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W allet-friendly in price and glossy to the touch, these tw o Schecters have much
to offer us. Joel M cIver feels the w idth
Westside Distribution
w w w .w e stsid e d istrib u tio n .co m
opular among bass players of the “heavy” and “metal”
persuasion, Schecter has carved out quite the enviable niche
with the sector of the bass-playing population concerned
with throwing the horns on a nightly basis. But as always
round these parts, we're keen to discover whether basses
lumped into a genre tag can perform when required to do
different things - so we'll be slapping, tapping and generally being
funky with these metal monsters during this review. Fingers flexed:
let's go.
Schecter's Vintage and Stealth basses have much in common. Both
are made in Indonesia, the land of cheap guitars; both have a six-
bolt bolt-on neck joint, which - with two more bolts than your
usual budget bass - is a good sign; and both come with identical,
usefully detented controls: master volume, pickup blend and treble
and bass EQ. Each has a scratchplate, presumably of more use with
the Vintage's sunburst finish than the Stealth's 'very metal' black-
Where the two instruments differ, however, is in their body size.
The Vintage feels tiny, at least if you're of average build: in fact,
compared to some of the massive barn doors we regularly review
here in the
command bunker, it feels like a toy. This is not
meant to imply that it feels cheap, because it doesn't: everything
is fitted together with machined precision, especially the neck, a
skinny bit of wood that has the same feeling of general smallness
as the body.
The Stealth is weightier in every way, a solid slab of basswood
and maple that probably wouldn't feel large at all if you weren't
playing it immediately after the Vintage. Like its little sibling, this
bass is well made, with no flaws that we could detect. How Schecter
has kept the price low is presumably to do with the quality of the
components, rather than how they've been assembled. Again, no
complaints, all the way from the Schecter's own-brand tuners down
to the battery compartment. None of the hardware is world-class:
why would it be at this price? But it's all usable, manageable and
generally not particularly good or bad, it's just there to do a job.
Now look, we play super-slick, super-slim necks on a lot of basses,
and we're hard to impress on that front. In fact, we're waiting for
the day when the neck wood is transparent because it's so thin.
but these Schecters redefine 'neck playability'. Skinny to the point
of being lightweight and slippery to the point of being frictionless,
these fretted bits of maple are really quite remarkable to play. We're
big fans, but we know perfectly well that a hell of a lot of bassists
definitely are not, preferring a nice chunky neck for that hefty feel
and tone. So make your choice: you may feel that a thicker neck
would suit you, and that your hands and/or playing style simply
don't need the added speed that a weeny neck supplies.
Fire up the Vintage and you'll note immediately that it's not a
reggae or dub player's instrument: that little body simply doesn't
supply enough low end, despite the active EQ. If that's not a problem
for you, explore the considerable midrange and top end to your
heart's content. There's no end of tones for you to play with up there,
from a relatively glassy slap to a punchy, mid-enhanced thunk (sorry
for the technical jargon) that would cut through more or less any
guitar riff, at least if your band's axeman doesn't tune down to M. The
bridge humbucker is the more useful of the two pickups, we reckon:
on its own, the Jazz-style neck unit doesn't pump out enough power,
unless you're in a folk trio or similar relaxed environment.
As well as its physically larger dimensions, the Stealth has
a Precision-style pickup in the neck position, enabling an
unexpectedly clanky, almost Rickenbacker-like tone that will
perfectly suit its role as a heavy metal bass. The low end is tangibly
greater from this instrument, and the extremely slick gloss finish
on the neck and body (the former of which feels almost, but not
quite, like a composite) rewards anyone who needs to play fast and
technically. And who doesn't, at least from time to time?
The Vintage is a sweet little instrument, offering serious playability
for its price but not threatening to outperform more expensive and/
or bigger-bodied instruments. Perhaps the old tobacco burst finish
plus white scratchplate is a bit unoriginal, but it's called a Vintage,
after all. As for the Stealth, what we have here is a rock monster
that will enable you to keep up with the other headbangers in your
band as well as step away from that and play in different styles too.
Bodyweight and tone range aside, these two basses are very similar
in feel and performance, and we suggest that you'll feel equally
happy with either, depending on your requirements.
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