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That Warwick Sound


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A friend might be having me build him a bass. He wants a Warwick like tone out of it. And I've been doing some research. A lot of people say that the wenge necks have ALOT to do with the Warwick sound, to what extent do ya'll find/think this to be true?

Also, I don't seem to be able to find any of Warwick's pickups for sale, even on eBay. What is a good atlernative to them that will give a relatively similar sound (I'm thinking Warwick Thumb Bass here).

And any analysis on these ideas would be great:

Flamed Maple/Black Walnut/Ebony lam. neck through with bubinga sides and a flamed maple drop top. This will be a 5-string. And HOPEFULLY have a set of pickups that will be able to give me a thumb bass like sound through this.

Chris

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Well, Warwick Thumb neck seems to be made of ovangkol with a wenge fretboard. I've never been particularly impressed with Warwick basses (and yes, I've played their $2,000+ basses). I've never heard that "Warwick tone" either.

As for pickups, I've read that the MEC "Gold" pickups are just Seymour Duncan copies. I would take a look at SD Basslines.

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A friend might be having me build him a bass. He wants a Warwick like tone out of it. And I've been doing some research. A lot of people say that the wenge necks have ALOT to do with the Warwick sound, to what extent do ya'll find/think this to be true?

Also, I don't seem to be able to find any of Warwick's pickups for sale, even on eBay. What is a good atlernative to them that will give a relatively similar sound (I'm thinking Warwick Thumb Bass here).

And any analysis on these ideas would be great:

Flamed Maple/Black Walnut/Ebony lam. neck through with bubinga sides and a flamed maple drop top. This will be a 5-string. And HOPEFULLY have a set of pickups that will be able to give me a thumb bass like sound through this.

Chris

The finish have something to do with the warwick sound. A bass seller told me that warwick only apply a wax coat on their natural finished bass. Try to contact BassCentre MEC pick-up for MEC P-U avaibility. Maybe, did a bolt-on neck will give you a sound closer to a warwick?

Good luck!

Philippe

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I HIGHLY doubt that the finish would have such a dramatic effect on sound. A tung oil finish should provide the same sort of effect.

I beleve that a single coat of wax will not let resonate the wood the same way a multiple oil finish will do, but is there a effect on sound... surely nothing like black/white. Oil go deeper in the wood so there are a damping effect on vibration?

Philippe

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Well, Warwick Thumb neck seems to be made of ovangkol with a wenge fretboard. I've never been particularly impressed with Warwick basses (and yes, I've played their $2,000+ basses). I've never heard that "Warwick tone" either.

As for pickups, I've read that the MEC "Gold" pickups are just Seymour Duncan copies. I would take a look at SD Basslines.

I have played on expensive Warwick basses too, I haven't been able to find any with that sweet growly tone. Ryan Martinie seems to get sweet tone out of his, but I'm guessing it has more to deal with the equipment he's using. Although I love the feel of their basses, I wouldn't pay that much for them. :D Sorry if this isn't much help, I just can't seem to find that growl tone!

Also, about the wax finish. I also highly doubt it would effect the tone in any kind of drastic way.

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Here's a spanner in the works:

Maybe it's because the existence of a "Warwick sound" has been perpetuated by popular artists who have more money than us to spend on nice amps, recording techniques and engineers. Hell, I made a cheap Encore bass sound awesome when I played in a lofi pop band years ago by recording at a professional studio!! For example: DOWNLOAD

I think that instruments only have a characterful sound to a degree but as we know, wood and instrument materials are mainly a subtractive influence on sound - whereas the amp adds colour and interest.

I would say, look at pickups, pre-amps, compressors and amps - ie. downstream of the physical instrument.

YMMV, I'm usually wrong but graceful about it nonetheless.

Edited by Prostheta
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Warwicks uses "bell brass" frets. Probably very close to the gold colored bronze fret-wire that some of us have used. Harder than the usual nickel-silver wire, so it does change the sound. Maybe not enough for many to tell, but I swapped soft Korean fret-wire for the gold bronze stuff, and the bass then had all kinds of harmonics and presence it didn't have before.

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I HIGHLY doubt that the finish would have such a dramatic effect on sound. A tung oil finish should provide the same sort of effect.

I beleve that a single coat of wax will not let resonate the wood the same way a multiple oil finish will do, but is there a effect on sound... surely nothing like black/white. Oil go deeper in the wood so there are a damping effect on vibration?

Philippe

The finish is said to have a tone, when it is cheap, thick, plastic like polyester. I personally can see some difference, but with a bass, I doubt one could tell the difference. Oils and nitro do not seal off the wood from "breathing" as polyesters do, but many maintain that a thin coat of either will sound the same.

So dont count on the finish to give you your dream tone. With a bass, I'd bet that it wont make a bit of difference.

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I read in American Bass (Jim Roberts) that Tobias built a light ash bass with a oil finish that lacking britness. He striped off the oil finish and apply a thin poly coat, the bass gained clarty and brghtness. This is not the key of a sound but it contribute to the ensemble.

Perhap, I totaly agree that studio recording technique, applification and playing technique have a lot more to do in warwick bass sound. There a lot of marketing behind the "sound of wood"

Philippe

Edited by De Trepagny
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Where does one go about getting these spell bell brass frets? Are they any harder to bend? cut? level? crown? than normal stewmac style fretwire?

Thanks,

Chris

I'd imagine the metal being easier to work with than stainless steel, but harder than standard nickel / silver. I can't say though, I haven't worked with nickel / silver frets, only stainless. :D I have honestly never seen brass fret wire for sale. I have however, seen some kind of copper fretting that Warmoth offers.

http://www.warmoth.com/supplies/supplies.c...action=fretwire

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  • 1 year later...

Old thread, but I was looking for info on Ovangkol (going to make a neck-through build with some) and thought i'd chime in that LMII now sell gold fretwire. Probably not the same formulation as the Warwick stuff, although I believe the Bass Centre in the UK sell the Warwick fretwire as an accessory....

'pologies for the old bumperoonie.

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Seriously, the finish does pretty much diddly. And Warwick applies more than just a single coat of wax to their isntruments.

As for 'breathing', all finishes 'breathe', including the polys. Hell, Poly finishes have less damping characteristics than oils do, so that's not what's 'killing the sound'. I also think it's pretty much a moot point on electric/solidbody guitars (not so for acoustics, where the type finish and more importantly the mass of the finish affect things quite significantly). The whole 'poly is bad' thing stems from the fact so many guitars finished with poly (whether an ester or a urethane) are quite simply finished poorly; far too thick a layer. Many high-end builders of both acoustics and electrics use Polyester as a finish, and their guitars hardly suffer tonal death. The only 'downside' in terms of looks is that it doesn't yellow and age like Nitro does.

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I'm a Warwick player. got a 98 Fortress One R&B model which is all passive electronics. interesting read on this thread, but I must say first that "yes" the build of a bass does have a big factor in the sound of it, more so then it does with a guitar because a bass has a wider frequency range then a guitar. to just say its recording, equipment or technique is only half the truth. thats like saying a Fender P-bass doesn't have its own sound. so build is a factor for any bass!

as far as sound goes for warwicks, point of view is everything. they market the basses as having a midrange growl, and thats where the point of view comes into play. what is someone's idea of midrange???

well with Rickenbacker's I think its a fairly high midrange that the bass really starts to get its bite. since I have had the Warwick I have come to the concludsion that it starts to get its bite in the lower midrange area.

another point of view from a bass player stand, is I see a lot of new bass player that just don't know about using an EQ and compressor. they hear the word "Bass" and automaticly just "boom" the sound by boosting the bass EQ

and this is where alot of people will say that this bass or that bass just won't do what they say it will.

midrange is for tailoring what you "hear" bassrange is for tailoring what you "feel".. so what is a basses midrange and how do you find whats best?

midrange is easiest to find if you start to uncover it first by cutting frequencies first.

bass midrange starts around 180-200hz and thats your first cut on almost any bass setup out there. cut 200hz by

3-6 db's. next either leave it flat or cut 30-35hz by 3-5 db's, this is where every new bass play makes a mistake. they boost this frequency thinking it will give them more bass. but what happens is that the amp starts working so hard to push this low end theres nothing left in it, and another point is that there are very few speakers that will carry these frequencies with any volume unless you are running a major high wattage bass rig. 1000+watts

want more bass? then cut these (30-35hz)bass frequencies to get it. as you cut you might need to add volume to get the speaker moving. these two cuts are a good starting point but there are more.

now you have to consider the bass itself, in my case the Warwick and I play old sytle heavy metal. so you can imagine the sound I'm looking for.

body, two peice bridge, wenge neck and fingerboard, bell brass frets and a brass nut, rotosound stainless steel round wound strings..

everything on this bass is screaming "high frequency" so theres your next round of cuts on the EQ. first, any amp I use I always get the air out of it by cutting 10khz and 16khz by 4-6 db's.

next cut at 1khz by 3-6 db's, this is an anonning frequency on bass I think.

so by this time you should start to hear the midrange of the bass and its time to shape it. up to this point I only use the EQ, no compression. now I kick on the compressor. compressors on bass will mess with bass frequencies so the compressor should be the first thing in the chain. bass to compressor, compressor to preamp, to EQ to effects to amp.

my compressor settings,,ratio is always 4 to 1. thrushold is bass pickup dependent. attach 25-35ms, release is to taste

find and boost midrange, start at around 300hz and work your way up through to say around 400 or so, but don't jump into the 500hz range as the guitars sit there a good bit of the time. try boosting between 315hz and 400hz. just play with it and find the frequency to "growl" so to speak. it is key to not overlap the guitar frequencies, you will never find your sound if you fight the guitars for the same frequencies, the guitars will win hands down every time just by sheer volume!!!!!

as you see when I cut frequencies I never cut more then 6 db's cuz it will also cut frequencies close around the one you cut unless you have a para EQ. but boosting is a whole new game. after you think you have a decent midrange sound where the strings have a nice tight sound its time to pump it up. the weapon of choice "100hz-125hz" this is where you get that chest pounding, its the higher end of the lowend range. you still feel this frequency but it also lets you hear it as well. hit it right up to +8-10 db at 100hz-125hz. if you have a 350 watt rig the cops are at the door right now!!!!!!!!

still wanta feel more? bump 60hz up maybe +3-4 db's, if it starts to get a little muddy with just a small bump at 60hz then cut 80hz by 3-4 db's if not leave 80hz alone. you should be thumping by now and I'm almost done with this long winded bass EQ rant. theres one more adjustment to make but I only make it when I'm playing with the band. your bass low end and midrange low end should be just about there. how to find the happy middle ground with the guitars?

the band starts playing, you can feel the bass, you can hear the bass, but that last little frosting is missing, its not alive and sitting in its own place. two answers 800hz and 2khz. instead of trying to turn up, play with these two frequencies, both will be bumped up a little. 800hz is the high midrange and 2khz is starting to get in the low high end. over time I think I have found the 800hz works better for finger player while 2khz works better for pick player but either way use both and it will put you right where you need to be!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

while I know it looks like I ranted on about EQ, I hope that you get the message that it truely is bass build related. I can't speak for guitar.

but by making only one change on my Warwick build this whole EQ setup goes out the window and I would have to start over. pick one, change the wood, the nut, the bridge, the frets or the strings. any one of them would be death to my sound. its a bass, not a guitar. there a huge difference!!!!!!!!!! thank you

Edited by gonzosc1
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cool, thanks....those crazy bass players,,,LOL

I think it is a good starting point if your playing metal like I do. its bright but still moves some air. I'm betting that the Warwick he has is active??? so it will be a little different, but the lowend cuts(30hz-35hz) just make good sense in rock music. what kind of rig is he running?

my rig is a fairly basic rack. TC electronic triple C compressor, Digitech quad 4 effects and a older then dirt Hartke 3500 stack.

my amp has a 10 band EQ with a high and low knob, I use the amp eq to make the wide lowend boosts at 60hz, 125hz and keep the 30hz flat, cut at 250hz and 1khz a little, boost 2khz, the rest is flat. a little cut on the high knob(10khz) and a little boost on the low knob(100hz). the rest of my eq is done on the digitech with a 4 band parametic with 2 shelfs eq.

shelf 100hz big boost, 200hz cut, 315 boost, 800hz boost, I think I might have a small 630khz boost on there, and shelf 16khz cut. we play covers so my effects vari alot. but pre delay is the alway running. its the best thing since ice cream. like I said it a bright sound with a little distortion as I run the output of the compressor in the hartke pre amp and then bump the pre amp up to 7.

my guitar player freaked one day when he looked at my setup and saw my master volume set on 6-7...LOL he said he never saw any bass player run a full stack that hot while you can still stand in front of it and be comfortable with no feedback. he loves it but its a different story with the drummer..........LOL

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He's got a really simple setup... because he's a poor college kid. Not saying that my equipment is anything to shake a stick at though, hahah. He's got a Rock Bass, so I'm not positive that it's got actives. He runs that through a noise suppressor pedal and an Ibanez bass distortion. It's not bad, it gives a nice tight sound when used on it's clean setting, and a good amount of metal fuzz. I never let him go below a low Db though. No Korn here. He runs those into a Crate solid state. Like I said, poor boy's rig, but it gets the job done. It sounds fine recording, and any effects we need we get through my Pod.

I've been trying to entice him with the prospect of building an Infinity hollow body. He's all for the idea, especially since I really want to try building a bass, but he's got no money to finance the project :D Love my coz, but he's a poor boy.

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ahhhh,,been there done that..everyone has for sure...

well just work together on sound. its hard to make the adjustments I'm talking about without a bunch of eq bands but it can be done on the cheap. I think boss or Digitech makes a bass eq pedal. that with the eq on his amp should work out fine. another route depending on money is a Boss GT6B pedal. this is the be all end all of bass pedals for poor bass players. on ebay for around $200 give or take..got mine for $185.. its got everything in it. the only downside to it is that you have to have a college degree to go through the manual,,,LOL

the Warwick rockbass are a good playing bass but I don't know if you will get the Warwick tone out of it or not as the materials are different from the German models.

go ahead and build that bass,,it would be cool. I'm starting my first restore project myself so theres alot to learn. one thing for sure and I hope this helps someone if there thinking about it. I won't be using "bell brass frets"..these things require a lot of cleaning as your sweat makes them turn a rusty red color. when I take the strings off for a cleaning or replacement I have to steelwool the hell out of them. its a 2 hour job taping up the neck and cleaning the frets................

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Gonzo, that's a great post - thank you! I play five-string bass through my Trace Elliot AH-300 head and a 4x10 cab, and the sound a lot clearer and works better with the kit when you reduce the 40Hz and 80Hz bands by a greater degree. Those frequencies cover the fundamental notes, but the upper EQ define the harmonic overtone character of the sound. I agree totally. I love my compressors. The one that gets whacked around at gigs is a simple Boss FX-82 Bass Compressor, although the one I prefer for a little more "grind" is my Electro-Harmonix Black Finger. Shame it needs an extra wall wart and can't be used anywhere near wet things due to the tubes. Very protective of that one.

Xanthus, I LOVE the Infinity and would kill or at least bite something repeatedly to have one with a natural flamed top....

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The Infinity is far and away my favorite bass shape. Period. The Corvette follows a close second. If I ever get around to building one, I think I'd have to change the woods, because I dunno where you can get ovangkol anywhere around where I live. I'd probably make it a bubinga body, maple top, probably not a spalt because it'd draw the eye away from the F holes.

Though now that I hear that MEC pickups are repackaged Seymours, I dunno what pickups I'd put in.

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I wonder if I can bring it over in my carryon luggage :D My friend just went to Roehampton for a semester abroad, and I'm cooking up plans to visit him sometime this semester. It's never a problem to pick some up "just in case." What's the price comparable to? The place I get my mahogany from is $9.50 per board foot for body-thickness wood, which IIRC translates to about 5 quid?

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I think there's a great deal of difference in opinion as to what the "Warwick sound" is, and there probably isn't one. Maybe voodoo.

To me, the "Warwick sound" is this:

0:57 through to 1:27 - an Infinity played through a Warwick (Pro IX?) valve head and cab setup.

So WHAT is that grind? Is it the instrument, amp, outboard, good EQing or just (wait for it) a bassist chunking into the strings HARD? I think the latter more than anything.

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