There I was, with my DiMarzio-hotrodded Yamaha RBX170, and suddendly I got hit by GAS. I just *HAD* to have a five string.
While shopping within my limited budget, among the ugly black ibanezes and such there was this gorgeous-looking Washburn bass wich screamed 'BUY ME! BUY ME NOW!'.
The price was more than right, and after a test drive and getting the wife's permission ;) I bought it. Now here's my thoughts on the bass, after some quality time with the beast:
Looks: Damn, it is a looker. So much that my wife *made me buy a stand* and included it into the living room decoration! Looks classy as the warwicks I used to own.
Construction: Minor nitpicks, the details that give away that this isn't a thousand-buck bass, it's a 275 buck made in vietnam bass. The finish isn't NAMM-booth perfect, and the pickup and backplate screws go straight into the woods, no bushing. The pickups seem almost like they were pressure-forced into their slots, because they won't move an iota. Tried to adjust pickup height but had exactly zero success. Luckily the balance is 'almost' perfect so it isn't that much of an issue, but I did freak out when I couldn't move the pickups, even with the four screws removed. Overall, it feels really solid.
Playability: The neck is great, there is minimal buzzing that should go away with a proper setup (wich I've been too lazy to do, only did it half-assed), no fret edges cutting my fingers. The finish stands sweat without getting sticky, even rehearsing in a small room full of tube amps and smelly bandmates. The string spacing is wide, as in 4-string spacing, so it is plenty comfortable. Switching to it from the 4 string has been easy as it gets.
Sound: It has a somewhat modern vibe, not as hifi-ish as the warwicks but you'll never be mistaken with a j-bass. Sits REALLY WELL in a band context. Better tone with band than on the bedroom. Great B-string. Have to play it with care, but it is amazingly tight for a cheap bass (and my band downtunes half a step!) Overall, I like it a LOT. Was thinking of switching the pickups (note that the pickups are rare 104mm jazz pickups, so far the only manufacturer that has that size is bartolini, it is the same size as the bartolini 57's BRIDGE pickup) but since I played it with other people I'm keeping them for now, as the bass sits in the mix with authority and more than enough mids to not be buried under the guitars. The bridge pickup is wimpy by itself, I use it with both pickups full on or with the neck pickup only.
Problems: It is HEAVY AS HELL. Get a big strap and a chiropractor ready. Else your back will be gone in a couple of months. The bridge wouldn't accomodate the ball-end overwinding of a DR B-String, the hole is too narrow! Now I've got a half-inch piece of string sticking out of my bridge. Have to get a taper-core B string for the next time... the pickups won't move, bad.
Overall: Great bang for the buck. Incredibly good starter bass or keeper for the bassist on a budget.