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ESP LTD B205 Fretless Electric Bass, 5-String

ESP LTD B205 Fretless Electric Bass (5-String)

The LTD B205 from ESP features an ash body with a spalted maple top. The ABQ-3 active electronics and SB pickups help round out its huge 5-string tone.

Overall User Ratings (based on 9 ratings)
Overall:
Sound:
Features:
Ease of Use:
Quality:
Value:
Manufacturer Support:
The Wow Factor:
Overall:
(9)
Submitted October 13, 2012 by T B
"A Good Fretless Bass at a Suprisingly LOW Price"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
I'm on a tight budget. I need a 5-string fretless bass for recording demos, and a matching fretted bass. I don't need a "prestige" name on the headstock, nor do I need "stunningly good looks". I just need a solid, VERSATILE bass that's easy to play and sounds good.
Sound
The stock strings are SIT roundwounds. They're far too "zingy" for my taste (it's a BASS, not a baritone lead guitar) and the B-string is junk. Also, the fingerboard is rosewood, which is less hard than traditional ebony. The roundwounds might help you sound like Jaco P, but I'm pretty sure they'll chew into that rosewood after a while. I replaced the SITs right away with D'Addario Black Nylon Tapewounds and am SHOCKED at how bright and articulate and versatile they are. Those strings plus the onboard 3-band EQ let me get any tone I want, from Dark Thump to more high-mid Jaco "mwah" than I can stand. And I can imitate an upright bass pretty convincingly, too. VERY IMPORTANT: The black tapewound stings appear to do ZERO damage to the fingerboard! I could not be more pleased with the sound.
Features
Good tone woods. Very attractive spalted maple face veneer over swamp ash body. Amazingly thin neck (measuring from back to front). I'm no expert, but the pickups seem well suited and the 3-band EQ provides a LOT of tonal adjustment. So does the pickup pan pot. The SIT roundwound strings are the only thing I didn't like (and they've been replaced)
Ease of Use
I thought FRETLESS bass was going to hugely difficult. Not so. It does take more finesse than playing fretted (you have to hit each note at exactly the right point on the string/fingerboard rather than simply play behind the intended fret), but after a month, I'm very pleased at how similar playing this fretless is to playing its fretted twin. And the fretless can make sounds the fretted bass never will. Very expressive. The neck appears to be set completely flat, so there is some string buzzing. But it's such a joy to play it this way that I haven't been able to force myself to make the necessary adjustments. I think raising several saddles slightly will remedy the buzzing, or I might have to introduce a bit of neck relief (bow). Either way, I doubt it will alter the excellent playability much. BTW, these adjustments have been necessary for EVERY guitar I've ever bought. - so no criticism of these LTD basses intended.
Quality
Appears to be VERY well built. The finish is excellent and the neck-to-body fit is very precise (6-bolt neck, too). Even though the neck is very thin (back to front) it's made of five laminated strips and has a reputation for being very stable. In my case: so far, so good. Small issue with the knobs: Some knobs were mounted too low, so the underside of the knob wanted to scrape the face finish. I caught this early on, and remounted all knobs higher on the pot shaft. Other issue with knobs/pots: A set screw holds the knobs onto their shafts. Two of my setscrews were overtightened at the factory - so they deformed the split pot shafts. This results in a knob that does not sit straight on the shaft. The knob appears to wobble when turned. I corrected this by forcing a knife blade between the split-shaft's halves and reforming them straight. Remounted the knob and applied less pressure to the set screw. Seems okay now, but seems to indicate too much focus on SPEED and not enough on quality during production. I would also say that the fretted B-205sm purchased several months earlier looks and feels slightly better built... perhaps less rushed during production...
Value
EXCELLENT VALUE. I searched and searched and search some more, and found NOTHING to compare with this instrument in its price range. A very nice 5-string fretless bass for under $400 is surprising. The fact that I could obtain MATCHING fretless and fretted basses in this price range DOUBLES or TRIPLES the value to me. This is "The Smart Choice"
Manufacturer Support
NA relative to this purchase. But I've spoken with Tim in ESP/LTD Customer Service several times regarding other instruments, and he's always very helpful.
The Wow Factor
I think it looks, plays and feels GREAT. It does EVERYTHING I want it to, and I have a matching pair of fretted and fretless 5-string basses for far less than many spend on one single bass. For me, that spells W-O-W .
Musical Background:
Multiple instruments for a long time. I write/compose and record.
Musical Style:
All genres. No limits.
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Submitted October 28, 2012 by Donald L in Taylor , MI
"ESP build basses right"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
The fretless 5 is my second ESP LTD. I purchased the 8 string model several months ago. The first thing which drew my attention was the 6 bolt neck joint. This is an elegant solution which removes any doubt as to the lateral stability of bolt-on neck construction. I was very impressed with the fit and finish of these basses. The spalted maple natural finish is really eye-catching and looks rather exotic. I was very pleased with the action and setup right out of the box. I had to raise the bridge saddles a couple of turns of the screws to suit my playing style but the neck was straight and true without any truss rod fussing. I was also pleased with the profile and "fastness" of the neck. It is a heck of a lot narrower than my Epi T- bird Pro 5 but does not feel cramped for width in the least. 24 fret scale is of course always welcome and as a result of the neck joining the body further up the scale the body can also be made shorter and therefore lighter weight without sacrificing any sustain. This bass looks deceptively smaller and sleeker than my Jazz Bass because part of what would be body on a 20 fret bass 34" scale is neck on a 24 fret bass. Most active basses nowadays use similar pickup technology and the LTDs are no exception. The tonal range was as wide as I hoped it would be due to the 3 band active EQ. It should be noted that my Epi T-bird has only a 2 band active tone circuit. This bass provides great value at surprisingly low cost.
Musical Background:
I've been a multi-instrumentalist (bass, keyboards, guitar and sax) for over 40 years.
Musical Style:
I play easy listening, classic rock, blues, Schlager and Rembetika.
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Submitted March 16, 2018 by Ray A in Las Vegas, NV
"Excellent ! (for the money)"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
Yes...there are much better basses out there. But, not in this price range. This bass is very impressive right out of the box. It plays and sounds as good, if not better, than some basses costing more than twice as much.I was a bit skeptical about buying something this inexpensive but, the craftsmanship and attention to detail really surprised me.This bass is NOT as heavy as some have made it sound. I'm not sure where they are getting their numbers....but, it weighs in at 10.8 lbs.Again....great bass for the moneyI hope this helps your decision making....
Musical Background:
35 years, Full-Time Professional Bassist, Guitarist, Vocalist
Musical Style:
Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country, Top 40
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Submitted July 23, 2015 by jim b in wheatley heights, NY
"ESP LTD B205 Fretless"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
This bass is surprisingly well made for $500. It sounds great, well-built ,the eq is musically useful and the controls in general are well thought out. Excellent value. I don't have to take my $1200 dollar bass to rehearsals and is professional enough to gig with,
Musical Background:
playing professionally and semi professionally for 45 years
Musical Style:
jazz
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Submitted November 26, 2013 by Mike D in Sachse, TX
"Happy, happy, happy"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
Love the looks, sound, playability, and price of the bass.
Musical Background:
Playing guitar for over 50 years, bass for 20 years...mostly at church.
Musical Style:
Çhristian, classic rock, folk, and blues
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Submitted February 19, 2016 by Neil McEvoy in Malden, MA
"Outstanding Fretless Electric Bass!"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
This bass immediately caught my eye. It's got beautiful finish and lines. I went ahead and purchased and had it delivered within TWO days! I was immediately impressed with the heft of the guitar - it's heavy! This isn't a bad thing - I think it lends itself to the build quality of the bass. It's a beast. I've gigged with it once already. It plays easier than any bass I've ever played. Because it's fretless, the guitar's action is logically superior. Playing is effortless. I did change the roundwound strings with D'Addario ETB92-5 5-String Tapewounds to minimize the risk of any damage to the fingerboard. As I said, it's a heavy bass (+/- 25 pounds), but its design ensures good weight distribution - its weight doesn't hurt my shoulders. The only down-side is the lack of any documentation/instructions. The pickups are active and there's a battery installed in the bass. I'd like to know some specifics as to its necessity and the operation of the three knobs below the volume knobs. If you're in the market for a fretless guitar - buy this one!
Musical Background:
40+ years
Musical Style:
Rock, pop, bluegrass.
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Submitted March 6, 2016 by Neil McEvoy in Malden, MA
"Great Fretless Axe!"
Verified Customer zZounds has verified that this reviewer made a purchase from us.
I have no delusions of being the next Jaco Pastorius, but I've been interested in a fretless bass for quite some time. I'd been trying them out at local retailers and researching online. I finally decided to purchase the ESP LTD B205, based on my tryouts and research. Thus far, I'm not disappointed at all! Build quality is first rate and the shear heft of the guitar is most impressive. It weighs in at 30+/- pounds, but the weight is distributed so well that there's no fatigue, even after long periods of play. One recommendation - have the bass setup by a professional luthier. I did and he reported that the bass as it was received was quite "out of whack."
Musical Background:
Longer than I can remember!
Musical Style:
Bluegrass, pop, rock.
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