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This article was originally published in issue #8
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Drawing on the roots of the highly regarded and successful 'NS Bass' designs from the late 1970s comes this Indonesian made take on Ned Steinberger's ergonomic and aesthetically pleasing bass guitar outline that has made Stuart Spector's basses so identifiable today. The Performer range was released in 2011, with the goal of introducing an affordable entry level instrument to the product line, yet still being of the high quality expected by Spector users. The product range, including Indonesian made Performer models like the model we had for review, encompasses premium US made models direct from the workshops at Saugerties, New York, the Euro series, made in the Czech republic, and the Professional series, made in Korea.
Getting straight down to business, the Performer's rock maple neck has a smooth profile and is adorned with a 16" radiused rosewood fretboard with simple pearl dot inlays. It's well finished with no sharp edges from frets - particularly good for an entry-level instrument, in fact.
The characteristic 2x2 Spector headstock is angled back, thus negating the need for a string tree for better tuning stability and to cut down on friction that can also cause tuning problems. The lightweight neck is bolted to a basswood body via a rounded heel. Access up to the very top of the neck is only slightly hindered by the heel block, though this is no different from many bolt-on neck basses on the market today. It's actually far less cumbersome than that of bolt-ons with large square heels.
On the hardware side, a good quality bridge and smooth action tuners take care of anchoring the strings. The overall action wasn't too high either which made the instrument comfortable to play. I'd personally like to take it down a notch or two for a slightly slicker feel but, that said, it's a matter of personal taste and I had no complaints about the set-up.
On to the electronics. EMG supplies the pickups but to Stuart Spector's design specifications. The paperwork suggests that these versions of the EMG passive soapbars, feature more mids than the standard 'HZ' models. I didn't have a set to compare with, but certainly there was a great little 'burp' in the tone with both pickups on full that made them sound punchy and somewhat modern through our studio test rig. Looking at the controls, a standard passive two volume/two tone control combination made for some nice tonal options between the two pickups as demonstrated on the video.
Lightweight and balanced, this Spector bass is a joy to play and not fatiguing. It fits in to the budget instrument bracket at a price point (particularly at 'street' prices) that would suit the pocket of a student or as a usable spare gigging bass, yet the quality of the demo instrument would suggest a higher price tag hanging from its glossy finish! The Spector SB4 is available in solid black or metallic red, both featuring black hardware.
In summing up, this is yet another cracking bass to arrive at our studio that I think would be a great inclusion as a flexible instrument in most situations. It certainly wouldn't look out of place doing Rock or Country, or Jazz. The Spector Performer is a great bass - indeed, it can teach some of the 'big name' competition a thing or two.