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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#9658
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[quote="fullrangebass":3t6iufhe]Tomorrow night I will take with me my avatar Z1, my blue OMT Z2 and the Z3. It will be a great night I am sure[/quote:3t6iufhe] I'm sure :D Mark
13 years ago
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#9653
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Tomorrow night I will take with me my avatar Z1, my blue OMT Z2 and the Z3. It will be a great night I am sure
13 years ago
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#9628
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[quote="fullrangebass":i4vws6gb]I vote that you take the Z3 tonight.[/quote:i4vws6gb] Of course, I took the Z3. I'll keep it short since I just got in, it's late, and need to hit the sack. The punchy humbucker series setting is what I used most of the night. Because of the Fatties the Z3 will do something my Voodoo and AB will not do easily - it gets dirty and breaks up slightly when you push it.(I guess that's what we want it to do, right :wink: ). It will get really clean as well, if you need it to. This is an amazing bass, very versatile, but my impressions aren't fully formed after just one night, so there will be more to come. I can't wait until the next time! Mark
13 years ago
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#9626
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Hey Fullie, I'm curious about what PU and settings you chose for the latin stuff. (But then your switching diagram is in the secret Dingwall vault so perhaps the other Z3 gang members can't duplicate it!) :lol:
13 years ago
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#9619
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I've already played few minutes with my Z3. I had a quick run through the 62 combinations too :shock: :shock: :shock: . All sounds possible, and then some (I did not go into active at all!!!) Initial impression: One of the most vibrant Dingwalls, if not THE most vibrant (and I own a few :wink: ). The tone of the Super Phaties is really great: thick yet juicy, detailed but not thin. A bold step in the Dingwall pickup family, but a class of it's own. One of my latest Latin songs (still evolving) came to life with the tone of the Z3. Very versatile bass indeed. The neck is super fast and sweet. It looks even more dazzling from close by. I'm sorry that I need to cut the story short but my Z3 is calling me :wink: :wink: :wink: I'll post more tomorrow
13 years ago
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#9618
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Excellent! It's time for a good in depth gig-post! If you're like me, though on the first night with a new bass I tend to stick close to home when it comes to settings. It usually takes a while to ferret out the other settings I like!
13 years ago
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#9617
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I vote that you take the Z3 tonight. I'm ready to unpack mine!!!!
13 years ago
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#9616
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I got it! After a nerve-wracking delay of my supposedly-overnighted Z3 (bad weather, claims Fedex), I was able to go to the local Fedex office this morning and pick my bass up. So far, I'm loving the #2 setting, the "punchy humbucker" in series. The finish is stunning. There's never been a photograph that has captured how amazing a Dingwall poly finish is- it looks like it's been dipped in glass (where did I read that? :wink: ) I even get to try it out at the gig tonight - how cool is that? :D. I soon may have to start getting input on which Dingwall to take to work, just like Fullrange :P Mark
13 years ago
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#9613
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I can't put it down. I'm feeling torn because of the other Prima's and etc. which are all fabulous... In fact, I just keep it in the Jazz switched config and then move the series/parallel switches. It sounds SOOOOOOOOO good like this I just can't get past it. IMHO this is the most fabulous jazz tone I could even imagine. Neck: It's not fair to tell you that my neck is the best neck Sheldon has ever made but..... it is..! (Of course it's a matter of taste.) It is thin and the action is low. There is something special about the feel of high end bases. And custom DW basses are really at the top of this. Same with high end acoustic guitars ($5K plus) etc. The ease with which you interact with the strings is a special feeling. The only way I can explain it is that the bass cooperates with you in every way. Other basses I've played feel quirky where one part of the neck feels one way and other parts another way. Or slapping and popping feels like you're striving with the strings or the bounce wrong... This Z3 (as a custom DW) seems to involve Sheldon's evolving skill. It is truly amazing. Body: It's lite and I like that the fit and finish and etc. Electronics: I wrote about the SuperFatties on the SJ 5 post. I've got a Prima Z2 so I'm used to that sound and think I've got 3 or 4 sounds dialed like I want. Honestly I haven't got beyond the Jazz PU. I've switched to the "MM" config but haven't got there yet in ernest so I can't comment. They are clean and punchy. It just doesn't get any better.
13 years ago
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#9609
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IIRC: 1st (prototype): twoport 2nd (1st production model): xrob 3rd: Mark (guitarded) 4th: Blackburst w/maple board 5th: FRB Is that it so far?
13 years ago
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#9608
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Hi Mark I am in the Z3 line up too, and oddly enough it is also the result of a special birthday. I met with Sheldon on Monday to finalize my specs and got to see the various Z's in process plus FRB's Z3 which was beautiful. I look forward to your review and some pictures of the Z3 in action! BTW, is anyone keeping track of how many Z3's are out there already and how many on the way? Do we need a separate Z3 addicts thread ;-) Regards Nic :lol: :
13 years ago
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#9605
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Hey Mark, please let us know when the Z3 arrives in your hands
13 years ago
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#9595
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[quote="guitarded":2wk83f8b]The entire experience with BNW has been flawless, and I highly recommend them as a Dingwall retailer.[/quote:2wk83f8b] Good to know! I've never purchased anything from them although I check their website every now and then. Post some pics of your gig if you can (with some Z3 action)!
13 years ago
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#9590
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Bass NW overnighted my Birthday Z3 today. Evan told me they were all very impressed with the bass. The entire experience with BNW has been flawless, and I highly recommend them as a Dingwall retailer. If all goes well I'll have it for my gig Saturday. :D I'll post some impressions at some point. Mark
13 years ago
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#9537
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The thinking behind a series/parallel switch for each pickup was to simplify the switching logic. It sounds counterintuitive adding a switch to simplify things, but I think it will help with learning and mental-mapping the system.
13 years ago
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#9526
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Um...shipping but no pics?!?!?!?!?!?! :wink:
13 years ago
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#9522
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Interesting. I'm curious to see what affect that will have on the tonal options. As a side note, I've updated my photo gallery with a few full-length photos. I can't believe I forgot to take some of that variety! Photo gallery is here: [url:1m5rbsxe]http://gallery.mac.com/robh#100009[/url:1m5rbsxe]
13 years ago
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#9521
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[quote="guitarded":2i9h6m3z]Sheldon called today to tell me my Z3 was shipping. He mentioned that mine is the first Z3 to have the 3 mini-switches control each pickup's series/parallel MachII/normal setting. Active/passive switching has been moved to a push/pull volume pot. Mark[/quote:2i9h6m3z]
13 years ago
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#9517
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Sheldon called today to tell me my Z3 was shipping. He mentioned that mine is the first Z3 to have the 3 mini-switches control each pickups series/parallel setting. Active/passive switching has been moved to a push/pull volume pot. Mark
13 years ago
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#9472
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[quote="xrob":dh6gqx6s]Hmm...clips. Let me see if I can do that this weekend. I'll try my best, but it may be awhile as I'm not really set up for that type of thing. Rob[/quote:dh6gqx6s] Hey don't sweat it...if you can you can. Don't go through a big hassle just for us. I just figured out how to use Garageband a few days ago! Hehe.
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