Spector NS Ethos 4SFB: What is it?
A Spector bass guitar that retails comfortably under two grand is always something to get excited about. While the NS Ethos 4SFB could not be considered an impulse purchase for most, it does offer pro-quality specs, and it makes those famous Spector ergonomics obtainable for working pro and serious amateur.
Immaculately built in South Korea, the NS Ethos 4SFB is a classy four-string, finished in a muted Super Faded Black Gloss that is so super faded that it looks tobacco brown, and shows off all the details of the figured burl poplar that sits atop the body’s maple wings. Spector also offers this bass in Interstellar Gloss (which would be a great name for a band), and in a five-string version.
A Spector bass guitar is always a triumph of smooth edges, as though it was pressed in a mould, and that’s very much the case here, with its neck-through-build.
The neck, however, comprises three pieces of figured maple, and meets the headstock with no volute, joining the body at the 19th fret that might give you the feeling that this bass is longer than its billed 34” scale. But that’s just an illusion. There’s no question, this is a new-school bass. No matter how familiar we are with this shape, there’s a modernity to it that remains thrilling.
The fingerboard is a work of art, a fine piece of rosewood topped with 24 medium-sized frets that are impeccably dressed. On the headstock, we’ve got M4-style tuners. The bridge is typically solid. Everything feels geared towards the player; from the considerable belly cut and the sculpted neck heel to the Luminlay side-markers, there’s a generosity of spirit to this design.
This extends to the pickups and electronics, where Aguilar provides the goods with a P/J combo powered by an OBP-2 active preamp and controlled by a pair of individual pickup volume controls, bass and treble. The bass and treble controls offer plenty of boost and cut, with 18dB at 40Hz either way on the bass dial, and 16dB on the treble. It’s simple but effective.
Spector NS Ethos 4SFB: Performance and verdict
This NS Ethos 4SFB is a Ned Steinberger design, hence why it takes his initials in its name, and whether played standing or seated it is one of the most comfortable basses you will encounter. It is lightweight, well balanced, and while there is so much neck to get acquainted with, a few minutes is all it takes to realise that what Spector is doing here is opening up the fretboard for you.
Sure, sit back in the pocket and hold down the groove. That’s the bass player’s primary function. But the NS Ethos 4SFB will encourage the adventurous player to venture up the fretboard.
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When you get up there, perhaps that’s when you’ll realise just how well-thought-out this bass is. The electronics are perfect for this sort of sonic wayfaring, with a forensic level of detail teasing out all the nuances in your playing.
This bright and contemporary response can be dialled back, of course. It’s no odds to plump up the tone, but even on that split-coil in the middle position, there’s an assertive upper-mid and treble that complements the low-end thump nicely.
There’s no flabbiness here. One word to the wise: these tone controls are powerful, and a little tweak goes a long way. The tone seekers will enjoy channel-surfing between all these active P/J hybrid tones.
At this price – not cheap, but sensible – the NS Ethos 4SFB is a superb example of the Spector bass experience, with off-the-charts playability and a stellar contemporary active bass voice that translates across myriad genres.
MusicRadar verdict: Top-tier electronics, an ergonomic build and a super-playable feel make this Spector a steal at this price. Its voice is modern but there’s so much scope for tone seeking, it’s hard to think of a style it couldn’t handle.
Spector NS Ethos 4SFB: The Web Says
"You’d expect a bass made with these high-quality timbers and top-spec Aguilar electronics to sound good, and it really does. However, the new NS Ethos is a classic case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts.
"Spector’s years of experience in making some of the best basses available really shines through. I noticed the word ‘refined’ kept appearing in my notes; I think that sums things up nicely."
Bass Player Magazine
Spector NS Ethos 4SFB: Hands-on demos
Spector NS Ethos 4SFB: Specifications
- MADE IN: South Korea
- BODY: Maple with burl poplar top
- NECK: Maple, 34” scale
- NECK JOINT: Through neck
- NUT WIDTH: 40mm
- FINGERBOARD: Rosewood
- FRETS: 24
- PICKUPS: Aguilar AG-P (neck), Aguilar AG-J-HC (bridge)
- ELECTRONICS: Aguilar OBP-2 active preamp
- CONTROLS: 2 x pickup volumes, Bass and Treble cut/boost
- HARDWARE: Gloss black
- WEIGHT: 8.4 lbs
- CASE/GIG-BAG INCLUDED: Yes
- LEFT-HANDED OPTION AVAILABLE? No
- CONTACT: Spector