Clip 1: Classic voicing. Flat EQ. Pickups equal blend.
Clip 2: Funk voicing. Coil tapped. Treble and bass boost with slight compression, and pickups blended equally.
Clip 3: Modern voicing. Pickups equal blend. Slight treble and bass boost.
Well built. Fantastic neck.
The throaty mids tend to sit in the wrong frequencies for my taste.
Ease of Use:
Schecter Guitar Research has been championing the “not scared” column for a while now with their forward designs, and in the process has garnered love from players ranging from funk and rock icons to modern shred and metal players. They’ve recently been introducing many new designs that push even their own elevated standards to new heights. One such instrument is the SLS Elite-4, a formidable member of Schecter’s Diamond Series that boasts a boutique-bass vibe in an off-the-rack offering. The SLS Elite-4 is crafted in South Korea and packed with goodies that will satisfy the discerning player looking for high-end components, slick playability, and modern appointments.
Where the Elite Meet
Before I even start on the bass, let me say that its case (sold separately for $139) has black hardware. It’s not a huge deal, but, man, after staring at stainless latches all my life, the black is a nice, cool change. Once I opened the molded case, I was greeted by a stunning bass finished in what I would call an atypical brown burst, which starts dark around the bridge area and then blossoms at the horns in a pretty, blonde finish. The Elite-4 is not heavy, at just a touch over 8 1/2 pounds, and the narrow “C” neck had me giddy from the jump.
The SLS Elite-4 quickly charmed me with its interesting materials and construction. The combination of the figured flame-maple top with a slight arch and ivory binding really sells the beauty of the bass. And after flipping the Elite-4 over, a sweet triple-stripe of walnut and padauk is revealed, sandwiched between the swamp ash on the body and the maple on the neck.
The Schecter designers built in some other terrific features, such as the offset abalone inlay markers that reverse after the 12th fret. The 24-fret design provides full access to the upper realm, the bridge can be top loaded or strung though, and I was treated to super-fast action thanks to the perfect factory setup.
For pickups, Schecter went with Fishman Fluence Soapbars, which have some spectrum to them. The sound is controlled by a 2-band Fishman EQ, a blend knob, and a volume knob that pulls double duty as a push/pull coil splitter. There’s also a 3-way toggle for switching between classic, funk, or modern voicings.
So Many Choices
After plugging the bass into an Eden Terra Nova with a matching Eden 2x10 cabinet, I set the EQ flat and the switch to classic (position 1) with both pickups engaged and blended equal. This initial tone was a bit subdued, so I went to the onboard fixers. First, I experimented with the 3-way switch, which provides a mid scoop in the funk position and a mid-boost in the modern position. The modern setting helped my initial setting the most, and the bass really jumped alive when I tapped to single-coil. I went back through the settings with the coil split, and even with the output slightly diminished, I liked the tone better. I loved the funk preset with the single-coil engaged, and probably could have played this setting all night.
I hadn’t even gotten started with the onboard EQ at that point.The two independent EQ controls on the Fishman preamp push the tonal realm of the bass into a new place. The Elite-4 needs a decent amount of bass and treble boost to dial in some really nice definition, and once it’s there, the tone is great. The bass control does an excellent job in boosting the low end and rounding out the signal. I found the modern setting and its overall mid-boost approach to be a bit too throaty for me in this configuration. For the modern voicing, I preferred pushing the volume knob back in and easing the bass up a bit to get a more balanced sound.
Again, it was the funk voicing with the single-coil setting that conquered the day. With the voicing
dipping out the mids, the bass felt and sounded like a souped-up Jazz, yet went further than that—becoming a refined instrument with charm and manners. Paired with the speediness of the neck and grace of the body, I was playing allthe fun licks (and way too fast, I might add).
I appreciate the refinements of the SLS Elite-4. The body is gorgeous, and the little things like the binding and the easy access to the dual action truss rod are small examples of user-friendly design and execution. On the tonal side, the mids could be a bit harsh at times, for my taste. The ebony fretboard offsets this. However, it’s possible the combination of the maple and swamp ash could be pushing the brightness meter up high on the instrument. All that said, one can easily dial up whatever’s needed in no time with the onboard Fishman pre. Along with its solid construction and features, the SLS Elite-4 is a fine instrument that will provide years of great playing.
Watch the Review Demo: