Monday, April 27, 2015

ESP LTD B-335S Electric Bass Guitar Review


Today we are looking at a very good 5-string bass value: the LTD B-335. You know by now that I am not a 5-string kind of guy, but this thing is a really neat piece of work.

In case you are not familiar with ESP, this Japanese company has been building amazing instruments wince the 1980s, and are the favorites of guitar gods such as Kirk Hammett and George Lynch. Unfortunately these guitars are ungodly expensive, so they introduced the LTD line to make their popular models more affordable for us common folk. The hardware, electronics, and wood are a little cheaper, and the labor costs are a lot lower as they are put together without using Japanese labor – this LTD instrument was built in Indonesia.

Looking this bass over, the first impression is that the B-335 is a handsome instrument. It is not a Fender clone, and its unique body shape, pointy headstock, and see-through satin finish look pretty awesome. This LTD is a bolt-neck instrument with an ash body that has fairly aggressive angles and cutaways, and a super-long upper horn.

The 6-bolt neck is a work of art, and I do not know how they can build something like this at this price point. It is a five-piece maple/rosewood laminate with a nicely figured rosewood fretboard, and there are 24 jumbo frets sunk into it. There are no problems getting to the upper frets, though bass players have no real business up there. The 34-inch scale neck has a very thin U profile, and it measures about 45mm at the nut (that is a touch over 1 ¾ inches, in case you are wondering).

The black nickel hardware includes sealed-back tuners and really nice high-mass super-adjustable bridge. All the literature I found says that this bass strings through the body. But, this one doe not, so maybe the literature is wrong...

The electronics are pretty nice, with two ESP ASB-5 passive pickups and an ESP ABQ-3 3-band active EQ. These are wired through that are wired through a master volume knob, a pick-up blend knob, and three knobs for the EQ.

This is a very pretty bass, but the see-through brown finish might not be everybody’s cup of tea – it kind of screams “Warwick.” It is put together exceptionally well, particularly when you consider it does not cost very much. The fretwork is good, the neck is straight and the finish is nice and even. The neck pocket is clean and it came with a good set-up right out of the box, too.

It plays well, and the neck is very fast with good access to the upper frets; I did not find any buzzing or dead frets. The neck feels much smaller than the usual five-string neck, and would be good for players with small hands. As an added bonus for smaller players, this thing weighs in at 7 pounds, 3 ounces, which is featherweight for a fiver.

The tonal options cover pretty much any style of music that you would want to use an electric bass for. Rock, funk or metal, it does it all, and sounds pretty good doing it. There is a little hum, and I think some better pickups and shielding would make a noticeable difference, and it might be worth an upgrade if you like the feel of this thing. Other than that, this thing sounds solid with well-defined low B and sustain for days.

The LTD B-335 is one of the best 5-string bass values on the market, with a list price of $713, and a street price of $529. But, it gets better as a lot of retailers are clearing these out for only $348, which is a killer deal for a well-made and very playable instrument. Check one out if you get the chance, you will not be disappointed!


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