Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Ibanez SR496BM: Can this be "saved" with a new preamp?


PhilMan99

Recommended Posts

I've got an Ibanez SR496 6-string. It has a mahogany body with an OK sound when I put my ear to the horn (unamplified) - but the amplified sound is *nasty*. No appreciable distortion or defects, just "SoundGear *blech*".

 

I read in one post (talkbass) that on the lower-end basses (this was $600 or so), the real problem is the preamp - not the pickups.

 

Would anyone care to comment on the chance of "salvaging" my SR496 by getting a decent preamp (but not pickups)?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 8
  • Created
  • Last Reply

I can't comment on whether an on-board preamp would help your specific case. I do know that the tech folks at BP Mag have said (over the years) that the preamp is an area that suffers in lower-priced basses.

 

That said, do you have a way to turn off the preamp (and go "passive")? If you do, then take your bass to the store and try out some of the small out-board preamps (Sadowsky/Aguilar/etc.). If they help, you can be confident buying the matching on-board.

 

My guess is that it won't hurt, but you have to consider the value. If you love the bass and it's feel and construction, it's worth some money to upgrade.

 

And you can't fix it with amp EQ adjustments? (sometimes you just can't...)

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Tom Capasso:

That said, do you have a way to turn off the preamp (and go "passive")?

 

And you can't fix it with amp EQ adjustments? (sometimes you just can't...)

 

Tom

No passive switch...

...I'm currently "making do" with EQ adjustments and my Bass PODxt. It does pretty good with the POD, but the native sound if the bass is rather "lack-lustre".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Gospel5.5theZealot:

to each his own...i love my sr485 and my sr405. no ideas..just comments on your opinion which hurt my bass' feelings.

 

jason

It's hard to explain my problem and be sensitive at the same time, but I may not have been as cautious as I could have been. Sorry to my fellow Ibanez owners!

 

When I was shopping a couple of years back, the local music store said I should go with the Spector for the better electronics (in my ~$600 price-range). The Ibanez was a bit cheaper, though, and the Spector is 35" (34" is easier on the fingers). At the time, all I really wanted was an active 6-string - I figured I'd upgrade if 6-string turned-out to by my thing (it is!).

 

The construction of the bass neck and body is pretty good - placing my ear to the "horn" gives an OK sound unamplified. The bridge seems a bit cheap, though (some sort of plastic/metal alloy?). I grew-up on a Fender Jazz (70s & a bit in the 80s - long-since sold :( ), and only recently started playing again. Something about the sound of my Ibanez just doesn't seem right. I've got a Bassman 200 amp, so I don't *think* the problem is my amp. I've tried both Elixir rounds and TI Flats, so I don't think it is the strings.

 

I've been reading a lot of opinions on TalkBass, and the Ibanez is most-often mentioned as sounding "tinny" (I'm paraphrasing). Folks such as myself that like the neck and have upgraded say it sounds pretty good after upgrading the preamp and/or pickups.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I suppose you could change the preamp on that.

 

Speaking of which, the new versions of that (SR506BM) feature Bartolini MK pickups and preamp. I tried the 5 string version of this recently, and the overall tone was definitely not tinny at all, though you could dial that up if you wanted. It's quite warm, with great midrange, and enough high end slice for the slappers and moshers.

 

(Perhaps there's a way to get this setup directly from Ibanez. It may be retrofittable to your bass.)

 

When my dad tried it, he dialed in a more 'vintage' tone, and played it with his thumb like he always does. We played through an Ampeg B2R rackmount amp, and a 410HLF cab. I had to turn on the pad and limiter buttons, of course; even with just one 9v, it puts out a lot of signal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Best way to test drive a bass is listening to the unamplified sound. My best friend taught me that over 30 years ago and I'd bet my life on that principle. Parts are upgradeable and replaceable, but wood is either put together right or wrong. I've played enough '56-'60 Les Pauls to know there's a lot of crap out there regardless of the market value.

 

You can go a couple of ways on this.

 

-check if the pickups have a red (third) wire; this would mean the pickup is active. If it does, you WILL need a replacement onboard preamp. My recommendations are Bartolini, Aguilar and EMG.

 

-if the pickups are two-wire (black and white) they are passive. You can forego the preamp and use 250k/500k volume and tone controls. I'd recommend a good repair person make that determination as the choice of capacitor makes a difference. Replace the 3-wire (stereo) jack with a Switchcraft or Neumann jack. (the Neumann might require extra routing but is a better quality jack.

 

Personally the only Ibanez preamps I ever had problems with were the 70s/80s brand. Somewhere in the 90s they got a bit quieter and they started painting the interior control cavities with conductive paint for better shielding. The cost of repairing a defective preamp (as there is no real schematic out there for them outside of Hoshino/Japan) makes it prohibitive to do so.

 

If you can go outboard preamp, please do so. There's a lot to choose from out there in all price ranges, and you can always upgrade without tearing into your bass.

 

As for replacing the stock pickups, I wound up with one outfitted with Bartolinis and a passive (volume/tone) control setup. Makes the bass come alive.

 

Ibanez basses are amazing, this is one company that has only gotten better with time (except for the budget series, but every company in the world has cut the cheese at one time or another). I'd estimate I've owned over a dozen in the past 30 years and have only sold the eariler ones to take advantage of the collector's market, but the later ones are very playable and comfortable to use on gigs. Also, if you bang one up onstate, you can console yourself that your '69 Precision or '77 Alembic stayed home at the time.

:wave:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Dr. Taz:

Speaking of which, the new versions of that (SR506BM) feature Bartolini MK pickups and preamp.

I'd considered that - I like the Ibanez neck (for a 6-string). When I tried it at the store, though, it didn't sound any better to me - maybe it was the round-wounds.

 

I can't afford to do anything for a while ($$$). Just weighing options at this point.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Originally posted by Fred the bass player:

Best way to test drive a bass is listening to the unamplified sound.

 

-if the pickups are two-wire (black and white) they are passive. You can forego the preamp and use 250k/500k volume and tone controls. I'd recommend a good repair person make that determination as the choice of capacitor makes a difference. Replace the 3-wire (stereo) jack with a Switchcraft or Neumann jack. (the Neumann might require extra routing but is a better quality jack.

 

The unamplified sound seems pretty good, although there's a bit of fret-buzz (haven't adjusted the truss-rod in a while).

 

Never thought about the passive route, but definately worth considering (at least adding a bypass).

 

Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...