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Gear Review: Ibanez BTB33 Bass

Today we’re checking out the Ibanez BTB33. Ibanez has been making great instruments for decades now, and has been a mainstay for musicians in all styles. No news there. This bass is unique for it’s particular purpose, which is for the bassist that likes to solo, comp chords and be on the front line.

Ibanez BTB33 Bass - Natural Finish

This bass comes set up as a 5-string with a high C string rather than a low B, and has a 33-inch scale length. I noticed immediately the relaxed tension and slinky smooth feel when playing it. It’s general tone was in no way muddy or lacking in note definition that can come with shorter scale basses. This is due to the neck-through construction, rosewood fingerboard, Bartolini pickups and preamp.

The factory set up was flawless, string action low and the neck slim and thin. Perfect for ease in fast playing and lighter style touch used while soloing and chording. The string spacing at the bridge is 17mm, making it a real joy to play on both ends of the rosewood 24 fret fingerboard. The finger ramp between the two pickups made right hand positioning feel super comfortable and even. Slap playing is doable, but wasn’t really in the design of this bass in my opinion.

One oddity was the amount of pickup extending above and below the outer strings, as if 6-string pickups were being used on a 5-string. It wasn’t disconcerting, just noticeable but quickly forgotten about in short order. I had no trouble adjusting to the slightly higher position of where my thumb rested on the pickups and ramp. In fact, I think it made for a less congested feeling playing the E and A strings. After a while playing this bass, I think I now prefer this configuration.

As for the onboard tone shaping, there is the super cool three-position mid-frequency selector switch (250Hz, 450Hz, 700Hz) that allows you to choose the spectrum you’d like to emphasize, as well as a mid cut/boost knob to dial it in. This along with the separate treble and bass cut/boost knobs gives you plenty of shaping capability. Master volume and a blend knob keep the control area simple and uncluttered. Its general tone is typical of neck-through, Bartolini equipped modern basses.

If you’re a bassist that wants a bass that is setup and designed for soloing or higher range playing, and doesn’t need the low end of a B string, you may find this to be the perfect bass. Another group this bass will appeal to, without making compromises, are musicians with smaller hands.