Since the mid-seventies when he built his first bass, Stuart Spector has earned a reputation for designing and building great instruments. With the signature body style designed by Ned Steinberger in 1976, the company introduced the NS series and has been handcrafting basses in New York since 1977. In 1986, they introduced Korean import versions and in 1993 began offering production versions of their USA models made in their factory in the Czech Republic.
Two in Review
We have two basses for review, the Euro5LX EX and the NS-5H2 FM. The former has an alder back and a poplar burl top with clear gloss finish. It is manufactured at their Czech Republic factory and is a production version of their USA handcrafted NS-5XL using the same maple neck, truss rod, and graphite rods. The latter has a mahogany body and a figured maple top; our review model has a black matte finish, though it is available in other finishes, including the amber stain pictured (which is otherwise identical to our review instrument). It is handcrafted at their Woodstock, NY, workshop, and is numbered and signed by Stuart Spector. Both basses share the same NS curved body design, and both have a 35” scale and a brass nut. Both instruments carry a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects to the original owner.
The Euro5LX EX has neck-through construction and gold-plated hardware, including a Spector locking bridge and Schaller tuners. It uses 2 EMG 40CSTW single/dual coil pickups, which are controlled by push-pull volume controls, and the preamp is a Spector TonePump, boost only, with active treble and bass controls and +19dB of gain.
The NS-5H2 FM has a bolt-on neck and black hardware, including a custom aluminum Hipshot bridge with brass saddles and Hipshot UltraLite tuners. It uses two special EMG CS-TW single/dual coil pickups also controlled by push-pull volume controls, and the preamp is an Aguilar OBP-3 active preamp with active Bass, Midrange, and Treble controls as well as selectable midrange frequency via another push-pull pot.
My first impression out of the box: this is a lovely instrument! Though I am not a fan of glossy finishes, this finish is very pretty, smooth to the touch, and as far as I can see, perfectly applied. Balance-wise, the Euro might be a touch body heavy, and a little neck heavy on the knee. The tone controls are easy to get to, and their layout makes sense: the two upper pots are volume— left for the neck pickup, and right for the bridge pickup. The bottom pots are left for the treble boost, and right for the bass boost.
The 1.84” neck width at the nut and 0.66” string spacing at the bridge makes it narrower than I’m used to, but it’s easy to adjust to. I was curious how a 35” scale would feel, especially since I’m used to a 34”-scale instrument. I really didn’t feel a large difference between the scales, except when playing a finger-stretching passage—I found I had to stretch a little more than usual, but not to the point of missing what I wanted to play. Having the low B sound a little tighter thanks to the longer scale is worth any chops adjustment, so I think the 35” scale is a good compromise before tackling a beast with a 36” scale! Spector does offer 4-string models with a 34” scale for those who prefer the standard scale.
When it comes to the electronics, I found that you can have a wide variation of sound just using the single/dual coil capability—just don’t forget to lower the gain when going from single to dual coil! Adding the preamp, I found that the treble boost becomes apparent around one quarter-turn, and optimal at around a half-turn. Past one half-turn, you’ll start getting hiss. The bass control pretty much boosts the moment you start turning it, though with 19 dB of gain possible, you won’t need much to get seriousbottom, or to make your local speaker repairman very happy! One setting I found I liked had the bridge pickup at single coil and full up, the front pickup at dual coil and one quarter-turn, treble boost at one quarter and bass off.
All the notes up and down the neck sound smooth and even, but I did find that the very high register feels cramped on the hand—I can usually play three-string major scales starting at the 20th fret on the A string without hitting either the body or neck, but on this instrument, it’s hard to reach the 22nd fret with my pinky, and the back of my hand hits the lower cutaway. Starting at the 21st fret on the A string, I can’t reach the 23rd fret with the pinky at all.
Open 5-chords sound full and clear, as do three-string chords. I love how responsive the EMG pickups are, and how surprisingly sensitive their response is. Using various right-hand techniques, such as plucking, thumb/pop, and strumming with the nails, while leaving the tone setting as is, I was very impressed at the wide range of sounds I got.
you’re looking for a stage workhorse and like an even and full fundamental sound.weight is an issue, and you like using the upper register.
weight is an issue, and you like using the upper register.