AF’s Weblog

August 17, 2010

Schecter Ultra Bass Review

Filed under: Bass — Tags: , , , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 6:59 pm

I was very curious when I started this review. In spite of all the years in the guitar world, I have to admit that I had never had the opportunity to test an instrument by this manufacturer. This company’s story reads like an American fairy tale…

In 1976, David Schecter gave his name to his newly founded company: Schecter Guitar Research. In those early days, the company was a workshop that provided everything to build a guitar (body, neck, pickups, bridges, etc.); it was dedicated exclusively to spare parts.

At the time, the manufacturer supplied two of the most important electric instrument manufacturers (can you guess who theses giants were?) and only ventured in the instrument manufacturing industry in 1979. The workshop became a “custom shop” that produced high-class instruments inspired mainly by Fender concepts. Within four years, the manufacturer became very successful and was bought by Texas investors. The custom shop then moved and started production in series of instruments still largely inspired by Leo (you could say they were Fender copies).

The company came back to its roots in 1987, when it was bought by Hisatake Shibuya, owner of ESP. He moved all manufacturing back to California and transformed it into a custom shop distributing prestigious guitars.

In 1996 and thanks to its new manager, Michael Ciravolo, who wanted to stress the corporate identity of the company, the brand finally drops its obsession with Fender designs.

He also expanded production to Asia (in Incheon, a province of South Korea) where he subcontracted the production of an instrument series conceived for the masses.

In Incheon is also the main factory of a well-known manufacturer called CORT, whose makings can be found in the catalogs of numerous brands out there…

Now, let me introduce the instrument we want to test today: the SCHECTER ULTRA is a bass guitar with a hybrid and original look. It is made in Korea and equipped with standard passive electronics.

Don’t Forget Your Roots

Schecter Ultra Bass

The design of this bass guitar is a mix of a Telecaster and a Gibson Thunderbird. The Thunderbird heritage is present in the headstock and the bottom part of the body, while the top of the body (the part close to the neck) reminds the famous Fender guitar.

The shape of the body lets you rest your right arm on it, which gives the instrument a very personal touch somewhere between rock, vintage and psychedelic.

The neck-through body includes three maple plies and two walnut plies. The neck is 34″ long (22 frets), 38 mm width at the nut and 62 mm width at the last fret. The fingerboard is made out of a dark purplish rosewood (probably Indian rosewood).

Handling and playing comfort remind a Jazz Bass, except for the back of the neck that has a glossy varnish.

Our test instrument has a two-color sunburst finish from headstock to body. The headstock is inspired by the Thunderbird with a center part raised 2 mm above the rest. It looks nice and well manufactured!

Schecter Ultra BassThe three parts of the body are made out of mahogany and the two-piece bridge includes a tune-o-matic and a tailpiece. The nut is made by Black Tusk (synthetic ivory) and the sealed, lubricated tuners are Grover (and look a bit too cheap).

The electronics includes a pair of passive EMG HZ humbuckers, two volume and one tone control. Nothing prestigious, the American brand’s HZ Pickup Series is made in Korea.

When it comes to finish, the instrument I hold in my hands is irreproachable.

The two-color paint and the varnish look very clean. There are no knots to be seen in the wood, the fret work is very clean and the body shape is perfect.

The overall weight is ok which is surprising considering the size of the body and that it is neck-through.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Price

Let’s end this review taking a look at the price tag: about $1,400. It’s a bit painful, for a bass guitar made in South Korea!

But there are also top Korean instruments by similar brands: Fender, Lakland, Tom Laulhardt, TUNE… The question is: is the Schecter Ultra worth its price?

Good finish, nice sound, neck-through body, original look (although inspired by two other brands), and a perfectly adjusted instrument. So far, so good! But for about $1,400, we expected more from a standard instrument made in a country where manpower is inexpensive: better pickups than these EMG licensed models, better machine heads or at least a flight case or a gig bag…

Instead of the wonderful cardboard box this not-so-cheap Schecter comes in! Yes, that’s not a joke and it makes the price seems even higher. This is my personal opinion and not a negative judgment. I am confident this bass will be of interest to lots of musicians all over the world, regardless of its price.

Advantages:

  • Neck
  • Finish
  • Look
  • Effective overall sound

Disadvantages:

  • Cheap pickups
  • Tuners
  • Sold in a cardboard box

To read the full detailed review with sound samples see:  Schecter Ultra Bass Review

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