The LTD Surveyor-415 is the more budget conscious version of the ESP Surveyor. This is not to say quality is skimped out, because it isn't. In short, this bass is beefy and built like a tank. The pickups sound big and full, the neck is big, the tuners are big, the frets are big. "Big" is a theme with this bass, because that's what it feels like, especially coming from more modern thin necked, small bodied basses.
First, the looks. It's a P Bass shaped bass, which for the traditionalists is great. Colors offered are black, white, natural, 3 tone sunburst, as well as trans blue and 2 tone sunburst for the quilt top models. My bass came in a very nice black gloss finish, which is set off nicely by the chrome hardware. An ebony fingerboard completes the sleek aesthetic, though as an aside this bass also offers maple and rosewood as other choices. This is a bass that screams no bull; while quilted finishes are available for this bass the solid finished examples scream utilitarian and purposeful. While I do love fancy finishes as much as the next guy, there is something refreshing about a bass that tells you that it has all you need and nothing you don't.
Playability is very good. The neck, though bigger than what I am used to is comfortable, though I do wish the neck had a tad more meat on it. ESP's U shaped contour is certainly good, but I'd figure it'd be a bit more baseball bat like. For many, this would be a strength, and again, this neck is incredibly comfortable. The body is nice and light, as ash is used, and given the traditional P Bass shape it does not neck dive. The 5 in line tuners might be a problem for some as the G string tuner can be a bit of a reach. That said it does not bother me. Hardware is very good; the tuners, though generic, feel high quality and do not jump or skip about. The pickups are very good given they are EMGs (more on those and the preamp later), and the potentiometers feel smooth. The one complaint I have with this bass is the bridge. It is a good bridge, but I feel that this bass could've used even a generic high-mass bridge as it would've suited it better than the rinky-dink vintage Wilkinson unit it has now. The vintage bridge might be a plus to some, but I think down the line this will be replaced by a Hipshot KickAss unit (or at least some sort of higher mass bridge). One thing to note is my bass came with Dunlop straplocks; these are not original to the bass, but I am happy the previous owner put them on as I prefer them over the Schaller system.
The tone is great. Pickups are a splittable Music Man style EMG MMTW in the bridge and an EMG 40P5 for the neck. That pickup is a P Bass pickup in a soapbar shell, which means my P Bass GAS has been quenched for now as this bass can do the P Bass thing; big, snarly, and a bit rough around the edges. Perfect. The MM pickup is similarly very full sounding, with plenty of chunk and growl to satisfy any aggressive player. The preamp is similarly very good; nice and responsive with good range though I do wish it had a tad more high end. The bass similarly takes very well to distortion. Through my DOD Gunslinger the bass sounds like an angry bulldog. Cleans are great as well; turn down the highs and boost the mids and you have a great fingerstyle tone. Splitting the MM pickup can approximate a Jazz bass however I feel that while it is a good tone it isn't a substitute for an actual Jazz, much less an active one. This bass really shines with the MM in dual coil mode. Sound samples below:
First is with distortion from the DOD Gunslinger, then clean, then with heavy distortion from the Joyo Ultimate Drive (Fulltone OCD clone). Bridge, then both, then neck pickups are played.
In conclusion I am really happy with this bass. The solid fit and finish, the powerful electronics, and high quality hardware make this an underrated instrument. I might change out the hardware later on; I prefer black hardware over chrome in general, and the bridge I feel needs an upgrade to really make the bass shine. It's a shame ESP (and LTD) discontinued this bass as I feel that it is the perfect workhorse. It's also a great alternative to the pricier USA Peavey Millenniums and Lakland Skyline 44/55-02. This bass is not only great for any rock or metal player, but funk players, gospel players, jazz players, R&B players, and anyone looking for a solid instrument.
Ltd Surveyor 415
- 5/5, 5 from 1 review
ESP's LTD variant of the venerable Surveyor bass
Everything you need and nothing you don't
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jan 23, 2020
- Build Quality:
- + High quality hardware
- + EMG pickups offer great versatility; bonus for the P bass pickup for the neck
- + Built like a tank
- - Dinky vintage style bridge does not fit the general feel of this bass
- No. of Frets:
- Active or Passive:
- Scale Length:
- No. of Strings:
- Body Material:
- Neck Material:
- 1 piece maple
- Body Finish:
- Offered in natural, 3 tone sunburst, black, or white. Black as purchased. Quilt top models offer 2 tone sunburst or trans blue.
- Nut Width:
- Fingerboard Material:
- Maple or rosewood; black models have a choice between maple or ebony. Ebony as purchased
- Licensed Wilkinson vintage style bridge
- Neck: EMG 40P; Bridge: EMG MMTW
- Other Hardware:
- Chrome hardware, vintage open-back tuners
- EQ / Controls:
- Volume, Blend, 3 band EQ boost and cut, coil split switch for the bridge pickup.
- $250-$650 depending on shape. $359 as purchased.
- Other Specs:
- 400mm radius
U shaped neck contour