Ibanez SR Premium Series SR1206E 6-String Bass Guitar
I’ve always liked the idea of a 6-string bass. The idea of being able to play a little lower and usually quite a bit higher than your standard twenty fret Precision seems like a great idea. Having that low B string is great when you need that occasional low D. No need for drop tuning. I also like that when you are playing blues in E you don’t need to play open strings. Or when you go to that five chord you can play it on the open B. Always good for rattling the glasses in the bar you’re playing in. This bass, the Ibanez SR Premium Series SR1206E 6-String Bass Guitar might fit the bill.
I also like that high C string. So cool when you want to encroach on your guitar players territory. And nice when you can play that second octave scale without having to move up the neck. I also like being able to do some simple chords by taping with your right hand.
There is a downside to playing 6-string of course. The biggest “duh” is that it’s easy to get confused about where you are playing. At first you need to have your head routed deeply in the fact that the middle four strings are the standard E-A-D-G. When I first started playing 6-string (or 5-string) I would always have it in my head that the low string, fifth fret was A. WRONG! Or sliding up to the twelfth fret and strumming the top three strings for an A chord. WRONG AGAIN! It does take getting used to.
But beyond that, there is the simple fact that the fret board is so very wide. The first 6-string I played was an Ibanez SR506. The neck felt as wide as the deck of aircraft carrier. And this basses neck is very thin and flat.
To make things even tougher on myself, when it came time to buy a 6-string, I decided on a Schecter Stiletto Studio 6. This bass has a 35″ inch scale. So it’s even longer than the standard 34″ that most basses have.
I had to give this bass (the SR1206E) a try to see if it could be a better choice for me and what I’m playing these days. I’ve found myself playing in a rather unique group called Rebel Bass. The band consists of a drummer, bassist/vocalist and myself…on bass. Yup, kinda different huh? So suddenly I’ve found that the extended range has a distinct advantage when playing with another bass player; more places to play.
Unfortunately, now that I’ve had lots of opportunity to play the Schecter in a number of situations, I think that I’ve found it doesn’t really suit my needs as well as it could. Firstly, I’m just finding it a bit heavy and overall too large. But more importantly, the sound just isn’t cutting through the mix as well as other basses I have. What I have been finding is that my Warwick Corvette from a sound standpoint beats the other basses cold.
This bass, the Ibanez SR1206 is a newly released version of the longstanding SR series basses from Ibanez. The SR series has been around for 25 years now and there are quite a few models in this series. In general all basses in the series start with SR, followed by a model range number. The final number in most Ibanez bass models number is 0,5 or 6. Where the zero is a 4-string bass, five for 5-string and six for six string. In general the price point of the bass can be determined by the number following the SR. For example an SR200 will be a less expensive model than an SR700 series bass.
A few years ago Ibanez came out with the SR Prestige series. These models were basically high end SR models featuring gold hardware and some really beautiful wood laminates on the body and neck.
I suppose the price tag on these models might have been a bit high for some so Ibanez has recently come out with their SR Premium series. These basses maintain a lot of the higher end features of the Prestige series at a lower price point.
My test model here is a SR Premium SR1206E.
From a woodworking perspective these basses look awesome. The body is laminated layers of mahogany body with an ovangkol top. The finish is called “vintage natural flat. It almost looks porous but must be a polyurethane of some type.
The neck is bolt-on and made of five laminates of wenge and bubinga.
The neck is topped with a rosewood fingerboard and some really nice oval abalone inlays. As with most or all the SR series these basses have 24 frets.
There’s a matching headstock laminate with the SDGR Soundgear by Ibanez logo. It’s funny how after all these years when you see SDGR you just say Ibanez.
All of the hardware on this bass is finished in gold (colour) which adds a lot to its overall fit an polish.
But it might have been nice to have matching control knobs too.
One of the really interesting things on this bass is the bridge. These are referred to as a “monorail” bridges and this model is Mono-Rail IV from Ibanez.
They’re really a great idea for a number of reasons. Firstly for anyone building a bass with anything more than four of five strings it allows for a lot more versatility. You can have as many strings as you want without have to have a custom bridge. (Check out Wes Lambe) Also if you are building something with fan-frets like a Dingwall, you can arrange the bridges anywhere you like. I suppose its even good if you want increase or decrease (to a point) string spacing at the bridge. Technically, the advantage of this type of bridge is since the vibration of one string can resonate against the body without interference from adjacent strings they are supposed to sound better. I don’t really know about all that, so I’ll leave that discussion for the experts. However, the shiny gold bridge on this bass looks really cool!
The pickups on this bass are, I believe, unique to this Ibanez model. (Not to Ibanez specifically) But I’m sure you are going to see a lot more of them in the future. They are a relatively new development from Nordstrand. This video provides a lot of information about the bass, but more interesting is the interview section with Carey Nordstrand where he talks about the development of the pickup.
The EQB-IIISC preamp works very well and compared to preamps from Fender and Schecter I like this one a lot. It seems that small adjustments to the controls make noticeable changes to the sound. This unlike the controls on my Fender American Jazz V the Ibanez preamp just seems to work the way you’d expect.
One thing I don’t like, and this is becoming more prominent as onboard preamps become more sophisticated, is the use of these little mini toggle switches. I’m not saying that I don’t like the functionality, but its easy to forget what switch does what and which position either activates or deactivates what function. This, from and ex-software developer that’s always looking at ways to improve the “user interface”.
The same goes for all those EQ knobs. I seem to be constantly setting the knobs back to their detent position because its hard to see where they are set. Especially on a dark stage and without my glasses! (That’s one nice thing about Godin’s Multiac)
There has to be a way to make the functionality of the preamp more intuitive.
Doing a side-by-side comparison of this bass next to my Schecter, I’m afraid I’d have to say that this one is a much nicer instrument. A better weight, better feel, and despite my previous comments, the EQ is more intuitive than on the Schecter. (For some reason the Schecter puts the bass and treble in opposite position.)
This bass, as stamped on the back of it’s headstock is, “Proudly manufactured by Ibanez Premium Factory, Jawa Timur, Indonesia”. It seems that quality of these instruments is there. But one sad thing is the loss of jobs in North America. This at our own hand for wanting to pay less and less while wanting higher and higher salaries. But I’ll stay away from politics.
But the bottom line is that this bass, to my liking has a much nicer sound than the Schecter. And isn’t that what it’s all about???
This Ibanez bass retails for about $1200.00. This price does not include even a gig bag. Unlike other companies like Godin that do include a really decent gig bag in the price. (The Schecter retails for about $900.00. Maybe the extra $300.00 is well worth it)
So given the choice, I’d pick the Ibanez SR Premium Series SR1206E 6-String Bass Guitar.