LTD F-204 review by ESP

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  • Features: 8
  • Sound: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (4 votes)
ESP: LTD F-204

Price paid: $ 800

Purchased from: Musikksenteret Liillestrom

Features — 8
- Maple-walnut/rosewood 35inch 5-piece bolt-on neck with 24 XJ frets. - Solid top Rosewood body with a blue finish that actually looks much cooler than it sounds. - It has the very distinct LTD F-shape, and with the blue color this bass really sticks out, in my opinion in a good way. - ESP BB-04 bridge. - Passive EMG 35HZ pickups with an active 3 band EQ, giving a lot of tonal capabilities. - In addition to the 3 EQ knobs there's a volume knob and a balance knob. - ESP tuners, I've had the E-tuner changed to a Hipshot Xtender Drop Tuner. - No accessories were included, since this probably was bought some time ago and had been moved around, maybe from store to store. - All hardware has a Smoked chrome finish, which looks really nice.

Sound — 8
It very much suits my music, playing thrash metal, and often drop tuning down to drop c to play more groove metal and metalcore kind of music. It can really be tuned up and down without any big issues. I play on a Hartke LH1000 with a HX410 cabinet, and this in combination with the F-204 opens for a lot of variation, but especially suited for getting a crisp, twangy sound. The bass seems to be kinda noisy in the high end, which really bothers me when recording, but not too noticeable when playing loud. Even though this is a metal bass, with the 3-band EQ you have the possibility to play very different kinds of music, though it clearly LOOKS like a metal bass.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The guitar had been in the shop for a while, so I had to tighten some parts and intonate it. The action was good, and I haven't changed it. It's a bit high when playing in E standard, but since I need to be able to get down to drop C without it getting too buzzy, it fits well the way it is. I am considering doing a full overhaul, just to make things perfect, but this is a bass that can play well without being perfect. It's a rough bass. In general, except for having to tighten parts, everything was set quite nicely, but probably not suited for playing very soft music.

Reliability & Durability — 10
Everything about this bass says that I'll probably keep it until the day I quit playing/die. It is solid, it can take a beating, the hardware will hold up except for the jack output, it often needs tightening, and I'm considering changing it for something more solid and fitting. The plastic rings on the tuners will probably all break very soon, but that doesn't seem to be a problem. I've made a few bumps into the body, but so far the finish is still intact, and I think it will continue to be. But this is a rough bass, it sounds good even if your neck is set wrong, your tuners are loose, the action is too low. Somehow it sounds good no matter what I do to it, just have to change the strings (or boil them) from time to time. If you remember to unplug it when not playing and change the battery, I highly doubt you'll ever have a problem with this bass live.

Overall Impression — 9
For my kind of music, or any kind of metal music, I would really recommend this bass, or rather F-104 which is still in production. I've been playing this bass for about 1 and a half year, it's the only bass I've owned, but I've played a lot, and except for some basses in a much higher price class, this is the best I've played. If this bass was lost, I would not hesitate to buy another, or as similar as possible, but perhaps a 5 instead of 4 string. Only thing that sets it down for me is the noisy high end, since I like playing with a very twangy sound, and the lack of accessories when buying it.

6 comments sorted by best / new / date

    My Last Words
    How can you give reliability and durability a 10 if "The plastic rings on the tuners will probably all break very soon", or "the hardware will hold up except for the jack output". Things breaking very soon doesn't sound that durable to me.
    I see what you mean, but in my opinion the overall reliability and durability is incredible, the plastic rings doesn't really make a difference, unless there's something important i don't know, and since the bass seemed to have been in store for a while without maintenance, i figured the jack problem had to do with that. My opinion, 10, but i might be very wrong.
    I've lost the plastic ring from my 5-strings D-string. It doesn't make a difference.
    I have F-104 from 2005. And ever since i have been playing it a lot. Practice or live, that's what i use. So far nothing happen to the hardware or the jack output. It serves me well! Don't know how different the F-204 is from F-104, but i think it might not be, less reliable!
    I bought an F204 around 10 years ago and it's still going strong. I never serviced it, I just change strings once in a while. Extremely durable and never had 1 second of problems with it.