Over the past few years the Japanese guitar builder ESP have become more and more synonymous with the guitar legends they endorse. Since the arrival of daughter brand LTD, owning one of their instruments has become more of a reality for many musicians.
In the past year LTD has gone from being a mainly guitar orientated brand to offering a range of over eighteen bass guitars, ranging from the budget conscious to premium semi/professional instruments worthy of any stage.
As a bass teacher and lecturer in an FE college students often ask my opinion on potential new purchases and let me try out recently acquired instruments.
The LTD B-55 5 string is one of these instruments. One of my bass students recently acquired a B-55, as a true bass geek I had to give it a go.
The current ‘street’ price for the LTD is £199, however a few of the now discontinued white models are available for £110 on a number of websites.
The glossy black finish is well applied and the general fit and finish of the bass is of very good standard. It’s surprising how much instrument building at this level has improved in recent years, this bass is a testament to the high quality imported guitars that are now available at very reasonable prices.
A large well-designed bridge anchors the strings to the comfortable body. The electronics on this version are of the passive type, with a volume, volume and tone control lay out reminiscent of a modern Jazz bass. Conveniently there is a battery box and cover already routed in the rear of the instrument; this will make upgrading to an active set up in the future far easier and of course cheaper.
The PJ configuration pickups have a twist; the P set is actually of a reversed design to tighten up the B strings response, this is a smart move, especially as the design aesthetic seems to lean more towards the rock/metal fraternity. The pickups sound good and both classic Precision bass thump and burp Jazz bridge pickup tones are on tap. A solid, pumping rock tone is available by mixing the two pickups with a bas towards the bridge unit. If fact this bass sounds as good playing ‘Enter the Sandman’ as it does as renditions of ‘Portrait of Tracey’.
The low B string is punchy a taught, more usable than instruments that cost hundreds of pounds more than the B-55. The general set up and finish of the frets is also of a quality that only a few years ago would not be found on an instrument in this price range. A few tweaks to mach playing tastes can be achieved easily, however this bass plays right out of the box.
At this level the LTD B-55 is a fantastic instrument, when you bare in mind that usable B string and the fact that it the electronics would be easily upgradeable I doubt at this price you could go wrong.