Saturday, July 13, 2013

Sadowsky Metro UV70-MB-ASH-4 Electric Bass Review

Greetings!

All of a sudden it seems like July got to be Sadowsky month! Today we are looking at my current favorite jazz bass, a 2006 Sadowsky Metro UV70 (Ultra Vintage 70’s). This is one of the best sounding and easiest playing jazz basses I have ever owned, and there have been quite a few that have been through here over the years.

In case you are not familiar with the brand, Roger Sadowsky builds the best bolt-neck basses in the business out of his Long Island shop. Of course, you pay a premium to get your hands on one of them, with prices of most of them around $4000, and a six-month wait for custom orders. His Metro line is a little more accessible for the common man.

About a decade ago, Roger set up a production facility in Tokyo, which is the land of meticulous luthiers. Originally called the Tokyo line, they are now called the Metro series, and these are some seriously good instruments. The idea was to produce basses with the same electronics, but with no custom options so they can benefit from economies of scale. They also use less expensive bodies and necks, as well as cheaper labor to bring the prices down a bit, but don’t get the idea that these are cheap instruments, in any sense of the word.

So, Sadowsky Metro basses come in four or five string models with traditional precision and jazz bass profiles, rosewood or maple fretboards, and an assortment of pickup configurations. As I said earlier, there are no custom options, and if you are looking for a left-handed or fretless bass you will have to keep on looking. Generally they weigh a pound or two more than their New York-produced instruments due to wood selection and the lack of body chambering.

The only visual distinction between Metro and New York basses is that the Metro basses do not have the NYC letters on the headstock. That is it.

As I said earlier, we are looking at a Sadowsky Metro UV70 that was built in 2006. I am not the original owner, having bought it from a terrific guy through Talkbass. It is in great condition, unmolested and unmodified.

The UV70 is a jazz bass with a copy of Fender’s bound and blocked neck. There is no better looking fretboard on the planet, if you ask me. It has 20 frets and a curved heel, which is the only way to go, in my book. It has a truss rod adjustment wheel at the heel, so set-ups are easy. The neck is finished in nitrocellulose lacquer (like all Sadowsky basses).

This bass has a 2-piece ash body with a gorgeous grain, and it is sprayed with clear poly (again, like all Sadowsky basses). It has a 3-ply black pickguard, which is not my first choice, but it matches the fretboard inlays and binding, so I cannot complain too much. If I remember correctly, Fender guards will not fit these basses, so if I want to go tortoise shell, I will have to get one from Sadowsky.

Sadowsky says that these use the same electronics as their New York basses, so it has Sadowsky humcancelling coil pickups, and the much-copied Sadowsky pre-amplifier. As this is an older Metro bass, it does not have Vintage Tone Control, so the controls are volume, pan, treble boost and bass boost. Since this is a 70’s model bass, the bridge pickup is about ½-inch closer to the bridge.

I have owned and played both Metro and NYC basses, and in the real world they just do not sound quite the same. It probably has something to do with the wood they select, but the Metro basses generally do not sound quite as sharp. Don’t get me wrong, though, this bass still sounds incredible and the tone is way better than any bass that Fender or any other maker is building today.

The craftsmanship is befitting the price, with a perfect neck pocket, fretwork and nut. The frets show no wear and are still level as can seven years after it was built. The finish is even and the inlays and binding are perfectly flush. The chrome high-mass bridge and open-back tuners are still shiny and clean. This is a real cream-puff!

It plays just as nicely as it looks, and it is set-up with a tasty low action and a fresh set of D’Addarios. This bass is everything that the Fender Marcus Miller bass tries to be, but it is not. It looks better, sounds better and plays better.

Oh yeah, and this UV70 is quite light for a Metro, coming in at a bit under 9 pounds. I have seen these weighing in at up to 10 ½ pounds before. Ask the weight before you buy…

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

So what is the final damage? The list price of a new ash-bodied Sadowsky Metro UV70 is $2975 and Sadowsky does not allow their dealers to discount these at all. This is about the price of a used NYC bass, and used Metros usually sell for a bit under $2000.

So, if you are looking for a Sadowsky, but just can’t pull the trigger for a New York model, this might be just the ticket for you. You will have a hard time finding a better bass, regardless of price.

Mahalo!

1 comment:

  1. Just did buy similar.
    Feels just like you wrote.
    Great value for money indeed.

    ReplyDelete