Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

Ibanez SRH505F Review

This piezo-loaded fretless from Ibanez dishes out the mwah alongside its tasty semi-acoustic flavor.

Recorded direct using Focusrite Saffire 6 interface into GarageBand
Clip 1 - Full volume, full tone
Clip 2 - Full volume, tone at 80 percent. 3Leaf Audio Octabvre in signal chain with tone set at 1 o'clock.

Dr. Jonathan Schwabe, a bassist and professor I studied under at the University of Northern Iowa’s music program, affectionately refers to the upright bass as the “king of instruments.” When you consider the physical challenges in playing the acoustic juggernaut, it’s an appropriate label. Many electric bassists have attempted to make the transition to playing the unforgiving axe, only to realize the upright bass’ beautiful timbres require significant adjustments in technique and aural facility. Thankfully, there are options for these dejected players seeking more of an acoustic sound—including this new offering from the Ibanez Bass Workshop. Labeled the SRH505F, it’s a semi-hollow adaptation of their classic Soundgear series design that features a fretless fingerboard, chambered body, and piezo electronics.

Into the Woods
To achieve their sonic goals with the SRH505F, Ibanez constructed a somewhat thicker body—comprised of mahogany and topped with spruce—to accommodate the chambered design. Two large chambers enhance resonance and reduce weight, and a forearm contour provides comfort while adding subtle styling. Speaking of looks, the “natural browned burst” finish delivers an organic vibe, and the carved, bass-side f-hole is a classy touch.

The jatoba and bubinga combination for the 5-piece neck helps deliver midrange complexity and add mwah to each note while providing neck stability. The fretless, bound-rosewood fingerboard complements the warm woods of the bass, and as a friendly guide, Ibanez installed black line-markers and offset white-dot inlays to minimize intonation issues.

Not only does it provide a convenient anchor for string crossing; it keeps the thumb from resting on the resonant spruce top.

Ibanez was also savvy to carve a thumb rest at the end of the fingerboard. Not only does it provide a convenient anchor for string crossing; it keeps the thumb from resting on the resonant spruce top.

Instead of conventional magnetic pickups, the SRH505F is outfitted with the AeroSilk piezo system in the custom bridge. A volume knob and active tone control provide subtle sonic flexibility, while trim pots located in the back of the body adjust the gain of each string and optimize tonal balance.

Portamento Complemento
If you’re a fan of the sleek design of Ibanez’s Soundgear series, you will appreciate what the SRH505F has to offer. Despite the thicker body, the semi-hollow shape is not cumbersome. Our test bass rested nicely in a seated orientation—particularly when using classical-guitar positioning. It also maintained a comfortable playing angle on a strap.

My favorite features of the SRH505F are the neck and fingerboard. Some might argue that the neck is a bit thin, but I found that it caters to a comfortable hand position. The 16.5 mm string spacing felt great and helped provide effortless navigation of the fingerboard. The position markers and side dots were useful in approximating note intonation, but I felt that the offset dots on the fingerboard were difficult to see and likely not even necessary.

Ratings

Pros:
Smooth playability, good looks, and lots of mwah for the buck.

Cons:
Relatively limited tonal/genre versatility.

Tones:

Playability:

Build/Design:

Value:

Street:
$749

Ibanez SRH505F
ibanez.com

Tonal descriptions can be subjective, but after listening to the SRH505F through a Bergantino B|Amp and a Bergantino HD112, I can confidently say that the bass brings thick lows with a wide delivery of mids. The tone control tempers finger attack well by providing air to each note, or warmer fundamentals when dialed down. I can’t say that the SRH505F totally replicates the sonic complexities of a double bass, but it effectively captures the over-amplified tone that many upright players were using in the ’80s and ’90s. All said, the SRH505F has an impressively articulate, semi-acoustic timbre.

I took the bass to a country/rock show and plugged it into the Bergantino B|Amp paired with the venue’s Gallien-Krueger 4x10 cabinet. While the bass can’t be called an exceptionally versatile instrument given its DNA, the SRH505F performed quite well in specific situations. For example, its inherent tone was perfect for the Alannah Myles hit “Black Velvet,” and its 5th string came in handy since the song was played in a key that took advantage of the deeper portions of the fingerboard. Speaking of the 5th string, I was impressed with its strong projection of notes that were devoid of any floppiness.

Dialing down the tone control brought out the instrument’s warm mids that were ideal for sensitive takes on Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight” and “Tears in Heaven.” What also impressed was the way in which the bass worked with an octave pedal. Adding a 3Leaf Octabvre Mini to my signal, the SRH505F transformed into a synth machine by giving my bass lines a rubbery elasticity that made slides and vibratos buzz and quiver. When I cranked the tone controlon the Octabvre pedal, it created a sound that nearly replicated Stevie Wonder’s synth bass heard on “Boogie on Reggae Woman.” All said—despite my few cringing moments of suspect intonation—I found the SRH505F to be an attractive tool for expanding my tonal palette.

The Verdict
The Ibanez Bass Workshop has been hitting their stride with ambitious projects and the SRH505F is a great variation on the Soundgear theme. The SRH505F won’t fit the bill as a singular workhorse bass for all, but rather a specialty instrument with excellent playability that delivers a sensitive, warm tone. And while it also won’t replace the “king of instruments,” it conveys an impressive acoustic character without breaking your bank account (or your back hauling it around). If you’re looking to explore the expressive world of fretless bass and have upright-esque tones available to add to your repertoire, you might find your voice in the SRH505F.

Watch the Review Demo:

On her new record with her trio, Molly Miller executes a live-feeling work of structural harmony that mirrors her busy life.

Photo by Anna Azarov

The accomplished guitarist and teacher’s new record, like her lifestyle, is taut and exciting—no more, and certainly no less, than is needed.

Molly Miller, a self-described “high-energy person,” is fully charged by the crack of dawn. When Ischeduled our interview, she opted for the very first slot available—8:30 a.m.—just before her 10 a.m. tennis match!

Read MoreShow less

RAB Audio's new ProRak SRS Guitar Studio Racking System offers customizable configurations for organizing guitar gear in the studio.

Read MoreShow less

King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard started out as a “joke” band. As guitarist/songwriter Joey Walker says with a grin, “Now the joke’s on us.”

Photo by Maclay Heriot

With their 26th release, Flight b741, the prog-rockers make it hard but highly rewarding for fans to keep up. Behind that drive lies a wealth of joy, camaraderie, and unwavering commitment to their art.

There’s a dangerous, pernicious myth, seemingly spread in perpetuity among fledgling artists and music fans alike, that when you’re a musician, inspiration—and therefore productivity—comes naturally. Making art is the opposite of work, and, conversely, we know what happens to Jack when there’s all work and no play. But what happens when the dimensions of work and play fuse together like time and space? What happens to Jack then? Well, behind such an instance of metaphysical reaction, undoubtedly, would be King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard.

Read MoreShow less

Featuring FET instrument inputs, "Enhance" switch, and innovative input stage, this interface is designed to solve challenges like poor feel, setting levels, and ease of use.

Read MoreShow less