I have been experiencing some severe GAS recently, a hazard of frequenting TB
. I have a 2011 Highway One Jazz (my main player) and a 1985 Yamaha BB450 PJ, so I was looking for a "Modern Bass", you know, fancy wood, active pre, perhaps neck-through, and stumbled across the ESP LTD B-4B and fell in love with its looks.
After trying, fruitlessly, to find someone on TB who had played one, I decided to jump in and order one from Sweetwater. They're offering 24 month financing, so for $21 a month, I figured what the heck. I had found a few buyer's reviews online, and they were all positive. Worst case, I'd return it. Best case I'd love it. Most likely, I'd end up replacing hardware and electronics.
So, if your not familiar with this bass it's got 24 extra-jumbo frets, neck through, 34" scale with a 5 piece maple/rosewood neck with ebony fretboard. Mahogany wings, with Bubinga top (and matching headstock veneer.) The finish is natural satin. Two ESP brand EMG-35 style humbuckers with a three band active preamp, with master volume and pan..
So the verdict?
It's a keeper. The fit and finish is excellent. The craftsmanship is top notch. The bubinga is gorgeous, and to my surprise, the LTD logo on the headstock isn't a decal, it's an inlay. The whole bass just feels solid, but it's not heavy, it weighs in at 8 lbs. 13 oz..
The ergonomics are very good, it's comfortable to play. No neck dive, the upper horn reaches the twelfth fret (as it should) and the balance is good. The tuners are ESP brand, and are similar to Grover Mini's, so not much weight there. The headstock is also angled back, so no need for string trees. It has a nice solid bridge that allows for string-through or top load. The saddles are fitted in grooves similar to a Hipshot A series.
The routs for the battery and electronics compartments are very tight to the compartment covers, there is virtually no gap between the covers and the wood. Both cavities are shielded. The battery compartment has a neat little velcro strap to secure the battery in place (nice touch). The electronic compartment is neatly wired and the soldering is well done.
The neck is 1-1/2" at the nut and 2-1/8" at the twelfth fret, so it's a bit narrower than a Jazz (my Jazz is 2-1/4" at the twelfth), the radius is pretty flat, I'd guess around 15". The neck profile is a "U" and pretty comfortable. I'm used to a Fender "Modern C", I suspect I'll adapt. The fret work is very good, no sprout or sharp edges. The frets appear to be level, at least I haven't found any high spots yet. I've got the action set as low as I like (0.08" at the 17th) and it plays really nicely.
I can't believe this bass was only $500.
I haven't had a chance to put it through it's paces yet (got home too late to crank the amp), but I'll report back tomorrow on how it sounds.
The following pictures are of the actual bass, taken at Sweetwater before shipment.