Back around 1975 I played (and dearly loved) an L-series Fender VI bass. Fender just re-released these (in 3 forms: Custon Shop, Pawn Shop and Squier) and I had the opportunity to play a few at the Musikmesse recently ... and then I played this Ibanez SRC6. It didn't take long before I bought the Ibanez from Thomann.
I love this thing to bits! The look, the feel, the sound, the playability ... all fantastic!
What Is It? It's not a modern 6-string bass (long scale/BEADGC). It's a 6-string bass in the original style brought to us by Fender in the early 60's via their Bass V (EADGC) and its replacement, the Bass VI (30" scale, tuned EADGBE - i.e. guitar tuning, one octave lower). You might call this a baritone guitar but, to me, a baritone is designed for B-B tuning. Importantly, the string spacing on the SRC6 is more or less the same as on a guitar and faaaar closer than a modern 6-string.
The Right Occasion. The SRC6 isn't likely to replace your usual bass. But at the right gig, it's magic. I'm using it in a 3-piece vocal band where the instrumentation is just bass and acoustic guitar, and where I've got a lot of space to explore.
The Right Player. It won't suit everyone. I don't think you play it quite like a bass, nor like a guitar, but somewhere in between. And if your idea of bass heaven is a baseball bat strung with fencing wire, you're gonna hate this with a passion. My preference is for Ibanez SR, Sandberg and Cort Curbow basses with light strings. I also play a bit of finger-style guitar, which helps. The move to the SRC6 has been relatively painless, thoroughly engaging and enormous fun.
Sound: Full, full lows. Clear, chiming upper mids/highs. I feel that the Ibanez's EMG pups get a more "full-spectrum" sound than the Fender's single coils (I haven't tried the Bass VI with the humbucker thru an amp). Consequently, it responds well to EQ/shaping and any subsequent FX. [Amp: GK MB200 head and GK 112 MBX (the mini-rig I use for small, vocal-oriented gigs). Pedals: Boss GE-7 eq, Danelectro delay, Digitech bass chorus, Digitech bass driver]
I'm Not So Impressed About:
- I got one of those examples where there is a mismatch in the shade of the wood slabs brought together for the body. It's not bad but it does look a bit (disappointingly) stripey,
- Ibanez don't seem to offer a hardcase or gigbag. Of course it's too big for their guitar cases and too small for their bass cases. And you can't contact Ibanez online to ask them about it, either! You'll have to do a lot of measuring and searching for an appropriate aftermarket job.
- Ibanez have done a great job in matching string gauge to the bass, making it play beautifully but they don't seem to be offering the strings for sale. They are a completely custom set of gauges and I've not yet found how to source the right gauges, even in single strings. And, again, you can't contact them to ask :(
And In The End: Do I enjoy it? Absolutely. Do I regret buying it? Not for a single second. Would I replace it if it were stolen? The same day!
Well, I was initially going to opt for a Pawn Shop Fender VI..... and then I saw this little guy just after it became available last year. The additional shipping costs down to South Africa on the VI kind of made the decision to take a chance on the Ibby a lot easier.
This guitar has reinvigorated my entire approach to bass playing. I also have a SR505, restrung to the tenor E to C tuning (which I am now going to dispose of) and so was very familiar with the extremely comfortable shape and balance of the SR design.
The build quality of the instrument is very good and the components/hardware more than acceptable for the price. I would, however, have liked to see an active/passive switch of some sort and am now exploring the possibility of fitting a Glockenklang preamp. I am not a pedal kinda guy, and the tonal variations from the fitted preamp are adequately sufficient for my taste. I tweaked the action and intonation to suit my playing style, which, for sixer purposes, include speed and bendability/vibrato. I am most impressed! My fingers can really fly on this guy's fretboard... the 024-084 (Daddario EXL156) strings complement the setup perfectly
I ordered a Ritter bag with the SRC6 purchase, but later discovered that, with a very minor mod to the upper horn area, this case fits the instrument almost perfectly: Gator GC-ELEC-XL ABS so I got hold of one. Great stuff!
One more thing... I've read in some reviews that finger style playing is not recommended for the SRC6, and using a pick/plectrum is the only way to go. Not so! I'm perfectly comfortable using my digits and can even pop along quite happily if required (I also play chords finger style on the instrument). Although the 1,1cm string spacing is tight, it is perfectly manageable with a bit of practice, and, for pit work (with sometimes very pretentious tenor/alto clef parts in bass guitar scores) the six strings are almost essential. I can also throw out some very acceptable Jet Harris numbers as well!
If stolen? I'd replace it with another SRC6 as soon as I could! With no hesitation whatsoever! Very, extremely and highly recommended!
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