Company line

Spector started in Brooklyn, New York, in 1976. The product line at this time included the G-1 electric guitar, and the SB-1 electric bass. Next, came the NS-1 bass in 1977, which was actually designed by Ned Steinberger. He is responsible for introducing the thru-neck, curved body that Spector is known so well for. Following up this release, the famous two-pickup NS-2 was released to the public in 1979. The company soon hired Harold “Hap” Kuffner, who greatly increased their foreign and domestic distribution network. This new hire eventually led to Sting purchasing a white NS-2 from St. Charles Guitar Exchange in 1983, which he used for his worldwide Synchronicity world tour. Spector was purchased in 1985 by Kramer, who subsequently increased production to 100 instruments per month. Kramer also started production of the NS-2A in Korea, enabling them to increase sales to meet demand.

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In 1990, Kramer filed for bankruptcy, and Spector saw a two-year hiatus before Stuart Spector and a new business partner, PJ Rubal, began producing instruments again (under a different company name, as the now-bankrupt Kramer still owned the Spector trademark). The two started the company Stuart Spector Designs, Ltd. near Woodstock, New York, and by 1998, they purchased back the rights to the Spector trademark, resuming the instruments from their original product line. The company continued on throughout the ‘90s, and in 2006 introduced CNC machines to their production line, allowing for the company to introduce new models and features (namely the ARC6, Kenmare electric guitars, and carved-top basses). Import and distribution of the Euro series (from the Czech Republic) and the Legend series (from Asia) were taken over by Korg USA in 2015. This brings us to the bass in question: a four-string import P/J in sunburst. I had previously used a Spector Euro LX, so my expectations for this bass were high. If I didn’t know that this bass was an import from Indonesia, I would have believed that it was part of Spector’s European line. The craftsmanship, comfort, and tone present in this instrument are a testament to the design and quality control Spector is capable of.

Spector Bass

Introduction

The bass has four strings, with a 34” scale length, a P/J pickup configuration, and 24 frets. The bass is very well-balanced for being an import model, but this is a testament to Spector’s quality – even with their more “budget” models, one can expect the same quality that Spector is known for. One of the most obvious differences between this Spector and the normal product line of Spector basses is the lack of a curved body, with this bass instead opting for a flat-backed body. On paper, this choice seems like it would produce a less comfortable instrument, but when one actually picks up the instrument, these concerns go away. The bass is as comfortable to hold as it is to play. Straight out of the box, this bass plays beautifully. The intonation was a bit off, and the action needed minor adjustment, but these things are to be expected when shipping an instrument across the country. You can feel a certain confidence when playing this bass; Spector has had decades to hone their craft, and it shows. The bass features a Precision/Jazz pickup combination, a pickup set that will familiar even to players new to the company.

The P/J pickup configuration has been employed by Spector since their first NS-2s produced in 1979, and it shows. Their comfort in executing a product with this pickup configuration is obvious upon picking up the bass. The EQ is responsive, simple, and versatile. The control layout (P-pickup volume, J-pickup volume, treble, bass) can produce a wide array of sounds, and unlike the Euro that I had previously used, there isn’t one “sound” for this bass; the user can set the knobs in any configuration and achieve a good, useable tone. From a round Motown tone, a thick rock tone, or a Jaco/Latin style (mid-focused) tone, this bass can do it all.

Spector Bass

Details

The pickups have exposed pole pieces, but the way that the pickups are oriented prevents the undesirable string-on-pole-piece click that we all know too well. There are no fret markers on the top of the fingerboard, but there are dots on the side of the neck. I did not find this to be a problem when playing, as the dots are easy to see. There are four knobs on the preamp, (two pickup volume knobs, treble boost/cut, and bass boost/cut), with both the treble and bass knobs having a mid-point with the assuring click that lets the user know they are neither boosting or cutting the signal. The bridge on this bass is a massive, hi-mass bridge almost identical to the bridges found on their European models. Each saddle is roughly an inch in length, and sports two points to adjust not only the height, but the pitch of the saddle. Another standout feature of this bridge is the option to push the saddles together via a tightening screw on the side of the bridge. This feature functionally makes the bridge one piece of metal, giving the instrument even greater sustain. This screw, however, must be loosened if you want to adjust the saddles. This may seem like a hassle, but then again I can’t remember the last gig I had where I needed to adjust intonation or string height between songs.

With the advantage of greater sustain/vibration also comes increased sympathetic vibrations. For the experienced player, this won’t be an issue, but younger players who aren’t as experienced in their muting technique will notice an increase in sympathetic vibrations with this instrument. The saddles present on this bass make playing with a pick especially comfortable; if the user puts their hand on the saddles while strumming, they can very easily manage to mute the strings and play comfortably. The bridge also sits up away from the body of the bass, which put my wrist at a very comfortable position as I rested my hand on it. Some bridges are too low (putting the picking hand at an acute angle compressing the wrist), and others are too high (putting the wrist at an obtuse angle); this bridge felt just right. The next feature that I noticed in this bass is the body; this is a comfortably weighted instrument. If you put your finger on the neck strap button, the instrument easily balances. Often, import models cut corners here, so having an instrument from Spector that balances so effortlessly was impressive. This balance, in part, can be attributed to the tuning heads that they opted for with this model. They are not marked, so we are left to assume that they are Spector’s own proprietary tuning heads. They are light, stable, and don’t produce any neck dive. These tunings heads work beautifully, and really speak to the attention to detail that Spector gives to all of their instruments, regardless of the country of origin.

This bass sports a 5-piece, bolt-on neck. The neck has a smooth finish; I never found my hand getting caught, like it often does on necks with a glossier finish. The only negative from this instrument is in the fret job. Out of the box, the edge of the frets on the treble side of the neck were a bit rough. This did not impact the playing experience I had, but I did notice them as I was playing. The fret edge on the bass side of the neck was extremely smooth, and I didn’t notice any edges there. The only other negative that I can say with this bass is the lack of a quick-release battery change. To change the battery in this bass, you have to remove the screws to access the battery/potentiometer cavity in the bass. This would be forgivable if there was an option to run the bass without a battery, but because this bass can only run with a battery, users must be careful to not let their battery (and thus their bass) die on stage. This may seem like a notable disadvantage, until you hear what this preamp is capable of. The preamp features a JFET transistor which adds a soft harmonic distortion to the signal; when you “drive” the bass (plucking/strumming hard) you can hear this feature start to take effect in the preamp.

The pickups on this bass sound amazing. In combination, there is a great, full tone present. Spector obviously spent time perfecting the tonal balance between the two pickups so that one doesn’t overpower the other. If you choose to roll off the bridge pickup, you can easily achieve a fat Precision sound that convincingly sounds like a P-bass. If you roll off the Precision pickup and just use the bridge pickup, you can get a sharp, mid-focused tone. I didn’t notice any increase in noise when isolating the bridge pickup (unlike when isolating the bridge pickup on a standard single coil J-bass). Throughout all of the pickup volume changes, boosting or cutting the treble doesn’t ever produce that ultra-bright, ear-piercing tone that is all too common when fully boosting the treble knob. The treble boost simply brightens the tone and doesn’t boost beyond what is appropriate for the instrument. The bass boost functions in a very similar way; a boost with the bass knob does not come at the expense of the clarity. The EQ is simple and does not betray the goal that Spector seems to have set with this instrument: to produce a bass that is versatile in tone, but capable of cutting through the mix at any point. The bass also responds well to effects, completely saturating the signal with distortion does not overpower the clarity that the bass is capable of, it almost sounds like there is a clean tone blended with the distorted tone. Overall, the pickups and preamp put on this bass sound amazing, I was not able to get a bad sound out of the instrument (despite by best efforts).

The Bottom Line

This is a great instrument from a company with a stellar history of producing high-quality instruments. The craftsmanship put into the body and neck are impressive, and while the construction isn’t perfect, it sure is close. The electronics included are clean, articulate and versatile. This is a great instrument, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a high-quality, affordable P/J bass.

In-hand

Features: 4.5
Tonal Flexibility:4.5
Ease of Use: 4.75
Aesthetics:4
Ergonomics: 4.5
Tone: 5
Value:4.75

In-hand Score 4.57average

TONE-O-METER:

A great and durable instrument at an affordable price-point, the Spector Legend 4 Standard offers versatility, sleekness, and reliability. The features present on this Spector allow bass players of any genre and skill level to feel at home with this instrument in their hands.