Purchased from: Music 440
Features — 8
The EVL-Z6B, made in 2007 or 2009 (no difference in electronics or hardware between the two), is one slick, stylish 4 string bass. It's got a 3-piece maple neck-thru design with a pretty standard shape, ~16" radius, modern "C" size, with a 22 jumbo fret ebony fretboard on a scale of 34". It's slightly uncomfortable if you don't have the biggest of hands, purely because most 34" basses would usually have 24 frets.
The body is mahogany, excepting the 3-piece maple center from the neck-thru design, giving it a variability of light and dark tones when in contrast. It's got a reasonably comfortable PRS/VIP shape with appropriate contours for belly and arm. It's also ever so slightly thinner than a normal bass, though a little on the heavy side, which can become incredibly evident when wearing it with a strap for long periods of time.
It has a string-thru bridge with a bridge held to the body with larger-than-usual bolts. The tuners are Hipshot HB6 Ultralites, which are light, but incredibly stable, giving a very "factory-tuned" feel to the bass.
The neck pickup is an EMG 35P4, and a 35J for the bridge pickup. They are active electronics, and while some people are discouraged by the need for batteries, the battery life in this bass is quite lengthy and the features heavily outweigh that sacrifice. There are 4 knobs on the front of the guitar. The top two are for a master volume and a pickup balancer, the latter of which has a small notch in the spin to let you know when it's exactly in the middle. Below that are two stack knobs, which allow for a total of 4 knobs; for the bass, treble, mids, and mid boost/cutoff, all of which except for the mid boost/cutoff knob also have the notch in the rotation to indicate halfway.
Sound — 10
The electronics on this bass are beyond special with their range and flexibility. The neck pickup has been used in the instruments of artists playing Death metal, grindcore, glam punk, hard rock, and funk rock, while the bridge pickup has been used professionally for deathgrind, funk, and jazz of all things. It's an odd combination, but the range doesn't stop there, due to the controls on the bass. With all of this variability, there is quite literally no sound that can't be achieved with this bass, and it's more than adequate for my personal Metal sound. I generally play it clean with a pretty standard bass amp.
My usual settings is to have the pickup balancer at 50%, mids at 100%, treble at 50%, and bass at 50%, and then on the amp, I use 7 for treble, mids at 10, and bass at 3. It's a sweet spot for me. I also occasionally use an overdrive or a fuzz pedal, both of which it works with quite spectacularly, due to how the variability in sound practically makes any effect like working with an equalizer.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The bass was pretty much spot on with how I like to play, though things like the action are all variables based on personal preference. From the factory, it comes with a very low action, which does cause some fret buzz if not played absolutely perfectly, but that is an easy fix. Apart from that, there's an amount of static-y noise from the amp depending on the control settings. Though, as stated above, the sheer amount of settings means that I suspect this to be a problem with just what's being boosted, rather than it being to do with faulty electronics. The sound of the instrument easily covers the static anyway, so it's no real trouble.
The style of the bass, is eye-catching, to say the least. It looks menacing, dark, and gothic, not just due to the body shape, but because the inlays are pentagrams, except for the 12th fret inlay which is a large mother of pearl dagger which stretches from fret 11 to 15 (the hilt of the dagger is the 12th fret). It also has pentagrams engraved on the knobs, and the truss rod cover is a metal plate shaped like a coffin with a dagger carved into it. The level of finesse looks as if it was a custom job made specially for you, purely because it goes so out of its way to be unique and avoid standard things, like dot inlays and such.
Reliability & Durability — 8
This is definitely a sturdy instrument. I don't see any probability for it to fail on me, short of the battery dying mid-performance, but it feels incredibly solid. The gothic design of it carries onto the hardware, where the bridge and tuners are solid metal, and they look as if they were industrially forged especially for this bass, all held on with large bolts.
It must be noted though, that when I bought this, it was secondhand and there was a chip in the side of the body. Nothing too large, it was easily covered up, but the fact that there was a chip there means that there could be a possibility of it being weak. I've seen no evidence of such thus far, but I've only owned it for a few months now. It feels incredibly sturdy though, so I would guess that the previous owner mistreated or dropped it, maybe multiple times.
Overall Impression — 8
I play various kinds of metal, from groove to core, and this definitely fits it well. However, I learnt to play slap bass and tested it out with some different knob settings and it sounded just like a jazz or funk bass. There's only a single key problem with this bass, and it's the variability might be a bit too much. There are 5 knobs on the bass that aren't controlling volume, and combined with however many you may have on your amp, the fiddling around you will end up doing to find the perfect sound is basically neverending. Furthermore, it's something you can either commit to memory, or just not bother, set everything to 50% and just use a pedal with all your presets on it.
But that one hitch aside, if it can even be called a hitch, this is a perfect bass for just about anyone in terms of sound. Some of those people would be unsuitable for design, however, because I've never seen a funk or jazz bassist who's into pentagrams and gothic style. I'd recommend this for a bassist looking to play some heavy music while keeping a real nice style to it all.