I am a contractor for Spector, but not an employee. And I DO NOT PUSH PRODUCT
I'm as objective and fair as I can be, but the truth is that after falling in love with the growly, gritty tone of the Spector NS-2, I actually approached them about letting me do contract work for them.
Just a disclaimer. But if they had said "no", and I never had the opportunity to get to know Stuart Spector and PJ Rubal, the men who own and run Spector Basses, I'd still be playing their basses and they'd still be my first choice.
I choose Spector because of the tone, first and foremost. And there's some interesting technical background as to why the Spector designed circuits sound the way they do.
When Stuart designed the tone circuit for the NS-2, he used the only tech available at the time, which most bass circuits utilized; Operational Amplifiers.
OpAmps over-saturate during attack. This creates problems because the circuit needs a recovery time and this can take several milliseconds. During this reset NO signal from the pickups is being processed by the circuit. This causes a drop in signal quality and can make a bass sound muddy or inarticulate.
Stuart developed the circuit for the NS-2 in 1979 and he created an array of OpAmp circuits to handle the over-saturation issue.
This creates a slightly distorted/overdriven/growly, gritty tone. But VERY articulate and clear. Stuart told me he designed it to sit in the mix and be able to hold its own unique voice despite the instruments being played along side it in the ensemble.
He specifically designed it to sound a certain way regardless of the guitars, etc... around it. So it doesn't get lost in the mix, but also doesn't stand out so much as to not fit into the mix with the other instruments.
The bass in this video is an early 2000's model NS-2J, an NS-2 with a bolt-on neck and dual J pickups.
This bass has the stock NS-2 9v Spector Circuit in it. I've actually played this very bass. It is owned by PJ Rubal and was loaned to Carlton Armstrong for this recording.
No effects, no pedals, etc... Just that bass and an amp.
I think that if you want a bass with growl and grit, the Spector NS-2 is one to consider. Musicians from Eddie Jackson to Mike Starr, Rex Brown and Doug Wimbish to Alex Webster and Sting have played Spectors because of their aggressive, growly tone. http://youtu.be/tF4mpw99ZR4
Since this is an open discussion about growl. I wanted to tell you all why I play what I do. And the tech that's behind the tone that I love.
There are plenty of great growly basses so this is not a Spector advertisement. I'll always tell anyone who asks me what I think they should play to go and play everything they can get their hands on and go with the bass with the tone and feel they like the most. That's the true, real thing to tell ANY musician. Just because I like something doesn't mean anyone else will. And that's all good. It'd be a boring world if everything was the same. The video above. THAT is what I look for in tone for a bass with GROWL!