Price paid: $ 224.99
Purchased from: Musician's Friend
Sound — 7
When I unboxed it, it was roughly in Dropped C tuning. I tuned her up and plugged in and the sound I got was more than I could have asked for. When you pay a thousand dollars or more for a guitar, you're more likely to be disappointed in the sound and overall quality of the product then if you paid less than $300. You can't buy a Fender Precision Bass that sounds better than the Axl. I play through a Acoustic B200H and 4x12 Acoustic cab, it sounds great. I don't use any pedals or anything, but I did try my Dunlop Bass Wah with it for the heck of it and it sounded just as good as any other bass.
Overall Impression — 9
If it were lost or stolen, I'd easily buy it again. It's great. I used to play with an Epiphone Thunderbird. I liked it, but it was really heavy and the neck is incredibly long. The AXL isn't as big and not near as heavy. I looked at a lot of different basses before deciding on this one. I looked at Les Pauls, SGs, Explorers and quite a few Ibanez basses, but ultimately, I don't think I could have made a better decision than going with the AXL Badwater. If you are in the market for a bass, check them out. If you play the six string on the side as well, look into their guitars. They have the best looking finishes you will ever see and judging by the quality of my bass, I'm sure their guitars are just as good.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The tuning pegs are a little sticky when you are tightening or loosening strings, but it's nothing that will prevent you from tuning the strings. The strap buttons have held up just fine. As for durability, I've done three gigs with it so far without a backup and it's pulled it's weight without a problem. I forgot to mention that this bass is LIGHT! It weights well under 20 pounds, but it's still sturdy. The best thing about the finish is that, seeing as it already looks beat up and scratched, it you scruffed it up some, it would just add to the effect. It already looks vintage, so you might as well put some miles on it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Naturally, I'd read reviews on the bass before I made the purchase. You'll always have nay-sayers, but most of the reviews were good. Some people said that they could scratch the finish off with their finger nails. I tried it a few times out of curiosity and I couldn't manage to affect the finish at all. The action was fine right out of the box. I've always gotten my instruments professionally set up as soon as I bought them, but I've had this one for a month and it doesn't seem to need it. Believe it or not, my band plays in Drop B and this bass holds up just fine in such a low tuning. I honestly thought that I would have to tune up after every song at practice, but I kept checking my tuner and it never came close to going out of tune. You may not believe it, but I'm an eye witness. The only complaint that I have is that, when playing in such a low tuning, my B string seems to flop and buzz a little bit on my first 2 or 3 frets. It no big deal though, you can only hear it when you aren't playing plugged in. When running through an amp, it's not noticeable. Haven't had any electronic issues with it as of yet, either.
Features — 8
I bought this bass thinking that I'd be receiving a lower-level bass guitar. After all, the price is pretty close to one of those starter value packages. This bass arrived at my house and I loved the finish. I got the "Off White" finish and, trust me, the picture doesn't do it justice. This thing looks awesome. All the hardware is antiqued and the wood is distressed. The "Axl" logo is branded on the headstock, it's a cool effect. The pickups are EMG designed, and I don't think you could get a much better sound with real EMGs in it. Solid alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fretboard. The C-Neck profile is pretty comfortable. Two volume and one tone knob gives you room for quite a bit of tonal variety. Both on bolt at the 16th fret. It's a pretty traditional P-Bass style instrument.