Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

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Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by bowenjaybee on Wed Apr 14, 2010 5:22 pm

Today I was walking around Shipley (A small town in the city of Bradford UK) when I saw a Cash Converters shop, so I thought I'd have a quick look as I always do when I find one of these high street pawn shops.

for the first time ever since I've been searching for Westone guitars I saw one!!! it was a Spectrum series II bass in red for £109.. my eyes nearly popped out!!!

it looked in nice condition apart from a few small dings.. it was a 2 pickup version with black hardware and a very pointy headstock (not my thing) so I walked away... I went home and on doing my Westone homework discovered the bass was a SPB311 a high spec but possibly a later Korean made Westone

any good??? or a piece of junk?

http://www.westone.info/spectrum2bass.html

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Warrn on Wed Apr 14, 2010 9:01 pm

The Korean instruments are still SLM products. I don't think the Westone site would cover them if they weren't any good. But I've not played one so I can't say for sure.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Thu Apr 15, 2010 3:35 am

yep, Warren's right - these are still a very good instrument regardless of where they were made. I reckon for 100 quid you can't really go wrong... but first you gotta play it and see if it feels "right" for you; no good having an instrument that doesn't "fit", eh!!!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by bowenjaybee on Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:46 am

Think I'll let it go, if were a Spectrum GT I would have grabbed it but that pointy headstock just says 80's hair metal all over it and that is too much for this old Indie kid

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Guest on Tue Jun 08, 2010 4:53 pm

Warrn wrote:The Korean instruments are still SLM products. I don't think the Westone site would cover them if they weren't any good.

They're not all SLM guitars. After Matsumoku closed production moved to Korea with some models (Corsairs etc) being made for SLM for the US market and some (Clippers, Spectrum Series IIs) made for FCN (the original UK distributor) for the UK/European market. I've heard that the SLM guitars are very close to the quality of the Matsumoku ones. I don't have an opinion on that since I've never played one. I have strong opinions on the ones made for the UK market. The quality is vastly inferior to the Matsumoku guitars, I've had three or four now and would not consider buying any more no matter how low the price.

The Korean instruments are listed on the site because when I started it I didn't know anyhthing like as much as I do today - I only had a Thunder and a Concord, I had no practical experience of any other models, and until a couple of months ago I didn't know exactly when Matsumoku closed, so there were a lot of models that might have been either made in Japan or Korea, and some that may have been made in Japan and then later in Korea.

The main focus of the site has always been on the Matsumoku guitars - if I'd had a definitive list of which guitars were made in Korea when I started the site i wouldn't have included them at all, but I didn't so they snuck in. (Conversely, if I was doing a site about things with Westone on the headstock that I think are good I'd include the current crop of acoustics/electro-acoustics being made in China for FCN)

On the site I've tried to give just the facts and avoid giving personal opinions about the guitars as far as possible, but if I was just listing the guitars I thought were good I'd miss out -

- all guitars with only one pickup (Too limited tonal range for my tastes)

- all the Korean made guitars - I don't like the quality of the FCN/UK ones and the SLM ones don't appeal to me at all. There's very little individuality - to me they all look like generic slab bodied pointy headed superstrats, could have been made by a number of companies. I find it very hard to tell them apart - show me a picture of a Matsumoku Westone and I'll telll you exactly what it is, but show me an SLM one and I have to go look closely through the catalogues.

- anything that only came with the Bendmaster Deluxe.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Tue Jun 08, 2010 6:51 pm

Thorn wrote:- anything that only came with the Bendmaster Deluxe.

...because?

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by umpdv5000 on Tue Jun 08, 2010 7:22 pm

I picked up a Spectrum Series II bass recently that I have mentioned on another discussion column. It had a broken headstock that had been pieced back together, not quite in line unfortunately. However, I have worked on it and its in the spray booth at the moment looking good. What I can tell you, is that the body is made of Ply (which reminds me of Epiphones) and the neck is your average piece of Maple (or what looks like it). I did play it un-amplified before I dismantled it and I can tell you that it wasn't an unworthy instrument, but definitely not to the quality of the Matsumoku made instruments. I paid £15 for it on a car boot sale and if this quality of instrument is ok for you and you can get one in good order for under the £100 mark, say about £80, then I would definitely grab one. If your looking for top end quality, I notice quite a few Thunders go at incredibly low prices on ebay.co.uk and these are definitely well above the quality build of the Spectrum I have here.

Martin.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:43 am

Thunder prices vary a lot though - I've seen Thunder IAs fetch anything between £60 and £250. Spectrum Series IIs tend to get less - don't think I've ever seen one go above £80 - 90

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Guest on Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:33 am

corsair wrote:
Thorn wrote:- anything that only came with the Bendmaster Deluxe.

...because?

I think it's not as good as the trem it replaced. My comparison of the FT and Deluxe -

String locks - poor quality on both. You virtually have to take them apart to change strings, which could explain why so many of them are missing bits these days. They're both made of a light alloy that has threads that strip if you really tighten the clamps. There's very little thread anyway on the Deluxe lock since it's very thin. There's more length of thread on the FT lock, but although it looks a lot bigger and more substantial it isn't really - it's mostly hollow underneath, only about 2mm thick.

Arm height and tension adjustment - on the FT, a barrel and nut on the top, easily accessible. On the Deluxe - barrel on the top, nut underneath so it really needs adjusted from above and below at the same time. Height adjustment on the Deluxe is limited by the raised fine tuners, the arm naturally sits higher than the FTs. It also has an upward bend at the end of the arm - personally, I find it very awkward to use, I can't hold the arm and play at the same time which I can easily do on the FT. I also find that because of the bends in the arm the Deluxe arm tends to get in the way of reaching the controls more than the FT arm.

Intonation adjustment - standard, precise screw adjustment on the FT, on the Deluxe it is crudely done - loosen a bolt and move the saddle by hand until you get it about right, and hope tightening the bolt again doesn't move the saddle

Individual string height adjustment - standard precise adjustment on the FT, two grub screws per saddle. Nonexistent on the Deluxe, short of shimming the saddles, which is a pain. The saddle heights on the Deluxe are supposed to match the fingerboard radius, but that lack of adjustment doesn't allow for wear and tear on the frets. The frets on my Genesis II are in very good condition, but there's a buzz at the 10th fret on the D string. On an FT I could compensate for that just by raising the D string a little, on the Deluxe I have to raise the height of several strings. (Or shim it, but I'd have to make the shims and mess about with the crude intonation setting again). With any fret wear at all, and only the two studs to set the height of all the strings setting the action is a bit of a compromise.

The Deluxe strikes me as an attempt to make a trem that looked more like a Floyd Rose, but crudely done. (For instance, it has roller saddles, which don't roll. At all. )

I can only think of two good things to say about it - it stays in
tune well (But every trem system I've got does if it's set up properly and the strings are put on properly), and thanks to the bent bit over the top of the saddles the
strings don't fall off the saddles like they sometimes do on the FT
when you do extreme downward bends (Which I find doesn't happen if you put the strings on so they are
straight, make sure the string doesn't twist/rotate as you fit it).

The only bad thing I can say about the FT apart from the locknut is that the part that holds the string ball just isn't strong enough.

Mind, I do think neither of them compares to the Kahler on the X390 - precise adjustment of individual string intonation, height and string spacing, arm height, arm tension and even arm angle. That's how trems should be made.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Wed Jun 09, 2010 6:31 am

Having only just this moment seen an FT, I would have to say you're dead right about the differences... thanks, mate!!!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by umpdv5000 on Wed Jun 09, 2010 7:15 pm

Thorn wrote:The frets on my Genesis II are in very good condition, but there's a
buzz at the 10th fret on the D string.

A little remedy trick to cure your buzz....

On your troublesome D string do the following:

Test 1... Fret the string on the 9th fret and look VERY CLOSELY at the gap between the string and 10th fret and take note of the distance. Then fret the string at the 11th fret and look very closely again at the gap between the string and the 12th fret and take notice of this distance. If the gap between the string and the fret is greater at the 12th fret than the gap at the 10th fret, then it should follow that the 11th fret is not quite seated properly at that point and thus too high, which will be causing the buzz when the string is fretted at the 10th.

Test 2... If the gap noticed between the string at the 10th fret is greater than the gap noticed between the string at the 12th fret, then it should follow that the 10th fret has been over seated and thus too low, which will be the cause of the buzz (this is of course assuming that there is not a dip in the fret caused by excessive fret wear).

To remedy do as follows:

If the result is of test 1, find or cut yourself a piece of wood that about 20m square at the grain end (approximately) and long enough for you to hold in your hand like a small punch. Prise the strings apart to bear the 11th fret at the point where the D string crosses it and place the end of your wooden punch onto the fret. You must take great care to keep the wooden punch square and not leaning at an angle so that one side of it is touching the fretboard. You must also take great care that the prised apart strings are held away and do not slip between the wooden punch and the fret. While supporting the underside of the neck (either on a rest or even your leg) hit the punch with a hammer firmly but not too hard, then test to see if the buzz has been removed. If not, repeat the process till cured.

If the result is of test 2, you would need a small pair of end cutters (which look like nail pullers but smaller) that will need to be ground down on the end so as to make the cutting edges flush with any surface that they are placed against. This type of ground down end cutting tool is what is generally used to remove frets. If you should have this tool, place it carefully around the 10th fret so that the cutting jaw edges will lift the fret ever so slightly when you squeeze them together. Raise the fret by a small amount and test for buzz. If you over raise the fret you will have buzz occurring when you fret the string at the 9th fret. If this is the case, just tap it back in slightly using method 1.

This method works on so many occasions without resorting to filing or fret levelling. It just takes a little care and courage.

Martin.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Steve777 on Wed Jun 09, 2010 8:38 pm

Hi Thorn,

You mention the string locks being of poor quality which results in thread stripping. I dont think that anyone would disagree with you there !

However, the OE socket head bolts are all the same length which means that with the thicker strings, less of the string lock thread gets picked up, resulting in stripping. On my Westones I have swapped these out to use three different lengths of bolt to pick up all thread to the bottom of the hole.

Secondly, where I have a stripped thread, usually the E/A string lock, I drill the hole out to accept a self tapping 6mm outer / 4mm inner hardened steel insert. "Bobs your uncle" and "jobs a gud un" !

Hope this helps

Steve

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Thu Jun 10, 2010 2:55 am

Pix, Steve, or it didn't happen!!!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Barry on Thu Jun 10, 2010 8:44 am

Excellent info there Martin and Steve!
Thanks for that.


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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Guest on Thu Jun 10, 2010 6:26 pm

Good stuff indeed - the Genesis will get its dodgy fret sorted sometime, but it's currently way down in the too long list of things to do. I'll keep a note of Steve's fix for if (When) I get a stripped thread on a locknut - been lucky enough not to have that problem myself yet.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Fri Jun 11, 2010 2:39 am

That fix for the locknut base is a real gem - good work there, Steve! - and Martin, thank you for the fret advice!!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Steve777 on Sun Jun 13, 2010 7:59 am

For those that are interested, here is the web link to the self tapping inserts that I use.

http://www.tappex.co.uk/Ensat_Selector.aspx?range=H-type&rangedesignid=18

They are made by a German company called Kerb - Konus but distributed over her ( UK ) by Tappex in Warwick. I'm sure they have distrubuters all over the World. If I remember, they were slightly too long for the BD deluxe string lock, but a Dremmel grinder soon sorted the problem. They maybe spot on for the other string lock

Sorry John, cant produce any pictures as the string locks are all in place. I'm not sure what you see anyway as I re-painted them before mounting them on the guitars.

So the moral of the story is dont throw away your string locks if they are stripped. They can be repaired.

All the best

Steve

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by THEBARRON on Tue Jun 15, 2010 7:12 am

You People Rock!

I have learned so much since I have been a part of this forum.

Every time I have a look @ the Westone World here i feel like a little kid @ a B.B.Q., with all my uncle`s teaching me how to play Cricket. (of course it was always more fun when they were half cut)

Luv the info,

Cheers,

Richie...

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by bowenjaybee on Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:29 am

I had a look to see if the Spectrum series II Bass was still in the pawn shop and it was, it had been reduced to £80 I gave it a good look over and plugged it in, the pick-ups worked.... the frets despite been full of gunk looked ok and the neck played nice , the pick-up selector switch was missing and so was the active battery cover, no problem!! mmmm I can't resist a great restoration project.. I managed to haggle and walked away with it for £70... a bargain considering this high end version retailed at £285 in 1988!


When I got it home I tried a couple of batteries but no joy the active didn't work arrggh!!! I had a look under the hood and amongst all that scary wiring i could see that a couple of wires were just dangling free. A big thank you to the Westone site for the wiring diagram



I had to satisfy my curiosity and stripped it down to see if it was made of Ply, thankfully it wasn't, it looks like maple to me but most likely poplar as according to the 1989 new horizons catalogue later versions of this bass were made from poplar.. I'm no wood expert and can't remember the last time I listened to a song and said "oooohh that guitar is made of ash" 'Laughing



To be continued.............


Last edited by bowenjaybee on Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:14 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Warrn on Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:20 pm

I'll never prefer the Spectrum II body to the original, but I like that they moved the jack to the edge of the body. Good luck with it!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by bowenjaybee on Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:11 pm

Not Mats? Korean made? Awful pointy headstock!! who cares? I sorted the wiring out and this bass plays and sounds f***ing excellent.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by Warrn on Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:02 pm

It sounds excellent because the pickups are the same Magnabass pickups that were used on Mats basses! As for how it plays, well, I'd hope the neck is based on Uncle Mats as well.

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

Post by corsair on Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:31 am

bowenjaybee wrote:Not Mats? Korean made? Awful pointy headstock!! who cares? I sorted the wiring out and this bass plays and sounds f***ing excellent.

That's the essential truth... I'm glad you like it!!

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Re: Westone Spectrum Series II bass SPB311

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