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!

HUM:
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.

SUSTAIN:
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.

4 comments:

  1. I have 4 Aria Pro II bass guitars, built between 1980-1986 including a 1985 Cat in white with active electronics. I am about to buy a ESP LTD B-4E, but I want to find out where can I get one with a gloss finish like yours? I have a 1980 Aria TSB-650 S/N-002061 with a beautiful gloss finish like your ESP.

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  2. I've had this bass since July 2012 and in 20+ years of playing this is by far the best sounding bass i've owned in a very long time...and ya ca't beat the price..did i mention it is also stunningly beautiful. :)

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  3. I'm getting my LTD B-4E thursday, can't wait to let you know what I think of it. From the info I got it is very sweet bass.

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  4. A wise man once told me " you should never buy a car or guitar based on price or looks"... oh, wait...it was me that said that. Well, it's sound advice get it?
    I fell in love with that satin smooth finish that highlighted the contrasting ebony top and maple 5-piece neck. I picked 'er up and rolled a few notes off that slim-line neck and couldn't believe how nice she played...right off the rack! perfect intonation and smooth playability out of the box. so I checked the price, expecting to hit 8-900 range and couldn't believe my eyes when I read under 500!!! I thought there was a mistake and called the salesguy over. He must've thought I wanted to wheel and deal cuz he said " that's a rock bottom price point". When I told him I thought it had been priced too low accidently, he just laughed and said he'd be happy to mark it up if I wanted.
    I walked out with a new bass that day and lived happily ever after. I play in a country rock group and have received many compliments on the sound and look of this LTD B-4E. the only thing I wondered is if anyone has upgraded the pickups to Bartolinis or any other brand pickup?

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