Submitted October 13, 2012 by T B
"A Good Fretless Bass at a Suprisingly LOW Price"
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.
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.
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.
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...
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"
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 .
Multiple instruments for a long time. I write/compose and record.
All genres. No limits.
56 of 58 people (97%) people found this review helpful. Did you?
Thanks for your opinion!