Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Warwick Streamer Stage I Review

Key Info
  • Neck Through Design
  • Flamed Maple Body and Neck
  • Wenge Fingerboard
  • 24 Frets
  • 34 inch Long Scale Neck
  • 5 and 6 string have wide 20mm string spacing at Bridge
  • Active MEC Pickups
  • MEC 3 way Electronics
  • Available Natural Oil, Coloured Oil or High Gloss Finish

The Warwick Streamer Stage 1 5 String Bass Guitar is a masterpiece of design and ergonomics. It is a well balanced guitar that oozes quality and craftsmanship but at a high price tag! The sound is somewhat brighter than many of the Warwick range, but very adaptable and in my opinion, suitable for all genres via the active electronics and controls. It is a very versatile instrument to play, as the neck is fast and quite thin (on the 5 string). The wider string spacing than most 5 string basses, makes slap and pop techniques possible as well making this bass an excellent all rounder.

The bass is constructed of a maple body and a 5 piece flamed maple neck. The body is 'arched' to provide a comfortable 'fit' as you're playing. It is a neck through design with a 34 inch long scale wenge fingerboard and 24 'bell metal' frets which are a silver brass alloy. Pickups on the 5 string model reviewed are MEC active HH (2 Humbuckers, the 4 string having the common P/J configuration) controlled (active-passive) by a push/pull design on the volume control knob. EQ is controlled by the three lower knobs with the usual Treble, Mid and Bass. These are effectively bypassed when the volume control knob is pulled putting it into passive mode. The volume control is stacked so underneath the volume know is the pick up pan control which has a reassuring click stop in the middle! The battery for the active electronics is housed underneath the rear cover which opens to reveal the wires and components in all their glory so a degree of care is required when the battery is changed. Care is also required when removing this cover as it is held in place by slightly flimsy clips which have been known to break in the past. The tuners are Warwick's own and pretty much standard design. It has a two piece Warwick bridge which allows for both the individual saddle heights and whole bridge height being adjustable. The model reviewed has the 'Just a Nut 2' which is also adjustable. In my opinion this is a slight weak spot in the otherwise excellent quality of this instrument. Personally I would have this changed to a brass nut from this plastic and allen screw piece of equipment. The new Warwicks now have a 'Just a Nut 3' fitted which is brass in construction.

Sound and Playability
a word in advance........

Sound of course is a very subjective thing and it would be difficult if not impossible to describe the sound in words!! It would also be wrong to try and say the bass is only good for this or that style of music. However, it can be true that some basses lend themselves more to one style or another so I will try to give a broad view of the sound.

The sound of Warwick Basses is known to be, as they advertise, 'the sound of wood' often described as 'growly'. This bass is quite capable of a growl or two but it also has a much brighter quality. This is due to the construction out of maple It is noticeably brighter than than the Warwick Streamer Stage 2 which has a much darker sound altogether. Therefore, in my opinion, this makes this bass a really good all rounder for all genres of music. Although jazz is my preferred style of music, I have used this bass in rock and pop settings and it has the sounds to cover all. The sustain is excellent due to the through neck.

The playability of this 5 string bass is excellent. It has a fast slim neck (5 string) and the string spacing far more accessible than some rather cramped 5 strings I have played. Of course if you have particularly small hands the wider neck may prove a problem, but I am assuming you will try before you buy!! Slap and Pop is a realistic option and the action is capable of being set very low if required.

Value for Money
The Guitar is expensive new and would not, in my opinion, rate highly for good value for money. However, second hand the prices are far more acceptable. 

If you're looking for a top quality bass to suit all styles of music, then I don't think you could go far wrong with the Streamer Stage 1. My only reservations would be the new price and the plastic nut, which can be easily and fairly cheaply changed. So I'd say bide your time and you could end up with a bass that will serve all you bass needs. 

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