Seeing as we don’t do too many bass reviews (our last one being the Ibanez ATK810E), I figured today we should take a look at the Ibanez SR500 bass, a deceptively named 4-string bass that sits in the $600 price area.

Let’s jump right into this one!

Features

– Mahogany Body with a Brown Mahogany Finish

– 5-Piece Jatoba/Bubinga Bolt-on Neck and 34” Scale

– Rosewood Fretboard

– 24 Medium Sized Frets

– Bartolini Pickups – MK-1-4F (Neck) and MK-1-4R (Bridge)

– Ibanez Accu-cast B300 bridge, Top-loaded

– 1x Volume, 3-Band Active Pre-Amp (bass, mid, treble) with a Mid-Peak Switch (250, 450 and 750) and a Pickup Balance Knob in place of a switch.

– Thin “SR4” Neck Profile

– 12” Neck Radius

On paper this bass sounds like it should actually be fairly expensive, considering the exotic woods being used, as well as the Bartolini pickups. Despite that, it actually comes out to be more affordable than one would think, and it’s a bass that will do any job you need it to do while not making you feel nervous about bringing it to a gig. Ibanez has been putting out quite a few affordable exotic models lately, such as the RG652k.

The first thing I noticed about this bass when I picked it up was how light and comfortable it felt, which was surprising considering the mahogany body. This weight relief evidently comes from a smaller body with comfortable a contour, and it makes for a bass that’s really easy to have strapped on for long periods of time.

The next thing that I noticed immediately was how incredibly thin the neck was. This may not be every bass players favorite feature, but as someone with tiny hands, this bass felt incredibly comfortable to play. It was super easy to slap and jump around the fretboard like a maniac. The flatter 12” radius is also a nice feature since it allows for quicker access when running around the fretboard, unlike a lot of basses which seem to lean more towards a curvier vintage radius.

One of my favorite things about this bass is a piece of trivia. It features a Jatoba/Bubinga neck, which you really don’t see very often. I like Jatoba because it comes from a tree called Stinking Toe. I’m not kidding, that tree actually exists. It’s great!

My only complaint about the specs on this bass is that they use a “balance” knob to control which pickup is selected or to blend a combination of the two. This is a very minor complaint though as it would be nothing to rip out the balance knob and rewire it for a volume on each pickup.

Tone

I was pleasantly surprised with just how versatile this bass’ sound is. Usually when I see a bass with dual humbuckers, I know it can be as mean and growly as it wants, but the question then becomes “How clean can it get?” The answer here is as clean as you need it to be thanks to the active EQ, which can cut/boost bass, midrange and treble.

Between the Bartolini pickups and the 3-band active EQ, this bass really excels in most genres by giving you a full range of sounds from super smooth, clean, and deep jazz tones all the way to snarling metal sounds.

My favourite part of the active circuit is the mid switch. Essentially, this switch changes the midrange peak between 250 Hz, 450 Hz, and 750 Hz. This switch has the effect of controlling where your attack and ‘growl’ will be coming from. The 250 Hz and 450 Hz setting really make the bass kick you in the chest by bringing out the low end attack with a very bottom heavy distortion. If you crank the gain, the 750hz setting on the other hand brings the focus on a much more trebly attack and allows any sound, especially distortion, to cut through the mix and be heard. The 750hz setting can get a bit shrill if the treble is cranked, but I would say the 450hz is my favourite as it sits right in the middle and gives you a punchy attack with enough low mids, so you’ll feel it in your nether regions, but also enough higher mids to remain clear and be heard in a band setting.

Overall, I found the tone of this bass to be very flexible and it would serve most genres fairly well.

Built Quality

I really can’t say I have any complaints here.

The neck pocket was well done with a nice tight fit, the nut was well cut for a reasonably low action, the fret job was done pretty well (not flawless, but there was no buzz, no obviously sharp frets, and they were all polished to a nice shine) and the neck came set up nice and straight.

Though the finish isn’t the most interesting, it was done well and all around the bass felt great to play, and it sounded great too.

Final Verdict

My ruling on this bass is that I want one in my life and so should you. It’s super versatile and though it won’t do any one thing absolutely perfect, it can do everything very well. It’s not ridiculously expensive, so gigging it wouldn’t be a huge worry, it feels great to play with the thin neck and has a ton of features that most basses in this price range just can’t offer – such as that midrange switch, this is such a great feature I can’t express enough how useful it is. And to top it all off, this bass is built well and is very light for traveling with.

Plus, you can tell all of your friends that you have a bass made out of Stinking Toe!

8-9-8

We are authorized Ibanez dealers, and can set you up with the Ibanez you’re looking for at the best price possible. Besides reviews, we write a lot of technical articles, theory pieces, and more! Click here to find those!

This article was written by Keegan Connor, our editor located in Canada.

About The Author