Okay, long story short: in the process of buying a new bass, and after trying a few out, I'm still on the fence a bit (and I'm always majorly OCD with these kinds of decisions/purchases). I'm just looking for peoples opinions/experiences that are relevant to my situation, get a bit of input before I go for my second round of trying everything out AGAIN .... I play heavy metal mostly, and mainly play with a pick using (by most bassists standards) a fairly hard picking hand attack. At the moment, my main bass is an LTD F-104. And despite it being a bottom-of-the-heap starter bass, I manage to wrestle a good tone out of it (but you can see why I need an upgrade). I tune down to drop C, and use 50 - 110 DR hibeams. I'd rather stick around the $1500 mark (or lower) so that I don't feel guilty about splashing out on a hard case, new metronome (lost my old one), a BOSS tuner pedal, and a sansamp bass driver DI (or similar pedal). The main three that I've got my eye on are (prices are in New Zealand dollars btw, so don't freak out): - Spector Legend Custom bubinga $1299 - Warwick Pro-Series Corvette with bubinga (or ash) body, and all active (passive/active and passive/passive also available) $1299 - LTD F404 FM $999 Other options that I'm KIND OF interested in: - Dean Spire $999 - BC. Rich Mockingbird Heritage Classic 4 $999 - Sterling Ray 34 (a few variations) $1099 - Warwick Pro-Series Streamer LX4 (all active) $1399 - Warwick Pro-Series thumb 4 BO with ovangkol body (all active) $1600 - A few of the other high-end LTD basses (surveyor, b1004, Tom Arya sig, etc) - SOME of the Warwick $$ (and other german standard) models are JUST cheap enough for me to consider them, but still around the $2000 mark - Spector ReBop 4 I guess, although when I played it (might just have been that I was being too aggressive with my picking hand), it sounded like all the tone and punch/low end was being strangled out of it - all I could hear was treble and the strings clanging against the frets... And it was over $2000 When I was trying out these basses it was difficult to gauge their sound exactly as I wasn't playing them all through the same amp (they were at different shops), and they had different strings on - I'd be tuning them lower and using a specific set of strings on them anyway, which could alter the sound a fair bit. One worry is that, even with the heavier gauge strings I use - with both the down tuning and my heavy attack, the low string might sound a bit muddy and undefined. The F-104 I'm playing atm handles it fine with the 35" scale, but some of the 34" scale ones might suffer a little bit... The tone I'm after is a mix of that mean sounding mid-range growl you hear in some death metal/melodic death metal, and that awesome, punchy and well defined sound in some of the older metal/thrash (david ellefson, rex brown, etc) Here's a few examples of tone that gives me a stiffy: If you've made it this far, hope you've enjoyed the essay. What do ya guys/gals reckon?