Status Series 3, 4 and 5

Both002BGM has been given first dibs to review this brand-new pair of Status symbols and Mike Brooks was handed the task. Read on for a world exclusive!

Despite the introduction of new models, new body shapes and new circuitry, Status’s Series II is still considered the veteran British company’s classic bass, with vintage models currently commanding high asking prices. The three-band EQ-equipped Empathy model superseded the Series II in 1991, which then became the S2-Classic in the late 1990s, and while the various Kingbass incarnations have flown the flag for Status since 2001, the S2-Classic is still extremely popular, with its crisp bodylines and sharp styling. Never a company to rest on his laurels, Rob Green and the team at Status have set about the task of taking this classic bass to the next level. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you the Series 3…

Build Quality

The Series 3 (the S3, as we’ll call it) is a culmination of all the Status models; the company is now more of a custom shop catering for customer requirements within the Status product framework, as all the permutations of hardware, electronics, styling and finishing can be interchanged. The S3 fuses the fanciest elements and broadest tonal spectrum into one model, and these are the first examples.

Opening the Hiscox cases, I felt like I’d received some early Christmas presents – although they aren’t for my personal enjoyment, unfortunately. I had expected something special, and I wasn’t disappointed. The headed four-string features a sumptuous burr walnut facing, almost a marbled chocolate effect, on a two-piece American walnut body core. The contrasting brown tones and hues are impressive. The classic angular Status body shape has been retained, but the body now features an arch top and faux alder binding between the top and body core. I quickly noticed that the contouring and chamfering have been reduced, but the arch top works well and the body facing no longer rounds itself over the side of the body. Instead of the usual chamfer, there is a sharper body edge, which facilitates the faux binding, and makes the elegant lines stand out. A few simple line changes and design cuts have brought a classic shape bang up to date.Blue 5 All001

The moulded graphite neck features a dual action truss rod, a feature Rob has been incorporating for some time. Although neck tints are available upon request, this neck features the natural graphite weave. The neck looks like a set-neck join, but Rob explained that the neck actually reaches all the way up to the bridge pickup. The graphite is moulded into the body during construction, while the front facing is bonded onto the body in a vacuum press. The angle of the neck and fingerboard are uniquely set on each instrument, with the phenolic fingerboard being skimmed perfectly flat, all of which takes time and precision to get right. On this bass, there is no string retainer or zero fret, and the frets have been dressed meticulously with no sharp edges whatsoever: the overall setup is wonderful. Furnished with a graphite through-neck, the S3’s setup and action can be adjusted to the player’s liking with relative ease: it remains extremely stable with virtually no movement, so no matter which string gauge you prefer, either bass won’t present the player with any problems in that department.

The four-string model comes with a 19mm string spacing and a 42mm width at the nut, but this is compensated for by the slim dimensions across the whole length of the neck: think of a slim ‘D’ profile and you’re almost there. The deep body cutaways make access to the upper frets remarkably easy. This bass has been fitted with blue wraparound LEDs along and over the top fingerboard edge, offering the necessary visual reference for the player and a little bling for the audience too. There are also white side markers but no front facing markers. This bass comes furnished with gold hardware throughout: the tuners feel solid and hold the tuning well, the controls turn smoothly and the bass comes fitted with the customary twin strap buttons at the bridge end of the body, offering the player a choice of playing angle.

The five-string bass is fairly similar in most departments, although this bass comes with black hardware: being headless, the player can choose to use double ball end strings or regular strings which can be cut to length and retained using the supplied grub screws. The body dimensions are identical to the four-string instrument, although mahogany has been used as the core wood. The aqua blue stained masur birch top is pleasing and the body looks slimmer than the older style Series II and Empathy body shapes, no doubt accentuated by the sharp-edged, precision-cut look. The gloss finish on both basses really shows off the timbers and from personal experience, it will offer the instrument extra protection from knocks and dings over time.Graphite weave004

With a 34-inch scale, the dimensions of this five-string neck feel comfortable and although the fingerboard looks and feels quite broad, the 18mm string spacing, 47mm nut width and slim rear neck profile and depth shouldn’t cause any fingering problems. This bass also has wraparound LEDs (the front LEDs can be turned off), white in this instance, with an additional set of LEDs in the lower front facing of the fingerboard. All of this requires two 9-volt batteries, although the four-string requires only a single battery. Both basses require two batteries for their 18-volt circuitry.

Both basses feature the same control set (volume, pan, three-band EQ with variable mid), and a quick look inside both control cavities show them both to be well shielded and neat and tidy, completed by the fact that all of the battery compartments use flip-top battery holders. The marrying of timber and graphite has always been an impressive combination, both in terms of looks and tonal performance, and these basses well and truly continue that tradition.

Playability And Sounds

Both basses balance well: the headed four-string exhibits a little headstock bias, but this disappears when placed on a strap. The five-string benefits from its headless construction: with no headstock to contend with, and the increased bulk of the five-string, the neck was no problem to adjust to. Acoustically, both basses sound vibrant, resonant and punchy with plenty of spring, no doubt helped by the fresh strings and the individual bridge units that improve the overall sustain.

Front and Side LEDs003Plugging in and panning around the pickups of both basses shows just how much tonal quality these instruments have, and the proof is in the pedigree. Straight away, the five-string exhibits some fretless slither to its basic tonal character: coaxing a degree of ‘mwah’ from it is fairly straightforward should you want it. The 34-inch scale does make the low B-string feel a little baggy and overly supple, but the circuit more than compensates for this and the instrument’s delivery is still tight and ballsy with plenty of power and grunt. The mid frequencies on offer really make a difference, especially with how you want the low B-string to perform, whether you want some definition and throatiness, some extra clatter and presence or some extra power to the bottom end. It’s all here.

Both basses display a different tonal performance, as indeed they should: no two basses sound exactly alike. However, the Status character is there, determined by the neck and timbers, the circuitry and the pickups. The four-string feels incredibly slinky to play and in turn, this affects how you approach playing it. A Status newbie might be initially intimidated by the response and delivery powered by the circuit, but the scale, comfort and playability urge you to get stuck in: both of these basses have these admirable qualities.

Experimenting with the circuit reveals a diverse range of tones: both basses are fully equipped to deal with any style of playing or musical genre you wish to apply. Playing at home, both basses display clarity, power and a broad dynamic character, but it’s not until you take them out and put them into a band mix that their real functionality and high level of performance becomes apparent. The clarity that makes every string stand out at home contributes to their ability to position themselves perfectly in a band mix, underpinning the band but offering enough projection and dynamics to add some sizzle and bounce to the bottom end.

Conclusions

Both of these basses exude quality craftsmanship, class and finesse. Although the price tags are high, it is readily evident where your money is going, and bear in mind that the LEDs are included in the price. The Series II was a genre-defining bass, and the Series 3 refines its predecessor’s features and visuals with great taste. Tonally, it’s not all twang and glassy treble: its top end complements the solid bottom end and mid-range fundamental with which the bass is blessed. Status basses have always been something to aspire to, and that hasn’t changed. Quality costs, and is worth paying for.

 

Technical Specifications

Status S3 Headed 4

Price: £2,995 (inclusive of LEDs)

Colour: Natural (tobacco stain on rear facing)

Body: American walnut (two-piece) core with burr walnut / alder facing

Neck: Woven graphite moulded through-neck

Fingerboard: Phenolic

Pickups: Status humbucking soapbar pickups x 2

Electronics: 18-volt active, 3-band EQ (303 circuit)

Controls: Volume, pickup pan, bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, mid-range frequency (300Hz – 1.5kHz +/- 6dB cut and boost), mid flat/cut/boost switch

Tuners: Status enclosed tuners, Schaller-style

Bridge: Status monorail, two-way adjustable

Made In: UK

Nut Width: 42mm

Neck Join: Through-neck

Scale Length: 34” (864mm)

Frets: 24

Weight: 4kg (8lb 8oz)

Case/Gig Bag Included: Hard case

Left Hand Model Available: Yes

 

What We Think

Plus: A high quality instrument that deliver on all levels, capable of a wide variety of tones, built to last and extremely reliable. Extremely playable, great looks, an all-round great bass

Minus: At a snip under £3,000, it isn’t cheap – but you get what you pay for

Overall: As an example of the new range, consider your own preferences as all of the elements can be modified to suit the individual. A seriously great bass.

BGM Rating Out Of Ten

Build Quality 10

Sound Quality 9

Value For Money 9

 

Status S3 Headless 5

Price: £3,475 (inclusive of LEDs and stained top)

Colour: Aqua blue stain (front facing), amber stain (rear facing)

Body: Mahogany (two-piece) core with masur birch / alder facing

Neck: Woven graphite moulded through-neck

Fingerboard: Phenolic

Pickups: Status humbucking soapbar pickups x 2

Electronics: 18-volt active, 3-band EQ (303 circuit)

Controls: Volume, pickup pan, bass boost/cut, treble boost/cut, mid-range frequency (300Hz – 1.5kHz +/- 6dB cut and boost), mid flat/cut/boost switch

Bridge: Status monorail, two-way adjustable

Made In: UK

Nut Width: 47mm

Neck Join: Through-neck

Scale Length: 34” (864mm)

Frets: 24

Weight: 4kg (8lb 8oz)

Case/Gig Bag Included: Hard case

Left Hand Model Available: Yes

 

What We Think

Plus: A great-to-play five-string bass that works on every level: the headless design has more than proved itself and the tonal flexibility makes this a bass worthy of the price tag

Minus: A serious investment: headless basses don’t work for some players

Overall: The S3 is a worthy update of the Status line and if you can justify the price tag you will be rewarded with a bass of immense quality, craftsmanship and tone

Build Quality: 10

Sound Quality: 9

Value For Money: 8

 

Contact Details

www.status-graphite.com, www.statii.com

Tagged with: ,
Posted in Gear, Reviews

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*