Every day people come into the music shop I work at armed with all of the research in the world. Whether it is their first instrument or their 17th, they charge in with a sense of purpose, cocksure in their affirmation that the image they have on their smartphone screen is the perfect choice for them. I’ve definitely been guilty of this more than once and it’s a natural reaction to the intimidating rabbit hole of choice that the stringed instrument world presents.
More often than not though, they stand before the wall of guitars and basses and have that certainty knocked out from under them. However, sometimes the instrument picks the player rather than the other way around, which is exactly what happened when I picked up this cloud white Warwick Streamer CV4.
As I mention in another review this month, I was guilty of having a preconceived notion of what it is to wrestle a Warwick before I picked either model up. One of the things I liked most about both, particularly the Streamer, was how happy they were to calmly and without a hint of malice prove me wrong with every note. I am admittedly a guitar player by trade, so I guess to a point my fingers look for different things than those of someone with a deeper native tongue, but nevertheless I was enamoured with the way the one-piece maple neck and its accompanying rosewood fretboard sent my hands sliding like an air-hockey puck.
Said neck is baseball-bat-round across the back but narrow in girth providing a seamlessly confortable yet not at all claustrophobic glide along all 21 frets. The contour of the body allows unlimited access and the balance of the clearly carefully selected piece of US swamp ash kept that infamous upper horn safely stapled to my sternum where it should be, as opposed to diving towards the headstock like other, long scale modern builds.
Sonically, the Streamer sits firmly in the J Bass camp. Its twin, single coil passive pickups are controlled by a separate volume knob for each and master treble and bass knobs affording just the right amount of focus without being too heavy handed. In all its organically lumpy glory, the contemporary aspect of the facade says little of the classic, to the point of vintage voicing therein. The top end attacks your preamp stage with vigour, allowing a tube amp plenty of 1200-1500Hz to chew on while the 100-500Hz characteristic sneaks through clear and undimmed as a brand new light bulb. There is plenty of attack on board but not enough to sound icy or harsh, which is mostly what made it impossible for me to do anything but pull out my best Fripp friendly, ‘70s prog rock moves for a little longer than I’d care to admit.
Warwick basses are undeniably player-friendly. With their gourmet characteristics and immaculate body and fretwork, they sound and feel a lot less divisive than they look. The Streamer CV 4 in particular harks back to an era long before snotty six-stringers began their derision, where bass players commanded respect and played as tastefully and meticulously as anyone else in the band. Buttery in both neck feel and tonal warmth, with a distinction and clarity that few can lay claim to, forget everything that you thought and let this suit wear you.
Hits and Misses
Warmth and directness in spades with a vintage sense of distinction
Those lumps again