Price paid: £ 479
Purchased from: GuitarGuitar
Features — 10
This bass was made in Korea, I'm not exactly sure what year but probably at some point in the last 5 to 10 years. It's got 5 strings and 24 frets. The body is made out of mahogany with a flame maple top. It has a 5-piece through neck made out of maple and walnut, with an ebony fretboard and ultra-thin "U" profile. It has offset abalone dot inlays. You can have this bass in any finish you want, as long as it's natural satin.
The tuners and bridge are both Hipshot satin black. The pickups are EMG 40P5 (N) and 40TW (B), and this is complimented by a EMG B64 3-band EQ, plus balance and master volume pot, and a coil split on the bridge pickup. All in all, pretty much top-notch spec.
Sound — 9
This is a really high-gain bass as you might expect. The upshot of this is that unwanted noise is pretty much non-existent. Very nice and quiet. The construction of this bass and the active pickups mean that it has very long sustain. The EQ and coil split feature allows you to dial in a very large number of different tones. The attack on the bass is not particularly punchy, but not really smooth either. I would say it's somewhere in the middle. The low end is nice and tight, but not lacking. The mids are very clear, and it's got a nice bite on the high end, if you so desire.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
I bought this bass in an end-of-line sale, and unfortunately, it was not set up very well at all. The strings were pretty old, the neck had been de-tensioned and was bowed forwards, and some of the frets had started oxidizing slightly. There was also a small dent on the top horn of the bass. I think these problems are more likely to do with the actual store though, rather than the bass itself. The bass is actually beautifully constructed. The woods all fit together perfectly, the finish is very nice and flat and all the hardware is installed pretty well. There are also no obvious dead spots on any of the frets. Once I set the neck relief properly, the intonation didn't need a massive amount of adjustment. The only slight problem I came across was that the holes for the strings in the body of the bass were ever so slightly misaligned with the holes in the bridge itself. The only reason I say this was because I put a really heavy bottom string (.145") on it, and it didn't fit through the bridge. This meant I had to drill a slightly bigger hole in the body to get it to fit. This would not be a problem if you used normal strings though. Also, the bridge pickup didn't go quite as high up as I wanted it to, but this really is just nitpicking now.
Reliability & Durability — 8
I've never heard of anyone having any problems with ESP guitars being unreliable. They are generally built to last. The LTD quality control has been lacking a bit in recent years, but I think this one still feels very well put together. The jack plug feels nice and tight, and the pots spin round nice and smoothly with no problems. My only slight problem is the fact that the bridge has had a bit of the satin black paint come off. But it is a very small amount, and I think it might have been someone being careless when it was set up.
Overall Impression — 9
I play metal and hard rock music. I think this bass is great for that. The sound really cuts through, it feels really nice and the thin neck with satin finish is really nice and quick to play. I love the look of this bass. It pretty much fits in with almost any genre of music, in both looks and sound. Some people have complained about the weight, but I don't think it's too heavy at all. I think this is a really great bass. The only issue was to do with the setup of it, but as long as you know how to set up a guitar properly, there really isn't anything else you could ask for from this bass.