlers). Good question.
13 years ago
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#9422
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[quote="xrob":2ccwh21v]Brim has it right, it's a Hercules. I am totally sold on these stands and I've tried them all. Trust me. What I like about this stand is that the only way the bass is coming out of there is if the whole thing goes down. Dingwalls, because of the shape of the headstock, tend to wiggle their way out of the Ultimate stands I've tried (I was an Ultimate stand guy until I discovered the Hercules stands) and could actually fall out if not for the rubber strap that Ultimate includes. This particular Hercules stand goes for about $35 at Guitar Center and is also available online at Musician's Friend I believe. Hope that helps. Rob[/quote:2ccwh21v] Thanks Rob, I have a similar stand made by Ultimate, but it has a cheap rubber strap for securing the headstock and it broke after a few uses. I have been looking for something more secure yet fits the Dingwall shape for a long time. Again sweet bass. Seeing that makes choosing my graduation present much more difficult :) . Zac
13 years ago
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#9424
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Not to sidetrack this post, but I personally use these types of cradle stands and they work well for me. No need to grab by the headstock. [url:1w3r3hyi]http://www.quiklok.com/catalog/?p=productsMore&iProduct=280&sName=QL-696[/url:1w3r3hyi]
13 years ago
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#9426
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I also have a quiklok though a model similar (mine must be an older model) to the link below. I find I mess with it more if I use it for more than one bass or guitar to get the proper angles on the bottom supports to not interfere with the chord. I've also hooked guitar strings on the top piece more than once (obviously not paying attention...). But, it's still a good stand overall. Also, there is not much clearance on a two-bass Hercules stand between the top of the support legs and the bottom of the base. This design might not work for 5-string/6-string Dingwalls. http://www.quiklok.com/catalog/?p=produ ... ame=QL-691
13 years ago
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#9430
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[quote="Evolver":3pr8b9ss]Also, there is not much clearance on a two-bass Hercules stand between the top of the support legs and the bottom of the base. This design might not work for 5-string/6-string Dingwalls.[/quote:3pr8b9ss] When I take my ABII-5 to church (they supplied the band all with Hercules stands) I usually have to adjust the stand to the second from bottom detent. Those Dingwall necks are longggg..
13 years ago
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#9431
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I think we've gone completely off topic!! We're not ignoring your review Rob! :)
13 years ago
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#9441
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[quote="Brim":1fh4ozlk][quote="Evolver":1fh4ozlk]Also, there is not much clearance on a two-bass Hercules stand between the top of the support legs and the bottom of the base. This design might not work for 5-string/6-string Dingwalls.[/quote:1fh4ozlk] When I take my ABII-5 to church (they supplied the band all with Hercules stands) I usually have to adjust the stand to the second from bottom detent. Those Dingwall necks are longggg..[/quote:1fh4ozlk] First of all once again, Rob that bass is spectacular. Wish I could afford a Z3! With regard to the Hercules stands, the reason I like them is their gravity activated clamps will keep them from being knocked over by an inadvertent bump. I had a three bass version that I acquired before I purchased my ABII-5 and there was no setting on that one that would enable me to hang my Dingwall without it resting on the legs. I sold it, but I intend to buy some single bass versions at some point.
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