Review: Jackson Pro Series Spectra Bass V

Lyrics by James Callanan

Australia Wing | MSRP $2,449

Bringing together a slew of veteran musicians, including Kirk Hammett, Randy Rhoads and Phil Collen, Jackson Guitars is synonymous with instruments that are both well-built and custom-designed for the musician who has been playing since their inception. The Pro Spectra Bass V is no exception, offering both quality craftsmanship and tonal versatility in a full-range instrument for the modern bassist.

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This workhorse of a bass lives up to its “Pro” status, offering a precise yet elegant fit and finish. With offset styling and an elongated top horn, the multi-laminate body comprised of ash, walnut, maple and mahogany is shaped to maximize playing comfort. This unique body is carefully bisected by the maple laminate neck and of walnut, which also features a graphite reinforcement to optimize tuning stability and to deal with the increase in tension resulting from the addition of the fifth string.

When it comes to style, the Spectra is about as far as you can get from the traditional electric bass guitar – a feature that matches the incredible variety of features packed into this beast. The bass is not classless though, the matching body and headstock finishes and dark pearl fingerboard inlays indicate the care Jackson has put into the design and construction.

The Pro Spectra’s ergonomic neck shape, satin finish, and string spacing make life easier for the fretting hand, with little acclimatization required, even for those unaccustomed to playing full-range basses . While the gaming experience was comfortable overall, the occurrence of neck dip when playing in a seated position was unavoidable due to the offset body shape. When played upright, the basses had excellent balance, the only issue being the lack of a forearm contour – somewhat unproblematic thanks to the nicely rounded edges all over the body.

The compound-radius jatoba fingerboard produces clean notes across the entire bass range – a generous 24 frets across five strings. Carrying an extended scale length of 35 inches (compared to 34 inches for the four-string version), the low B is kept taut, preventing any instances of fret buzz as you venture into the lower end of the frequency spectrum.

With a seamless construction through the neck, the Pro Spectra Bass V Series maximizes sustain and resonance, both of which are apparent even when played acoustically. When amplified, this bass comes to life, with the magic of the Nordstrand SB5 pickups immediately evident. In the absence of any external EQ and compression, these pickups do an outstanding job of providing consistent tone and volume across the entire bass range, without clearly favoring or omitting any particular frequency. With all the knobs wide open, the pickups seemed to be fairly neutral in their tonal character, putting out a clean signal that captures the natural sonic qualities of the bass sound and allows for versatility across genres and playing styles.

Continuing the theme of versatile use, the circuitry and components provide an arsenal of tonal options for professional bass players, both for studio sessions and the often uncontrolled environment of live performances. The three-way toggle switch is wired for more precise midrange control, with all three positions providing a wide variety of usable sounds. After passing through the individual volume pots for each respective pickup, the signal reaches the master three-band EQ, allowing complex customization of tonal properties versus typical bass with a tone pot that acts as a treble cut.

While the Pro Spectra’s sound and functionality are optimized with a working 9V battery, there is an additional switch that allows switching from active to passive bass, allowing the professional bassist to continue to maintain the groove, even in the event where a drum should die out mid-song. The signal, after being colored to the player’s desired EQ, exits the bass via a carefully milled output jack; one that highlights the fact that no small detail has been overlooked in the design of this bass.

While the option and variety present lends itself to being applicable to many musical contexts, the tonal versatility allows for an enjoyable and satisfying listening experience across multiple amplifiers. When played through 4×10″ and 1×15″ cabinets, the Pro Spectra V was found to sound both articulate and dangling on both cabinet configurations.

The Nordstrand SB5 pickups did an excellent job of taming the fifth string, ensuring that even down to the low B the note was clearly audible without being overpowering and overwhelming in the high frequencies. When playing directly into an audio interface, the aforementioned neutrality of sound is a breeze with VST amplifiers, with bass managing to adapt to a variety of tonal situations. The sustain available was a warm welcome when playing tasteful and sparse basslines, but when playing more riff-based and polyphonic material, the sound refrained from getting too muddy.

With its superb playability and tone, it’s not hard to imagine the Jackson Pro Series Spectra Bass V excelling in every genre, from pop to progressive metal, and beyond. Combined with excellent construction and an extensive feature set, this instrument is able to withstand the demanding use of a professional bass player, while being equally enjoyable to play for less experienced bass players.

Visit Jackson Guitars for more information. For local inquiries, contact Fender Australia.

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