Schecter Stargazer-4 Electric Bass
Schecter Guitar Research, schecterguitars.com
Originally published in Guitar World, October 2009
The Stargazer-4 may seem like a well-thought out amalgamation of several popular bass features, but the sum is even greater than the individual parts.
If you own a lot of different basses, it can be tough to decide which instrument to bring to a gig when you don’t have the luxury of a road crew to haul several cases of gear around. Should you go with the bright, rich midrange of a Jazz Bass, or should you bring a Music Man StingRay for its aggressive humbucker punch and versatile EQ? What if you prefer the comfortable feel and playability of a Rickenbacker?
The Schecter Stargazer-4 four-string electric bass offers players who can’t make up their mind (or can’t afford to buy several basses) a versatile, affordable alternative that provides the desirable features and sounds of a variety of instruments. The Stargazer has a humbucking bridge pickup like a StingRay, a single-coil neck pickup placed in a similar location as the neck pickup on a Fender Jazz Bass, and construction that combines a distinctive body shape reminiscent of a Rickenbacker 4001 with a slim, bolt-on J-profile neck. The result is a bass that feels familiar and has a wide variety of popular tones.
At first glance, the Stargazer-4 seems heavily Rickenbacker influenced, with its “crested wave” cutaway horns, flat-surface body with single-layer white binding, and Crimson Ghost finish, which fades from deep red to salmon pink similar to Ric’s Fireglo finish (a gloss black finish also available). However, the body consists of a maple top laminated to a generously contoured ash back, and the maple neck is attached to the body with five bolts, in contrast to the maple neckthru design of a Ric 4001. The neck features a narrow 1 1/2–inch nut width like a J-bass, a rosewood fingerboard with block mother-of-pearl inlays, 24 jumbo frets, and a 34-inch scale.
While the body shape and neck design provide exceptional playing comfort, the Stargazer’s electronics offers a diverse palette of sounds. Both pickups are passive EMG HZ-series models—an MMHZ Music-Man-style ceramic and steel humbucker in the bridge position and an SJHZ Jazz Bass-style ceramic and steel stacked single-coil in the neck position. Controls consist of master volume that doubles as a push/pull coil splitter for the MMHZ pickup, a master blend knob, and individual treble and bass controls for the EMG BTS system active two-band EQ. Because the MMHZ is positioned slightly closer to the bridge than the humbucker on a StingRay, and the SJHZ is just a touch closer to the bridge than the neck pickup on a traditional J-Bass, the overall tone is slightly brighter.
The slim, C-shaped profile and satin finish on the neck provides a familiar feel that modern Fender J-Bass players will love, while its elongated upper-bout cutaway horn and trim body shape offer comfort and balance that let you play it nonstop for hours, without fatigue. The controls are arranged in a curved “boomerang” configuration similar to a StingRay, but the knobs are a little bit closer to each other so you don’t need to stretch as much to reach them. The active treble and bass EQ controls have a solid-feeling center detent at the flat setting that makes it easy to know when you’re boosting or cutting frequencies.
Because the MMHZ features a coilsplitting function, it’s easy to dial in J-Bass tones with the blend control. The stacked SJHZ and split MMHZ produce bright, lively single-coil tones without any of the noise problems frequently encountered with typical passive single-coil pickups. When you pull up on the master volume to engage full humbucking mode, the tone becomes noticeably fuller and more aggressive, perfect for slapping. The pickups deliver well-defined highs and lows that really bring out the snap and snarl of roundwound strings, and when you play the Stargazer with a pick its punch and attack become positively brutal—perfect for rock and metal bass players who want the audience to feel the low-end rumble in their guts.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Stargazer-4 may seem like a well-thought out amalgamation of several popular bass features, but the sum is even greater than the individual parts. It’s a versatile bass that will get you through a wide variety of gigs without changing instruments, and it even brings some tones and character of its own to the table.
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