Out of the box, this too is a lovely instrument! The matte finish with the contrast of the blond neck and the black body make a simple but beautiful statement. Workmanship is first rate, the finish is flawless—it just plain feels nice! The balance is a little neck heavy, slightly less than the Euro5LX.
The tone controls are again easy to reach: left top is the neck pickup, right top for the bridge, left bottom is the midrange control with a notch for flat and push-pull to choose either 400 Hz or 800 Hz, and the right bottom is concentric—the bottom knob is a bass boost/cut, and the top knob is treble boost/cut with notches for flat response. The neck width and bridge spacing are the same as the Euro5LX. I found a favorite tone by turning the bridge pickup full up, the neck pickup around one-half turn, and the preamp flat; with this setting, this bass has a more aggressive attitude than the Euro5. It has the soul of a soloist, rather than just being a support instrument. I found that if I dug a little deeper into the strings, the NS-5H2 responds and adds a sweet but percussive attack, which feels like it can cut through any number of musicians and make a powerful statement. It kicks big time!
Checking out the Aguilar OBP-3 preamp, I was really curious about the midrange control which is where the action is for overall sound control. The midrange is the woody part of the sound, with the 400 Hz setting (knob in) controlling the “lower woody” area, and the 800 Hz setting (knob out) controlling the “upper woody” area. I was very impressed with the range I could get, and this control will allow anyone to play a wide range of music. Even though this bass has a bolt-on neck design, I found I could navigate the highest register more easily than the Euro5LX. The EMG pickups on this instrument are very sensitive and also allow for a wide range of sounds just by changing hand position and or method of attack. This bass begs you to try anything on it. I even found myself trying pull-offs and hammer-ons.
The Final Mojo
you like a full sound but want a soloist voice, wide tonal range, and lighter weight for stage or studio.
you want a smooth, low sound and can’t be bothered with complicated preamps.
The Euro5LX has an even, dark quality (emphasizing the fundamentals) that is consistent through all registers regardless of how hard you pluck, while the NS-5H2 is also tonally even, but has a brighter initial sound, and develops a nice percussiveness when you dig in. Though the Euro’s preamp, the Spector TonePump, is simple, between it and the single/dual coil selection capability you can get a wide range of sounds and colors. With the NS-5H2 and the Aguilar OBP-3 preamp, you also get control of the midrange which gives you a ridiculously wide tonal palette.
A quality I look for in an instrument is whether it challenges me to play something new, and both of these instruments did—but if I had to choose only one, it would be the NS–5H2 for its extra dimension of soloist quality.