Faultless Build, Tone, Looks and Playability – An Outstanding Bass Guitar.
The Stenback Four has a familiar body shape that’s reminiscent of the Fender Jazz Bass design. Few bass builders these days succeed in combining such a much-loved classic with truly stunning workmanship and artistry, but we’re looking at a passive instrument that’s nigh-on perfect in terms of construction. To start with, all of the wood has been heat treated to offer more stability and a higher strength-to-weight ratio. The alder body has been made extra special with the addition of hand-polished, stainless steel hardware, an anodized aluminium pickguard and two single-coil pickups that are handwound to Stenback’s own specifications by Swedish pickup guru Johan Lundgren. The aforementioned hardware also includes Stenback-designed strap buttons, ferrules, bridge saddles and a tuned bridge plate. The control knobs offer individual volume control for each pickup, plus a master tone control, while a tuned control cavity can be accessed on the rear side of the body via an anodized aluminium cover. To his credit, Tom Stenback has not once lost sight of the bigger picture, and besides all of these cutting-edge embellishments, the Stenback Four still feels almost instantly familiar.
It also plays perfectly straight out of the case. The setup and intonation are outstanding, the pickups produce a tone that compliments rather than overpowers and the notes have a very natural attack. The excellent balance between the strings allows individual notes to speak with real clarity and definition – call it what you like, this bass has certainly got it. The sustain on offer is comparable to that of a vintage Fender, so full marks to Tom Stenback on this front as well. The design hints at a touch of class too, and its bespoke nature makes it difficult to make comparisons with other instruments. We couldn’t put this bass down. In fact, it made us re-evaluate some of our old favourites, and that’s saying something. All told a consumate piece of work. Its performance, build quality and materials are up there with the best – so what’s not to like? We suggest you get your hands on one. But if you don’t intend to buy, be sure to leave your wallet at home! For more info visit www.tomstenback.com
Built in: Finland
Scale length: 864mm (34 inches)
Neck: Quarter sawn maple, graphite reinforced
Nut width: 37.5mm
Pickups: 2 x Stenback/Lundgren single-coils, passive
Controls: 1 x volume, 1 x tone
Hardware: Hand-polished stainless steel