What’s loaded with tones, has an ergonomic body with cool lines, and a burl top … but no head?
Recorded direct using PreSonus FireStudio and PreSonus Studio One 3.
Clip 1: Both pickups blended equally. Slight bass boost, slight treble boost, mids scooped.
Clip 2: Both pickups blended equally. Slight bass boost, slight treble boost. Played with pick.
Clip 3: Bridge pickup soloed with slight bass and treble boost.
Modern, funky tones. Passive-mode tone control.
Body so thin it almost feels too fragile to rock.
Ibanez EHB 1505
Ibanez has enjoyed a rich history, with a who’s who of musicians relying on the company’s instruments, and innovative models for players of all levels. And when your instruments are so ingrained in the vernacular of players, the bar has to be kept high to maintain your reputation, while pricing needs to be kept in a zone that feels comfortable.
So Ibanez certainly has its share of budget-friendly offerings, but the company is also firmly rooted in the higher-end market with its Bass Workshop, which—either directly or indirectly—influences all their new bass models, including the EHB 1505 we recently had our hands on.
When the EHB 1505 came out of the gig bag, I wasn’t sure where to look first. It was like being at a Lego store as a kid. There are many eye-catching and striking features on this bass that will keep the most discerning bass nerds happy (me included). First and most obvious, it’s headless, which is an ’80s-throwback kind of cool. The dragon-eye-burst finish over a poplar burl top is stunning. Thanks to a chambered African mahogany body, the bass is light as can be. The rear of the body is also contoured, which allows the bass to ease in closer to my body.
With all this aesthetic styling, one will likely wonder what the bass could have under the hood to match. The EHB 1505 is loaded with Nordstrand custom Big Split pickups, which are noise-canceling single-coils that can run a wide range of hybrid P/J tones. For tone sculpting, there is a 3-band active EQ system onboard, along with a bypass switch and passive tone control. I’m always a fan of having a tone control for passive mode on an active bass, so kudos to Ibanez for including this sometimes neglected feature.
Once my initial swooning subsided, I was anxious to dive in and hear what the 1505 could do. I plugged the bass into my PreSonus Studio One DAW to start, but later used an Eden CXC210 combo to move some air.
Here Nordy There
The EQ-bypass toggle switch is well placed and big enough for no-look practical applications. In passive mode, we have just three controls: the blend, tone, and volume. The neck pickup on its own is pretty robust and has a very modern punch. One could slam some rock tunes with this simple setting alone. Soloing the bridge pickup gives a pointed and extremely articulate upper voice with funk-drenched licks and provides solo inspiration for days. With both pickups running, the bass gave me a very clean and usable tone for rap loops to country to blues. Note: I found the tone control needs to be at least halfway up in passive mode for any usable tone, but once it is up, the pickups breathe nicely.
When I switched on the EQ, everythingopened up. Called the Vari-mid system, the Ibanez EQ gives incredibly detailed possibilities for the most discerning audio junkie. The two dual-stacked controls include the bass boost/cut paired with the treble boost/cut, as well as a mid-frequency selector coupled with a mid-boost/cut. For a traditional volume/tone bassist, this all may seem a bit complicated, but the learning curve is quite easy, and the achievable tones are pretty fierce.
The neck pickup in active mode is powerful. With the EQ set flat, this bass can really move some air. Add in a little more low end and a touch of high-end sizzle, and then you are rattling timbers. The modern edge to the EHB 1505 is inspiring and the feel of the 9-piece low-profile neck makes it very easy to, well, want to play this bass.
A super-funky fingerstyle point is found in the bridge pickup, and adding a little low end gives it a very nice feel. The upper-register riffs almost play themselves, and with the help of the super-deep access of the upper bout on the treble side, all 24 frets are easily accessible.
The 5th string is tight and responsive, which brings me to my next favorite tone: the mid-scooped “smiley face” EQ setting. It delivered piano-like tonal variations and gave the low-B string its special purpose. The 1505 is a true joy to play, and taking this bass into a modern rock, funk, R&B, country, or blues gig would be perfectly acceptable. (As long as your bandmates dig the fact that the headstock is missing.)
You know what? I really didn’t miss the headstock. The design provided hand support at the nut, so I didn’t feel as if I would fall off the Earth while sliding down to the first fret. On the opposite end of the bass, the tuning bridge is super-precise and allows variable string width to boot.
The Ibanez EHB 1505 checks all the boxes for a modern bassist’s fantasy. Modern design, a superb finish, excellent wood choices, and aggressive electronics make this one a looker—and player—for sure. Even if you aren’t a headless fan, you will still find some impressive comfort zones in this bass. While I really do appreciate the body’s design, I did feel it seemed a little too thin in spots, almost making me cradle the instrument more than I normally would. Other than that, the EHB 1505 has the makings for a great tone machine for someone looking to get a bit more forward in their approach.