Price paid: $ 499.99
Sound — 8
I have never been a fan of Piezo pickup systems. In my experience with them they tend to rob the instrument of richness and depth. While this was still the case on the Escape, it was not nearly in the degree that I expected. With the little Pre-amp EQ work, this bass ended up sounding just as rich and as punchy as any other bass, with just a little bit more bite than normal. I was also impressed by the headphone output component. The sound here was also good, albeit a little bit thin, when put through studio headphones. But larger headphones are a must, I pretty much destroyed a pair of ear buds my first go-around. For a bass designed for practicing this seemed a feature that should have been on practice instruments from the beginning.
Overall Impression — 8
I was pleasantly surprised by this basses playability, sound and overall feel. It had a more solid feel in the right hand than most basses twice it's size and weight. The shorter scale made for easier bending and chord playing, but don't let that fool you. The Escape MK-II could still hold down the low end, even despite it's piezo pickup system. Overall, while this bass might not be the most ascetically pleasing instrument on the market for a lightweight, ultra-portable bass to takes to jams and practices, this bass goes above and beyond.
Reliability & Durability — 7
Tuning was a beast on this instrument. When we received the bass from the factory the strings were still slack at it took a solid ten minutes of cranking away to get it into standard tuning. I attempted to tune the bass tenor, which failed miserably and resulted in some intonation difficulties. While the bass seems solid I have my reservations as to how the plastic piece holding up the strap peg would survive use on the road. It flexes easily to the touch and would seem as though some light jostling could easily break it off. However the body and neck of this bass are solid as a rock and give just as solid of a feel when playing as other basses twice it's size and weight.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
In general, I was impressed by the playability of this bass when fingerstyling. The action was high enough that it was very easy to dig into with both hands. Conversely the action was also low enough to make playing chords in the high registers as easy as on any other bass. However this bass's true weakness is revealed when slapping. It is very hard to find a comfortable position to slap and even harder to find the basses sweet spot. The finish of the Escape MK-II was generally ascetically pleasing. The deep mahogany colored bridge stood in a stark contrast to the alder body. I also dug the wood-burned in logo. However I wasn't impressed by the ring of white plastic that encompassed the body. It seems to have been put there simply to make the plastic strap peg holder more acceptable to the eye. Overall though, for a lightweight instrument that is meant to practice on the MK-II fit's the bill.
Features — 8
While this creature might not be the most pretty instrument around, it's remarkable playability and sound give it a beauty and style all of it's own. This thirty six inch long traveler bass features an ebonized rosewood fingerboard, maple neck and an alder body. The design element that I really question lies in the awkward looking piece of plastic that sports the uppermost strap peg. While it is necessary for it to be placed at it's strange height for balance, it really kills the overall look of the bass. This bass has excellent ergonomics. For the left hand, the single cut Les Paul style single-cut allows for easy access to all twenty four frets and for the right hand there is a perfectly positioned thumb rest that allows one to really dig into the the strings. While this bass sports nothing overly fancy in the way of electronics, it's piezo pickup's and preamp with two band EQ get the job done. The feature that most impressed me was the switchable/headphone amplifier output, that allows you to plug headphones into the output of the bass for private jamming. On the other end of the spectrum however, the tuners position on the body made tuning awkward at best. God help the person that would want to drop tune this bass.