Limited Review LTD Vintage-214 Fretless
In case anyone else is intrigued by this bass and can't find it locally, I drove the 75 miles to check it out at Music Go Round:
- The neck edge dots are where the frets WOULD be i.e. press the string at the dot. This is helpful IMHO bcs the finger board is unlined. When I look as I play I look at the neck edge, not the fingerboard much.
- A Fender Jazz fretless Made In Mexico (MIM) has a lined finger board and the edge dots are behind the dots i.e. where they are on a fretted bass. This confuses my eye. As I play my fretted bass (LTD B-4B, a GREAT neck thru, string thru body with great sound) my eye tends to lock on the dots - which is fine with frets. But with this dot arrangement I have to spot the dot and mentally adjust to press down at the line instead.
- A Fender Jazz fretless MIJapan has a lined finger board and has the edge dots at the fret lines. Personally, I like this better.
- The LTD is unlined with edge dots at every note as a substitute for the lines. I like this BUT all the dots are the same! Even the 12th fret dot is the same. I got lost in a sea of dots and couldn't find the fret/note I wanted. A user on TB darkened the "extra" dots with a Sharpie as a solution. This leaves no guide to help find the desired note for the then unmarked "frets". At the store, I placed a small bit of tape at "fret" 3, 5, 7, 9, 12 which REALLY made a difference. It was much easier to find my note. If I bought this bass, I'd accentuate those note dots and leave the others alone. I'd also put flat wounds on it.
- SOUND: I thought the sound from the LTD was louder, richer, fuller with greater range than either of the 2 Fender Jazz fretless I compared it too. The store guy said that's due to the P bass type pup at the neck. I'm not familiar enough with the P vs J sound to know.
CONCLUSION: If you're looking for a fretless, this bass is definitely worth taking a look at. If you look at the finger board itself while playing, you may prefer a lined fretless. IMHO the unlined looks better. I just wish ESP / LTD had done a better job with the neck edge dots.