Friday, June 10, 2011
ESP LTD B-4E Bass
A number of things that I mentioned in earlier posts lead me to the ESP LTD B-4E. My Cat Bass hums and has weak sustain. My Tradition doesn't hum as bad, but the sustain isn't much better than the Cat. So I did some looking around to try and see what to look for in an instrument that would address those issues. The fact that B-4E looks incredible and growls like a menstruating tiger is just icing on the cake!
Single coil pickups (and cheap ones probably more so) have a tendency to hum. If you care about pickups that much, you can read about them here. Sparing you a history lesson and technical mumbo jumbo, it turns out they invented a kind of pickup that is coiled in such a way to cancel out the hum that comes along with being surrounded by electricity and ambient background magnetic fields. This type of pickup is called a humbucker. Unlike my other two basses, the ESP has 2 humbucker type pickups. When it is plugged in and I don't have any inherently noisy distortion on, it is silent. No noise. Hum problem solved.
There are several things that can help improve sustain. Active electronics tend to be better than passive for sustain. Neck through body design, as opposed to a bolt on neck helps too. Being able to string through the body instead of just from the bridge is also supposed to be beneficial. As far as sustain goes, the B-4E has all the features that would work to enhance it. Compared to my other two basses, the ESP can hold a note 50% longer. The fact that it doesn't hum means that even as the note tapers off, it won't be overtaken by noise. More sustain equals winning.
Did I mention it looks awesome? Pictures don't do it justice. The neck and overall feel of the thing are great. The controls cover a very wide variety of tones, with a low, mid and high EQ, pickup balance and of course volume. You can check out the other technical stuff here. Suffice it so say, the B-4E is my best bass hands down. I spent a long time figuring out what I wanted, and was ready to drop $499 at Musicians Friend for just the bass. It retails (whatever that means nowadays) for $713 and the case was an additional $125. It just so happened that before I pulled the trigger on Musicians Friend, I popped over to eBay, and lo and behold some dude was selling one with the case for $375 shipped. A day that will live in bottom feeding infamy! I have to admit I was skeptical about how much better it would sound than my other el cheapo basses. The answer is: way better.
That concludes my (current) collection of basses. I still have two amps, my last couple of pedals, and some recording gear to blab about, so check back soon.