Gear Review: Ibanez BTB1406E 6-String Bass

Ibanez’s foray into the boutique bass domain is off to strong start. The only thing missing is the extra $1,000.00 you didn’t have to spend to enjoy all of the features this six string bass delivers. Most online retailers are offering this bass for sale in the $1,500.00 price range, which is not the price point for basses with this degree of styling and features. Let me give you some details to back this up.

Ibanez BTB1406 6-string bass - full size

For starters, the body styling is progressive and visually striking. Deep cut aways allow for easy access to the upper frets also exaggerate the length of the upper and lower horns, and the curves are more masculine than organic. Had Sigmund Freud done this review, he might have commented that sometimes a horn is just a horn. The visual massing is balanced and proportional.

Multi-laminated layers of veneers create pinstripes and borders that are pleasing to the eye for those players that like this esthetic. Of note is the triple layer of veneer between the top plate of figured maple and the mahogany core. This translates into a more pronounced layered border that can be seen from distance and balanced detailing. Not just one stripe but a black/white/black border that moves with the contouring of the body around the outer edge. The beveled edges are perfectly angled to keep the border consistent, giving the visual effect of wide binding. The satin oil finish tones down all of the visual monkey business, and understates all that is going on with the visual design of this bass. The texture of the wood translates to the surface with oil finishes. Just keep in mind that this type of finish will require you take some care with handling and exposure to potential knocks, dings and belt buckles. The up side is that fine scratches that plague high gloss finishes will not be an issue.

The 7-piece laminated neck is constructed of Maple, Bubinga and Walnut and the headstock has a thick plate of Rosewood that matches the fingerboard lending to visual continuity. All veneers and plates are of a thickness that connotes the visual importance over the bottom line in production terms. We have all seen basses that for some reason, fell just shy of being pretty due to very thin veneers, even if we didn’t know at first glance why they didn’t deliver in the visual esthetic. This bass is visually balanced.

Speaking of balance, it hangs well over your shoulder – no neck dives. The overall weight is in the ten pound range, which not light for a bass, but in keeping with 6 strings and not too hard on the back and shoulders for most players.

String spacing is typical to basses with fewer strings, with ample room for slap style playing and feels open, not cramped. So moving from a four or five string bass to six strings will feel familiar in terms of string spacing. The 35-inch scale gives the string tension needed to deliver a nice tight feel to the lower B and E strings with definition and clarity to the pitch. The size of this neck felt comfortable even to my smaller sized hands, and the cut away made access to all 24 frets accessible. Add to this the neck through construction and the individual Mono-Rail bridges, one per string, for vibration isolation; you get a strong clean tone to the note. The Gotoh tuners were smooth and the turning ratio made tuning easy.

The Nordstrand “Big Single” single coil pickups are clean, quiet and punchy high to low, and coupled with the ample tone shaping onboard, makes for a wide tonal pallet to work from. This bass is active and uses a EBB IIISC 3 band pre-amp, and the controls are as follows, Master Volume, Blend, Bass/Mid/Treble cut and boost knobs, a mid sweep switch (250Hz-600Hz), and an EQ bypass. The output jack is a Neutrik locking jack on the bottom edge.

I find the overall feel to be solid, tight and of a quality that is found in higher priced basses. Ibanez basses have been on the market for a long time now, and are played by many professional musicians. As one of the early Asian importers of quality instruments to this country, their products have stood the test of time and have been accepted by discriminating musicians. So you can have confidence that you are getting a fine bass for the price.

Ibanez BTB1406E Six String Bass Specs:

  • Construction: Neck-Thru
  • Scale: 35?
  • Neck: BTB5 7pc Maple/Bubinga/Walnut neck-thru w/Graphite reinforcement rods
  • Body: Figured maple top/Mahogany wing body
  • Fretboard: Rosewood fretboard w/Abalone off-set dot inlay
  • Frets: 24 Medium frets w/Premium fret edge treatment
  • String Spacing: 19mm
  • Bridge: Mono-rail IV bridge
  • Pickups: Nordstrand “Big Singles”
  • Electronics: EQB-IIISC 3-band eq w/Eq bypass switch & Mid frequency switch
  • Nut Saddles: BLACK TUSQ XL nut
  • Hardware Color: Gold
  • Finish: Vintage Natural Flat
  • Case/Bag: Gig bag included

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  1. It’s pretty amusing that the majority of the review is about veneres and laminates, yet the singel most important detail that separates extended range boutique basses from production models – the string spacing – is barely given a passing mention. But I guess “furniture basses” are where we are at these days…

    • It’s also amusing that I can’t correct my typo without deleting the whole comment. Thanks, FB.

    • Hey John,
      I find string spacing is a matter of personal preference, and I think Burke did a fine job explaining how it felt. I just added the string spacing to the specs. Thanks for the feedback!

      • Michael

        The string spacing on the BTB1406E is not 19mm. It is in fact 17mm and it works well for me. The 5 string BTB1405 has 19mm string spacing.

    • Kevin Johnson – everything is a question of “personal preference”. what I’m refering to is the fact that for whatever reason, most mass produced, sub $2k 5 and 6 string basses have less than standard (19mm) string spacing. If Ibanez is doing standard spacing, I would think this would be a major detail worth knowing.

    • Hi John, I’m not questioning your line of thinking, but I am curious (as a guy – who like Burke and Kevin – care very much about how we present things here). Burke offered his take on this instrument’s string spacing in his review (“String spacing is typical to basses with fewer strings, with ample room for slap style playing and feels open, not cramped. So moving from a four or five string bass to six strings will feel familiar in terms of string spacing…”) and then provided the actual string spacing (19mm) in the “Specs” list at the end of the article. I’d love to know what’s missing here.

  2. No mention of either sound, nor any in depth talk about playability… this is a pretty strange review..

  3. I’m quite interested in a BTB 1406, so thanks for this review! I would be interested in the REAL weight of this bass as, for me, this is an important aspect. I contacted Ibanez, but I got no response. On, the BTB 1405 is presented as having 8.8 lbs, about 4 Kg: In my opinion, this would mean about 4.5 Kg (9.9 lbs) for the BTB 1406. Not sure if the 8.8 lbs weight is the real one for the BTB 1405… Any help/official info?

    • Michael

      I own this Bass and have for about 6 months now. For the price, it is, in my opinion as a pro, the best quality instrument available. I have played Roscoes, Yamaha TRBs, and Elrick’s that do not play as comfortably to me. The regular price of $1,599.00 US is well worth it. However, GC and Musician’s Friend often offer 15% off their standard pricing, so watch that, or give them a call, as I did and buy accordingly. This bass is far more beautiful in person when held. It plays great and will allow a comfortable and fast string height with no fret buzz anywhere on the instrument. I have never been able to achieve this on any bass I have ever owned. The bottom end is very clear and punchy and this bass has the best and tightest sounding B string I have ever had. The top register also sings like a bird if you play in that range a lot … as I do. The only thing I changed is the pickups. The P4 shape of the Nordstrand pickups allows gives the player a wide range of pickup brand choices. I did not like the Nordstrand Big Singles. I find these pickups to be too trebly and thin sounding, largely due to the fact that they are a single coil pickup. However, their quality is great. Pickup choice is a matter of preference. I changed my BTB1406E pickups and installed Bartolini split coil deep tone 6 string pickups ordered from Best Bass Gear. The Bass sounds beautiful, clear, fat when needed and the highs are defined but never brittle. The stock preamp is fab. I love this Bass. It’s looks, plays and sounds amazing, and is comparable in quality to American made $4,000.00 instruments. I hope this helps.

    • Michael

      Hi Zoltan,

      I weighed mine at 9.8 lbs. It does not hurt my back. It’s about as light as a 6 string can be. The Ibanez BTB676PB however is quite heavy … too heavy for me. The BTB 1406E is an ideal weight.

  4. Is there big difference in sound and build quality between BTB 1406 and BTB 7 any idea ?