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|Download Example 1
SR1205 - Pickup balance even, Tone controls set at detents.
|Download Example 2
SR1400 - Pickup balance even, Tone controls set at detents.
|Clips recorded direct into GarageBand through an Axeport Pro interface.|
Even with these appointments, these two basses will not break the bank. Each comes in at just a little over a grand, which is a lot of instrument per dollar.
What’s in Common?
Along with the slim necks and sleek bodies, both basses share several hardware components. Both have easy-turning Gotoh tuners and Ibanez’s Mono-Rail bridge that utilizes separate units for each string. This design really does a great job of transferring string vibrations and takes just one screw to adjust each unit’s string height—so no worrying about having less-than-even saddle to plate contact. The pickups on both basses are Nordstrand Big Singles, which Nordstrand describes as providing “huge, full, loud, aggressive single-coil tone.” Or, to use a well-worn comparison, a “Jazz bass on steroids.” The key to this pickup design is turning traditional Jazz bass pole pieces at a 45-degree angle, allowing a wider pickup with more wire.
To check out the difference, I pulled out a Jazz bass without steroids—my stock 1974 model—and played all three basses with a flat EQ and both pickups set to the same volume level. Certainly, both Ibanez basses were a little louder than my passive Jazz, but not radically so. Likewise, both Ibanez basses did have somewhat more punch and clarity than the Jazz. Despite having the same pickup design, I was surprised to find that the 5-string 1205E had a noticeably deeper, fatter tone than the 4-string, probably from differences between the body woods (more on that soon).
The polepieces of basses' Nordstrand Big Singles are turned at a 45-degree angle. The pickups were slightly louder, with more punch and clarity, than a vintage J-bass pickup.
Another common trait with these two basses is their electronics design, which includes three bands of EQ, a switchable midrange center frequency, and an EQ defeat switch. All three bands of EQ are cut/boost, so both basses are able to cover a wide range of sound. Also onboard are controls for pickup blend and master volume. The jack on both basses is set into a neat scoop on the front of the body to avoid the usual 90-degree angle between body and plug—an extra bit of security when you accidentally step on the cord and yank the plug.
One thing I noticed on both basses was that the control cavity was attached with screws into threaded inserts. This is an important touch to avoid stripping the body wood after a bunch of battery changes, but that problem could also be avoided by going with a separate battery box. I always worry that a wired battery clip will eventually need replacing or repairing. Inside the control cavity, I found more wire than I’d normally like to see and a preamp floating under a piece of foam. I always thought leaving extra wire beyond what’s needed for hooking up the pickups acts like a noise antenna. Combining that extra wire with conductive paint shielding (I prefer copper foil) and single coil pickups usually equals a recipe for some extra noise. With the pickups set at even levels, both basses were relatively quiet. But I usually like to favor one of the two pickups in a single-coil bass setup since it produces a touch more punch and clarity. Unless I held these basses at the correct angle to my amp, the noise was noticeable, although not much more so than my Jazz bass.