Monday, July 23, 2012

ESP Mystery Custom Bass Review


Today we are looking at a weird bass that raises plenty of questions and does not provide a lot of answers. Weird or not, it is a great bass, and a nice looking thing, too. I bought this online awhile back, and the seller did not know the history of it, so I will just present the facts about the bits and pieces that make it up.

The body is alder (I believe) with a lovely bookmatched maple top that is bound with faux tortoiseshell. The whole body is finished in two-tone tobacco sunburts. It had a Precision Bass shape with a slab profile to the front, and a belly contour on the back. It has an ESP stamp in the neck pocket, and a pencil date of 6-30-83. This is a real ESP body.

The neck is the real deal too, with an ESP headstock shape and a precision-width nut. It is maple with an ebony fretboard and 20 hefty frets. This neck cannot be original to the body, though, as this headstock shape was not used in 1983, and there was some crude filing done at the end of the neck to make it fit the neck pocket. Also, there is no route in the body to access the truss rod, so it is a little chewed up. The guys at ESP do nicer work than this.

The hardware is all gold-plated ESP equipment, with a detuner on the E string that was probably added later. The brass bridge is hefty, and the neck plate is just marked “ESP” with no serial number. As a matter of fact, there are no serial numbers anywhere on this bass.

The electronics are all factory stuff, with P-J pickups marked with ESP logos, and a 9-volt active electronics system. The controls are simple with volume and tone controls, and a 3-way selector switch.

All of these parts come together to make a very nice-playing bass that looks good too. The P-J pickup configuration makes it very versatile and the active electronics give it a nice rock edge.

So what is the big mystery? When I went to change the battery, I found a “Property of Aerosmith” inventory tag on the back of the control cover. This was not sold to me as being celebrity-owned, so I do not know the real story. It does seem that a guy who gets his basses for free (and who used to be an ESP endorsee) might have Frankesteined a couple of basses together to make a new bass.

I will probably never find out the true story, but in the mean time I got a great bass for short money. I think I will get the neck fitted better to the body, yank off that detuner and hold onto this one for awhile.



  1. Hello, if you have sold or parted out this bass, I believe I may have just purchased the neck from this bass or one just like it. I came across this blog when I was trying to research the exact ESP model my neck came from. I wouldn't mind connecting with you over e-mail. The heel of my neck also seems to be cut crudely, but the ebony fretboard is fantastic. Is there a way I can connect with you without posting my e-mail in these comments? Thank you.

  2. HI. That was an early production custom neck, so it will not be possible to find out which bass it originally came from. This bass is no longer in my possession, so I am not sure if the neck you have is this one or not...