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the long awaited review of conklin vs. warwick vs. spector

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by metalloid, Apr 6, 2001.

  1. metalloid


    Feb 2, 2001
    After purchasing these three basses: Conklin GT7, Warwick FNA 4, and Spector NS5CR, I returned 2, and kept one.

    I will try to give a review with less opinion, to help others in the same position as me.

    Conklin GT7: $799. Floor Model at Guitar Center. (haggled them down to that price, not during the $849 sale)

    Overall Feel: 8
    The neck was just plain huge. I had a hard time stretching into frets 15-24 (?) on the lower strings. The neck was very solid, and was a 7 piece multi-laminate neck. The body felt wonderful. It claimed to have a "hard clear gloss" finish, it was not scratched at all, and I assume it was hard to scratch. It was heavy, but what do you expect. (17 lbs to be exact, I weighed it)

    The only reason it wasn't a 10, is because of the workmanship/abuse on the neck. I dont know which it is, but it must have taken an extreme beating if abuse was the problem. The frets stuck out over the fretboard which could easily cut up your hand if you werent careful. The frets were very worn (where the string makes contact with the string). The nut had been glued to far over, which created some problems. The nut was also worn. The joint was cool, it was almost un-noticable (sp?). The bolts were oddly placed but I am sure that was there for a reason. Dual truss rods complicated any adjusting I wanted to do, I was scared to do much. Also, one truss rod was defective where the allen wrench goes into it, I could not get it to go in.

    Sound: 10

    My god the sound on this bass was awesome! I dont know if it was the wood choice, the bartolini's or both, but man this thing was awesome. It had a very good fingerstyle tone, which was even between all of the strings, and the slap sound was awesome too.

    Hardware: 8

    Black hardware, all knobs turned smoothly, bridge was not set up correctly but appeared non defective. Cool locking input jack.

    Overall value: 7

    For the price I paid, I got a fairly good deal. If I knew a little more about setting it up, and I could file or hammer the frets, and install a new truss rod, this would definetly be a 9 or 10. I dont think they are worth the $1099 they normally sell for. At least dont buy a floor model from guitar center.

    Warwick FNA 4: $699, Floor model at Guitar center. Burgundy red oil finish.

    Overall feel: 9

    Their slogan pretty much explains it all: this thing is the feel and sound of wood. It was a flame maple top on a swamp ash body, same as the Conk. The brass frets really intensify the sound. I am not sure what woods were used in the neck, either ovangkol, bubinga or wenge (combination maybe).
    The frets were all nicely placed and all even. This thing had been on the floor for 2 years, and played by many, I am sure, and took little abuse. The scratches on the body appeared white, which made it somewhat obvious where it had been scratched. Very nice feel. I love the fact that this bass was adjustable in every way, even the nut. I have heard some negative things on the truss rod though, I didnt mess with it. The neck had a distinct D shape, which felt different, but not bad, from the others.

    Sound: 9

    The duncan basslines preamp with the music man style MEC pickup was a good combination. It had a ton of mids, but that is what warwick is famous for. By pulling up on the vol control, turning on the slap contour, it sucked the mids and boosted the low and high freq. This was nice for switching tones on the fly. This bass also had a very nice acoustic sound (not that it matters).

    Overall Value: 10

    This bass is an awesome value at $699. I advise anyone who likes warwicks to get an FNA. My reason for return was mainly the LACK of strings. Going from seven to four was much to hard, but then I decided to get 5.

    Spector NS5 CR: $799, new from Musicians Friend. Solid black finish.

    I will just start out by saying that this is the winner :)

    Overall Feel: 10
    Very "rich" feeling. The heavy glossy body is perfect for me. I am not sure of the woods, its not a figured top, which deducts some snappiness. It has a nice contour which fits your body nicely. Frets are nicely laid, no sharp frets. Nice gold hardware. Bridge is solid.

    Sound: 9.5
    It is much different from the other two, but with the pickups equally blended, the sound is killer. There are many variations, and the EQ is extremely strong, I wish there was a level pot adjustment in the cavity! It is very versatile. The slap sound is just plain sweet on the upper strings especially. It sounds great with fingers and a pick too. I still havent even replaced the strings yet. Nor did I have it set up!

    Overall Value: 10- Go buy one!

    Insane value. If I had the money, and the need for another, I guarantee I would get another.

    The comparison between these basses is much more than apples and oranges, Going from a 7 string, to a 4, back up a step to a 5.

    If I could make a combination bass of the above guitars, heres what it would be like:

    Body: Spector shape, Blue stain on the GT7's figured top, gloss coating.

    5 strings. Gold hardware. Adjustable nut. Either the spector or warwick two piece bridge. Definetly the brass frets, which even compliment the gold hardware.

    Neck: I prefer the spector shape, prb an oil finished neck. The warwick neck definetly was differently shaped, but not bad.

    Electronics: I would have to say I would need two bases with the same features, except one with bartolini's and one with EMG's. Its too hard to choose one or the other.

    I like the strap locks on the spector, and the locking jack on the conk.

    I hope this super extremely long post helped someone, I would have gone straight for the spector if I knew this. Once I am older and on my own, I will definetly buy a custom conklin, Streamer stage II, and a usa Spector. That should solve my problems! But until then, when I am limited on money, the spector is the winner!

    FYI: The warwick FNA is on the back on the shelf at Guitar Center in Fairfax, VA. I think they would still give you the $699 price. Its a great deal if you are a warwick fan!

    Good luck


    PS I am sure there is alot of rambling and pointless phrases in this post, its way too long to revise!
  2. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    It's nice to hear you stuck w/the Spector!!!! They're really great basses!!!!!
  3. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    Hmmm....interesting comparisons! What else can I say? I don't think anyone can go wrong with any one of these.
  4. phogchris

    phogchris www.scarsoflife.com

    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    I too just purchased a Spector NSCR5 from Musicians Friend, solid black. I am looking forward to getting the bass! And at $799, what a steal!
  5. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    You will not be disappointed. Like I wrote in the "Asian Spector Quality" thread, the only main difference is that these don't have the crown inlays!!!! Congrats!!!!!
  6. Did you know that there are 2 sets of "dip switches" on the side of the circuit board of the preamp? By adjusting the switches in different configurations it will alter the EQ curve of the highs. Try the different positions and see if you like another setting better. It may change your sound from a 9.5 to a 10.
    Also, a single master volume are now installed on the new Spectors. Check with your local guitar repairman because he may be able to change the pots from the seperate volume for each pickup to a seperate volume and pan knob for a small fee.
  7. Congrats on the Spector!!! After you receive the Spector and set it up, please write a comparison to your other basses as well. It's always interesting to see others viewpoints and comparisons!
  8. phogchris

    phogchris www.scarsoflife.com

    May 27, 2000
    Boca Raton, FL
    Thanks! I will compare it to the basses I have owned in the past and my current ones ASAP!
  9. Right on!
  10. metalloid


    Feb 2, 2001
    Thanks Mr Dead! I stand corrected!

    I will have to find a bottle of nail polish so I can mark the spot the dip switches are at now...hehe...just like kurt kobain did to his effects.

    When I took the back plate off, I didnt see anything that looked adjustable...are you sure the dip switches are on the old models also?

    And do you know if the sound difference between the conk and the spector is the bartolini's?

    If so, I would consider going in the hole and buying some bartolini's and possibly a new spector :) !!!

    Thanks for all the people obsessed with spector, for posting all your raves on the basses, if it wasnt for you guys, I would have never gotten one!
  11. Am I sure the dip switches are on the "old" models?
    All 3 of my basses are pre '99 CR Spectors, so the answer is yes. The dip switches are 2 very small white switches that slide up or down on the side of the small circuit board of the preamp. With a pen tip you can have both switches up, both down or up and down either side, so there are 4 different combinations.

    As far as the sound of the Cort Conklins, to be honest, personally, I don't care much for their sound. In fact, I've played the neck through "Bill Dickens" $2300 list price model and still wasn't hip to that bass as well. The sound just wasn't cutting enough for my tastes. I've played a custom conkiln once though and really enjoyed the sound. I should considering my buddy at the time (he since moved away) paid $4000 for it!

    Try altering the dip switches and tell us what you think!
  12. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    Hi MeTTaloiD,

    I do not understand why you change 7-4-5 beside if you like the soung of Warwick , why didn't you get the 5 strings version of FNA?
  13. metalloid


    Feb 2, 2001
    Mr Dead: where do you keep your dip switches set at? I messed with them and found that I liked them the best they way they came. I know one is up and one is down but I cant remember.

    JS Basuki:

    I would have gotten an FNA-5 but the price was an issue...I got the 4 @ $700, the cheapest five I could find was like $1199. I tried calling warwick in germany and they referred me on to someone here in a US office. Thus, they didn't want to sell me something from there.

    So, since I spotted the spectors at MF for so cheap, I decided to get one.
  14. The setting is left up right down from the factory.
  15. j.s.basuki

    j.s.basuki Supporting Member

    May 14, 2000
    I think you'll be allright with Spector.
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Hey MeTTaLLoiD, I spent some quality time with a NS5CRFM today, and while I don't need another 5 string, it sure was tempting!:)

    Too bad they don't offer them in a 6, or that would probably be my next acquisition.:p
  17. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I'm with you. I don't play 6 string, but would definitly buy a Czech 6 & start playing one!!!!
  18. try getting a picture up for others to see easily.

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