It is hard enough to find a quality 5 string guitar as it is. So when somebody starts talking about buying a quality 5 string bass that is also incredibly affordable, you stump a whole lot of people. Even manufacturers start to scramble and look for something that could at least barely fit the bill, and still we can barely find anything. Thankfully there are things to find, such as the ESP LTD B55 5-String Electric Bass, which makes a great quality, affordable 5 string bass guitar. Let’s take a look and see why exactly.
The design of the guitar is unexciting in so many ways, and yet it is functional. The design of the guitar borrows a whole lot from so many existing guitars. The double cutaway neck of the guitar, combined with a slimmed down midriff and a rounded off bottom, leaves a silhouette that is incredibly easy to recognize, even in the dark. The coloring options for the instrument are varied, and all of them include a single color across the entirety of the body. The pickguard provides a bit of an edge to the overall look of the guitar. As I said: functional and yet uninspired.
The body of the guitar is made out of Agathis, which is more than sub optimal for most electric guitars and especially bass guitars. Agathis is generally considered a very cheap body material that, while having some redeeming qualities, tends to be the least prefered tonewood. Still the body of the guitar has an interesting tonality, with the low tones having a more powerful resonance and the midtones being more or less expressive. The soft nature of the agathis makes it easy to damage, so watch out for denting and scratching.
The neck of the guitar is made out of maple, which is a nice detail. Maple, unlike Agathis, is a traditional choice among guitar manufacturers, especially for the neck of a guitar. It provides a viable, sturdy material that will resist warping and most types of damage most of the time. The neck is bolted onto the body, which would not be a problem if a sturdier hardwood was used for the body, but in this case has the potential to cause neck stability issues in the future. The fingerboard of the guitar is made out of rosewood.
The guitar comes with a 5 saddle standard fixed bridge. This allows for some nice action coming out of the strings and decent string stability.
The nut of the guitar is made out of cheapish synthetic material. This results in possible string noise seeping into the sound of the guitar.
The tuning machine of the instrument looks decent with the rest of the guitar’s design. The tuning stability of the guitar is, unfortunately, atrocious.
The guitar comes with a dual-pickup combination. It has one pickup located in the middle of the guitar, while the other is resting down at the bridge. The middle pickup is a split-coil pickup, so it can allow you to play around with your sound a little more. The bridge pickup is a single-coil, which unfortunately lets some of the aforementioned string noise seep into the overall sound of the guitar.
The controls are fairly simple. You get two knobs that allow you to control the individual volume of the pickups, and one knob to control tone, as well as a lever to switch between humbucker and single coils settings for the split coil pickup.
LTD B55 Sound
The sound of the guitar is fairly, and surprisingly, decent. The presence of a mixed selection of pickups, with a humbucker/single coil split-coil pickup and a single single-coil pickup, allows for a diversified tonal range. The low tones are powerful and interesting, while the single-coil pickup brings out the mid and high tones. Unfortunately, the string noise results in a constant hum that may become annoying over time. This is easily fixed if you simply replace the nut with a better one though.
Overall, this is not a bass guitar made to last a long time. It is one made for beginners, looking for a 5 string guitar to start out on. The result is a guitar that might not last a long time but has an interesting and challenging sound. Recommended if you don’t want to spend too much money on a 5 string bass guitar.