Warwick Streamer LX 4 SE USA Redwood Bass
Warwick Basses, warwick.de
Originally published in Guitar World, October 2010
The Streamer LX4 SE is a stunning bass that is built to the highest standards.
When players think of Warwick basses, heavy-duty rock and roll immediately comes to mind. It’s easy to see why: Warwick’s artist stable includes bass icons like Jack Bruce, Adam Clayton and Robert Trujillo as well as Mudvayne’s Ryan Martinie and Napalm Death’s Shane Embury. But while the tightly focused edge of the Warwick tone lends itself to aggressive musical settings, it also satisfies players as diverse as funk master Bootsy Collins and jazz-fusion virtuoso Jonas Hellborg. Warwick has managed to create a sonic signature that is both recognizable and versatile, crossing stylistic boundaries with ease. Plus, the company’s basses are built solid and look sweet.
Every year, Warwick comes out with a special-edition instrument that represents the pinnacle of its product line. For this year, it’s the Streamer LX SE USA Redwood bass, a prized beauty that features top-shelf engineering and a combination of unique woods.
While the Streamer is available in several variations, the LX version, which came out in 1996, features the versatile P/J pickup configuration. The LX SE USA has a swamp ash body with a beautiful Vavona burl redwood top—though the one-inch thickness of the redwood actually constitutes half of the instrument. The relatively soft redwood blends nicely with the swamp ash’s solid lows and crisp highs, filling in the midrange for a well-balanced tone. A thin black veneer of Ekanga separates the two woods, highlighting the contrast between the red and white, and the whole package weighs in at a very manageable 8 1/2 pounds.
An Ovangkol neck is a frequent sight on a Warwick bass. The attractive African wood provides the stability and snap of hard maple with a more pronounced midrange. The relatively flat, 20-inch-radius tiger-stripe ebony fingerboard has 24 jumbo brass frets as well as Warwick’s own adjustable nut, the Just-A-Nut III. I was able to play up to the 21st fret unhindered, but the lower cutaway prevented clear access to the top three frets. Other familiar Warwick appointments are the two-piece bridge, easy-access truss-rod cover, angled tuners, a well-padded gig bag, and a lavish toolkit.
The Bartolini P/J set offers a wide range of options, and it gets big props for the reverse positioning of the P pickup. A two-band bass/treble preamp offers boost and cut and seems well suited to the LX’s natural midrange presence. Pop the master volume’s push/pull pot and the electronics become passive. It’s a life-saving feature should your batteries fail you, but the bass sounds great this way as well. The split-coil J pickup avoids the dreaded 60-cycle single-coil hum that plagues many P/J instruments. A 34-inch-scale five-string version is also available with a J/J pickup set.
The Streamer LX 4 SE is a responsive ax that virtually plays itself. The reassuringly solid neck tells you that this is not an Asian knockoff (with all due respect to Asian knockoffs), while the smooth satin finish makes it impossible not to fondle the body like some sort of bass perv. The reverse configuration is my preference for a P/J setup: by inverting the position of the two coils, you get a tighter response from the E and A strings, a meatier tone from the D and G strings, and nice separation between the treble coil of the P and the bridge pickup for a sweet, open slap tone.
With the P pickup, it’s possible to get a wide range of classic tones, ranging from ultra-dub reggae to a chunky spank for Seventies-style slap. The bridge J pickup is supertight and burpy, and it can be plumped up with the bass EQ to give it the girth necessary to push the band over the cliff. The blend of the P and J is a terrific all-purpose sound that can be tailored for killer slap or articulate fingerstyle. The bass sits a little further out on the strap than a Fender, but the concave belly cut on the back of the body (sadly) fit my beer gut comfortably.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The Streamer LX4 SE is a stunning bass that is built to the highest standards. It has superior tone and can cover any style of music, from death metal to country. With a street price in the $3,500 range, it’s not going to find a place in everyone’s collection, but if you’ve got the cash, it would be well spent on this beautiful and versatile instrument.
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