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This article was originally published in issue #7
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The first time I remember seeing one of the original releases of the Ibanez ATK bass was in the hands of Mark White from The Spin Doctors back in the mid 90's. Several variants were available including a 5 string version and a wide colour choice. Back to 2012, the range is more concise on the Ibanez website with just three models shown. The 200 model sits in between the more budget conscious GIO range and a prestige version. The GIO model features a flat finish in red with a white pickguard or black finish with a black pick guard. A single pickup with no switching options and passive electronics top off the build. The prestige model on the other hand has a maple fretboard instead of the rosewood of both the GIO and 200 models. The body is an Ash slab on both the prestige and 200 but the prestige replaces the pickguard for a clear one to show off more of the very nice Ash grain. An additional single pickup in the neck position is added for further tonal options but is not included on the 200 series.
Time to crack out the ATK 200. The model in for review is a colour choice that does not appear on the Ibanez website. Tut tut!!
Our review model came in 'Soda Blue' as you can see in the pictures. A rosewood fretboard on a laminated Maple neck meets the square edged Ash body with a good strong join, no gaps or bad machining to be seen. On the rear a nice rib cage cut out and arm sculpting on the upper front of the body makes for a comfortable playing position. With the white pickguard, I'd have loved to have seen a maple fretboard option. I think that would have looked really nice! On the subject of the fretboard, the finish of the neck was adequate and not too much like a club, though it did feel just a little clumsy - or rather a bit square edged. On the lower edge of the neck, i did feel a couple of sharp edges on some of the 22 medium sized frets but I won't be writing off the instrument just because of that - it could have been the odd edge that got missed. I feel sure that if I had a second review model it would have been fine.
Plugged in, tonally the Bass had a strong out put, if but a little on the slightly anaemic side when all the controls were set flat. When a Bass has a single pick up sited closer to the bridge, naturally it will have more bite, top end and less bass end. For me though, bass guitar is about punch, about low end and tonal girth and if a bass doesn't have it then it's just not cutting it. I'd liken it to a kick drum sounding like a hand drum. Sure, it has a nice tone, but if you are holding the foundation of the song down with a tasty groove, you'll get lost if you have no oomph! I'm sliding of topic a little here but hopefully you understand what I mean! A bass should have a great tone out of the box on flat settingsbeforeyou start winding up the EQ. So - did the EQ help? Well yes, it was possible to get some good tones out of the instrument, especially rolling out the mids a little and boosting the lows. It became fatter sounding with a nice modern rasp on the 'both coils on' setting. There is a three way pickup selector for front-both-back coil tone selections. The front coil setting did a convincing 'front pick up of a jazz bass sound' and the rear coil setting gave me the expectant bite of a pickup situated closer to the bridge - again I would have liked a little more guts out of this coil. I found that in this review at least, the combined tone was by and far much nicer than the single coil tones.
Weight? This is a substantial instrument! This review model is heavy - my technical team remarked on this straight away. This might put you off if you are young or of a smaller stature.
The tuning keys on the bass are a Wilkinson branded set. Great quality and judging by their cut down size they are a light weight yet having a good sized 'ear' to get hold of to turn. No neck dive to report, so the lighter keys are no doubt a help here.
There is a huge metal plate that makes up the bridge assembly on the bass that totally engulfs the dual humbucking pickup. It's just brilliant! I really love the look of it and makes the bass look like it means business. Whether or not this aids sustain any more than a high mass bridge, I can not tell, but it hasgotto be better than those woeful bits of 'bent tin' you find on some instruments! Oooh, is that a bug-bear Dan? Yes it is!
String spacing is in the usual ball park of 19mm at the bridge so will no doubt feel instantly familiar and the action set up felt good too straight out the box. Speaking of which, delivery did not include a case or 'extras' in the box.
A great functional bass that I feel would be great for the beginner, intermediate level player and those looking for a gig spare to their main instrument.