tone-knob for rolling off the highs. While
there’s nothing revolutionary in terms of
this traditional electronics setup, it’s effective and known well by most bassists.
LDP—even after making some adjustments
to height—there were some good tones to
be had from mixing the bridge and neck
pickups together. With the bridge volume
at full blast, I needed to up the neck pickup’s volume to about 70 percent to blend
in its low-end frequencies, which matched
up nicely with the bridge’s snappy qualities.
Moving through various genres from funky
slap to pop, and metal to classic rock and
blues showed how well the Vintage- 204
is able to cover many bases, though not
necessarily exceling at any one in particular. Most of the tones were completely
usable and easily coaxed out, though some
sounded slightly hollow to my ears. All said,
even with the varying levels of character
across the tonal spectrum, the tones of the
Vintage- 204 were able to get the job done
across a variety of styles.
The Vintage- 204’s overall playability was
very, very good. I had no problem moving up
and down the neck’s super-comfortable profile, and the rounded edges of the neck made
it easy and effortless for quick movement.
Plugging into a Verellen Meat Smoke
amplifier running through an Ampeg 4x10,
the Vintage- 204 dished out some nice,
smooth, bass tones with a copious amount
of punch in the low end. The lows from the
bass had a very tight quality to them, especially from the LDP neck pickup. Moving
from straightforward rock with a quick
picking style to softer and fingerpicked
walking-melodies was much easier with the
neck pickup, due to its expanded frequency
response. The LDJ in the bridge on the
other hand—which had a sharp, distinct
high-end—didn’t kick out as much low end
as I hoped it would. In fact, the difference
in lows, volume, and overall fullness was
almost night and day between the two. I
chalked this up to differences in pickup
height and the fact that the LDP is placed
closer to the neck.
While the LDJ’s tone and sustain were
not as full and blooming as the P-style
ESP’s lower-priced LTD iteration of their
Vintage- 4 probably isn’t going to replace
your vintage P or J bass, but it certainly is
a contender for a solid backup. It’s also an
excellent option for a beginner to intermediate bassist. There are plenty of basses in
its price range that could learn from the
stellar playability and comfort of its neck,
which gives it high marks in that category.
Tonally, it accomplishes its goals, though
with a great set of aftermarket pickups, the
Vintage- 204 has the ability to be a monster
player. And that’s a small price to pay for an
excellent bass at such a low price point.
Pros: Great feel and solid construction.
ESP, LTD Vintage- 204 Bass, Street $349.99, espguitars.com
Cons: Pickups can sound a little hollow, with bridge tones a little
anemic at times.
Ease of Use
to hear audio clips of the bass at