ESP LTD MLB-4 Review & Prices

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ESP LTD MLB-4 Review
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  • From ESP LTD's 2024 Artist series
  • Mike Leon Signature
  • Made in South Korea
  • 4 strings
  • 35"'' scale
  • 15.748" Fretboard Radius
  • Swamp Ash body
  • 5Pc Wenge / Purpleheart (Black Satin / Open Pore) neck
  • Macassar Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Nordstrand Big Splits (Humbucker/Active)
  • Neck pickup: Nordstrand Big Splits (Humbucker/Active)
  • 2 volume and 2 tone Dome knobs
  • Gotoh 404BO-4 bridge
  • Bass Extra Thin U Bolt-On neck
  • 24 XL Jumbo Stainless Steel frets
  • Gotoh tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 78
Sound 82
Build quality 75
Value for money 68
Overall Score 78
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
ESP LTD MLB-4
  • Stainless Steel Frets
  • Expensive Wood
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Active Preamp
  • No Locking Tuners
  • Made in South Korea
  • No High-Quality Nut
  • No Neck-Through Build
  • No Push Knob or Extra Switch Option
  • No Weight Relief
  • No Luminescent Inlay
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Retainer Bar
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $2100, which means that the ESP LTD MLB-4 is within the average price asked for this kind of bass. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 4 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in South Korea.

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Your feedback

Not all instruments are created equally, and there are many important things they won't tell you about the one you're buying. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this bass say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

Weight

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Is it Easy to Play?

The ESP LTD MLB-4 meets 3 out of our 6 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

ESP LTD MLB-4
  • Comfortable shape
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the ESP LTD MLB-4's construction favors people with relatively big hands.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this bass—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the ESP LTD MLB-4's 35" scale length compared to other common sizes:

ESP LTD MLB-4 Scale Length Comparison
ESP LTD MLB-4's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is considered a long scale bass, and it's the most popular choice for several reasons. Even though it might be more difficult to play than short scale basses due to their increased string tension, their punchier low-end results in a clear and defined bass tone that can cut through in a mix, making them well-suited for genres like rock, metal, and funk.

Neck Profile

ESP LTD MLB-4 Neck Profile
ESP LTD MLB-4's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a U type neck. This shape usually has more 'shoulders' than a C neck. It's great for guitarists who love the feel of a vintage neck. Most of them are thick, which makes it better for people with big hands. However, some of them can be thin like a C neck but with more mass to the sides for a better grip.

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The ESP LTD MLB-4 has a 15.748" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

ESP LTD MLB-4 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
ESP LTD MLB-4's fretboard radius compared to others

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the ESP LTD MLB-4 has the same radius across the board.

Nut Width

ESP LTD MLB-4 Nut Width
ESP LTD MLB-4 Nut Width

The ESP LTD MLB-4 has a nut width of 42mm (1.654''). This is considered a wide width for a 4-string bass. A wider nut provides more space between the strings, making it easier for players to execute techniques like slap bass and tapping, which require extra room for precision. However, players with smaller hands might find it challenging to comfortably reach across the wider fretboard, as it requires a wider stretch between the fingers.

Frets

The ESP LTD MLB-4 has 24 frets. A lot of people mistakenly believe that having more frets will always be better because it gives you a higher octave. This is certainly an advantage, but there's also a disadvantage to this.

Since the fretboard will be longer, the neck pickup will need to be placed closer to the bridge. And as you may know, the further away the neck pickup is from the bridge, the warmer it sounds. This means you'll have a brighter-sounding neck pickup when using a 24-fret bass, even if you use the same pickup on a 22-fret bass.

Finally, these are stainless steel frets. They're the best fretwire available. This means you won't need to change your frets since they should last as long as your bass. Some people also feel easier bendings after swapping to stainless steel.

Fret Size

ESP LTD MLB-4 Fret Size Comparison
ESP LTD MLB-4's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The ESP LTD MLB-4's frets are XL Jumbo size. These are extra-large frets, which are perfect for people who truly want the least resistance for techniques like vibrato, bending, tapping, and just playing fast in general. You won't be able to feel the fretboard with these frets, so if you press too hard you'll get the notes out of pitch. It might take a while to get used to them because of this.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 85
Chord Playability 70
Solo Playability 80
Playability 78

Tone Analysis

Wood will have little influence in the final tone of an electric guitar or bass. Instead, the hardware, especially the pickups, will be the most important thing to look at. Bur first, let's see the quality of the wood.

Wood

Ash wood pattern used for guitar building
Ash Body
Ebony wood pattern used for guitar building
Ebony Fretboard

Ash Body: The most popular Ash wood for guitars is swamp Ash. It has a really light color with beautiful patterns, which makes it perfect for a natural-looking finish. It's not as lightweight as Alder, but also not as heavy as Mahogany. It's known for producing a bright tone with solid mids and lows.

Ebony Fretboard: This is one of the most expensive woods there is, which is why it's mostly used for fretboards. It is dense, heavy, highly resistant and comes in a really dark color that gives any guitar a classy touch. Tone wise, it helps the high side of the spectrum and provides good sustain.

Pickups

This bass comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Nordstrand. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

These are active pickups, so you can expect a lot of output with a highly compressed signal that will give your tones more distortion while retaining a clear, defined sound, which is what many Heavy Metal players need. However, they have the disadvantage of sometimes lacking a fully clean sound when playing without distortion.

Preamp

The preamp is an electronic circuit that serves as an intermediary between the bass's pickups and the amplifier. Its primary function is to boost and shape the bass's raw signal before it reaches the amplifier. This allows for greater control over the bass's tone, volume, and other sound characteristics. Preamps often include tone controls, equalization settings, and sometimes even onboard effects, enabling bassists to tailor their sound to their preferences and the musical context.

This bass has a Active preamp. Unlike passive basses, which rely solely on passive pickups and tone controls, active preamps require a power source, typically a 9-volt battery, to operate. The active preamp offers several advantages, including the ability to boost or cut specific frequencies, resulting in a more versatile and customizable tonal palette. Active basses are favored in genres where precise tonal sculpting and extended tonal options are essential, such as jazz fusion or progressive rock. However, they do require occasional battery replacement or recharging to ensure optimal performance.

The ESP LTD MLB-4's configuration is HH. With this pickup combination, you'll get warmer tones and more output than using single coils. Humbucker pickups cancel the noise that single-coil suffer from, which also results in a warmer tone. This pickup combination isn't only for high-gain music like Hard Rock or Heavy Metal. Their warmness is also popular for Jazz, Indie, R&B, Blues and more.

Versatility

Unfortunately, it doesn't come with more options for coil split or coil tapping. This makes it less versatile than some competitors.

What music genre is it good for?

As a 4 strings, Solid Body bass with HH configuration and Active pickups, we'd recommend it for genres like Heavy Metal or similar. However, you can use almost any bass for any genre. This is just the typical type of music for this particular one.

Sound Score

Pickups 90
Sustain 85
Versatility 79
Tuning Stability 75
Sound 82

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The ESP LTD MLB-4 is made in South Korea. Guitars made here are well-built and tend to have good quality control, even though they focus on mass production. This used to be the most premium option just below Japan or the US, but other countries like Indonesia are becoming great competitors because of even cheaper labor without sacrificing quality.

Bridge

Gotoh 404BO-4: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your bass. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the ESP LTD MLB-4 has a Plastic nut. This is a low-quality nut that you might want to consider upgrading soon. Bone and TUSQ nuts are the best for guitars with a fixed or simple tremolo bridge.

Neck Joint

The neck joint is the part where the neck of the bass meets the body. There are three main techniques to attach both parts together: Set-In, Bolt-On and Neck-Through. The latter two provide different advantages, although neck-throughs are the most expensive.

This bass has a Bolt-On neck joint. Even though this type of neck was looked down upon for a long time, nowadays bolt-on necks are well built and provide just as much sustain as any other join method. First of all, it's cheap to make because it consists of simply 4 bolts that attach the neck to the body. And you can travel with the guitar more easily, swap out the neck if you damage it, or upgrade to a more comfortable neck later on.

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 71
Features 70
Quality Control 85
Build Quality 75

All Specs

ESP LTD MLB-4
General
Brand: ESP LTD
Year: 2024
Configuration: HH
Strings: 4
Made in: South Korea
Series: Artist
Colors: Black
Left-Handed Version: No
Body
Type: Solid Body
Body Material: Swamp Ash
Bridge: Gotoh 404BO-4
Neck
Neck Joint: Bolt-On
Tuners: Gotoh
Fretboard: Macassar Ebony
Neck Material: 5Pc Wenge / Purpleheart (Black Satin / Open Pore)
Decoration: Offset Dots
Scale Size: 35"
Shape: Bass Extra Thin U
Frets: 24 XL Jumbo Stainless Steel
Fretboard Radius: 15.748"
Nut: Plastic
Nut Width: 42mm (1.654'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs: Dome
Volume Controls: 2
Tone Controls: 2
Bridge Pickup: Nordstrand Big Splits (Humbucker / Active)
Neck Pickup: Nordstrand Big Splits (Humbucker / Active)

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