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
14 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:
14 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
14 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
14 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
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