Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sadowsky Metro MV4-HPJ Bass Guitar Review


It is hard to find better-made basses than the ones that Roger Sadowsky’s crew builds in his New York City shop. These instrument s are beautifully constructed, play like a dream and sound like the thunder of the gods. But, they are super expensive ($3500 and up) and if you want something built to your specification it will surely cost more and it will take at least six months to get one. Who has that kind of patience?

There are ways us mortal men to get our hands on a Sadowsky for a more reasonable price, and that would by with his Metro series of basses. These beauties are built overseas by some of the best luthiers in Japan, the land of the finest craftsmen on the planet. These basses use the same electronics and hardware as the NYC basses, but with cheaper bodies and necks. I imagine that there are some advantages to getting away from onerous American bureaucratic policies, too.

The bass we are looking at today is a Sadowsky Metro MV4-HPJ. This instrument combines the best of all bass features, with a Precision Bass body shape, a Jazz Bass profile neck, and my favorite pickup combination: a P and a J. It is a lovely lass gorgeous with a crystal clear ’59 Burst finish showing off the fat grain on the ash body. This is a solid body, not chambered like a NYC bass so it comes in at around 10 pounds, which is a couple of pounds more than an NYC bass. You do get something for your money.

The blindingly-white maple neck does not have graphite reinforcement strips, so that is another difference between these and Sadowsky’s recent US-production basses, which have two. There are 21 jewel-like frets lovingly settled into the fretboard.

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. Maybe it is just psychological.

This made in Japan Sadowsky MV4-HPJ is just a lovely bass. It sounds, looks and plays like a high-dollar custom bass. The construction is flawless, 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. The MV4-HPJ sells for $2425 new, and Sadowsky does not allow their dealers to discount these at all (but one dealer sells them for $2100 anyway). Nice used ones run around $1700 to $1800.

I will probably be selling this one or my Sadowsky MV4 (the Jazz Bass clone), so shoot me a line if you are interested…


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