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.
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