Sandberg California TM Nighthawk Plus and VS Lionel review

Two very different basses from Sandberg stake their claim for mid-priced market supremacy

Sandberg Lionel and Nighthawk review
(Image: © Sandberg)

Guitar World Verdict

The Lionel is perfect for short-scale P disciples while the Nighthawk is very hard to beat at this price point. It is an impeccable modern bass guitar.


  • +

    Lionel has well-gauged scale length and comfortable body.

  • +

    The Nighthawk's neck is miraculous.

  • +

    As is its high-register performance.

  • +

    Quality hardware.


  • -

    Lionel has lots of P variant competition.

You can trust Guitar World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing guitar products so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

The German luthier Holger Sandberg is in an enviable position, with his company’s basses highly regarded but still enjoying an exclusive feel that older, bigger manufacturers can no longer claim. 

Neither niche nor mainstream, his instruments sound and play great in our experience, so it will be interesting to see in coming years if the brand can transition from a primarily European marque and establish a significant presence in the USA.  

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Bass Player Staff

Bass Player is the world’s most comprehensive, trusted and insightful bass publication for passionate bassists and active musicians of all ages. Whatever your ability, BP has the interviews, reviews and lessons that will make you a better bass player. We go behind the scenes with bass manufacturers, ask a stellar crew of bass players for their advice, and bring you insights into pretty much every style of bass playing that exists, from reggae to jazz to metal and beyond. The gear we review ranges from the affordable to the upmarket and we maximise the opportunity to evolve our playing with the best teachers on the planet.