Over the past few months I've been putting some money away towards new pickups/electronics for my Spector NS2000-5. But lately I've been having second thoughts about spending the money on these upgrades. The thing is... my Spector sounds okay, and I'm sure it would sound amazing with some upgrades, but I just don't really like the way it feels. For instance, the string spacing is too tight for me to feel comfortable playing; I like basses with pretty wide spacing, especially for slapping. Also, the neck just doesn't feel right to me, though I'm not exactly sure why. Could be because it's so thick. Overall, the bass just seems quite a bit more difficult to play than most of the other basses I've played. So I've been looking around the Basses forum lately, reading what people have said about certain basses in my preferred pricerange ($400-$700, willing to go up to $1000 or so if it's really worth it.) The main things I'm looking for are: playability, good natural tone (electronics can always be changed later, the bass's unplugged tone is what's important), and looks. I am looking for bass that I will be able to use mainly in jazz and rock/metal, though I would also like it to be able to get real deep reggae-ish tone, as well as a nice slap tone. Finding a bass versatile enough to do all this without spending a fortune is a pretty daunting task. It's especially difficult for me, as there are very few music stores in my area that carry a large selection of basses. The only brands I ever see around here are Fender, Ibanez, and the occasional Spector. This is a big problem for me, since I don't get the chance to try all the different basses that I see talked about on these forums. However, after reading about the basses that you guys have suggested in other threads like this, there are several that I'm interested in and would like to hear what others think about them, and if they fit the description of what I'm looking for in a new bass. A few of the basses that have caught my attention are: MTD Heir 5-string - Especially the new ones with active electronics. The string spacing is nice and wide, and from what I've read, the necks feel very nice. They look nice too. One thing I was wondering, though. How does the maple fretboard version compare to the rosewood version in terms of sound/feel? Or doesn't it make much of a difference? Also, is it possible to get the active version with the pickguard on it? Or do they not come with that option? Normally I don't really care for pickguards, but I did not mind the Heir's pickguard. MTD Saratoga 5-string - Slightly out of my pricerange, but I just want to see what people think about these. How do they compare to the Heirs? Do you think they're worth the extra $400-500 I'd have to spend to get one? Lakland 55-01 5-string - Lot's of people seem to really like these. I'm sure they sound very nice and feel good, but the one thing that's keeping me from buying one of these is the way they look. I really have never liked how Lakland basses look. The body shape just doesn't appeal to me, and I can't stand the look of the bridge. If I were to buy one, I would replace the bridge right away. I know I shouldn't be judging these basses solely on how they look, but it's the first thing I notice, and I wouldn't be happy playing a bass I didn't like the looks of. I'd consider this bass if it was overwhelmingly better than every other bass in my pricerange, but otherwise I would probably go for something else. Right now I think I'm leaning towards the Heir; it seems to be a good deal. What do you think? Of course, there are quite a few other basses that fit into my pricerange, so don't hesitate to suggest one if you think I should take a look at it. I am looking mainly for a 5-string, although I may consider a 6-string as long as it still has wide string spacing. Wow, I need to learn to write less.