Ibanez first introduced the Soundgear range in 1987 with the simple core philosophy of providing a modern bass with a thin, fast neck that gave its owner the ability to dial up a versatile cross-section of tones from jazz to metal. The new versions still adhere closely to these criteria but incorporate new refinements to keep the basses close to the cutting edge. Let's take a look at the SR700, the flagship four-string.
Most basses with a contemporary flavour (which doesn't include radically unfamiliar body shapes, such as the BC Rich Zombie, and highly individual or unusual design quirks like the HMN Merlin) still use Leo Fender's template, specifically the Jazz Bass, as their starting point. Ibanez's Soundgear basses always adhered to this creed, and nothing has changed with the new models. Overall, though, the body is narrower than a Fender and forms a more pronounced oval at the bridge end. The SR700 is also chamfer-free, as Ibanez prefer to address player comfort by reducing the depth of the body. Both horns are of less mass than a Fender, and their sleeker, spikier shark’s-fin profile help place the SR firmly in the contemporary camp.
In terms of materials, a maple centre block, bordered and delineated by a hardwood pinstripe, provides the foundation, with two glued-on wings completing the picture. The bottom half of each is mahogany and the top is figured maple, where a carefully-applied amber finish emphasises the beautiful tiger-stripe grain pattern. If you check out the flipside the first thing you notice other than four neck bolts and the overall glossy lacquer sheen is the positioning of the quick-release battery compartment for the SR's active circuitry smack, bang in the middle of proceedings.
Although the neck is retained with a traditional four-bolt arrangement, the woods used are unusual, being a five-piece laminate of jatoba (an extremely hard wood from the Caribbean and South America) and bubinga. Ibanez says this combination makes the neck strong and very stable, enabling it to be cut as thinly as possible for player speed and comfort. And thin it is, with a shallow 'C' profile making it a real pleasure to play without feeling flimsy under your fretting hand. A bulge where neck morphs into headstock adds strength at the weakest point, enabling Ibanez to severely back-angle it in order to achieve the best possible break-angle for the strings as they pass over the nut. It also acts as the gateway to a down-sized, hour-glass headstock faced with a thin veneer of figured maple and carrying four evenly-distributed gunmetal Ibanez tuners (Ibanez describes the colour of these and all the SR700's hardware as Cosmo Black).
Underneath your fretting hand you’ll find a rosewood fingerboard and 24 medium nickel frets decorated by oval abalone position markers with white dots along the top edge. Ibanez has chosen to fit its chunky Accu-Cast B20 bridge: unusually, all the adjustment points are on the bridge's face. As we mentioned, the SR700 is active with a pair of Bartolini MK1 pickups conjoined to a Bartolini MK1 three-band EQ. Two slightly larger Master Volume and Pickup Balance controls complete the picture.
Description: Solidbody bass. Made in Korea
Build: figured maple/mahogany wings glued on to a maple centre block. Bolt-on five-piece jatoba/bubinga neck with 24 medium nickel frets on a rosewood fingerboard. Ibanez Tuners and Ibanez Accu-Cast B20 Bridge. Cosmo Black hardware
Electrics: Active with Bartolini Mk1 neck and bridge pickups, Volume and Balance controls and a Bartolini Mk1 three-band EQ
Left hander: No
Finishes: Amber only
Range Options: SR300 in candy apple, iron pewter and pearl white £229, SR500 in brown mahogany £479
Scale length: 864/34"
Width of neck:
12th fret 53mm
Depth of neck:
1st fret 19mm
12th fret 20mm
Action as supplied:
12th fret treble 2.5mm
12th fret bass 3mm
0121 508 6666
Build Quality 19/20
Value for money 16/20