Spector SSD JH5 Reviews 5

Ye Oulde "Guitarre Centre" :) Colonie NY USA. $1200US, new but slightly shopworn. No case, but they threw in the Guitar Center's "extended coverage" pkg for N/C. I bought it because it sounds great, is fairly light, very comfortable, plays as easy as thought, and it realy wouldn't let me leave it behind.

It sounds great. When I first accompanied Ms. Diva with it, which is a piano duo with bass but no drummer, I couldn't believe the amount of bass I had to DIAL OUT from my rig [12" G-K] to get into my "accompanist mode". This bass excels at the midrangy tone that we use for the duo thing, with the sweetest mellowest midrange this side of a great fretless ABG [my usual duo ax]. All that bass that I dialed out was not boomy or whumpy, it was just way more bass than we use in that setting. Low end is clear. Deep lows are "sharply sculpted", very well defined [using Rotosound black flats] and available by the truckload. It's a bolt-on, which I hugely prefer. I set the action to just over 2mm at the octave, neck relief at almost flat, and it plays perfectly, all 5 strings at all 24 frets. This a magic ax.

Most amazing on such a miracle ax: The bridge pickup was so high [and could not be lowered at all] that when I dropped the action slightly, the PU was against the G string. I had to remove the PU and rout out a channel for the thick 8-conductor lead to live in, and also rout a seperate recess for the bulky 8-pin plug connected to the center of the bottom side of the pick-up. The PU is now about 1.3mm below the G-string, very adequate clearance, as it's quite close to the bridge. Note that the "factory" set-up played just fine. It was my quest for an ultra-low action that revealed the limited adjustment range of the humbucker's mountings. Minor gripes: The "ears" on the tuner keys almost bump each other on the "3" side of the "3+2" peg-head. I have to be careful not to bump out of tune the adjoining tuner to the one I'm really meaning to turn. Also would prefer Master-Volume-plus-Balancer knobs rather than the seperate gain knobs on each pick-up.

Neck appears to be 3 pieces with integral headstock, and has an extra extension of about 8cm beyond the 24th fret, so the amount of wood in the 5-bolt neck socket is considerable. Scale is 35", rosewood fretboard, brass nut, and typical Gotoh style of tuners. Model & serial numbers are hand-written the on back of headstock along with Stuart Spector's signature. Body is solid maple, two halves, with an incredible wild tiger striped grain that runs throughout [not a top cap]. Body is contoured similar to Ibanez's "Ergodyne" series and is very comfortable. Bridge is a top-loading fairly heavy cast deal with cylindrical inserts in each of the rectangular saddles. Usually this type of saddle is "burr-proof". String spacing is rather wide but not the 19mm Fender-4 spacing [my favorite]. It seems about the same as a Cirrus, wider than a Fender-5. Pickups are EMGs, and you can tell that without looking, by ear. You can get an attack that sounds like a "bass snare drum" if there were such a thing. You can really lay down time with that ! Neck PU is J-type, in the usual neck-J spot [not too close to the neck]. The bridge PU is a humbucker in the MM spot. Knobs are seperate gain for each PU plus master treble and bass knobs. I like to run the MM as the main PU with the neck PU used mainly as a bass booster, a very easily controlable approach. The J-PU is noiseless as far as I can tell. The humbucker can put some serious animal voicings into the midrange, and a lot of "grind" into the low end.

I have multiple examples of fretted 4's, fretless 4's and 5's [some hollow, some solid], each of which is irreplaceable to me, but never before had a fretted 5 ever really gotten under my skin. Now at long last, I have MY fretted 5, or maybe it's this ax that has me !

Golem rated this unit 5 on 2004-10-25.

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