Spector NS Pulse II 5: What is it?
Spector’s NS bass guitars need little introduction. They’ve been played by legions of pro players on some of pop culture’s biggest-selling releases.
It is one of those designs that ushered in a new era for the instrument, foregrounding ergonomics, offering a platform for players to impress pretty much any style that came to mind on it.
A who’s who of NS players over the years would include former Metallica bassist Jason Newsted, who used one on Enter Sandman, or Sting, who made it his number on live bass on the Synchronicity tour, Guy Pratt, who tracked Living On A Prayer with one.
The list goes on: Flea, Greg Lake… Point, is all very different styles. Oftentimes, modernist designs betray a specialism, but perhaps one of the secrets of the NS design’s success is that it appeals to all kinds of players.
That NS silhouette remains one of the most ever so player-friendly in the business, and so when Spector launched the NS Pulse series in November 2020, with sandblasted finishes on swamp ash bodies, all retailing around the grand mark, it was no surprise that they would test well with the bass-playing world at large, that in time the series would be expanded upon.
So here it is, the NS Pulse II, available in four, five and six-string formats, with new finish options to complement the quilted maple top applied to the ash body. The neck is roasted maple, bolted-on, and topped with a 24-fret Macassar ebony fingerboard. There are no inlays save for a Spector logo at the 12th fret.
Pickups are by EMG across all models in the series but configurations vary, with the four-string arriving with a P/J combination, and the five and six-string models equipped with a pair of 40DC humbuckers.
Housed in an oversized casing, these are voiced for power and clarity and are very much designed with the needs of today’s player in mind, i.e. the bassist that needs everything.
As EMG says, the 40DCs deliver “cleanest highs right down to the dirtiest, growling lows”, which is the kind of dynamic range that made the NS so popular with such a diverse cohort of bassists. These pickups are hooked up to a Spector TonePump Jr preamp that has a two-= EQ, and individual volume controls for each pickup.
The NS Pulse II has a standard five-string 35” scale, a 1.75” nut width, a Spector locking bridge and sealed die-cast tuners.
Spector NS Pulse II 5: Performance and verdict
There are three finish options in the NS Pulse II series: Black Cherry, Black Stain, and Ultra-Violet, all in a matte finish that does a good job of quieting down the look if you find quilted maple a little overdressed for business.
Of course, we liked the sandblasted finish of the original 2020 models, too. That was all the rage a couple of years ago, with the likes of ESP and Jackson debuting sandblasted ash-bodied instruments, using the grain as a textural aesthetic flourish. Very cool. But maybe this stately matte quilted finish will play better to a wider demographic.
• Spector NS Ethos 4SFB
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, that it’s hard to think of a style it couldn’t handle.
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This SR Premium five-string has a boutique vibe, excellent electronics, and a pro-quality, crowd-pleasing performance – it's a steal at this price.
That is very much the vibe of the NS Pulse II. The balance is exceptional. It sits on the lap nicely. It sits well on a strap. The playability that the NS is renowned for remains incredible. This is one welcoming five-string, and the sculpted five-bolt neck joint and generous cutaway make it the sort that encourages bassists to step out of the rhythm section for a solo. Yes, indeed, it is one of those basses to give you such notions of glory above the 12th.
For all the NS model’s success in playing the field, there is a perception that a trans purple quilted maple-topped five-string with EMG ‘buckers is a little too heavy metal for the broader bass community. This is the bass that was adapted for Cannibal Corpse’s Alex Webster’s signature model. But it is more than just a metal bass.
While the output of the EMG 40DC humbuckers and extra-low weight of the five-string is mother’s milk to metal basslines, articulate and punchy growl on the bridge pickup, especially when spiking the treble, sky-thickening thunder on the neck, it really is a question of playing style and your bass rig.
Of course, with the higher output you have to be on guard lest your amp starts clipping but it can be very flattering when your EQ is sorted.
Set your lower mids and upper mids just right and the NS Pulse II is a superlative instrument for contemporary percussive sounds. Dial things down a little and there’s plump warmth where you need it, ideal for jazz, fusion, whatever. The question is whether all that extra power, the huge range that the NS Pulse II possesses, is just going to go to waste.
MusicRadar verdict: The finish is classy, the voice is powerful, and the ergonomics make for one of the most playable basses on the market. At this price, it is a bargain too.
Spector NS Pulse II 5: The Web Says
“Running through a number of styles, we don’t come close to tapping into the full tonal prowess of the Pulse II. Although it proves more than equal to the task with virtually any rock or metal that we play, the Pulse II is by no means a headbanger-only instrument.
“It has a liquid low-end and a spacious dynamic range that any jazz, blues, or gospel player would instantly covet. More than anything, the Pulse II is addictively fun to play.”
Bass Player Magazine
Spector NS Pulse II 5: Hands-on demos
American Music Supply
Spector NS Pulse II 5: Specifications
- MADE IN: South Korea
- BODY: Swamp ash with quilted maple top
- NECK: Three-piece roasted maple, bolt-on
- SCALE: 35”
- FINGERBOARD: Macassar ebony, 24 frets
- PICKUPS: 2 x active EMG 40DC humbuckers
- ELECTRONICS: Spector TonePump Jr preamp with individual volume controls, 2-band EQ
- HARDWARE: Locking bridge, die-cast tuners
- WEIGHT: 9.7 lbs
- LEFT-HAND AVAILABLE: No
- CASE/GIG-BAG INCLUDED: No
- OPTIONS: Available as six-string, and four-string with P/J pickup configuration
- FINISH: Black Cherry, Black Stain, Ultra-Violet matte
- CONTACT: Spector