Price paid: $ 299
Purchased from: Sam Ash
Sound — 10
Sound is heavy and full. No tinny sound even on the upper frets. I just run mine straight thru the amp... No effects. As I mentioned earlier, the tone knobs allow a huge range of sounds, but for the most part I keep mine set at the middle detent setting of each for a good balance of tone at both low notes and highs.
Overall Impression — 9
I play metal, so this bass certainly looks the part, and more importantly sounds the part as well. In the store I tried about a dozen different basses in this price range. Some were absolute junk, others were OK. But some of the other decent basses I tried were either too heavy, had no active pickups, boring/uninspiring/ugly shape, bad finish, clunky or loose tuners, etc. This bass was the best one for the money, in my opinion. I've been playing guitar for 30 yrs, and decided to learn the bass just a few years ago, so I don't have a lot of experience with basses, but I do have enough experience to tell a quality instrument when I see one. If something were to happen to mine, I'd probably upgrade to a more expensive P- or J-bass, but if forced to stay at the same budget, I wouldn't have to think twice about getting another F104.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The hardware (tuning keys, bridge, etc) seem like good quality stuff...nice and solid. I'm between bands, so I don't play it more than an hour at a time, maybe 3-4 nights a week practicing or jamming along with the CD player if I have time. But I can't foresee any problems using this bass for a longer gig. It isn't too heavy, and it's balanced, so it shouldn't Hurt your shoulder at all. I've only had to replace the batteries for the pickups twice in two years (one of those times was because a friend was goofing around with it and left it plugged in), so battery life is not an issue for me.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
At first I played it as I got it from The Music store. But after a few months, I dared adjusting the truss rod, and since then it is darn near perfect. Action is just a hair higher than the high-dollar basses, but I've adjusted mine to get it where I want it with only occasional buzzing on the first fret (E string only), but that could be attributed to my heavy right-hand technique, too. The finish on mine is flawless, and having owned it for over two years now, it has held up very well.
Features — 8
The gothic-looking body was what got my attention first. After checking it out, and seeing some of the features, like active pickups, etc, I plugged it in at the store. This bass plays nice, has a thin neck, and feels balanced... Not too heavy. You can manipulate the pickups by adjusting the three knobs to get many, many tones, low to high.