View Full Version : Conklin GTBD-7

10-18-2005, 01:39 PM
Was bored. Thought I'd review this bass for people. Though I'm not sure how much use it is to you people... I can't imagine a lot of people buying one!

Anyway, on with the show:

Conklin - GTBD-7 (Bill Dickens Signature 7 String Bass)

(Somewhat Cheesy) description of specs borrowed from www.dealtime.com (http://www.dealtime.com)

Just one string short of being two basses in one. It takes a big bass player like Bill ''Buddha'''' Dickens to handle an axe like this one with its full seven strings to range over. Constructed with a maple and purpleheart 7 piece thru-body neck and swamp ash wings topped with curly maple. Gold hardware tricks it out. Totally custom-made Bartolini Bill Dickens pickups and custom electronics, including a three-position parametric preset rotary switch and mid-frequency selector.

First impressions

First thing I noticed about the bass upon receiving it was the huge neck, obviously. Or more correctly, how slim it actually is. Maybe its just the width of the neck making it not seem very deep comparatively or not, I couldn't say, but it does feel slim, regardless. After this, I was pretty impressed with how 'pimped' the bass looked, for lack of a better word. Especially the knobs, which are inset with red 'jewels' on top of them, and the gold hardware.

I'm aware that the body shape isn't too everyone's taste, and I certainly took a bit of winning over, but it is a beautiful bass IMO.

Also, the Neutrik locking jack input is incredibly nice. I like.

I have yet to find a build flaw in the bass, which is nice to find in a mass produced bass :)

So first impression = not too shabby :)


Well, initially, the bass seemed (to me) to be pretty easy to play, though I am used to a wide neck on a 5 string. I imagine it may be slightly stranger to a previously 4 string exclusive player. It is impossible to reach the high frets on the B and E at least with any degree of ease, as far as I can stretch, but I don't think this is an issue. Most people to my knowledge don't use this area of the neck. The lower cutaway is very generous, giving you easy access to all 24 frets.

I did find, after a little bit of excessive playing etc that my hand was aching an awful lot, and it took me over a week to start feeling comfortable on it. The pain was to the point I was considering not keeping the bass initially. This was probably caused by stretching too far too fast (I can now play the chord shapes I was trying to before without a fuss. Your hands do adjust themselves. Don't play through the pain though!)

The neck itself is a dream to play on. Its not at all sticky, and providing you have proper hand position, the extra width of the neck causes no problem to playing, even on the lower strings (people often ask "how do you reach that E string?!" for example. Its actually very easy). The action was incredibly low on the bass I received, and there was only buzz on the 13th fret of the two highest strings. I believe this to be an uneven fret and haven't rectified the problem, as the buzz doesn't really come through when amplified.

In my experience, it takes a good few weeks (I've had it a couple of months so far and I'm still not perfect with it!) to get used to the extra strings, and not hitting a C instead of G for example. Don't get frustrated. It'll take practice :)


Entirely subjective. I'll let you judge for yourself!








(Due to the 4 image limit now imposed by MX, I've had to put links instead of images. Hope you don't mind!)


For the most part, a very bright sounding bass. A very nice slap sound if I do say so, though slapping on it does take getting used to due to the string spacing! The EQ seems to do a good job at manipulating the tone, though it appears to only colour the natural tone, rather than create an entirely new one (unlike the EQ on my old Ibanez BTB).

I have found it hard to get a good harmonic sound out of the bass however. If your work includes a lot of harmonics, you may need to fiddle a LOT with your amp to get the right sound.

I have also found that one sound that isn't really in the repertoire is growl. This doesn't bother me too much, as its not what I go for, but I know a lot of people mark it as a priority. It does a very warm, smooth sound though (I would gather it gets a lot of this from the Dickens Bartolinis).


Okay, the interesting part. What don't I like about it?

There are too many knobs! I don't even know what they all do yet, and I can't find anything like a manual telling me... ¬_¬

The gold on the hardware fades easily! On the tuning pegs, and the top of the bridge (where there is a lot of wear and tear), the gold can rub off easily. Only a cosmetic problem, but still...

The placement of the bridge isn't so hot! When sitting down and resting my right arm, it often digs into the corner of the top of the bridge, which isn't altogether pleasant. Not a problem when seated.

The position of the upper strap button is awkward! I'm aware that its different strokes for different folks, but I'm just not keen on the strap button being on the back of the bass.

The strings cost a bomb! Only buy this if you're prepared to do a lot of research on strings, or shell out a lot. Those high F's aren't common in England, I'll have you know... ¬_¬

As mentioned earlier, I'm not so keen on the lack of harmonics on it, but I can skirt around that problem.

I miss having frontal fret dots! When I'm that close to the fretboard, the fret dots on the top kind of blur together, making it look like every fret has a dot. Maybe this is a problem with my otherwise fine eyesight, I don't know. But I am partial to frontal dot inlays!

The B string is slightly floppy! I would expect this. The Conklin strings on it are I believe a 127 gauge, and even on a 35" scale, I find this to be too thin. A 135 would be ideal, though I can just about cope with the floppiness. Its not too bad afterall. Only a problem if you're really picky!


I'd probably give the bass a 4/5. Especially for the price I paid (£650 - roughly a little under $1300 US I think?), the build quality, features and sound are very, very nice, though there are some things (as with any bass) holding it back from being perfect ;)

The bass was purchased from the site www.bassworld.co.uk (http://www.bassworld.co.uk) in the classifieds section, after having Chris K and jamie_dunce inform me of its presence.

www.conklinguitars.com (http://www.conklinguitars.com)

10-18-2005, 01:45 PM
very good review, im curious however on how you got one because i've always wanted a conklin 7 string (especially the Red GTBD) but I didn't know how to get them in the UK

10-18-2005, 01:57 PM
Just added photos and stuffs. Updated.

Anyway, I got it off of a guy on another music message board. It is at least 3rd hand and in very good nick. The body wood refuses to dent!

I have no idea where the original owner got it from, however. Your best bet is used ones in the UK I should think.


10-18-2005, 01:58 PM
Nice review! :thumb: How does it compare to CK's Conklin?

Also state where you got it and how much it was ;)

10-18-2005, 02:07 PM

And compared to CK's? They both play very similarly in all honesty. I didn't get to play Coffee's very extensively through a real amp, so its hard to compare. Though its less straightforward than Coffee's, and I believe a little tighter at the nut.

The neck does seem a little smoother than Coffee's, though I am probably just imagining things. Been a while since Coffeecamp, after all :)


10-18-2005, 02:17 PM
I had a dream you sent me the bass.

Good dream.

10-18-2005, 02:29 PM
great review, well done

Chris K
10-18-2005, 02:34 PM
Nice bass, i thought "oh no!" when I read about the jewels, but it's nicely done...