ESP has been working on the new Frank Bello J-4 and LTD Series FB-J4 models, one is a full blown Custom Shop affair whilst the other is part of the LTD range.
New York’s Anthrax have toured the world as one of the founding bands of the thrash metal movement. Frank Bello needs a bass that can handle his playing style. ESP say they have been working with Frank on these two new signature models for release this year. And it shows. They both have great hardware and look almost identical except that one is $3,999 whilst the other is only $999, so ESP have evidently made it a priority to cater for different budgets.
Before I go into the details on these two basses, that the ESP Custom Shop make some great instruments and that even their cheaper LTD models are usually fantastic as well. If these two releases are of the same standard, ESP will be lending weight to the argument that you don’t have to skimp on quality to make a good instrument.
ESP Frank Bello J-4
This is the ESP Custom Shop bolt-on neck version of Frank’s bass. It features an alder body, with a one-piece ‘original U-shaped’ profile maple neck topped with an ebony fingerboard and a graphite nut. They are built one at a time in ESP’s Custom Shop in Japan, and we understand that this model is the one Frank uses.
The ebony fingerboard features red dot inlays that match the red body/headstock as well as the red pick-up covers, which all really stands out against that black finish. In terms of hardware, this instrument has Gotoh tuners and a Gotoh 201B-4 bridge, plus EMG PJ-X pickups.
RRP USD 3,999 inc Hard Case
LTD Series FB-J4
The LTD version of Frank’s bass looks almost identical. At first glance you would be hard pressed to see any major differences in the layout and design of the instrument compared the Custom Shop version above.
The LTD FB-J4 is made in the ESP LTD factory. It has a standard U-Shaped neck, rather than the ‘original U-shaped’ of the ESP Custom Shop version, and features has a moulded nut. ESP usually use hand-selected woods on all their Custom Shop models, so this LTD version won’t have the same resonance from the alder used in its more expensive sibling. But I reckon the LTD version should still be a very decent bass for the money. Especially considering that the hardware and pick-ups are exactly the same as the ESP Custom Shop version!
RRP USD 999 – no hard case this time though
ESP Frank Bello product page