Spector Bantam 4Recorded direct into Focusrite Saffire 6 interface into MacBook Pro using GarageBand.
Clip 1: EQ flat. First both pickups, then soloed bridge, then soloed neck.
Clip 2: Slap and pop. Both pickups blended. Bass and treble boosted.
Some people were a little surprised to see Spector release a short-scale bass at this year’s NAMM show, but it’s not totallynew territory for the renowned company. Bruce Springsteen bassist Garry Tallent has been using a custom Spector short-scale instrument for nearly 20 years. In fact, research and development from that collaboration is what led to designing the Bantam 4 as a production model.
Sizing It Up
It’s not hard to discern the Bantam’s pedigree, even from a distance. Built in Spector’s workshop in the Czech Republic, the Bantam 4 displays many hallmark characteristics that have come to define the company’s instruments over the years, only in a 30"-scale model.
The body—which is the same NS shape as most Spectors—is constructed of alder, with a quilted-maple top, and it’s carved and chambered for resonance and weight reduction. The body’s sleek shaping is enhanced by a black-cherry gloss finish.
Meanwhile, the Bantam’s nimble neck complements the sporty body lines nicely. It’s carved from three pieces of maple for strength and stability, graphite rods reside inside for added reinforcement, and a little tonal warmth comes courtesy of the East Indian rosewood fretboard.
EMG pickups and preamps have long been a go-to recipe for Spector. The Bantam 4 sports a pair of 35DC humbuckers, known for their full-bodied, modern sound, and their tones are shaped by an EMG BTS circuit—a 2-band boost/cut system with volume controls for each pickup.
Not only is Spector’s shorty pleasing to the eye—it’s ergonomically impressive, as well. Played in a seated position, the Bantam 4 was motionless, balancing justright on my thigh. It also held its placement with a strap by staying put at numerous playing angles. No wonder Spector has used this design as a template for over 40 years!
I first plugged the Bantam 4 into a Bergantino B|Ampdriving a single HD112. The EMG pickups are hot, and they produced a clean tone with powerful lows, full mids, and a bell-like top end. As I gradually turned up the bass control, the lows went from punchy to a thick blanket of bass. The treble control, on the other hand, enhanced finger attack, with the ringing top-end adding loads of air and brightness at maximum.
It was fun navigating the Bantam’s neck, which felt slightly small in my hands but also inspired fast shifts. Every note was easily accessible, which made it a breeze to skip across strings and play arpeggios. There were a few spots on the neck where the finish felt rough to the touch, but they weren’t a major hindrance to performance.
I also experimented with the Bantam’s tones during two songs at a rock revue. The house amp was a ’70s Ampeg SVT, and I was excited to drive its tubes with the aggressive EMGs. For the first tune, Journey’s “The Party’s Over (Hopelessly in Love),” I kept the bridge pickup at full strength, slightly backed off the neck pickup, and set the EQ for a little punch and finger presence. It was the perfect recipe for delivering Ross Valory’s driving, eighth-note lines.
Def Leppard’s “Foolin’” was next, and for that I maxed the neck humbucker, took the bridge pickup back a bit, and turned up the treble to cut through the mix. Digging in a bit to get some drive from the amp, I was able to deliver a full foundation to the dynamic rocker. Although the Bantam 4’s stage time was brief, it rocked the room with just the right timbres and no strain on my back or hands.
Spector scores pretty close to a knockout with the Bantam 4. Its looks and tone are great for rock fare, but could fit quite well in other genres, as well. And that’s not just because of its tones. The Bantam 4’s design easily adapts to many playing styles, too—whether you’re a knee-knocker bassist or high-strapped slinger. Its price point might be concerning for those on a budget, but many players will still find it an investment worth the price of admission.
Watch the Review Demo: