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ESP B-305 Trial

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Brian Gordon, Sep 20, 2000.

  1. Hi,

    Due to the fact that my guitarist has an ESP guitar endorsement, he got me hooked up with them too so I could try them out. I had a new B-305 sent to me and have been playing it over the past several days.

    Basically, I'm quite disappointed with it. Consider though that I am used to my Zon Sonus Special, which is one of the nicest basses I've ever played, so it is hard to make an unbiased evaluation. Of course the ESP isn't quite going to compare with a bass that is three times as expensive.

    Now with that noted, there are some fundamental problems with the ESP. Here's the deal. The bass is a 5-string, has a neck-through construction with a mahogany body, maple neck, and flame maple top with a see-thru black finish. The finish looks fine and the neck-body joint is nicely sculpted. The tuning machines, bridge, and plastic nut are pretty cheap. It has EMG-HZ pickups installed with active electronics.

    The first thing I noticed is the narrow string spacing. The string spacing is much too close for my tastes. The bass is obviously designed for a pick player, which I am not. The setup on it was terrible when it arrived. The strings were too low and it buzzed all over the place. The nut was installed slightly off center. There is a small gap on one side and it hangs over the edge slightly on the other. There was also plastic filings under the strings from where they dug into the plastic nut. Sure, that can be fixed or replaced. To my disappointment, after adjusting the truss rod and bridge to bring up the action a bit, there were still buzzes and several dead frets. There is an obvious fret leveling problem near the octave and the entire top of the fretboard above the 14th fret plays quite dead. The strings are plenty high enough. That just plain should not be happening. I feel that the fretwork on the bass in general is pretty crappy. The frets seem dressed nicely, but it is obvious there is a problem with them being level. Again, this could be corrected, but a brand new bass shouldn't have these problems.

    The sound is OK. It took me a while to figure out the electronics since it did not come with an owner's manual. Apparently there is a volume control for each of the two pickups and three knobs for active tone control. It took me a while to get a tone I liked. I tried it with a beefed up preamp setting I normally use for my Rickenbacker and it sounded better. It doesn't compare with the Zon though, but that was to be expected I guess. In general, the sound I got out of it was sort of "wide" sounding as in not focused. It has a more "round" sound and attack. I'd attribute a lot of that to the pickups. I wonder how it would sound with better pickups installed. The low B I am just not happy with. I suppose it would be OK played with a pick. But with my fingerstyle playing, I could not get the sound I want from it. I want a really solid and well defined note from it, but I just wasn't getting it.

    Basically, it is just not "my" bass. It might be good for a rock player who uses a pick and likes a narrow jazz bass style string spacing. But it's not for me. I'll be sending this back to them with my comments.

    I could have ESP's custom shop build me whatever I want, but I am pretty put off by them after my experience with this bass. They knew I was a new endorsee and they should have made sure that the bass they sent me was in better condition. First impressions mean a lot, and I was not impressed. I think I might tell them thanks, but no thanks and just go on dealing with having to pay ridiculous prices for my basses. I know that the B-305 I tried is a Korean made excuse for an ESP and that the US built ESPs are probably much better quality, especially one from the custom shop. I might give them one more chance to impress me. I'll send this back and talk to them about my gripes and see if they can send me something better. If not, forget it.

    This has been one man's opinion.
  2. Doug


    Apr 5, 2000
    Buffalo, N.Y.
    Brian, sorry to hear that. I've had the B-204 for about a year now and I love it. Yeah the machineheads are a little cheap, but I've yet to have any problems with this thing drifting out of tune. As far as the set-up, it came with a half way decent setup to begin with. A little minor tweaking here and there and viola, I've got what I want, and no buzzing. I don't know if you had problems with yours because of the neck-thru design or being a 5 string, but the bolt-on 4 string I have has yet to give me problems. Comparing it to a Zon is a little unfair. Zons are great and would love to get one, but for the money, it's hard to beat what I got. I agree they should have sent you one with a better set-up, knowing you were going to endorse them. I'd contact whoever set up your endorsement and express my concerns, before bailing out.
  3. Wes I AM

    Wes I AM

    May 27, 2000
    Tampa, FL
    Wow bro. that sucks. I myself have the exact same bass as you and I like it a lot, (though of course ESP LTD's can't compare at all to Zons or Warwicks). Same finish and everything. I bought mine at Mars instead of ordering it and from the beginning I had little preoblems like tht too. But I've been playing it and nothing else for the past 6 months or so and have learned what it can do. I play with my fingers and at first was uncomfortable with the narrow string spacing as well. However after playing it for about a month I was more than used to it. It is not a good bass if you only want to play mellow jazz, or blues. It is a great bass if, like me, you play mostly rock and KoRn type music. The machine heads and nut and bridge definately should be replaced. But thats easy right? Keep experamenting with it and I think you'll learn, just as i did, to like it. Granted, a Warwick is still what I would prefer to anything. later..
  4. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Sounds familiar:

    <b>I don't use ESP Guitars anymore because I don't like being treated like a second-class citizen! It don't take gold or platinum to get respect - so you can su*k me off!!!

    Jimi Hazel (24-7SPYZ, liner notes of the 'Strength In Numbers' album)

    [Edited by JMX on 09-20-2000 at 02:17 PM]

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