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Value for money fan-fret instrument.
Good tones, punchy Low B!
Nothing I really want to quibble over when looking at online prices of this model.
Multi-Scale 5pc Jatoba/Walnut neck
Poplar Burl top/Mahogany body
Bartolini® BH2 pickups
Built from an exciting blend of tonewoods, including a poplar-burl-topped walnut/mahogany body and a 5-piece multi-scale jatoba/walnut neck. Ibanez's SRMS805-BTT truly stands out from the crowd. Here's Dan Veall with more information.
Ibanez is without a doubt enjoying a huge market share when it comes to instrument manufacture. As the company has enjoyed such growth over the years so has, in my opinion, the progression in overall quality of workmanship been realised. As an example, back when I took my formative steps as a musician, beautiful drop-tops and exciting finishes were reserved for the very boutique and hand made instruments. Now, we are being blessed with rich eye candy as standard. The instrument we have in for review today is no exception:
The SRMS805 from the SR Sound Gear range is (as the model number suggests ha ha) a Multi-scale instrument (ok, I’m just messing around, that would be the “MS” bit in the model name!!) It’s a 5 string bass with modern appointments and a big tone to boot. We’ll get back to the multi-scale bit later.
The instrument features the now well-known SR headstock and an immediate thumbs up from me for the matching facing to go with the body. At first look, we are greeted with the glossy finish that is called Brown Topaz Burst; there’s also a Deep Twilight finish too for those who prefer translucent black / grey. Very eye-catching!
The usual small button tuning keys, of the enclosed variety keep weight down at the end of the slim neck and moving down the instrument in my video I point out the Jatoba and Walnut 5 piece laminate neck. Jatoba is a hardwood that is otherwise known as Brazillian Cherry (the internet tells me) and it is dense with an ‘interlocking grain’. Supply is plentiful and it lends itself well to being a material suitable for bass necks (and more!)
Underneath the Polar Burl top, Mahogany offers up a familiar foundation and acoustically the instrument has a warm tone that appears to be leaning towards the lower mid frequencies to my ear in this environment.
Looking at the hardware now, I really like the inclusion of a new updated monorail bridge piece that offers a +/- 1.5mm adjustment of the string spacing. Actually, I’ve always been a fan of the 16.5mm spacing of Ibanez basses (especially the 6 string models) anyway, but for those who like to have a bit more room, no more head scratching trying to find an off the shelf multi-scale instrument that fits your needs. Great stuff Ibanez!
Electronics come courtesy of Ibanez with a custom preamplifier offering three-band bass, mid and treble boost and cut. The mid frequency control has a three way switch to select different frequency centres to suit your needs. Best demonstrated in my video.
Bartolini is back once again with a pair of BH2 type pickups that are made especially for this model bass I understand. They have a nice tone to them, possibly a little polite in passive mode, though can be brought more to life with EQ on your amp or flicking the onboard EQ in to play (passive/active switch included) - I found that I notched all three controls to about +2 across the board for some extra gain and voicing. The 60/40 blend towards the bridge pickup worked a real treat too adding focus to the bass and midrange.
In terms of what the ‘805 offers, well, there’s no ignoring the multi scale aspect of the instrument. To save space here, I’ve explained all about that in the video review. I know the real question is, “How easy is it to navigate these wonky frets?” - Very easy. Because the fan-fret on this bass is only 35.5” for the B over to 34” scale for the G, there’s very little reach difference for my left-hand verses a parallel fret cousin. I have heard many times folk telling me that the bass will be hard to play and it looks confusing. I guarantee that you will be comfortable in 20 minutes on a well set up instrument. I will admit that this example’s action was a snip high for my preference. Half a turn on each saddle grub screw brought things into my comfort zone.
A minor observation: I am guessing that the same neck blank and facings are used for both the MS models and parallel fret models? Yes, I understand that costs need to be kept down, but that little triangle shaped no-mans-land on the headstock side of the nut keeps drawing my eye. You probably didn’t notice it until I mentioned it and for that I am sorry! The facing can’t be continued over the top of it because of the angled back headstock, and there’s nothing the end of the fretboard can do without shaving off needed wood for strength I suppose. So, it’s just kind of ‘there’. Hmmm.. overthinking it maybe Dan?
Let's round up...
Overall at the price point, we have value for money. Sure, I needed to tweak the set up out of the box just a little, but that could be said of a large number of instruments hanging on pegs in general music shops everywhere. We do have a well-respected brand bass here with a tome that will suit a huge number of musical genres in both looks and sounds.