NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~ (returned)

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NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~ (returned)

Postby Toptube » Thu Jun 01, 2017 6:01 pm

I already have an Icon 5 which shows off cool wood combos. I wanted something with color. Decided to try a surfy vibe on a Vader bass.

Cellphone shots, until I find my SLR's proprietary cable. I just moved OK.

This light blue is very difficult to photograph. The shot on the case, is pretty close. But the fretboard is too "red" and the abalone got no joy in that shot.

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WP_20170601_14_11_14_Pro (Copy).jpg


WP_20170601_18_04_29_Pro.jpg


Non obvious specs:
Alder body wings.
1 piece Walnut neck
Mahogany top
EVO Gold small frets
Radium Single coils
Standard 14 inch radius
Stream of consciousness...

Ok, so this bass is very light. Lighter than I was expecting. It is not chambered. The body really isn't meaningful smaller than my Icon 5. Must be some feather alder. I'm gonna try to get it on the postal scale at work, tomorrow. I bet its under 8 pounds.

It vibrates very well. The accoustic tone is very even and uncolored. Clear, even, great sustain with long note integrity. A bit airy in the mids. No big pushes in either direction. Near perfect balance in the high mid, the right pickups could be really cool, with this high mid being so well controlled.

Overall, it hangs well. And the short upper horn doesn't hurt the reach too much. But changing how loose or tight your strap is, drastically affects the hang. With no headstock, after a certain point of slackness in your strap, it will become body heavy. Which pulls the lower frets toward you. Tighter straps will notice the reach, more. However, the second, lower button pretty much fixes that. Its not just for a kickstand.

I am definitely experiencing an adjustment to the headless aspect. With less mass out there, it is a lot easier to wiggle and waggle the neck around, when you are navigating hand techniques. I don't have issues with my hand falling off the end. My technique/hand position isnt like that.

The Zebrawood is fantastic. It is very smooth and slick feeling. Kind of a waxed board feel. Smoother than rosewood, for sure.
The abalone looks good on it. And the greens and blues in the abalone pull some of the blue feel from the body, out onto the fretboard.

The body is pretty comfortable. Fret access is totally uninhibited. The bevel doesn't go back far enough, to accommodate my wrist position. But its not bad. My Icon's rounded sides are notably more comfortable, however. The bevel on the Aries or Vanquish are probably better for wrist comfort, than the Vader.

Not sure what's up with the strings. They left my fingers very dirty, after 10 minutes of play. And they feel pretty grabby on my finger tips. I have a lot O experience with Dunlop Superbrights, on two different basses. These dont seem like the strings I know and love.

I am pretty sure the Radium single coils are indeed different from the second Gen RAD-JVA which have been in my Icon for a couple years. However, something is up with the strings and the pickup locations are different.
But, as is, I do not like the tone. A very modern, "active" sound, even though it is all passive. Pretty sterile and cold. It reminds me a bit of the Delano tone. Modern. Deep. Clear. Sterile.
The pickups are lower output, too. Probably because the RAD-JVA have a ton more midrange presence and character, than these Radium singles.
And there is some sort of warble in the tone. Not sure if strings or pickups. I don't seem to hear it unplugged.

The gold small frets feel good. Maybe a touch taller than the stainless small frets. Overall feel is similar. Definitely less ping from the golds. But not as much fantastic breathy sweetness in the high notes, as the steel frets on my Icon. I've never owned a bass with high notes which sing as well as my Icon. But these EVO golds sound more balanced. I would choose them again, over stainless. My style isn't light and delicate. I LOVE my Icon. But the stainless ping can be a tough beast on some songs.

New blend pot fixes an old problem but has a new one. No volume drop-----but I can't call this a blend. It may as well be a three way switch. My Icon has the volume drop, but the old blend makes a difference with every little bit of turn. Hmm.
They also wired it backward. Forward is bridge, backward is neck :roll:

I do not like the tone of the tone pot, at all. I mean when it I rolled off. But I also dont like the plugged in tone here, in general. So, maybe different pickups or strings, will fare better.

The bridge is cool. The saddle channels are a little less rounded in the back, compared to the "A" style bridge on my Icon. You can probably push them back a little further. Good news for the 5 string Vader.

The paint line isn't perfect. I've seen worse on here, with no complaints. Not sure if this is typical or if what I hoped for isn't really possible. Some slight roughness around the neck pocket. And around the tip of the upper horn. Overall looks good. But not prefect, on a second, closer look.

The setup is near perfect. The nut height is perfect, for me. I like my nut slots a touch higher than what I typically find and this bass has what I like. I have always kinda wanted to get a new nut on my Icon, even though there is nothing technically wrong with it.

I ordered this bass with black dots. Super annoying that my third order, second bass, also has spec mistakes. After reviewing some cellphone pics, I decided to receive it. I think it still looks good and really wanted to at least try a Vader. something will be worked out, depending on if I keep this or send it back and try another model.

I think that just about wraps my first impressions, after 3 hours with the bass. Not instantly sure if its a keeper. The Icon 5 felt like home, the minute I strapped it on.


**I'm gonna completely loosen the strings over night, ket the neck relax. Maybe that will help the warble.
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Last edited by Toptube on Tue Jun 27, 2017 8:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby MikeBass » Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:43 pm

Nice looking bass, and great in-depth review :applause:

I'd definitely recommend trying a fresh set of strings before making any decisions - sounds like a bad set from the factory? Strange, don't see too many QC issues from Dunlop.

It also sounds like there might be a phasing issue with your pickups, considering what you said about the lower output and blend knob (not to mentioned that the blend knob is also wired backwards) Are you handy with a soldering iron? If so, it might be worth it to take a peek inside and try switching the pickups to the correct order with the blend knob. Or send it back to have Kiesel look at it.

Shame about the black dots and pickups/blend knob - wasn't there an announcement that Chris H was going to personally check every guitar before it left?
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:44 pm

I have a little electronic scale for like, kitchen ingredients and stuff.

I put an 8 pound weight on it, which it says is 7lbs 14.2oz.

It says this bass is 7lbs 2.6oz :shock:

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Thu Jun 01, 2017 7:52 pm

MikeBass wrote:Nice looking bass, and great in-depth review :applause:

I'd definitely recommend trying a fresh set of strings before making any decisions - sounds like a bad set from the factory? Strange, don't see too many QC issues from Dunlop.

It also sounds like there might be a phasing issue with your pickups, considering what you said about the lower output and blend knob (not to mentioned that the blend knob is also wired backwards) Are you handy with a soldering iron? If so, it might be worth it to take a peek inside and try switching the pickups to the correct order with the blend knob. Or send it back to have Kiesel look at it.

Shame about the black dots and pickups/blend knob - wasn't there an announcement that Chris H was going to personally check every guitar before it left?

I can solder and have swapped a lot of pickups in 4 different basses. I do not think these pickups are out of phase. Usually, it is very obvious. And it should only be a problem when blending. Soloed pickups should sound normal, in an out of phase situation. I won't solder anything, unless I decide to keep it.

I edited and mentioned im gonna full loosen the strings overnight, maybe the neck is bound up or something. I gotta call and ask if a string change is ok for the 10 day trial. Still makes me nervous. Last bass I bought was a real nice Fender American Deluxe (now called Elite, a year later) Jazz 5. I slipped trying to put the B string through the bridge and scratched the paint. It was used, but near new. I ended up not loving it and selling it. But discounted from what I payed, due to the scratch.

Chris is supposed to be doing final QC. Doesn't help when it comes time to put in dots :\
I saw it in Jeff's hand on FB and called to confirm. Final QC was about 4 days later. I imagine they would have called me. But I was anxious.
I'm not sure they consider the backward blend a real problem. I have heard about it at least a couple of other times. I think someone there may just do it that way :think:

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby MikeBass » Thu Jun 01, 2017 8:09 pm

Toptube wrote:I can solder and have swapped a lot of pickups in 4 different basses. I do not think these pickups are out of phase. Usually, it is very obvious. And it should only be a problem when blending. Soloed pickups should sound normal, in an out of phase situation. I won't solder anything, unless I decide to keep it.

I edited and mentioned im gonna full loosen the strings overnight, maybe the neck is bound up or something. I gotta call and ask if a string change is ok for the 10 day trial. Still makes me nervous. Last bass I bought was a real nice Fender American Deluxe (now called Elite, a year later) Jazz 5. I slipped trying to put the B string through the bridge and scratched the paint. It was used, but near new. I ended up not loving it and selling it. But discounted from what I payed, due to the scratch.

Chris is supposed to be doing final QC. Doesn't help when it comes time to put in dots :\
I saw it in Jeff's hand on FB and called to confirm. Final QC was about 4 days later. I imagine they would have called me. But I was anxious.



The reason I think there's a phase issue is because when I swapped a Radium singlecoil in for a humbucker on my V49K, the output dropped (the whole bass, not just the new pickup), the tone was thin and the blend knob's span was no longer smooth and even - your description of it being like a 3-way knob fits well. Switching two of the wires on the new pickup fixed the problem. I've noticed the volume differences between various kinds of Kiesel's pickups (singlecoil, humbucker, split-coil) but never a discernible difference between the same kinds of pickups (especially singlecoils, which I have a lot of experience with.)

It's understandable that you don't want to risk voiding the warranty, that would make me nervous too. Hopefully you can at least try some new strings without affecting a possible future return. At the very least, they should offer to fix the mis-wired blend knob and hopefully that corrects the phase/tone issue.

Hope you can find a way to love and keep this bass :rockon:
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Thu Jun 01, 2017 9:00 pm

MikeBass wrote:
Toptube wrote:I can solder and have swapped a lot of pickups in 4 different basses. I do not think these pickups are out of phase. Usually, it is very obvious. And it should only be a problem when blending. Soloed pickups should sound normal, in an out of phase situation. I won't solder anything, unless I decide to keep it.

I edited and mentioned im gonna full loosen the strings overnight, maybe the neck is bound up or something. I gotta call and ask if a string change is ok for the 10 day trial. Still makes me nervous. Last bass I bought was a real nice Fender American Deluxe (now called Elite, a year later) Jazz 5. I slipped trying to put the B string through the bridge and scratched the paint. It was used, but near new. I ended up not loving it and selling it. But discounted from what I payed, due to the scratch.

Chris is supposed to be doing final QC. Doesn't help when it comes time to put in dots :\
I saw it in Jeff's hand on FB and called to confirm. Final QC was about 4 days later. I imagine they would have called me. But I was anxious.



The reason I think there's a phase issue is because when I swapped a Radium singlecoil in for a humbucker on my V49K, the output dropped (the whole bass, not just the new pickup), the tone was thin and the blend knob's span was no longer smooth and even - your description of it being like a 3-way knob fits well. Switching two of the wires on the new pickup fixed the problem. I've noticed the volume differences between various kinds of Kiesel's pickups (singlecoil, humbucker, split-coil) but never a discernible difference between the same kinds of pickups (especially singlecoils, which I have a lot of experience with.)

It's understandable that you don't want to risk voiding the warranty, that would make me nervous too. Hopefully you can at least try some new strings without affecting a possible future return. At the very least, they should offer to fix the mis-wired blend knob and hopefully that corrects the phase/tone issue.

Hope you can find a way to love and keep this bass :rockon:

Ah ha. Interesting.

Well, tomorrow I will retune after the neck relaxes over night. And then if still needed, call them.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Fri Jun 02, 2017 12:41 am

Annnnnnd it also has a crooked jack plate.
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Hurts to say, but this is going back. Bummer, because strapping on a 7 pound bass felt amazing.
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby MikeBass » Fri Jun 02, 2017 3:02 am

Hopefully they'll take this one to heart, bummer about the jack plate too


Any idea what you're going to do with the refund?
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Fri Jun 02, 2017 8:46 am

MikeBass wrote:Hopefully they'll take this one to heart, bummer about the jack plate too


Any idea what you're going to do with the refund?

Not sure. I was thinking of trying an Aries if I didn't like the Vader.

But I've had problems with all three orders, now. I may just refund and sit on the money for awhile.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Bovine » Fri Jun 02, 2017 10:35 am

That is one spectacular piece of zebrawood for sure and I love the build idea with the black back & sides making the top pop out. Always sorry to hear when things didn't go as planned but I recommend rebuilding until you find that bullseye sweet spot. Best wishes to you on this Tube.
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:40 pm

Bovine wrote:That is one spectacular piece of zebrawood for sure and I love the build idea with the black back & sides making the top pop out. Always sorry to hear when things didn't go as planned but I recommend rebuilding until you find that bullseye sweet spot. Best wishes to you on this Tube.

Hey thanks!

Yes, I like the way it looks! The fretboard looks amazing and feels great. The surf vibe I went for turned out very cool. I will get some better pics, before I pack it up. Maybe it can at least inspire builds for others.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Catman10 » Fri Jun 02, 2017 5:16 pm

I think the bass looks great. You did a great job nailing that overall vibe you were going for. Sorry to hear that you're more than likely sending it back. I had a strange twang from one of my strings on my VB6. It ended up being a string whose anchor screw was tightened too much to the point that windings started coming unraveled from the core just after/before the anchor screw. I don't know, but you might want to detune the strings, then loosen the anchor screws and look at the part of the strings under the screw and check for any damage. If you see any damage on the string(s) I'd try installing a new set. You might try adjusting the intonation while you're at it just to rule out that possibility, too.

The problem with the blend knob should not have been there, but it is an easy fix. I had a slight problem with the wiring on my Vader when it arrived, but I stuck with it and I was rewarded with a super fine sounding instrument. I hope you keep yours long enough to maybe realize that with yours.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Fri Jun 02, 2017 9:29 pm

Catman10 wrote:I think the bass looks great. You did a great job nailing that overall vibe you were going for. Sorry to hear that you're more than likely sending it back. I had a strange twang from one of my strings on my VB6. It ended up being a string whose anchor screw was tightened too much to the point that windings started coming unraveled from the core just after/before the anchor screw. I don't know, but you might want to detune the strings, then loosen the anchor screws and look at the part of the strings under the screw and check for any damage. If you see any damage on the string(s) I'd try installing a new set. You might try adjusting the intonation while you're at it just to rule out that possibility, too.

The problem with the blend knob should not have been there, but it is an easy fix. I had a slight problem with the wiring on my Vader when it arrived, but I stuck with it and I was rewarded with a super fine sounding instrument. I hope you keep yours long enough to maybe realize that with yours.

Thanks for the Input. I like this community. I like Kiesel.

This is amazingly lightweight and plays very well. But there is too much wrong here with quality control and order correctness for me to overlook, in order to keep this featherweight. Some of it can be fixed. Some of it cannot.

Here are some more cellphone pics. Still looking for that SLR cable!
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Sunset strip
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Catman10 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:30 am

Toptube wrote: This is amazingly lightweight and plays very well. But there is too much wrong here with quality control and order correctness for me to overlook, in order to keep this featherweight. Some of it can be fixed. Some of it cannot.


I see your point and I completely understand. This one will not last long in the GIS. I wish you better luck on your next build, whatever it may be.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby arahobob » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:20 am

Toptube wrote:Thanks for the Input. I like this community. I like Kiesel.

This is amazingly lightweight and plays very well. But there is too much wrong here with quality control and order correctness for me to overlook, in order to keep this featherweight. Some of it can be fixed. Some of it cannot.



I completely understand. Sending it back sends an important message to the company.

Orders should be 100% correct.
Period.

If the invoice says black dots, how does it ship with something else?
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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Sat Jun 03, 2017 10:27 am

arahobob wrote:
Toptube wrote:Thanks for the Input. I like this community. I like Kiesel.

This is amazingly lightweight and plays very well. But there is too much wrong here with quality control and order correctness for me to overlook, in order to keep this featherweight. Some of it can be fixed. Some of it cannot.



I completely understand. Sending it back sends an important message to the company.

Orders should be 100% correct.
Period.

If the invoice says black dots, how does it ship with something else?

For clarity, I saw it in Jeff's hand on Facebook. I called and asked for some pics, so that I could decide if I wanted to accept the abalone or not. They sent me like 7 pics.
I decided that it at least looked fine and I asked to receive the bass, as long as I still had the 10 day trial.

However, it shouldn't have shipped with a crooked jack plate, backwards blend, and an warble/chorus effect in the tone.
The paint line also bugs me. It's not eye stabbing terrible. But the hiccups are there.

I'm not trying to be on a tirade about this. Just frank and straightforward. I am more annoyed, now, because they didn't call me back on Friday, after I called and asked to initiate a return.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Sat Jun 03, 2017 11:51 am

This bass really plays fantastic. Even a little better, after letting the neck relax over night. The string tension is notably tighter than my Icon. Which is not a bad thing. The E string has a super positive feel. For me personally, this is top 3 best playing 4 string necks I have ever played.

Sadly, fine tuning pickup height, intonation, relaxing the neck (I completely loosened both ends of the strings over night), did not fix the chorus/warble aspect of the tone.
Last edited by Toptube on Sun Jun 04, 2017 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby arahobob » Sat Jun 03, 2017 12:48 pm

Toptube wrote:I'm not trying to be on a tirade about this. Just frank and straightforward. I am more annoyed, now, because they didn't call me back on Friday, after I called and asked to initiate a return.


Again, I understand completely.
My last CS related communication took over 5 days for a response. (more time actually, but I'm not counting the weekend)
I had all ready given up and returned my guitar before the response ever came.
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Some sort of multiscale 6 HSS with RAD ASH
JB Numbers Guitar (July sale has given me the itch!)

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby GlassToMouth » Sun Jun 04, 2017 6:47 am

Sorry to hear that the bass didn't work out, but thanks for the in depth review. I agree about the blend knob acting like a 3-way switch on my multiscale Vanquish 4 string. It's BARELY a blend. The slightest turn of the knob goes pretty much full bridge or full neck with my humbuckers. It doesn't bother me too much since I'm always on even blend or full bridge, but it would be nice to have a better blend pot.
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NBD thread - viewtopic.php?f=11&t=49182&p=632719

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Re: NBD: ~~Surf Vader~~

Postby Toptube » Mon Jun 05, 2017 3:12 pm

GlassToMouth wrote:Sorry to hear that the bass didn't work out, but thanks for the in depth review. I agree about the blend knob acting like a 3-way switch on my multiscale Vanquish 4 string. It's BARELY a blend. The slightest turn of the knob goes pretty much full bridge or full neck with my humbuckers. It doesn't bother me too much since I'm always on even blend or full bridge, but it would be nice to have a better blend pot.

Yeah, some pickups and location combos sound perfect, at the 3 extremes (bridge solo, center, neck solo). I modded a Fender Japan Jaguar bass with reproduction vintage thunderbird pickups. That bass has switches and I have never wanted a blend.

However, my Icon has an incredibly useful blend and the RAD-JVA are very expressive and have a ton of useful/desireable blend tones. You just never know. But if you give me a blend, I expect it to function----as one would expect.

My return has been Initiated. Kiesel is covering the shipping, so good on them for doing that.


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