What is it?
French luthier Paul Lairat launched the Stega series in 2004. A future-forward design, this high-end electric bass guitar arrives in four-, five- and six-string formats, with an eye-watering array of options available when you check out.
Our review model is a five-string, and like the others in the range, it is the body shape is sure to be the first thing that grabs you.
Here you have huge amounts of wood excavated from what might be described as a doublecut silhouette. The upper and lower horns are formed of laminate walnut and ebony splints that extend out from binding the outer edges of the mahogany and wenge veneer body.
We are a quantum leap away from your P+J traditionalism here. The neck is another luxurious tonewood sandwich, with six strips of maple, one of wenge joining two mahogany and two walnut for a strong, stable and attractive piece of craft.
For electronics, we have a pair of oversized Delano Xtender soapbar pickups (Aguilar pickups are a €30 options, while €60 gets you a pair of Xtender quadcoils or Nordstrands), and these are controlled by a very tuneable onboard preamp from Glockenklang.
Breaking the rules when it comes to design allows Paul to think differently when it comes to mounting the controls, positioning three dials on the upper bout and tucking two toggle switches tucked away in the upper cavity.
Of the three knobs, the first two are stacked – master volume/mid, treble/bass boost and cut, respectively. The third is a blend, while the two toggle switches change between active and passive modes and split the pickup coils. Very neat.
As for your fundamentals, the Stega Deluxe is a conventional 34" scale, with a 24-fret ebony fingerboard, and there is a very tidy Gotoh bridge. As with many of the appointments, you have a choice, with chrome or black hardware on the menu.
Performance and verdict
While the Stega Deluxe errs on the unorthodox side, it is reassuringly player-friendly when you strap it on. Maybe there's a little neck dive, ever so slightly when playing seated, but otherwise, it feels as a bass of its price should – like an extension of your body.
Even with so much wood left on the tree, there's a remarkably solid response, no shortage of sustain. In terms of feel, it plays the percentages as far as contemporary bass building goes; it will reward all kinds of styles and has the preamp to help find the right tone, too.
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The positioning of the controls is fine. It's something that is going to take a moment or so to get used to, or not at all as the case may be. But they really extend the range of the Stega Deluxe's powerful voice.
At the neck pickup, the Stega Deluxe is all low-end muscle. It will push some air around the room at high volume, that's for sure. At the bridge, well, it's all this but with an upper-midrange brightness that could bloody the nose.
At both extremes, it is not subtle, but that is when played unaccompanied. We can think of many environments, both live and in the studio, where having such a commanding presence at either end of the bass frequency spectrum is a lifesaver for the mix. Besides, there is a lot of range on those tone controls – you will not have trouble finding a happy medium.
Flick the switch, and the Stega Deluxe makes for an outstanding passive bass. If the EQ pots are centred, there is no drop in volume in switching from active to passive, and again the tone is detailed, bold and articulate.
A lot of fun is to be had playing this. And with the options offered by Lairat, there is plenty of opportunities to tailor this to your style's requirements. Players used to plucking over the pickups might get some use out of the optional finger ramp (€70), and there is even get a headless option for an extra €210.
MusicRadar verdict: Exceptionally built, with a wide array of custom spec available when ordering, the Lairat Stega Deluxe is a state-of-the-art modern bass build with a lot of power and a lot of potential.
- PRICE: from £2941 / €3350
- MADE IN: France
- BODY: Walnut and ebony splints, mahogany and wenge body, curly walnut top
- NECK: Maple, wenge, mahogany, walnut
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: Delano Xtender
- ELECTRONICS: Glockenklang
- CONTROLS: Stacked master volume/mids, stacked treble/bass, pickup blend, active/ passive switch, split pickup switch
- HARDWARE: PL by Gotoh, ABM bridge
- WEIGHT: 4.1kg / 9 lbs
- LEFT-HANDED OPTION: Yes
- CASE/GIGBAG: Gigbag
- CONTACT: Lairat