NBD (x2) - ESP LTD AP-5

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by stingray69, Dec 19, 2021.


  1. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    I've been wanting an active instrument - technically, I already have a couple of actives but both are on the heavy side and one is simply an active take on my passive instruments. That said, I did an internet search for "active P/J 5-string bass" just to see if I am overlooking anything that I already know about. I came across an LTD AP-5. After searching here on TB, it seems there's not too much info here either. But what little there is seems to be extremely positive. I also gotta admit - of all the typical bass companies that are out there, ESP is the one that has flown the MOST under my radar. If I'm being real honest, I'm not even sure with any certainty whether or not they even made basses.

    Be that as it may, the specs still spoke for themselves on paper. So I decided to take a chance on the AP-5 and I'm absolutely blown away!! This thing is a killer instrument! I've had many basses and this one is definitely noteworthy. It's pro-quality at it's core and it just sings. The hardware is fantastic - Grover tuners, BabicZ FCH-5 bridge, 6-bolt Maple & Macassar Ebony neck, a set of proper EMG pickups (in a P/J config) and a beautiful Pelham Blue metallic finish.

    At about the $1,000 dollar price point, I wouldn't call it an inexpensive instrument. But, given the way it plays & sounds - I think it's a steal as compared to any mass manufacturer's offering out there. The AP4/5 comes in two colors, Pelham Blue & Black.

    Neck & Fretwork:

    ESP calls it a "Thin-U" neck shape. I wouldn't say its "Ibanez thin", but it's not miles away either. Probably in the Schecter realm of bass neck thickness I would say, definitely more J-ish in nature than P. The back of the neck has a super smooth matte finish that already feels broken in and I find the overall profile extremely comfortable & easy on the hands. One can really get around on this neck with little effort - a sheer joy to play!

    The fretwork is outstanding - one of the best examples of a mass-produced offering I've seen. So good in fact, that I had to take a Fret-Rocker to it to make sure I was reading it right (almost zero high spots which is rare from a factory offering). Sure enough - only the slightest amount of a wiggle or two on a partial area of a couple of frets. The action can get very low right out of the box. Also, the Macassar Ebony fretboard is perfect for this instrument. Looks great and <sounds?> great! I believe the fret size is Extra Jumbo.

    Bridge:

    This is my first experience with a BabicZ bridge and I gotta say - I absolutely love it! The cam system is so smooth, precise, accurate & easy to adjust. The design element that went into it is just brilliant - I see why they get a lot of positive reviews! Incredible sustain on the instrument too - I'm sure the BabicZ bridge is a part of that recipe.

    Pickups:

    Original recipe EMG P5 and EMG LJ5. EMG sells them both separately or together (P5J Set). Huge range of tones here! I haven't had an instrument with EMG's in a very long time, and I forgot how much I dig them! They are warm, punchy and well defined - at least that's how I use them. They definitely can give you the full spectrum of your string's tone to do with as you please. The top end extends out into modern active range if you want it, or you can reel it in to the more traditional ranges, either at your amp or with the Tone knob. EMG knows how to build pickups that's for sure - both pickups are internally shielded & absolutely dead silent when soloed - including the J!

    Another unique aspect is that there is no active preamp in this bass, in the traditional sense. Yes, there is a single 9v battery compartment, but the battery is soley for driving the preamp built inside each EMG active pickup. The Volume, Blend and Tone controls are completely passive. There is no active onboard EQ system. This kind of setup is a first for me, and initially I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to control the active tone very well without having an onboard active EQ/preamp to go along with it. I was definitely mistaken - the Tone knob is one of the best I've ever tried. The Blend & Tone knob are also EMG brand and clearly designed to work very well with their active pickups, and that it does. It rolls between tones very smoothly in an excellent linear style and is well controlled throughout the entire sweep, from full off to full on. No running back and forth to the amp with this instrument - it's just awesome. After playing with it for just a couple of days, I totally scrapped my worries and potential plans for maybe adding in any further EMG preamp. The pickups themselves just sound perfect (IMO) with minimal adjustment - they have an extremely well balanced mix of warmth & punch in the low end along with a very rich midrange. I use the passive on-board tone knob to dial in the right treble response for the song or situation. At band practices and a gig I've done with it - my amp EQ is set flat. I just set my room volume and set the tone knob where I want it, that's it. No further tweaks required.

    I've had the Pelham Blue instrument about a month and a half before writing my thoughts about it - and the Black one about 2-3 weeks. I wanted to get some real world band practices, some home test recordings, and at least one gig with it before posting any thoughts about it. It absolutely shines in all situations and sounding nothing short of amazing on a live gig. Got many compliments on the tone from every single member of the other band that we were splitting the gig with that night. The other bass player was playing a great sounding MTD Z5 with Barts and he had extremely positive things to say about the AP-5's tone. That said, I absolutely love it and would highly recommend it!!

    Here are few clips I played along with to hopefully give an idea of a few of the tones. There's not much out there on YouTube for the AP4/5. Maybe 4-5 videos, and all but 1 seem to be so drenched in distortion, one has no idea whatsoever what the instrument actually sounds like.

    P soloed - Tone Down.
    P soloed - Tone Up.
    P/J 100% blended (w/overdrive).

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    IMG-20211219-114440420-2.jpg

    IMG-20211218-200948565-2.jpg

    IMG-20211219-114241093-HDR-2.jpg

    original-Pelham-Blue.png original-black.png
     
    songwriter21, wizard65 and bholder like this.
  2. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
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