First up, this is my first purchase from Thomann, great website, good communications and delivery. The guitar was well packed, box in a box padded with loads of airbags (recyclable too), thus far a very positive experience.
I have played bass for the past 8 years or so and have a couple of UAS Fenders, I wanted to learn how to fix things and set up guitars properly but didn't want to set about my expensive gear until I knew what I was doing so was looking for cheap bass to learn on. I had been looking for a 50s style P Bass for some time and came across this example. Having read the previous reviews I felt confident that this was going to be a good purchase and I can report that I am not disappointed. Everything said here is in reference to the price, just over £100, its important to keep this in mind.
The first impression on unboxing was very good, a nice shiny guitar that looked the part, the finish on the body is high gloss and without flaws, the clear coat is a little on the thick side but that is not a deal breaker, the wood is not going to be high end tone wood so that wouldn't impact the sound in any meaningful way, will most likely stand up to a bit of heavy handed treatment too! The wood grain is a photo laminate on the back and front, hides what I suspect is a multiple piece body typical of cheap guitars, not that obvious unless you look hard, this would not "relic" well so will be kept stock (I don't fancy stripping all that clear coat off either). I removed the scratch plate and control plate, to remove the protective films, and saw lots of sawdust underneath, dusted it all out and refitted, would recommend doing the same if you get one.
Hardware is fine, cheap but functional, tuners work and keep their tune well, the nut is very good, particularly this price point, far better that the standard Far East produced items I have encountered over the years. Also the bridge is decent too, fully adjustable for intonation and radius. Pots are smooth and quiet, the tone control actually does what it is supposed to do, not just add mud, a good range of pleasing tones can be produced. Strap buttons are poor, not enough of a groove to hold a strap securely enough for my liking (I have fitted straplocks).
The pickup is really good, I like the tone it produces, great lows and mids and can growl with the best of them, sustains well too. (I compared with my full fat USA P Bass, fared well - recalling the cost of the HB bass!) it seems to be quite "hot" and responds to the amp, may require less gain to calm things down a bit, but is fun to experiment with.
The neck is a peach, fat as a 50s should be, well finished in satin lacquer, I would say that a beginner or someone with small hands (child?) might find this, well, a bit of a handful, my other basses are much skinnier necked so took me a while to adjust, but this plays well. The frets came largely unfinished, the ends were ok and seemed to be crowned but zero effort in terms of polish. I set about this task with 1200 grit and then 0000 wire wool, and a couple of hour later, they were smooth and shining like new pins. They were nice and level too which was good news. The neck pocket is well routed, and importantly, is unpainted, ensuring "wood to wood" contact between the body and neck, helps with tone, you tend not to see this on guitars at this price point.
I was expecting to spend time setting this guitar up properly, however the intonation was spot on out of the box, neck relief was fine, just a tweak to lower the action at the bridge end to suit me, no string buzz or choking, really happy with how this plays now.
All in all, money well spent. I intend to continue to learn how to do stuff to this guitar and I am sure that it will become a regular player for home and rehearsals with the band. It's a fine guitar for the money, looks great and sounds good too. Maybe I got lucky and got a good one, set up at the factory by someone who cared but, given the raft of positive reviews both on this site and the internet in general, I don't think the risk of getting a dud is that high.
To make it play really well, I would suggest, as a minimum, polish the frets, take a few hours, will be well worth the effort (YouTube has tones of videos on this) set up the intonation and bridge, you may not have to do much here, and the just grab it and enjoy that fat juicy pick up.