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This article was originally published in issue #57
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In the studio, there’s a big clear sound defying what you may think about a short scale bass. This was a pleasant surprise, but of course, this will be in part due to the nice hefty Spector bridge, which is actually a really nice piece of hardware. There are no sharp edges and the ability to slide strings out for super-fast string changes is most welcome.
It’s a pro Spector
Comfortable and balanced to play
Limited model options
Premium price bracket
3pc Maple Neck With Graphite Rods for additional strength
USA Figured Maple over European Alder Body
EMG 35DC dual coil active pickups
Spector Bantam 4 – Short Scale Bass
MSRP £1660 (UK) $TBC (US)
At Gi, we have a lot of respect for Stuart Spector and his work. His bass designs are iconic and are used the world over by some of the very best in bass guitar including, Doug Wimbish, who has a pair of great instruments that have notched up an incredible amount of recording, touring and clinic hours. Dan Veall takes a long look at this short scale bass with the Spector Bantam 4.
Much like the Trace Elliot Elf head and matching cabinet we have also reviewed in this issue, the Spector Bantam also makes me look like a character from ‘The BFG’. It is, much like the duck breed of the same name, the smaller to it’s larger cousin. Yes indeed, I haven’t suddenly piled on the pounds (well maybe a few) but what you’re seeing is a shorter scaled, downsized, but no less than full-fat Spector bass. This isn’t an entry-level instrument either, this machine is in the same price bracket as it’s Euro model family members.
The Bantam 4 features pro-specifications that you’d expect to find on any of the more premium models from the Spector line. The Maple neck is sturdy and positive in hand without feeling overtly chunky. It’s quite a smooth and unhindered profile around the back and on the front we are graced with an Indian Rosewood board, which is free from markers; naked save for those perfectly installed 22 frets that are smooth all the way along its length. The 30” scale feels so much shorter than I am used to when playing my 37” fan fret basses! It is, however, a huge amount of fun. Now in the past, I’ve found it relatively easy to get used to the shorter scale, but I have to say on this occasion I did feel I was fighting the bass a bit and therefore, there are a few little niggles, hiccups if you will in my playing in the video (that I expect might be edited out, James.. hint.. ha ha!!) Was it the overall downsized feel of the instrument? Maybe I needed more than just a few hours with it and would love to have the bass over for a longer period to get used to it.
Playing aside, the tone of the instrument is as you’d expect from a Spector. In our review, we paired it with the Trace Elliot ELF amplifier head. We took a fixed post-EQ DI direct from the amplifier for you to hear the pair in tandem.
In the studio, there’s a big clear sound defying what you may think about a short scale bass. This was a pleasant surprise, but of course, this will be in part due to the nice hefty Spector bridge, which is actually a really nice piece of hardware. There are no sharp edges and the ability to slide strings out for super-fast string changes is most welcome. A larger percentage of the sonic palette when amplified does, however, come from the simply excellent EMG electronics on board. I love the EMG DC models here that you’ll also find on the top-of-the-range USA Spector instruments and these are paired with EMG’s BTS stacked active bass and treble controls.
Both ‘soapbars' in the bass are identical models that feature a pair of bar pickup elements tied to an internal preamp. The EMG DC units reject noise and deliver a punchy tone with a higher output than most passive pickups.
Rather than dialling through every tonal possibility, I swept through the range of EQ boost and I am hoping that you will be able to hear the breadth of sound available. Fingerstyle, slap, plectrum playing, all accentuated nicely with the simple EQ.
Whilst we are on the subject of tone, I grabbed the E tuning key and put the bass in Drop D tuning to see how it handles a lower tuning. I was pretty impressed! The ‘D’ still had great definition.
The body of the Bantam 4 has a figured maple top cap which is pretty stunning through the translucent finish. I understand under the top, the Alder body includes chambers that will no doubt help to keep the weight down. On that subject, these models weigh in at around the 4Kg mark.
Rounding up then, the Bantam is only available as a 4 string and I don’t believe there is a left-hand version available at present. It does however come in this gorgeous finish or a translucent black with the same eye-catching top.
Perfect for the smaller bodied player or those on fly dates that want to keep their luggage as small as possible. I want to get some more time with this bass as I want to win that previously mentioned fight; I am almost certain that will be the case, and the Bantam 4 and I would become firm friends!