Monday, June 11, 2012

Sadowsky Metro MV4 Bass Guitar Review


There are a handful of boutique bass builders whose basses I crave and number one on the list is Roger Sadowsky. His staff builds incredible basses (and guitars too) out of his New York City shop, and they are the most playable and best-sounding bolt neck instruments you can buy. Unfortunately, the popularity of these instruments results in a minimum entry fee of $3500, and at least a 6 month waiting to get one made to your specifications.

Fortunately for all of us, there is a more cost effective solution to getting their hands on a new Sadowsky. This would be the Sadowsky Metro series of basses.

Back in the early 2000s, Mr. Sadowsky decided to have a line of basses built overseas. 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 bass we are looking at today is a Sadowsky Metro MV4. This is a Fender Jazz bass copy with the familiar offset waist body and pickguard shape. It is drop-dead gorgeous with the ’59 Burst finish showing off the gorgeous grain on the ash body. This is a solid body, not chambered like a NYC bass. The sparkly clean maple neck has not graphite strips, unlike their newer custom basses, which have two..

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. The knobs are: volume / pickup pan / vintage tone and preamp bypass / stacked treble and bass boost. I have had the opportunity to compare these basses to real NYC basses, and they do not sound quite the same, but are still very good. Maybe it is the wood they use for the bodies that make them sound different.

One noticeable thing you do not get with the Metro series is the ridiculously light weight of a New York City Sadowsky. Generally the Metros will weigh a pound or two more. This one weighs in at a 9 pounds 12 ounces, instead of the usually 8 pounds for a NYC Jazz Bass. 9 ¾ pounds is still pretty light, and if you are going to save $1500, you are going to have to give something up.

This Metro 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.

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 MV4 basses sells for $2425 new, and Sadowsky does not allow their dealers to discount these at all. Nice used ones run around $1700 to $1800.

So, if you do not need a fancy top, a custom color, or a left-handed fretless bass (none of these options are available) this is a viable alternative to a NYC Sadowsky. They are worth the money.


  1. Hi Rex,

    Ive been enjoying checking out your blog. I noticed that you have some very nice gear. I was particularly interested in your review of the Fender Superbassman. Do you feel that it had a much different sound than your ampeg-cl? Ive been searching for a great tube sound, with a very solid bottom and midrange. Ive had experience with the ampeg, but never tried a newer fender tube amp. Thanks for any further help/advise!

  2. Hi there. I still think the Ampeg (CL in my case) is the better value. I think the Fenders have about the same tone, and will not hold their value as well as an American-made SVT. They are both good amps, and it really comes down to what you have to pay to get one, and what it will be worth in the long run. I hope this helps...Rex

  3. Thanks for the help! Keep on the rockin!