In may 2014, i found myself fly fishing next to Stuart Spector in the middle of the East Branch River, located an hour west of Spector headquarters in Woodstock, New York. An experienced fly fisherman, I marveled at Stuart’s attention to detail—his dedication to correct casting, his skill at drifting his lure across the top of the water, and his awareness of the local bug hatch that told us which flies we ought to be using at any given moment. The trout in the East Branch are notoriously difficult to catch, but under Stuart’s direction I did quite well, though Stuart did land the biggest fish that day.
Such attention to detail is exactly what has made Spector a revered builder in the bass community, and his approach to fly fishing mirrors that of his approach to building basses. In the early ’70s, he waded right into the fray of a Fender-saturated market, going against the current to design the Spector NS, which quickly became a favorite among top players. His dedication to detail and excellence in craftsmanship has not waned over the years, and the updated EuroLX line makes that clear.
Those familiar with the Spector’s history will recall that in 1993 the company began producing the NS model basses in the Czech Republic and quickly developed a reputation for producing high-quality instruments there. As a result, the EuroLX series has long been a favorite of many pro bass players, and the newest 5-string iteration guarantees that reputation will continue.
Upon its arrival, I took a moment to admire the instrument’s beauty. I’m a fan of translucent finishes, as they allow for eye-popping colors—like the blue of our test bass—without the bass coming across as too bold on the bandstand. The figured maple on this bass shone well through the stain, and the updated chrome hardware worked well with the blue finish.
You would hope that a bass that looks this good would play even better. I took some time to play the bass sans amplification, and, as expected, the neck-through-body construction aids in elevating the instrument’s reverberation, and the 35" scale ensures a tight B string. Having played several EuroLX models over the years, I can attest to the way these instruments offer plenty of sustain and harmonic resonance. The brass nut is almost like a zero-fret, and the Ned Steinberger-influenced curved body makes this one of the more comfortable basses out there. Another minor but welcomed update on this model is the separate battery compartment, which allows you to replace the battery without having to hunt down a screwdriver.
To see how our test bass performed amplified, plugged into an Aguilar Tone Hammer 500-watt head connected to two Aguilar 1x12SL cabinets. I also occasionally engaged an EHX Platform Stereo Compressor pedal to see how it responded to a little compression and drive. I was pleased all the way around. One thing you will notice immediately when you play this bass is how quick the fingerboard is. You can thank its flatness for that. With a radius of 16", it’s over twice as flat as a traditional Fender fingerboard (7¼"), and you can certainly feel the difference. With modern basses, I see no negative consequence to having a high-radius fingerboard; it helps when playing more technical lines or chords. If you’re a stickler for a traditional feel, however, you won’t find it here. But then if you’re a stickler for the traditional, you probably wouldn’t be looking at a Spector bass.
A LOT FROM A LITTLE
Our test model featured proprietary Bartolini soap-bar pickups. In the past, EuroLXs came with EMGs, which always sounded great—so I was a little skeptical of the switch, but my concern proved unfounded. The Bartolinis delivered well—providing deep, punchy, growling lows and crystal-clear highs. I typically play with my right hand at or behind the bridge pickup, and I appreciate a bass that can offer up a fairly fat tone for that hand position. This one did, and it turns out, it’s by design: The bridge pickup has a higher output level and resonant peak for enhanced treble response, while the neck pickup is wound for a slightly lower output to better complement the bridge pickup. I could definitely hear the benefit of that partnership.
As with most Spector basses, the preamp here is simple: two volume knobs and two individual boost-only controls for the lows and highs. For most of my test, I didn’t boost anything, pleased with the sound the instrument offered with its frequencies set flat. The option is there, though, so I played around with it some. For funk-style playing, I boosted treble and bass evenly. For normal fingerstyle playing—and especially when I engaged the B string more often—I boosted the bass a bit and left the treble flat. That gave me a nice, meaty low end, but not at the expense of clarity. You’ll quickly notice with this bass that, despite the simplicity of controls, you can get a wide variety of tones.
In short, any player looking to step into the 5-string arena would be well served to take a Euro5LX for a test drive. Although the market is saturated with options in this category, few offer this high level of workmanship and electronics for this kind of price. In the end, as with fly fishing, success at bass playing depends foremost on the skills you bring to the task, but it sure doesn’t hurt when you’re working with superior equipment. The Spector Euro5LX will ensure you have that covered.
Euro5LX Street $2,550
Pros Beautiful finish, custom electronics, stellar craftsmanship
Bottom Line: A gorgeous, sophisticated 5-string that looks, feels, and sounds great.
Neck Three-piece maple with graphite rods inside for additional strength
Fingerboard Rosewood, mother-of-pearl crown inlays
Fingerboard radius 16"
Scale length: 35"
Width of nut: 1.81"
Body USA figured maple over European alder, separated by a thin piece of walnut Pickups Custom Bartolini dual-coil humbuckers
Tone controls Spector TonePump, boost-only bass and treble, internal output trim pot
Made in Czech Republic