Turner Guitars Renaissance 5 Fretless Reviews
I have a thing for hollow bases, and
I prefer fretless to avoid all the
klik-klunk-wizze noises that hollow
basses amplify from finger-to-string
and string-to-fret noises. I also
like an extra-wide 5-string. Maybe
my preferences stem from my being a
total bass-klutz, but Turner did his
best to address my needs, so there
must be more of us B-Ks out there!
Anyway, the Bass Palace offered this
one as "new, demo" so I went for it.
This is a fairly long review because
almost everything about this bass is
different than your typical magnetic
PU, solid body, steel string bass.
The sound of this ax is incredible.
After trying a Carvin AC50, this is
an whole other world tone-wise, and
it feels even lighter [altho they
are similar weights]. You can get
an extremely similar voice from a
juggernaught fully hollow fretless
ABG, but they're not much cheaper
[for the 5-strings] and are a pain
to transport and to play. The only
ABG that actually sounds this good
[better, actually...] is the Taylor
which dwarfs all other ABGs and has
a very impressively huge price tag.
The bronze-nylon RW TI strings have
a very light touch, but I'm not yet
convinced that they are worth their
annoying surface feel. I wish they
BTW, I still have a Godin A-4 and
so can testify that the Turner is
a much better URB-mimic.
The unique simplified appearance of
the Turner is also a pleasure, and
I like to think the "anti-gadgets"
look tells your audience that great
sound is your own doings, not some
cooked up electronic effect. It's
a no-frills all-business look. But
I'm still going to check it out on
the wah-wah box !
The downside of this wunderkind must
be taken seriously before you leap
without looking. It's just a little
bit too long and wide for most cases
and gig bags, and must be somewhat
more fragile than solid body basses,
similar to any f-hole thin-body ax.
Mine has the "strap balance dingus",
which provides decent hang-balance
but prevents it from fitting into a
few cases that would have otherwise
been useable. I definitely do NOT
wish to remove the "dingus".
There's no place to hang your thumb
except the edge of the neck. This
is not ideal for tone. Picking it
closer to bridge sounds much better.
While all the strings do have great
tone, the D&G sound like they are on
some other ax, although they are NOT
twangy or thin-sounding. Maybe this
could be an asset, but presently I
don't see it that way.
The rosewood fretboard is not very
thick. Maybe it should be expoxied
to avoid wear from roundwounds.
A 35" scale and thru-body stringing
means that some standard "long scale
bass" string sets will be too short.
Immediately on starting practice [as
soon as I got it home] I realized it
would take some adjustment of style
due to the very "rubbery" strings.
I had only a couple hours of messing
around with it before I took it on
stage -- a bit premature, but not a
a disaster, it's not THAT weird. My
main problem was the fast stuff, as
the soft strings do not catapult my
fingers away to the next string the
way fat steel strings do. Maybe I
just learned that my own right hand
habits are not what they should be;
after all, I am the Bass Klutz.
Also I discovered by accident, after
a guitarist let his curly-coil cord
drag across the tone controls on my
combo, that if you crank the treble
way up on this ax it sounds like a
giant angry bee or wasp. Could be
useful sometimes. Of course, a deep
bass version of "angry wasp" is what
this ax is all about.
The sides are curved hardwood, and
the back looks like the same wood.
Top is cedar. Whole body has fairly
thin finish for a natural appearance
and fine acoustic tone. Bridge is a
typical acoustic bridge, housing the
piezo PU under the bone. There's a
wide inner center block which allows
the thru-body stringing.
The graphite reinforced maple neck
appears to be seamless, with a 35"
scale lined rosewood fingerboard,
about 22 non-frets long. Staggered
4-bolt neck joint is even stronger
with the "dingus" installed. The
socket seems precise [I didn't take
the screws out to check it]. Head
is of a darker maple, and joins at
a large inset V-joint in the neck,
under the lowest two "frets". As
mentioned by another reviewer, the
MOP side dots really are a problem.
Various dots randomly shift from
dark to light as you move about and
the contrast against the maple just
disappears. I painted new ones.
Tuners are small open-geared and are
very smooth [maybe partly due to the
low-tension nylon strings]. White
nut, no zero-fret :-( Truss rod
cover is at the nut, but I have not
had to use it. All string paths run
straight-line across the nut to pegs.
Strap buttons are extra secure by
their large-headed mushroom shape.
PU is in bridge. The whole pre-amp
slides out of the lower edge of the
body for battery access [2x9v], and
is retained by 2 screws. There are
two recessed trim pots visible next
to the output jack for tweaking EQ.
The only control knobs are the gain
and tone knobs on the forward edge
of the body above the neck. Players
need to be cautious not to bash the
lower edge where the pre-amp lives,
as there's some odd structure there.
This is an amazing ax, priced well
below even the lower realms of true
exotica, but there is no free lunch
so it has its various shortcomings.
Since the tone alone is worth the
price, and none of the shortcomings
are very serious, it's a keeper.
At it's price, it rates a "5", and
anyway, even at 3 times the price,
nothing is ever really perfect. A
"5" means "best", and I don't think
there's a better version of this
genre out there. But, please Mr T,
when you design a fretless around a
set of ROUNDWOUND TIs, you ought to
provide us with a nice reassuringly
thick hard ebony finger board that
can survive many resurfacing jobs.
Not for rock stars, string-snappers,
or children under 52" tall, YMMV.
rated this unit