LTD B-205SMFL review by ESP

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (1 vote)

Price paid: C$ 400

Purchased from: Digital World

Sound — 10
+ How does it suit your music style (and what is that style)? I use it mainly to play classic rock. It is a perfect instrument get the Geezer Butler tone of the NIB bass solo, or the fat bass sound heard on Cream songs. + What amps and effects are you using it with? I run the bass through a Fender Rumble 75 bass amp. You can dial a wide variety of tones, keeping in mind that it is a fretless and it will sound different from your fretted bass. + Is it noisy? On what settings? Rich/Full sound? Bright sound? The sound is a little brighter than I would expect from a fretless, but you can make up for it by using more of the neck pickup and less of the bridge. Using flatwound strings also help to get a warmer sound. + What kind of sounds can the guitar make? How much variety? Fretless bass guitars are a category by themselves. They are perfect for vibrato, slides and warm, mellow sounds.

Overall Impression — 9
This is my first fretless bass, and despite some of the criticisms stated above, it is still a good bang for the buck bass considering the narrow range of possibilities in the 5 string fretless world. I play mostly classic rock, hard rock and metal. This bass is not my main bass. I use it on a few specific songs to get the fretless sound. A fretless like this one is a nice addition to the collection, but I can't see it being a musician's main bass unless you are into jazz. Now that I know I enjoy playing fretless, if this was lost or stolen, I would use that as an excuse to get a higher end replacement with a neck through construction and no fret lines.

Reliability & Durability — 9
I played the bass for a few days with the factory installed round wound strings and that was enough to permanently mark the finish of the fingerboard. Nothing that affects the sound, just "snake lines" that you can see under a bright light. Flatwound strings are a must. I like the strap buttons they put on it. I usually change them for strap locks, but not this time. The original look nice and do their job. Other than that, this bass is built like a tank, and like a tank, it is a little bit on the heavy side.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The neck on mine came with more of a bent than I like. I attempted a truss rod adjustment, to find the rod was already very tight. I did not dare put more pressure into it. The bass is still very playable, and the absence of frets allows for a lower action. The truss rod cover is a piece of cheap plastic and I threw it away. I'd rather have none rather than what they put on. The inlay at the 12th "fret" position (the one with the model number) creates a buzz when you slide over it. I was afraid the dot inlays and fret marker would do that to, but they don't. Out of the box the action was way to low. Obviously no effort were made to adjust it at the factory. This bass has a 34" scale, which is kind of short for a 5 strings. A 35" scale would bring more tension in the B string and allow for a lower action. Right now, my B string is jacked up in comparison to the other to avoid "fret" buzz. Forget about down tuning the B string unless you put a cable size string on. The spalted maple top looks great. (I find black guitars are boring).

Features — 8
I bought this bass because I was looking for a 5 string fretless bass in the low-mid price range. There is not a lot to choose from under $500. It was that or the Ibanez 375F. This comes with a set of regular round wound strings which will eat the finish of the fingerboard. You will need a set of EXTRA LONG SCALE flat wound to put on it. Long scale D'Addario flatwound won't fit in a string through setup. That brings me to the bridge of the instrument that allows for both through and top loading of the strings. The B string of the D'Addario flatwound set won't go through the body unless you remove the metal ring that covers the hole. In my case, the thing fell off as soon as I removed the original B string anyway... (-2 for the strings and the thing that fell off). In short, the specs are: - Bolt-On Construction (6 bolts) - 34" Scale (a 35" scale would be a huge improvement) - Ash Body - Spalted Maple Top - 5 Pc Maple/Rosewood Neck - Rosewood Fingerboard - 45mm Standard Nut - Thin U Neck Contour - Fretless with fret markers - Black Nickel Hardware - ESP Tuners - ESP BB-605 Bridge w/ String-Thru-Body - ESP SB-5 (B & N) p.u. - ESP ABQ-3 3-Band Active EQ - Controls - Bass Boost/Cut - Volume - Mid Boost/Cut - Treble Boost/Cut - Balance

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