The Streamer was one of the basses that made Warwick a serious contender in the early ’80s. For nearly a decade, Warwick’s Chinese-made Rockbass line has brought less-expensive versions of the high-end models to the masses. The fretless Rockbass Streamer NT1 is at the top of the Rockbass spectrum and offers a bold alternative to the classic Fender-style fretless.
The ergonomic benefit of the unique body design is immediately palpable. The Streamer’s concave contour is comfortable against the body, and its even weight distribution allows it to rest comfortably on your lap or on a strap. The 2+2 angled headstock also helps to defend against neck-dive. Bordered by dyed stringers, the three maple laminates running through the body add a lovely visual continuity to the bass, as does the plain natural finish. Thanks to CNC-machine precision, you’d be hard pressed to find any fault with the way it all fits together, a testament to how far mass-produced instruments have come in the last decade.
The test instrument’s control cavity was clean, neatly wired and soldered, shielded, and easy to access with a convenient no-screw panel. The panel itself was not shielded, but overall the bass was quiet, with no perceivable RF interference issues. Alongside a factory installed 9-volt battery is a generic preamp, and a big difference between the Rockbass line and the German-made models. The Warwick-designed stop-tailpiece bridge allows for height adjustment of not only the individual saddles, but of the entire bridge itself. It also includes a hex screw on each saddle to lock it in place once you’ve set your intonation. The trussrod is accessible without a screwdriver via a small plastic flip panel on the headstock. You can adjust string height with the Just-A-Nut III, a great feature on Warwick basses. (Fretless instruments can be more finicky for fine-tuning, and string height at the nut is crucial for overall playability and sustain.) The neck seemed to have a slight twist on the bass side—I added a bit of extra relief to the neck, and that seemed to diminish some of the fingerboard noise I was hearing. The edge of the Streamer’s fingerboard itself is sharp; I’m not sure if this is by design or a manufacturing oversight. It’s initially off-putting, but I got used to it. In general, this bass is easy on the eyes and easy to adjust.
Tonally, the Rockbass is in an altogether different category than a Fender-style fretless. If you’ve come looking for a vintage Jaco tone, this is not your bass. With the active MEC P/J pickups blended and the EQ set flat, the basic tone is bright, modern, and a little on the shy side. I found myself wanting to boost the lows a bit and cut some treble to get a little more mwah and sustain, which made me wish the EQ had a midrange band to add more warmth and personality. The sensitive treble knob required small touches so as not to bring out too much string noise; switching to a set of nickel-plated roundwounds or flat-wounds would mitigate this substantially. The Streamer has a bright edge and tons of growl to cut through a mix, and minimal adjustments to the action and tone controls make it easy to play and find useable tones.
If you like the Warwick growl and are in the market for a bright and modern active fretless bass, the Streamer is one to check out.
RockBass Streamer NT1
Pros Easy to play, modern tone
Cons Lacks warmth; sharp-edged finger-board
Bottom Line Slick, modern-sounding alternative to the Fender-style fretless.
Fingerboard Tigerstripe ebony
Scale length 34"
String spacing 19mm
Pickups MEC P/J
Hardware Warwick-designed bridge; Warwick strap locks
Made in China