Ibanez SR3006E

Ibanez SR3006E

Year: 2002

Made In: Japan

Specs: Mahogany body, five-piece wenge & bubinga neck, wenge fretboard

Electronics: Bassculture stacked humbucker pickups, Vari-mid preamp

Controls: Volume, blend, bass cut & boost, treble cut & boost, Mid cut & boost, sweepable mid frequency selector

Shortly after the the turn of the century, I was playing in a fairly progressive rock band. At the time, I had just the ESP Jazz and a Ric 4003 to play with and I fancied trying a more extended range bass with the group. I was thinking about getting a five string and, having long wanted an Ibanez SR, was drawn to their Prestige five-string model but, at the last minute, decided to go all-in and get the six-string version. It was also my first experience buying over the internet – it went horrendously, Music123 shipping my bass to Alabama after my order had been altered, for some reason, and doing sod-all to remedy the situation but, after many irate phone calls to the USA, it eventually got resolved and this fine instrument was finally delivered.

Prior to getting this bass, I hadn’t even played a five-string for more than a few minutes in a shop, so the six was a big departure for me and took a bit of getting used to. I think I made a good choice though, the build quality was superb and it set up exceptionally well with very low action. The 16mm string spacing was a bit tighter than I would have liked but it was nothing which couldn’t be overcome. The neck was substantial, but not uncomfortably so, and perfectly stable. As with all SRs, the body was light and perfectly balanced and snug.

The stock Bartolini pickups, custom made for this model, were fairly anaemic – very clean, very polite, low on character. I worked with them for a while but I could never really warm to them so I had a pair of more aggressive sounding stacked humbuckers made by Bassculture in Germany. They proved to be a huge improvement and the rosewood covers also proved to be an aesthetic upgrade too. The Vari-mid preamp was very useful and worked well with the new pickups.

For the duration of that band, it became my main bass but, after the band broke up, I instinctively went back to playing four strings the majority of the time and found it hard to play the six again after periods away. If I played it regularly it was fine but over time I played it less and less. I struggled with going from four to six and back again and, for this reason, eased it on out the door. Great bass, just too many strings for me.

 

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Ibanez S2120X

Ibanez S2120X

Year: 2002

Made In: Japan

Specs: Mahogany body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Ibanez QM1 & QM2 humbuckers, L.R. Baggs piezo

Controls: Volume, tone, five-way switch for magnetic pckups – Volume, bass & treble cut & boost for piezo pickup – three way switch for magnetic/piezo selection

I had such grand plans when I bought this. I much prefer the S shape to the RG and it had a more conventional sized Ultra neck. The possibilities offered by the piezo and magnetic combination were inspiring. It was also, and remains, one of the prettiest guitars I can think of.

As you’d expect from Ibanez Japan, the build was superb. Everything felt solid and high quality. The way the S gets really thin at the edges is really comfortable and the action could be set nicely low. The chunkier Ultra neck really worked for me too, it had a really thick slab of rosewood for a fretboard.

The piezo sounded really good, especially when run into a P.A. or direct input. The switching allowed you to send the piezo and magnetic pickups out through separate jacks or use the mini-switch to blend or select individually through one output. If anything, the guitar exceeded my level of talent by some margin.

My only gripe was that I couldn’t get a tone out of the bridge humbucker which I was truly happy with. I tried several different pickups as the QMs weren’t that good, to be honest. Nothing I tried in the bridge position worked for me, not even a trusty JB and, as a result, I eased it on out the door.

I do think of it from time to time, wondering if I would get along better with it now. It was a guitar which offered almost limitless possibilities but I never felt truly at home on it at the time.

 

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Ernie Ball Musicman Stingray

Year: 2002

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: EBMM humbucking pickup, 3-band EQ

Controls: Volume, Bass cut & boost, Mid cut & boost, Treble cut & boost

This arrived as a trade for the Bacchus Venus. It’s hard to go wrong with a Stingray. This was the three-band EQ version and, to be honest, I found the much maligned mid control quite useful. A small boost really helped cut through without losing the classic Stingray tone. I liked this bass but, once the Godlyke arrived which covered much the same ground, it fell down the pecking order and I eased it on out the door.

Ibanez RG550

Ibanez RG550

Year: 2002

Made In: Japan

Specs: Basswood body, 3 piece maple & bubinga neck, maple fretboard

Electronics: EMG 81 & 60 humbuckers, SA single coil.

Controls: Volume, tone & 5-way switch

An all-time classic design, the RG550 was something I always wanted to try. This one originally came with a RG3270 Prestige neck on it. I eventually picked up that RG with the 500 neck on it and righted a wronf, returning both necks to their correct bodies.

The original pickups, the V7-S7-V8, in truth, were pretty crap and I installed a trio of EMGs, 81-SA-60, which did the tone a power of good. The Super Wizard neck is something else, incredibly skinny in terms of depth but quite wide at the nut. The Edge bridge was absolutely fantastic and it was hard to put the thing out of tune.

The neck, initially, was a bit of a departure for me. I usually like chubbier necks but did eventually get used to it. Where I had difficulty though, was picking up other guitars and trying to adjust to a more traditional sized neck and then adjusting back to this. In the end, I picked up a Charvel So-Cal which shares a lot of the same superstrat features but with a slightly more tradtional neck, so I eased this one on out the door after quite a few fruitful years together. A great guitar, but the neck was just too skinny for my hands.

Bacchus Venus 5

Bacchus Venus 5

Year: 2002

Made In: Japan

Specs: Ash body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x Bacchus single coil pickups

Controls: Volume, blend, bass cut & boost, treble cut & boost

I bought this with the intention of defretting it, that lovely slab of rosewood just called out to me. However, when it arrived, the fretwork was so good I just couldn’t butcher it. This thing sang, it absolutely had the tone, the looks, the playability and more. In fact, it had everything except a forearm contour which, I discovered, is pretty much a deal breaker with the way I played bass. I did toy with the idea of having a forearm contour put in and the top refinished, but to maim this bass in any way would have been a travesty. This really was as nice as it gets, but the slab top and I just couldn’t get along. In the end, I eased it on out the door in exchange for a 3-band Stingray.