It doesn’t matter if it’s a guitar, a ukulele, a violin, or the new Spector Timbre acoustic bass guitar; when you get down to it, an acoustic stringed instrument is a wooden box set up to amplify the vibrations of a string. The best are efficient machines that make the most out of your playing technique—when one is working right, it feels like magic. The Spector Timbre Bass feels like magic, but after playing it for a few weeks, I have a good feeling that the results come more from Spector’s decades of building experience than sleight of hand or ancient potions.
Many luthiers theorize about the importance of a good connection between an instrument’s neck and its body. The idea is that a good connection between the two parts transfers more energy from the vibrating string into the instrument’s body, exciting the body’s natural amplifying ability. If there’s any credence to this theory, the Timbre Bass embodies it.
For starters, like a few of the other acoustically successful acoustic-bass guitars (ABG), such as the Guild B-50 and Tacoma Thunderchief, the Timbre has a large body. Though bulkier than the ABGs based on guitar bodies, the Spector’s large body gives it enough projection and big bassy tone to be heard and felt when played without electricity. The offset soundhole (another nod toward the Tacoma) gives the top more surface area to resonate.
Visible through the ovoid soundhole on the upper-bass bout, the bolt-on neck attaches to one of the most massive neck blocks I’ve ever seen. Instead of making the instrument heavy or unbalanced, the Spector feels lively. Every note I play is vivacious and playful, with an immediate responsiveness to subtle changes in plucking-hand position or fretting-hand touch.
The sound pouring out of my amp is my acoustic ideal: punchy,
warm, clear, and well-balanced across the frequency spectrum,
with a tight, solid low-end.
When I finally plug the jumbo, ladder-braced Spector into a proper bass amp (an SWR Baby Blue combo) and turn up, I’m amazed.
I don’t use that word lightly. The sound pouring out of my amp is my acoustic ideal: punchy, warm, clear, and well-balanced across the frequency spectrum, with a tight, solid low-end. But where it really excels is what it doesn’t do, the electrified tone is completely free of the harsh, plasticky clack heard in so many instruments with undersaddle pickups—and really out-of-place on a bass.
The tone improves the more I strip away all EQ and run the Spector flat onboard and by bypassing the SWR’s EQ section. In short, the Timbre has no harsh high-end that needs to be dialed-back, just plump bass-y goodness that will please your bandmates as much as it will please you.
At under $699, the Spector Timbre is not only affordable and accessible to many guitarists looking to add a bass to their toolkit, it’s simply one of the finest-sounding acoustic bass guitars on the market.
AT A GLANCE: Spector Timbre Acoustic Bass
Body Solid Sitka spruce top; laminated mahogany back and sides; rosewood bridge; matte finish (available in natural, black, and walnut stain)
Neck 3-piece mahogany bolt-on; 20-fret rosewood fingerboard with dot markers; 34-inch scale; 1 ½-inch nut;
black Gotoh-style tuners
Electronics Fishman Sonicore pickup; Fishman Presys+ preamp
Extras Padded gig bag
Price $929 list/$699 street
Made in China
This article originally appeared in the May 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.