Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sadowsky Metro UV 70 Bass

Roger Sadowsky builds the best bolt-neck guitars on the planet in his New York City factory. Period. The only downside is that they cost a metric ton of cash. They can easily run $4000, and the lucky buyer gets to wait 6 months if they special order it.

Fortunately, for the gigging man (or woman), there is a more cost effective solution to getting their hands on a new Sadowsky.

Back in the early 2000s, Roger came up with the idea of having a line of basses built overseas (gasp!). No, not by shoeless starving kids in China, but by the best luthiers in Japan. These were originally called the Tokyo line of basses, but have since been renamed the Metro series. The idea was to use the same electronics and hardware, but cheaper bodies and necks and have lower labor costs.

The subject bass today is a Sadowsky Metro UV70. It is a doppelganger of Geddy Lee’s legendary 1970s Fender Jazz Bass. It has the look nailed with the black finish and the maple fretboard with black block inlays.

This is a fantastic bass. It sounds great, and plays like a dream. The construction is very good, and the neck and fretwork are perfect. It is better quality than anything Fender or their Custom Shop is producing today.

Sadowsky says that these use the same electronics as the New York City basses, so it has Sadowsky humcancelling coil pickups, and the much-copied Sadowsky pre-amplifier with Vintage Tone Control. But, I have had the opportunity to compare these basses to real NYC basses, and they do not sound quite the same. Maybe it is the wood they use for the bodies, but the Metro basses generally do not sound quite as sharp.

Another noticeable thing you do not get with the Metro series is the amazingly light weight of a New York City Sadowsky. Generally Metros will weigh a pound or two more. This one weighs in at 9 pounds, instead of the usually 8 pounds for a NYC Jazz Bass.

Perhaps I am coming off as a whiny turd. These are still great basses, but there are trade-offs in everything. If you are going to save $1500, you are going to have to give something up.

Metro basses come in the same Sadowsky semi-hard case that the New York City basses used to come in (they have since changed to a deluxe hard case for NYC basses).

The UV70 bass sells for $2775 new, and Sadowsky does not allow their dealers to discount these at all. I guess I do not understand what price-fixing is.

Anyway, if you do not need a fancy top, a left-handed bass or a fretless bass (none of the options are available) this is a viable alternative to a NYC Sadowsky. Buy one. I would.

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