Ibanez RB650 Roadstar II bass, your thoughts?
It's been said that these basses were made to compete with the P basses of the 80s. How do these compare to P basses, do they sound alike? I've never played one and I see it has a J pup as well. Does anyone have any experience with this bass and perhaps give me some opinions.
It's been a while, but from what I recall it was a very solid bass.
Loved the neck on it. It didn't have a "cheap" feeling.
I was able to set it up with a very low action without any problems or buzzing.
The only thing I wasn't too happy about were the pickups.
But the neck and body build quality was very good.
I had a roadstar II 650 with lace sensor pickups and a schaller bridge. It played very good idd. My problem with it was the tone. It had plenty of bottom but missed definition in the mid and and high frequencies. It didn't sound like any p-bass I ever played.
I think this was because of the basswood body and the rosewood fb. If you have an earlier type with an ash or alder body you can probably have a better sound, but the post 84 model with the basswood bodie did't sound good to me, and did'nt sound like a p.
I remember that too. Lots of bass.
Just though it was the crappy electronic. Guess not.
Mine had a maple fb though.
Even though I own a couple of Fender's, I have a soft-spot for underdog axes, and the RB650 is one of them. A couple of years ago, I converted one to fretless for a customer and wanted one since then, so I picked one up on eBay for low bucks.
The stock pickups leave a lot to be desired, but the electronics is adequate (how can you screw up 3- 250K pots and a cap?), and the build quality is typical Japan, neat and precise. This one has a 1pc. maple neck with skunk stripe and a 7.25" radius, and plays a nice as most Fenders of the same ilk. The basswood body robs some snap, but I upgraded the P-Bass type bridge to a BadAss II, the pickups to DiMarzio P/J, and strung it with Roto RS77 flats. It is now meaty, punchy and deep with excellent pitch definition. It doesn't have the snap of a good swamp ash body, but it is what it is, which is just a good, solid player that I would easily purchase used over and above any of the new Chinese crap floating about these days.
Roadstar II was my first bass... fond memories, but it's been at least 15yrs since i touched one.
I own a 630 (same configuration but without the jazz pickup).
A real work horse, very well constructed and in my humble opinion one of the most underrated basses out there. More info available here.....
I have three RB650s. They have been my first choice since the day I played a brand new black one in a music store. I just happened to buy that very one. I bought a second black one as a back up to my first and now I play both a lot. I have a white one as well and looking for a red one to complete the set..haha..that's how much I like these instruments. Just something about the feel,tone and look that I really like.
Here they are. The white one was waiting for a P-bass PU at the time. The middle one is the second black one I bought. The bottom was the first. I broke the truss rod on the original maple neck and ordered this red rosewood neck from Bensalem,PA. in 1990. I had to take it because it was the very last new RB 600 series neck that Ibanez had on the parts shelf. I'm glad I got it..it is hands down the best neck I ever played and the action is low and like butter. Although not as bright as the maple neck..it has it's own unique sound among the RBs I've played and heard. 1983 Fender tuners ,an unused Bartolini in between the stock pickups along with a cut original pick guard and my fancy Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor foot print paint job and an original Earth III strap..she's a looker huh? I'm glad I didn't do more harm than good. heh.
If you EQ one right you can get a good growl out of the split PUs with new-newish round wound strings and a nice poppy ..dare I say..Jaco tone from the bridge PU. I tend to run the bridge PU close to wide open with about a 1/3 up on the neck PU ..giving myself a little wiggle room along with the tone wide open then turned back just a bit...again..more wiggle room.
The sweetheart tuners are accurate and don't get sloppy over time..(a little vaseline on the gears from time to time is a good thing for any open geared tuner). I also like the genie's foot headstock ...it's different and has a bit more mass than a Fender..(helps make potential dead spot areas on the neck ring)..if you buy one and it still has the horsefly strap buttons..take them off and put them in the case pocket and spring for some Fender style buttons or strap locks.. Take time with the truss rod...if you find a used one take the strings OFF and try to give a little hand assisted relief to the neck with each move to the truss rod. After that maple neck gets used to how it's set for years you want to help the truss rod along when adjusting. After it's set though..you shouldn't have to monkey with much afterwards. The Fender style bridge is a just a bit wimpy but lack of sustain has never been an issue for me. If you feel the need to replace the bridge..try to stay away from the badass bridges unless you like higher action. You'll have to route the body a bit for the badass bridge to attain the low action that can be had with the stock bridge. By the way..a stock Fender bridge will screw right on with no modifications.
I use D'addario EXL 170 nickel plated medium light roundwound strings and these basses also do very well with Fender 9050 stainless flat wound strings.
These things are built well and strong. Maybe just a tad on the heavy side because of the maple neck and the thick polyurethane finish..but that's never been a factor to me.
All of the examples of this bass that I've run across seem to facilitate
low action..without much buzz..even if you go too low. The 16th-18th fret will probably buzz out before the rest.
Ok..that's my take on the '84-'85 Ibanez RB650..hope my experience will help if you run across one.
hey great set of basses!loved the custom paintjob
i just picked one up cheap off ebay, was wondering if you could help me with a little something tho
its a 1985 rb650,was wondering what controls do what,2 volume and tone towards the bridge??? an if you help with a wiring problem the pot (tone?)closest the bridge has a green coloured rectangluar component coming out of it with a wire comin out of that goin no where.i was wondering where this goes or what is for???pot seems to be dead.
cheers n appreciated!!
I have a fretless P-bass (like the black one above this post, just without the bridge pick-up).
It's okay. Kinda boom-y sounding. Should do something to it.
"its a 1985 rb650,was wondering what controls do what,2 volume and tone towards the bridge??? an if you help with a wiring problem the pot (tone?)closest the bridge has a green coloured rectangluar component coming out of it with a wire comin out of that goin no where.i was wondering where this goes or what is for???pot seems to be dead."
It sounds as if someone was in there goofing around. heh.
The knobs are two volumes and one tone. The tone control is closet to the input jack the middle one controls the volume for the bridge pickup and the last controls the volume for the neck (spilt) pickup. that colored component is a .05 uF capacitor for the tone control.
The three pots (potentiometers) are all 250K.
Here's a link for a PJ wiring diagram. It's pretty simple.
Take your time ... heat the surfaces well and tin (coat) the surfaces with a light bit of solder before actually attaching anything.
The only advice that I can give you for the pickups is check to see if the magnets are attached. Those pickups are ok but Ibanez cheaped out a bit on them in regards to how they are mounted to the pickup. They relied on the magnatisim and a little bit of glue. If I recall correctly there are 4 magnets per pickup on the J (bridge) pick up and two for each unit of the P ( neck) pickup. If all are there make sure that they all are attracting to each other. If they are not.. place them in a way that they do. and if you happen to have a hot glue gun there..I a little application of glue would be good. But if the pickups are ok and together..just leave them be!
The wire coming from the bridge is a ground wire..just solder it to the backside of the tone pot along with the other grounding wires.
OK..it sounds like a lot..but it's pretty straight forward..just follow the diagram and all should work out.
I hope that helps...
Thanks for replying and if you can..post a photo of your bass..I'm sure a lot of the roadstar bass folks would like to see it.
I had the red one, and loved playing it like all Ibanez's -it's gone now, but I picked up this "84" RB850 a while back. Passive, twin humbuckers with coil tap for each, volume, blend, and tone controls:
I don't have an RB650...wish I did!! I do have two SEXY Roadstars from '84 and '85--a deluxe 4 string and a 5 string respectively. :D
And I love them to death! They're the ultimate black metal basses for me. So damn grim the black ones are! I've never seen or played another bass that does the same things for me that my Roadstars do. I'd be a lost dude without them.
Nice collection of basses there. I held off on the early production 5 strings because I felt the string spacing was too close. I'd get confused too until I learned how to "seperate" the Low b from the rest of the bass. As in..play it as a 4 string with an extra string option. hehe..er something like that. My first 5 string was an Ibanez SR885 that I bought in hmm 1989 I think. I liked it ok..I tried to get used to it but it was odd to me and active electronics were just a bit too bright. It's gone now and it wasn't till I found a cheap ol Squier Precision Bass Special that was on clearance at the local music store that I found the wide-flat neck and the proper string spacing that got me into 5 strings again. I have the old hipshot D-Tuners on a few of my four strings that got me through the really low stuff until I ran across the Squier. The Squier is good actually. It has a great growl but it seems that the g string is a little weak because of the pickups and maybe a little neck edge fret dressing is in order. But for the $150 or so that I paid for it new..I can't complain too much. It sits in the mix just fine and the low B is balanced pretty well with the other strings. Nice Shoreline gold finish too.
Ok..I went off topic there huh? heh..but we're all bass players..so maybe not too much.
I'm on the look out now for some of the other mid-80s models. I'm not a big fan of the plastic feeling necks though. They seem to want to grab at my hand some. I guess it's the old Fender guy in me.
thanks alot radioripster, appreciated!! ill get it all up n running will post a pic when im done making it all nice! :D gonna drop in some seymour duncans methinks. while im here, would i be wise to upgrade the pots to 500k and get a bigger cap?
anybody happen to know where i might get a replacement pickguard? red tourtoise or black would do!questions questions!! sorry for going off topic but who better to ask about a roadstar!! ;)
The Duncan pickups would be good I'm sure. As far as the electronics go..changing those components wouldn't actually be an upgrade as you would be changing the electronic values. 250k pots and a .05uF (microfarad) capacitor are pretty much the standard for a passive PJ pickup setup. In the grand scheme (electronically speaking) you're dealing with a somewhat low output high impedance electronic circuit. Potentiometers are basically variable resistors and by installing 500k pots over 250k pots will only add to a brighter tone to the tone control unless the capacitor value is changed and a more sudden roll off for all. I recommend staying with the component values as shown in the wiring diagram unless otherwise instructed to do with the new pickups that you install.
I would recommend finding better finding top shelf quality parts however...that's never a bad idea. On the other hand.. I've had the original pots and caps in most of my Ibanezs and they've served me well for over 20 years without as much as a cleaning. They've performed well too.
As far as the pickguard goes ..I've yet to see an off the rack replacement guard for these basses. I've made my own in the past. I'd seek a reputable luthier to cut a new for you. As far as a template goes...hmm...you might have "wing it" with the luthier and possibly find someone that has '84-'86 RB 600 series bass to trace one from. A Fender P-bass guard won't work from what I recall..I tried that..the neck pocket is different and there might be something else...memory fails me..
Research as much as you can before you dive in...knowledge can save time and money.
Good luck with your project..I always get a bit perked up when I have a new project bass to toy around with.
Have fun and please keep us posted on your progress.
Everything installed and useful links
Justing finished wiring up my SD' 1/4ers today,and a nice little blend pot, love the sound,a little hum of the J but ya wouldnt notice it much,the P blares all anyways!!! having read of stories of losing volume when both pickups are full on with a blend pot,i havent noticed anything at all,and delighted i gave it a go. my first time rewiring a bass or installing new pickups and glad i gave it go.
for anyone from england or ireland here or europe for that matter i think, found too handy sites where i got my bits n pieces, so ill leave the adresses here as i found they had whatever ya could need, i know theres stewmac but i didnt fancy paying the extra shipping all way here or the chance of extra duty when they reach customs. so for its worth here's the sites
http://www.axesrus.com/axecart.htm got my blend pot from here, i got the mini 500k as i think the other one they have is half volume in the middle. works great. got a few other things too,new knobs and strap locks.and the shipping was only 2 blips altogether i think.
http://www.guitarpartsshop.co.uk/ got my SD's here at a steal! saved a little over thomann, and picked up some caps n pots(turns out the volume pot i had already wasnt the best the more i used it).
maybe someone will find them useful too! thanks for the help people!! and ill post a pick of my roadstar,great basses! better now ive done it up
I used to own a Roadstar back in the early 90's. For back in the day the tone was pretty good and got the job done. I cannot remember exactly how it sounded compared to a P bass because its been too long since I've heard one. But I wouldn't buy one of these in today's market. There are much better basses out there tonality wise than what the old Roadstars have to offer.
Sure there are plenty of basses that offer more tonality. Value for money though you could never find a better built bass today for the same money that a used Roadstar sells for. Just my 2 cents.....
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