We’ve seen our fair share of sleek Warwick instruments, but in this case the company are stretching out.
The Warwick Star Bass II is essentially a reissue of the earlier Framus model, merging the classy retro looks and traditional hollow-body design of the original with a full 34-inch scale length and MEC pickups. The double-cutaway body is made from AAA flame maple gently arched with a satin finish, though you can order a bubinga body if you prefer, or choose from a range of gloss and high-colour finishes. Like the original Framus Star Bass, the neck is glued in rather than bolted to the body. The fingerboard is wenge, which has become a mainstay in Warwick basses and is patterned with course, dark stripes and a very open grain. Don’t be fooled by the large chrome covers – these are single-coils not humbuckers, with pole piece screws that can be lowered or raised to adjust the volume. Warwick’s bridge assembly is adjustable for string spacing, height and intonation, and the plastic nut can be lowered or raised should you want to try out some lighter or heavier gauge strings. The two passive MEC pickups are wired to individual volume and tone controls and a three-way selector switch.
The Star Bass II has heaps of stage presence at a gig, and a clear, distinctive bass sound that really cuts through. With the added resonance gained from the semi-hollow body, the tone has a definite acoustic edge. Despite perhaps lacking the weighty punch of a solidbody, there are percussive overtones to be had right across the neck, as well as plenty of sustain. These passive MEC humbuckers are surprisingly responsive. Using the volume controls, you can select either pickup independently for a thinner sound, or blend the two for a much fuller tone, and if you add in your own technique then the sonic options really begin to add up. Playing with a plectrum is great for some authentic old-school rock ’n’ roll. Unlike many Warwick basses, the Star Bass II isn’t crammed with tone controls or active electronics, and therefore relies on qualities inherent in its construction for its core sound. Some may view this as rather limiting, but its natural finish and exotic woods look and feel fantastic, and the tone and playability are no less impressive. If you can afford it, the Star Bass II gets the thumbs up in every department.
Built in: Germany
Scale length: 863mm (34 inches)
Frets: 21, jumbo, bell brass
Neck: 3-piece ovangkol laminate
Fingerboard: Wenge, 502mm radius
Body: Semi-hollow, AAA flamed-maple top and back, solid-maple sides & centre block
Pickups: 2 x passive MEC single-coils
Controls: 2 x volume, 2 x passive tone, active/passive selector switch
Machine heads: Warwick, 20:1 ratio, chrome
Bridge: Warwick, 2-piece adjustable bridge & tailpiece
Weight: 4.4 kg (9.5 lb)
Finish: Natural satin