Price paid: $ 150
Purchased from: used
Sound — 7
My plan is to use the Dean EABC 5 during acoustic sets with my band and at church for liturgical accompaniment. Acoustically the Dean EABC 5 has very good tone and volume... certainly able to keep pace with unamplified acoustic guitars. The amplified tone was as weak as the models I tested at Guitar Center. But, because I was able to get a respectable tone after boosting and tweaking the amp, and being pleased at the intonation and neck feel, compared to the GC floor models, I bought it for what I felt was a good price. After getting it home I ran it through an effects pedal which allowed me to bring up the gain from the pickup and boost the low end, and then this baby really started getting me excited. The fret tap and string noise which is present through the standard EQ can be reduced substantially with additional preamp EQ adjustments, yet the acoustic resonance remains. My plan is to replace the passive EQ with an active unit, including an upgraded piezo pickup.
Overall Impression — 7
Change the stings and upgrade the EQ to active and you have an acoustic bass that can really put out some nice sound. But, again, let me remind you that the one I bought was used and made in about 2006. If it had played and felt like the floor models I tested at Guitar Center I would not have bought it. I don't know if Dean has dropped it's quality control process or what, but, if you are going to by one Brand New be sure to inspect it carefully for neck alignment, intonation and fret dressing. If any of these items are bad either convince the shop to fix them for free or pass on the deal. If you can find one with a straight neck, good intonation and plays comfortably, you will have a great sounding acoustic bass once you change the strings to bronze and upgrade to an active EQ. Even after those expenses you will still have a good sounding instrument at a bargain price.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The build is very sturdy. It is an acoustic, and would not take the thrashing that a solid body guitar would. Only a bottom strap button is installed. I added one on the heel of the neck. Hard to say how the satin finish will hold up. That's up to the amount of use/abuse it gets, I guess. I have no problem with the finish. This bass will be only one in my arsenal of basses and will not get the majority of my playing time, so I don't have a great concern about wearing it out.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
The setup and action on the used EABC I bought used was spot-on. The new models at Guitar Center were not as well finished. The satin finish of the body and neck is good... preferred by some over glossy, and appearance is good. Remember, we're talking about an entry-level instrument here. But, having said that, the EABC really has some nice features such as body and neck binding and a nice rosette. The nickle-wound strings have to be replaced with bronze to get a fuller tone. The tuners are fine and everything fits together and holds a tuning well. The EABC is no work of ART but it does play, sound and look good for the price.
Features — 6
I have the 5-string version, used, circa 2006. Mahogany back and sides, a select Spruce top, 24 jumbo fret Rosewood fingerboard with dot inlays, sealed tuners, full size body with 18" lower bout and cutaway, 34" scale length, passive piezo pickup system with volume and tone sliders. The one I have was advertised in a local classified listing. Before going to look at the used one for sale I went to the local Guitar Center and checked out the acoustic basses they had. The 4-string version of the Dean was there, along with a number of much higher-priced acoustic basses costing upwards of $600. The high priced basses had very good tone and playability. The Dean had much less tone mostly because of the passive EQ, whereas the higher priced basses had active EQ. The new Deans (I tried a couple of the same model) did not have their frets dressed properly on the edges which produced a very uncomfortable playing condition. Also, the intonation on these two floor models were not very good. I left GC with low expectations of what I would find when I went to see the used EACB 5 listed in the classifieds. I was pleased to find that intonation on the used Dean was perfect, and the frets were dressed fine and produced no abrasion while playing. The EACB does not come with a case. Guitar Center had a "hard shell" available for about $150. Musician's Friend has a gig bag available for about $30. The EACB is v-e-r-y l-o-n-g. There are not many options for a case. If you are handy with wood working you could build your own.