| | ESP's B1005 LTD is a seriously hidden gem.
So I was scavenging online for a solid and great-sounding bass around $1000, and with as picky as I am, I kept finding conflicts of features. I also had some discount/gift cards lying around, from Musician's Friend, so I went through everything they have. Nothing really caught my eye, until I totally forgot about ESP's LTD Deluxe series. I passed them up a while back, due to my preference of bolt-on vs. neck-thru. I re-thought my preference, and figured since I had a 20% discount, and a $25 gift card (used on a case), that with their 45-day guarantee, I pulled the trigger. I never thought I'd be this delighted by an affordable bass like this, especially from a mass producer like ESP, and not to mention a distributor like MF (they DO have a very easy return procedure, though).
Anyway, I received the bass and case (Wolfpak polyfoam, pretty darn decent, btw) at work last week, let the box warm up for a little while, and opened her up after lunch. I couldn't believe how well this thing has been constructed. With the exception of one little sanding smudge and tiny ink or veneer dot on the lower bout cutout, both totally unnoticeable from maybe a foot away, the build rivals anything out there, really. I've had and/or tried two Moduluses, five Carvins, three Warwicks, a G&L, US Fenders, Mike Lull, Warrior, US Masters, an Ibby Prestige BTB, and a slew of others, having attended Winter NAMM in '09....you get the idea. My ESP is built like a tank, and as of now, I would totally put Korea (yes, no China or Indonesia!) right up there with the builders of Japan and here.
Not only was the neck straight as an arrow at first glance, but after I set her up, too. This is how every bass neck should be, as it only took not even a 1/8 turn on the trussrod to get the neck dead-on flat. I prefer no relilef, so I can get even response across the fretboard, which is basically an optimal feel for every bass/guitar, I would think. The "extra thin U" profile, as the company describes it, is unquestionably one of the most comfortable necks I've ever played, alongside Carvin's older assym neck, my previous Ibanez BTB, an MTD (USA), Warrior, and US Masters (VERY underrated). The access to the highest frets is completely unobstructed, too. The ebony board is beautiful and clean as a whistle, with a classy MOP "B1005" inlay at the 12th fret, and the frets are polished to a shine. There's a slightly high fret at the 14th, along with half of another one at the 15th, maybe, but the buzz is not really present, even with my setup. There's some buzz on the G and D strings in the first 5-7 frets, when I happen to pluck harder acoustically, but it's not there much amplified...gives just enough buzz for character. I was able to get a really nice, low action on this thing...set up like a beast. It took a little time to get the intonation right, but no problem. I will have to switch the low B to a tapered end string, as a regular one doesn't allow enough room for correct intonation (close, though). The stock Cleartones actually are nice and LOUD, and don't feel that rough, either. They seem a lot better than when they first came out. Good to know that these now fit string-thru builds, as this one is. It's not 35", but a 34", which is another reason I took the plunge. I'm tired of the extrra stretch of 35" with 19mm spacing. The ESP's spacing seems like 18mm...best of both worlds. The sustain on this sucker is insane.
I only took the bass to my luthier, because I had them put on Straploks and some foam under the bridge pickup, as I like to have both pickups as close to the strings as possible, and it got a little wobbly and clacky when I raised it up. The Hipshot bridge is top-rate, same as what my Quantums had, and the tuners have the "vintage" large posts, with modern tuner keys, and are super-smooth. They have that nice solid "heft" for a reassurance of the real thing. I prefer the larger posts over the mini ones, since you don't need the perfect number of wraps around them to get max string break over the nut. All I have to do with these, is push the string down to the bottom, and voila.
The sound of this bass really surprised me, too. It could benefit from 18-volts, though, as opposed to the stock 9, because the bass and mid are REALLY powerful and could use more headroom, but unlike most full EMG systems, the treble is a lot warmer and "tamer" than shrill or brittle and just overly-bright preamps that I've had previously from them. The neck pickup is the P5, and the bridge is the TW. The latter has a push-pull function on the master volume, so you can switch it to single-coil operation, which didn't have any noise (inherent with singles), but I preferred the added girth of the dual-coil sound. The volume drops with single-coil, but it still sounds good if that's your thing. I actually let most of the treble come from my amp, with me turning up to 3:00, then turning up the treble on this thing a bit, but not much. All of the knobs, including the master volume and blend, are very sensitive, which if you ask me, is another good sign. I was even more impressed with the battery cavity, even though it's screw-off, having brass screw inserts. At this price, you don't see that much, at least from my experience.
So, if you're curious about this line of basses at all, they are a PHENOMENAL bang for the buck. I'd get another one over the Ibanez "Premiums" in a heartbeat.
A 5-string is THE bass. Why? More bass. But, 6-strings are cool, too....
Ibanez BTB Club #259
Heavy Bass Club #1
Last edited by songwriter21 : 10-21-2013 at 03:03 PM.