In the bass market, there are a few classics out there that have been kind of like role models or base models for other instruments. Think of the classic Jazz Bass guitar or the Precision Bass guitars from Fender. They are classic for a reason, they deliver some qualities that a lot of guitars want to emulate, or become an inspiration for many instruments out there. In Ibanez’s range that is the SR series, and in my personal experience the SR500 has been a solid starting point for many bassists out there, much like the Fender Jazz Bass guitar.
The SR bass guitar range of Ibanez has been the greatest move that the company has ever pulled. There are different models in this range from budget to premium models, and the SR500 sits right in the middle. In paper and based on reviews the Ibanez SR500 is one of those models that is for everybody, beginners, professionals, enthusiasts, and pretty much everyone in between. So for that reason, I wanted to see whether or not it can really offer that versatility and become the king of the mid-range bass market.
Specs and Features
Like I said before the Ibanez SR500 looks pretty much like a beast on paper, and if anything about the reviews or experts is to be trusted we have one hell of a guitar on our hands. The spec sheet for this mid-range guitar is pretty rich and the features look pretty impressive so let’s see.
As you already know the most important thing on every guitar is its construction and choice fo materials in that aspect. The first thing that started to soothe me about the Ibanez SR500 was its mahogany tonewood body. It is a common choice and it is present in basses in both mid and high-end markets. Mahogany is known for its warm and soft mellow tones which should work in advantage here. The low-end frequency range of the mahogany is always desirable in bass guitars. In terms of weight is pretty heavy overall weighing 11 pounds in total so that might be a little difficult on some bassists, but not anything unmanageable.
The Ibanez SR500 also rocks a bolt-on neck which is pretty good at keeping the price low here. This is also an excellent feature if the neck gets damaged or if you want to swap it for any other reason, such as for modification purposes. Speaking of which it has a 5 piece Jatoba/Bubinga neck that should be pretty good. Both of these woods are pretty strong in general and should help keep the tension reliable. Also, they are pretty much present in all mid-range basses in the company’s lineup, but then again they are pretty heavy and add to the weight factor. The fretboard is classic rosewood which is pretty much the industry standard and works rather well in all the cases with the 34-inch scale length and 24 medium-sized frets, looks pretty playable.
As you already know the hardware is one of the most important things about a bass guitar since it has to be durable to keep the tension of those strings intact all the time. One of my favorite things about the hardware of the Ibanez SR500 is its amazing Accu-Cast B20 bridge which does its job perfectly and on the other end of things, it has standard tuning machines that feel pretty sturdy. For the price of this bass, the hardware looks better than I expected.
The biggest selling point of the Ibanez SR500 is its amazing custom made Bartolini MK-1-4 pickups which are humbucker models that are capable of delivering a full and heavy sound that is pretty thick and meaty. It will definitely lack the bite and twang single coils give, but for modern genres of music, this should be pretty much perfect. The pickups are placed on the neck and the bridge, which are identical. I should state that this bass should deliver a pretty meaty and heavy tone if it can’t do anything else so let’s see.
I knew that this guitar was heavy and large, I pretty much expected that from the spec sheet. I also knew that the shape and design is pretty much standard SR series, so I wasn’t particularly surprised when I received this thing.
It has the straightforward yet aggressive double-cutaway body shape that Ibanez does so well. One thing that impressed me the most was the reddish-brown color that mahogany delivered with a translucent finish on top that makes it a beauty. It is pretty much standard overall like most of the basses in the SR range, but I grew fond of it from the get-go, definitely a fan.
I expected this guitar to be relatively difficult to hold and play, hence the 11-pound weight. But surprisingly it felt pretty nice and comfortable. The size feels pretty small on your lap and it has a contoured body all around to make things pretty natural when playing. Well, the weight might be a bit annoying if you plan on keeping the guitar hanging from your neck for ages, but it’s not a deal-breaker at all.
One thing that impressed me the most in use with this guitar was its exceptional buttery smooth neck which is fast. The 12-inch fretboard radius was pretty much perfect in my opinion, with a few words I love playing this thing. The tone coming from dual humbuckers was my main concern, as it looked like it was going for a pretty clean sound here which is a bit risky. However, it worked well here due to the active EQ that cuts and boosts bass, mids, and treble when you need it. The 3-band active EQ makes it a great bass guitar to be played with a long list of genres out there. A perfect all arounder that can get anything done without much compromise
After a couple of months of playing it, I am now a proud fan of the Ibanez SR500. It definitely delivers much more than you could really imagine. It might not be a premium model, but it is not something I wouldn’t bring on to a gig and I would have plenty of fun without any discomfort. It can handle itself like a pro, and it is a true intermediate model. I can comfortably recommend it to the absolute beginner and even to a nitpicky professional. An absolute beast without a doubt, a versatile one indeed.