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Ibanez Artcore ABG200 semi-hollow early review (this is long)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by luvpbass, Apr 26, 2009.


  1. luvpbass

    luvpbass

    Sep 18, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    After much contemplation and the shedding of some gear to put the $399 asking price together, I bought this bass yesterday at 5:30 p.m. at my local music shop and decided to use it for a gig at 7:30.

    I've only tinkered with this in the store a handful of times so I was curious/nervous about screwing up with the quick switchover to a short scale. The gig was the 40th reunion of the Mystics with 30 or so musicians moving in and out through the night to jam on standards and classic rock - so lots of forgiveness on tightness and flubbed notes since there are no rehearsals and minimal charts. Thankfully the bass gods blessed me with a night where I was hearing well. I became an "official" band member five years ago at the 35th when their longtime bassist couldn't make it. This year, sadly, his aged mother died, and he had to miss the gig so I was pressed into service again. In between Mystic sets, bands took turns, including my top-40 group, The Iron City Slickers.

    I have been considering the Ibanez as a lighter alternative to my Fender Cowpoke, which has served me well and while lighter than a standard P or J bass, still was causing me neck pain after long gigs. The Ibanez also was intriguing because of the short scale. At 5'4", with smaller hands, I have always been conscious of avoiding basses that are too large or long. The Ibanez takes a bit of getting used too because of the archtop body style, but with a few strap adjustments i was able to find a sweet spot that did not create a "forearm crease."

    The workmanship of the Artcore reminds me of a much more expensive instrument. I inspected it carefully and could detect no paint runs, sloppy glue work or sharp edges. The gloss brown finish with cream binding is beautiful. There is not a great deal of tonal range with the quiet passive dual humbuckers, but the addition of a pup selector switch allows for some tweaking. Run through an ART Tubepac for preamp and compression and then a Sansamp RBI, I was able to dial up a very wide range of sounds. The setup includes a 1k watt Carvin amp powering an Ampeg 4x10 SVT.

    The Artcore has its own distinct tone, vibe and playability. There was a nice amount of output from the ceramic pups and I was surprised at the amount of sustain and bottom end considering the hollow wings and F holes. Even at high stage volume jamming on southern rock and zep tunes there was no hint of bass howl or feedback. I can't say if the Artcore is for everybody, but it did a fine job on a wide range of tunes. I would recommend that anybody looking for something a little different, check one out. I'll do a more thorough review in that section.
     
  2. The Mystics; I seem to recall this band in my travels. I actually think I may have played with you in '76, but it's hard to recall. I was in Pittsburgh that year and met some very cool musicians and jammed with them. Details are hazy, but I had a natural P-bass and an Acoustic amp, and it was fun. I think billilards were involved. Just a random memory.
     
  3. luvpbass

    luvpbass

    Sep 18, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Well, I think the story goes that on any given weekend, the Mystics would play a basement party, a wedding reception and at the local vfw, often with a changing lineup depending on who was available. They worked constantly and people jumped in and out often. Like I mentioned, I never played with them "back in the day" just became part of the myth by filling in five years ago, so I get invited back. Not a bad deal really every five years -- an entire night of live music (even if you have to supply some of it!) a four-course buffet, beer and mixers, lots of fellowship all for $20. The house was packed.
     
  4. luvpbass

    luvpbass

    Sep 18, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I don't know much about guitar paint finishes, but I was surprised to learn that after the first night of heavy gigging with this instrument, there were a good bit of fine scratching right under the E string between the pups - the sweet spot, if you will. I have short fingernails, though I do like to dig in when I play. I have a number of basses, including another Ibanez, and none seem to have a finish that is as susceptible to scratching as the Artcore. No doubt the trans brown is one of the best looking finishes. But had I known it was, should I say soft< I might have had a luthier install some clear pickguard film like I've seen on some fine acoustics. It doesn't matter, the guitar is a keeper for lots of the reasons I mentioned above. The finish also seems to be a bit more susceptible to finger schmootz and sweat. At least that stuff wipes off with a spritz of Dunlop 65.
     
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    The clear PG film sounds like a winner - Stew-Mac carries it for DIY application.

    Thanks for a very nice review. I have had GAS for one of the Ibby semi-hollows for some time...and this is no help at all!! :bassist:
     

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