BY ROD TAYLOR
THE RENOWNED 19TH-CENTURY German Philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel once said, “Nothing great in the world has ever been accomplished without passion.” Warwick Bass seems to have taken this quote as their unofficial motto for bass design. Everything about this company demonstrates an intense passion for the art of all things bass—from design, to customer service, to the fancy user kit they include with their basses (a classy embroidered cloth binder that includes everything you need for your axe, even an extra set of strings). With the all-new Corvette NT LTD, that passion makes itself apparent in the look, feel, and sound of the instrument.
The Corvette NT is the newest installment in the limited line of Warwick basses that began in 2001 with the Thumb Bolton, and its most compelling features are the result of a unique roundtable discussion that occurred in Germany last year. This conversation between players and builders centered on how Warwick could design a more versatile bass that would retain the progressive qualities that made the German bass company famous, while also grabbing some traditional sound and vibe landscape along the way. On the progressive end, this bass represents the first neck-through for the LTD series; all its predecessors were bolt-on design. Additionally, the neck profile is slimmer than many of its brothers, the result of Warwick responding to customers’ requests for a more playable neck in its limited line.
As for the traditional side, they looked to a tried and true staple for inspiration. With its ash body, small neck profile, twin single-coil J-style pickups, maple neck and fingerboard, and block inlays, this bass has Fender jazz written all over it. But then it also sports Active MEC electronics (which can be bypassed via the push/pull volume knob), two 3-way coil-selection switches, and neck-through design. So, it’s modern too. With this bass, Warwick says it can offer bassists an axe designed to fit all genres. A big claim, to be sure, but I must admit that I was quite impressed by how it functioned in just that capacity.
Both basses needed absolutely no setup to get going, and although I chose to focus on the 4-string, the 5 is exactly the same in every way (with the obvious exception of the B string, which was exceptionally punchy and tight, especially for a 34"-scale bass). The Corvette NT comes strung with steel strings, but, preferring the softer feel and sound of nickel, I slapped on a set and put the bass to work through two different setups, a Genz-Benz Shuttle 9.0/NEOX- 212T and a TC Electronic BG500 (more about the TC gear in an upcoming issue). The narrower profile of the neck felt great, especially compared to the Warwicks I have played in the past, which sported a more robust radius and depth. The action was set low with no fret-buzz, and I really dug the maple fingerboard. The controls are straight forward, allowing for bass, mid, and treble tweaking, and the coil-selection switches help in creating some nice nuances in terms of how you use the twin pickups.
Like most of us do, I began by first sitting down for some slapping and popping, but once I was satisfied this bass would make Larry Graham happy, I switched to genres more common to the working bassist. In doing that, I was surprised at how much I liked bypassing the electronics, which allowed me to hear ‘the bass being the bass.’ Playing along with my favorite blues, jazz, and folk artists, I was comfortable with how the bass sat in the mix, with a full bottom, strong mids, and clear highs—all with the electronics bypassed. Bringing the electronics back in allowed me to subtly tweak the tone the bass produced on its own.
Without question, the price tag of the Corvette NT LTD is cost prohibitive for the average player (although it’s actually substantially cheaper than if you ordered it via their custom shop). So, I’ll not suggest that all our readers run out and buy one (and they’re only are making 130 anyway). But if you’re the kind of player who goes from a jazz gig one night, to a bass solo jam another, to a rock show the next, you might want to consider selling the three or four basses you’re schlepping around and pony up the money for one of these bad boys. They’re that good.
Incidentally, in the course of playing and learning more about this new bass, I contacted the president of Warwick, Hans-Peter Wilfer, and Sales Manager, Tyler Krupsky. In separate communications with me, both men used the word “passion” multiple times in describing their company and their basses. Additionally, both men spoke to the philosophy behind their instruments, instead of just speaking to the logistical details of this particular bass. Passion. This company seems to exude it, and the new Corvette NT seems destined to pursue it via the hands of a limited number of bass players around the world who take the opportunity to grab one while they can.
Warwick Corvette NT LTD
Street 4-string, $3850; 5-string, $4099
Pros Beautifully constructed versatile bass
Weight 4 string 8.6 lbs; 5 string 9.2 lbs
Made in Germany
Warranty Two years