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Ibanez BTB33...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by C Squared, Feb 27, 2016.

  1. C Squared

    C Squared

    Nov 15, 2010
    So after playing one of these a few times and really having fun with it, one ended up at my door. No idea how it happened, but there it was ;)


    The neck is awesome, and the body I find comfortable and well balanced. It does indeed look pretty sharp.

    But, as most already knew, the pickups do indeed SUCK. I have spent two months TRYING to give them a chance. 3 different heads, 4 cabs, multiple adjustments to the heights, even tried some different strings. Lifeless and lost is the best way I can describe them. Also, way too damn big. I like J pickups. I like the tones I can get, and I like where they place my thumb in relation to the strings for an anchor. It works, and its what I am most used to.

    So, since we have another month (at least) of COLD weather. I'm thinking I am gonna set this up they way I would personally have it. My plan is to remove the pickups and the ramp, take a nice hunk of flame maple or rosewood to cover the entire area, shape and route it to accommodate better pickups and still have a ramp between the two. While its gutted I am also toying with the idea of spraying the top in a tobacco burst.

    I have an oddball set of pickups in my Warwick fretless that I have grown to really like. It has a DiMarzio Ultra in the Bridge and a DiMarzio Area in the neck. Passive setup with just 2 volumes and a master tone, the bridge has a push pot to go from series to parallel. Offers a LOT of useful tones. I know routing for soap bars will be a little easier and cleaner looking in the end. But I do like this combo, and will cost a lot less then some of the Nordys and Barts I'm also considering.

    Anyway. The bass plays great. It's natural tone is very warm with a good pop and punch. It's too bad Ibanez skimped out on the end and loaded it with pickups that people have been complaining about for years. :/
  2. jonathanhughes

    jonathanhughes Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2009
    Buffalo, NY
    I got one over the summer. The neck is indeed fantastic. I don't mind the sound of the pickup in the neck position, but at the bridge it's incredibly nasal and ultimately useless. And it's really annoying that there are no aftermarket pickups available in this size. I'm thinking of putting in J cups and then having covers made out of either rosewood or ebony. There's plenty of room to do it, and that avoids having to do anything to the body.

    Mine also came with the 10th and 11th frets too high. The action had to be really high for it to be playable. I should've sent it back, but it was slightly less inconvenient and only a little more expensive to have someone level the frets. Overall, it's a lot of fun to play, but they REALLY should've just put in a legitimate five-string pickup.
    C Squared likes this.
  3. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Huh. I have no complaints about the pickups or tone of mine. That surprised me, given that I am generally not a fan of the Bart MK1 pickups and usually-accompanying preamp. I expected to have a low opinion here as well, but I don't.

    To each his own, I guess, but to say that the pickups "suck" or are "useless" isn't a universally true statement.

    EDIT: The pickups are an unusual size, though, and given that Ibanez has been fairly forward thinking of late, I do find it odd that they didn't choose a more common pickup size/shape. Everybody has different preferences, so I would think that at least allowing the option of a pickup swap would broaden the appeal of any bass.
    Raw N Low and gadgetgirl like this.
  4. C Squared

    C Squared

    Nov 15, 2010
    The only reason I can arrive at is Ibanez has an extra warehouse or two FULL of these so they are blowing them out on anything they can?
  5. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    I can definitely see where a little thinner, mid-forward tone isn't going to work in every situation. This bass isn't something I can really use with my band, which has three guitar players. I need a thicker low end for that. But, I wanted to offer the clip below as a counterpoint to the "suck" and "useless" comments. I think the BTB33 would be perfect for a jazz trio or similar situation.

    @C Squared : I like your ideas for matching ramp, different pups, and possible refin. You should use this thread to post progress pics.
    Raw N Low likes this.
  6. Raw N Low

    Raw N Low If I can't hear it, hopefully I'll feel it Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2009
    Denver, Colorado
    I agree that in a setting with a drummer and keyboard player, this bass would be killer. The BTB33 is more baritone or bass vi sounding with the pickups, which isn't a bad thing. When I see a ramp on a bass, the first thing I think of is Jazz.
  7. JBoogy

    JBoogy Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2015
    Pensacola, FL
    I love the more "baritone" nature of it. I run an Octabvre in parallel to all my other effects. So I always have this clean super fat feel punchy low end even when I'm playing around the 12th fret (which is almost always). My main fx chain starts with an H9 so I can do all kinds of pitch shifting and still have that clean punchy low end underneath. So the bass into amp the vollo may not get the huge low end from the stock pickups but that's not unworkable. I like it that way. And when I do more bass into amp gigs (Eden WTX500 into an Eden 2x12 FYI) tweaking the active we and the eq on my amp gets me all the low end I need. A studio engineer on my first real studio recording told me the reason people get frustrated with bass players is we are always "more bass" but in reality there is almost always an abundance of bass (live, in studio, etc.) that needs to be tamed to sound clear to the audience or for the master mix or whatever. So they are fighting bass while we are always "more bass". Always stuck with me. So I wouldn't be hung up on the perceived lack of low end from the vollo stock.
  8. Lindy Fralin will rewind the pickups for you.
  9. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    I'm intrigued by these. But torn from the reviews!
  10. skeeler

    skeeler I am a stick.

    May 30, 2015
    So what are you specific concerns? I am quite fond of mine.
  11. I'm looking for a used one to try. I've recently become intrigued by the idea of a 5-string with a high-c. Do you have one?
  12. skeeler

    skeeler I am a stick.

    May 30, 2015
    Two, actually. I just got a second to tune BEADG.
  13. I guess you like them then. What do you think of the electronics?
  14. skeeler

    skeeler I am a stick.

    May 30, 2015
    Keep in mind that I'm much more concerned about ergonomics than tone, since (a) I have short arms arms and tiny hands and (b) there's a lot more that can be done the modify a base's tone than to change it's geometry or weight distribution. That said, I think pickups sound pretty good, and the equalizer gives a lot of options for tone shaping. String choice is important, which I think is always the case. I'm running kalium Hybrids on the E-C bass and Kalium steels on the B-G bass.
  15. LaXu


    Feb 2, 2005
    Got one too and it's very comfortable to play. I'm still waiting for new strings to arrive before I can do a proper setup on it as I bought mine used. Tonewise I have no complaints except the bass could have more output. Could be a dying battery for all I know though as I haven't owned an active bass in years.
  16. trigger happy

    trigger happy Supporting Member

    May 19, 2016
    Skeeler, any complaints or issues with the heavier gauge strings than what it is designed for and tuning to low b? I'm thinking of getting one for my first 5 string and tuning as such. Thanks for the input.
  17. skeeler

    skeeler I am a stick.

    May 30, 2015
    You'll have to file the nut to accommodate the larger-diameter strings. The difference in scale length between a 34-inch bass and the BTB33 is only 3%, so you can use the same gauges you would use on a "normal" 5-string.
    trigger happy likes this.
  18. trigger happy

    trigger happy Supporting Member

    May 19, 2016
    Just like putting heavier gauge on a 4 string then, which I've done. Gotta make room for the bigger strings. Thanks for the input, I think I will bite the bullet. :)
  19. Flatwoundround


    May 18, 2014
    Are these basses lightweight? I have a bad back. For reference if possible how would they compare to the weight of the sr500 or sr650 which I believe are right around 7 pounds.

  20. skeeler

    skeeler I am a stick.

    May 30, 2015
    Keep in mind that basses are made of wood, so their weight fluctuates rather a lot. (This is one reason I like Sweetwater; they post weights for each serial number of each instrument.) My SR500 was just 8 lb 4 oz with the stock tuners, for example. That said, the BTB33 is on average heavier than the SR500 or SR650 you mentioned. The body is bigger and less rounded. Mine was 8 lb 13 oz with the stock tuners. That said, I find that balance is at least as important as total weight. The BTBs, including the 33, are very well balanced, even with the stock tuners. The GB350s I have on it aren't really necessary.

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