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This article was originally published in issue #10
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Warwick is one of the giants of bass. Dan Veall checks out an affordable entry to this prestigious brand.
Warwick has been massive in the bass world for many years and continues to deliver quality goods consistently to the professional and beginner markets alike. Back in 1982, company founder Hans-Peter Wilfer had a vision to create premium instruments offering exotic tonewoods as well as new twists on classic construction. Warwick basses blend ergonomic designs with eye catching and instantly identifiable body outlines.
Oh, and identifiable they are - not just in looks but tonal character too. Warwick attracts major artists for this reason. You only have to look at the impressive list of endorsees - Jack Bruce, Stuart Zender, T.M. Stevens, Jonas Hellborg, Adam Clayton, Robert Trujillo, Bootsy Collins and Steve Bailey to name just a handful.
Not content with providing professional-class instruments, Warwick has gone on to introduce a number of additional product lines, such as its RockBass budget range of which the subject of this review, the Streamer LX.
The premium LX model appeared in Warwick's arsenal in 1996 and has been a favourite amongst Warwick bass players. This Streamer version, delivers the LX in a more affordable package.
The bolt on maple neck with 'Ekanga' veneers has a nice comfortable rounded feel to it. The veneers make for a tasty 'pin stripe' look down the back of the satin feel neck. Err.. 'Ekanga' Dan? - Well, after a little research I find that this 'wood' is man made and mainly composed of reclaimed wood fibre. As I understand it, Warwick is a very 'green' company and reuses left-over wood as much as possible. This reclaimed product is reformed for use in new instruments and is called Ekanga. So there you have it!
I'd say that it had a fairly 'quick' profile - certainly not a chunky classic P-Bass handful. Very comfortable in fact. I love the glossy black finish - it looks ultra sleek and modern, though it was easy to spot that this finish was part of a cheaper instrument. It wasn't a smooth as it could have been in places. If black isn't your bag though, Warwick makes four, five and left hand models as well as a fretless model available in metallic red and metallic blue high-gloss finishes too. There are no fretless left hand versions. The 24 frets are nicely finished on the rosewood fingerboard. If you go for the fretless version, you'll get a tiger-stripe ebony fingerboard thrown in to the deal too.
On board is a set of passive MEC 'Dynamic Correction' pick ups. Despite a lack of information as to what the 'dynamic correction' feature actually is, I can tell you that the tone of the instrument for the price bracket is actually rather pleasing, as you will hear in the review video. The Volume, Pan, Treble and Bass controls have a smooth sweep to them and we found very usable tones available from both pickups with the help of the active preamp providing the boost and cut EQ. Having said that, although it's a very usable sound, it isn't the same as you would expect from a premium Warwick - then again, what would you expect at this price? This is no criticism, more an observation.
Round the back of the RockBass, I was very pleased to see that the compartment lid could be removed with nothing more than bare fingers. No tools here. - It's actually a patented design by Warwick and is very handy, especially for those who have needed to change a battery five minutes before performing and find all their tools are packed away in their car/truck, or backstage! Interestingly, I was talking to a good friend of mine yesterday who owns a 'boutique' bass. He was genuinely annoyed to find that the battery compartment was secured with four Allen key bolts! I feel your pain Hugh, I really do!
The hardware onboard the 'carolena' wood (also a recycled product, we suspect) bodied bass is of a good quality. It's great to see the Just-A-Nut III nut too - something that has been in place on Rockbass instruments since 2008. I'd actually like to see adjustable nut heights on premium basses. We as bass players spend a lot of time looking for the perfect action and neck relief combination for our instruments but the nut seldom gets touched. Adjustment is a one-way journey. If you have to file the nut, you can't return it back to it's original 'setting' unless you replace it. With the Just-A-Nut, it's easy to lift the height or lower it for optimal playing position. In tandem with the nice, chunky two-part Warwick bridge that is a mainstay of their instruments, string changes and adjustments are a breeze. I'd expect to see a long life from the bridge pieces and Warwick tuners. Finally looking at the hardware, Warwick fits its own strap locks to RockBass instruments too. You're unlikely to see this on other budget instruments and it's a very welcome addition.
Playability of the instrument is good across the whole of the neck, though I have to say I'd have personally liked to have seen the action on this example lower. As I mentioned in my video, I've played other models from the RockBass line that had a great low action, so I expect the set=up here isn't typical. Tonally there's a good strong definition to individual notes acoustically on the instrument's 34" scale length.
I have to say that genuinely, this a a good little bass for the money and shouldn't be cast aside from your shopping list if you are looking for a starter instrument or a cheap back up. I'm very lucky in that all the basses that have made it to review have all been good ones and this I think this would be a sensible choice for the budget conscious among us.