LTD Vintage-214 review by ESP

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  • Features: 9
  • Sound: 9
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 8
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9 Superb
  • Users' score: 9 (6 votes)
ESP: LTD Vintage-214

Price paid: € 320

Purchased from: Esse Music (Italy)

Features — 9
- 21 extra-jumbo frets
- Thin U 34" scale bolt on maple neck with 14" radius rosewood fretboard
- Solid swamp ash body with transparent gloss finish
- Precision bass body shape and pickguard
- Passive ESP designed precision neck pickup and jazz bridge pickup
- v/v/t controls and input jack on the side of the bass
- Non locking LTD tuners

The neck is fantastic. It is thinner than the average Fender Precision Bass. I tried Squiers of the same price range a few months before looking at this bass, but I did not like the feel of the neck, nor did they sound as good. The playability is perfect. I was also impressed by the fact that I could get a swamp ash body for the same price as the basswood and agathis Squiers. A lot of people say that wood doesn't change the sound, but I would say it does at least a little because I found that the ash Vintage-214 sounded a bit better than the alder. The natural wood finish looks great too.

Sound — 9
I play pop, pop punk, hard rock and the bass suits it all very well. I get the nice P-bass sound I was wanting. It sounds very nice if you dial in a little bit of the bridge pickup, you can get a little more clarity that can add to the punchy sound. The bridge pickup on it's own is not amazing, I don't think I will ever play with it alone. I play through GarageBand or through a Gallien Krueger MB 115. With volume and tone at the maximum setting you can get a bright growling distorted sound with just a little gain from the amp. If you turn the volume to about half way and turn the tone off you get a full rumbling clean. The sound of the bass is very rich and the low notes sound amazing. It takes a lot of treble to get good ringing highs, but it is possible. Chords sound good with this bass too.

Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The action is good, I haven't changed it yet. I've had the bass for 2 months now. There is a little bit of fret buzz, but it isn't bad, I will try and fix it when I have time. The pickups were pretty high and if I played too rough the top string would hit the neck pickup when I muted the string. The nut of the input jack was loose in the store, but they tightened it before I bought it and it hasn't been a problem since. The strap buttons are good for light playing, the strap won't fall off if you stay still and play. I use Dunlop Dual-Design straplocks and the screws for that fit great in the holes already made for the original strap buttons and there is no need to drill holes as long as you use the right size screw driver.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The bass is great for live playing, it can withstand getting hit. I have bumped both the body and the headstock and I didn't even get a dent or scratch on it. The strap buttons are securely in the bass, but it is possible for the strap to slip off if you play wildly. I still haven't saved up enough to get a backup bass, so I have to play without one and I'm not too worried, it seems very reliable and it would take something very bad to break it. The knobs are secure, the tuners keep the strings in tune, the bridge is steady, the pickups are secure and clear. The finish of the bass seems like it won't easily scratch or wear off.

Overall Impression — 9
As I said before I play a lot of pop, pop punk, hard rock (P!nk, Paramore, Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, You Me At Six, Echosmith, Three Days Grace, Chevelle). The bass works perfectly for me. When I was looking to buy the bass I tried the alder version of this bass and it sounded good, but I found that this one popped, it had more punch to it. I also tried the ESP/LTD J-204 which was a good bass, but it didn't have as full of a sound as this one. I also tried the Epiphone Thunderbird and it sounded too flat for me. The last bass I tried was the S.U.B. Ray4, but it sounded too hollow. Overall the sound the Vintage-214 was just what I was looking for. 

I've been playing for 4 years, before this bass I had a very cheap unknown brand bass that sounded terrible. I now have the ESP/LTD Vintage-214 and a Gallien Krueger MB 115. The two together sound great. The best part of this bass is the neck and the neck pickup. The feel of the bass especially the neck is great. The neck pickup sounds great and at least as good as a Fender MIM. The bridge pickup is good for adding to the tone of the neck pickup, but by itself it sounds thin. The jazz pickup is the only thing I would change on this bass. If the bass were stolen or lost I would definitely buy it again.

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