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Ibanez SR300 VS SR400 VS SR500

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by acoustic58, Mar 28, 2015.

  1. acoustic58


    Mar 18, 2015
    The above three bass guitars are currently in my top pick, at least for now, and in no particular order. I am choosing Ibanez because it would be the best fit for me as someone coming from the electric guitar world due to the neck size and that seems to be a common feeling by most bass players. I have yet been able to find a guitar store that has all three guitars in stock to compare them. After endless hours of cruising reviews on Youtube and Google, confusion sets in even more. One thing about on line reviews is that it doesn't matter if a guitar cost $200.00 or $2,000, there will always be people out there that will complain about something they don't like. Some of those complaints are coming from pros and other views are coming from people that know less than me about a bass guitar but wants to come off as a pro. For that exact reason, is why I joined this group because I feel that the suggestions I get from this forum will come from people with experience and knowledge of this instrument.

    I am not looking to have a career as a bass player, I am a guitar player looking to buy a bass for basically recording purposes. It is very easy to get caught up in the idea that the more you pay, the better the guitar it will be. That is true in some cases but in others, people are simply paying for a logo stamped on a guitar. That is what I am trying to avoid.

    The SR500 seems to be getting good reviews with the most common complaint being the look and finish of the body. It is shaped like most Ibanez bass guitars with a stripped down wood stain finish. In my opinion, there is nothing to get excited about when it comes to looks of this guitar. Just for the record, Ibanez has produced it's own line of 500's for Guitar Center which I just happen to find out about as it is not even listed on the Ibanez web site. GC offers two additional colors and it's $100.00 cheaper than the standard brown SR500. It's call the SR500PB. According to the tech at Ibanez, it is the exact same guitar with a lower price tag.

    The SR 300's seem to get decent reviews but is clearly looked upon by many as a beginner guitar with a couple bells and whistles tossed in. Then there is the SR400, which is a step up and the price goes up as well in most cases by a hundred bucks. Many people like this guitar but then again, there are those that complain about this model as well. Some people say it's only good for rock, other say its great for jazz, some say its horrible for slapping and other people say its the perfect guitar for slapping. Every comment seems to contradict each other so in the end, nothing makes sense. Then there is the SR500 which again is another $150.00 dollar increase.

    There is no question that the SR500 is a better quality bass guitar BUT how bad are the 300 and 400's compared to the 500? I tried a 200 and I found the frets sticking out past the neck on every 200 I picked up, which to me is inexcusable when the Ibanez name is connected to it. I would rather not drop $600 on a SR500 if a 300 or 400 would sound very close. I read one review that was coming from a player that has been around for years and he said that most Ibanez bass guitars sound the same no matter how much you pay for them, it's just the added features that make the difference.

    So any suggestions would be welcome. Sorry this is so long. Just getting frustrated.


    Last edited: Mar 28, 2015
  2. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity

    Apr 11, 2014
    Stillwater, New Jersey
    After a 10 year break (don't ask) I got back into playing. My budget was a bit tight but the SR500 seemed like a good buy so I picked up a new one at GC. It really is a great bass for the money. Light, balanced and a very fast neck. My only complaint was the sharp fret wire ends like you said. I have since sold it but if I was ever to buy a new one I would go with a Premium line which is more refined and loaded with better electronics. I have played an older lower line SR model and there was no comparison. It just felt cheap.
  3. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Unlike a lot of manufacturers (Fender and Gibson for exampe) the incremental increase in cost as you walk up the series does result in real improvements in tone, fit and finish, electronics, etc. In other words, you really do get what you pay for with Ibanez. The SR500 hits the sweet spot of bang for the buck to my ears. The finish problems you mention are true, but it's such a well made bass otherwise, you might overlook it. They use a thin tinted finish that doesn't penetrate the mahogany, so when it chips you are back to bare wood. Purely cosmetics, but that's always a factor unless you are a complete tone purist. The premium series gets you into nicer wood and hardware, but not a huge improvement in sound to my ears. I haven't heard of any finish problems in the premium line. The Prestige line, however, just completely blows anything near it price wise out of the water. These are boutique quality instruments at 1/2-2/3 the cost. Either they are incredibly efficient, or a lot if other manufacturers are way overpriced. All of the SR series have very thin, fast necks, about like a Jazz at the nut, but not much taper up to the 12th fret. If you are a fat neck P bass guy, these are not for you. As a guitarist, I think think any of these basses would be an easy transition for you due to neck profile.
  4. nutdog

    nutdog when I'm a good dog they sometimes throw me a bone Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    in the dog house
    I had a 500 and 600. The mahagony 500 actually got more compliments for looks than any bass I've played at church. Go figure. Never played the 3 or 4 series but I understand there is a quality jump at the 500. My 500 and 600 were identical except for woods. Played and sounded exactly the same. Even weighed the same at just over 7 lbs. The 5 was neck thru but didn't seem to make any difference. If I were buying a new one I'd get the 650 with the nordstrands. I bought the 500 used for less than a new 300 and the 600 was only $50 more than a new 300. SR's are good values, but a steal on the used market.

  5. honeyiscool


    Jan 28, 2011
    San Diego, CA
    I personally think that the MK1 pickups are the only tangible upgrade on the 500 series and also that it's not much of an upgrade, as the CAP pickups do the neutral thick soap bar thing pretty well already. The 300 series can get you a lot of bang for the buck.

    You start to see real changes when you get to 650/750 and higher with the premium series.
  6. High ISO

    High ISO

    Nov 11, 2013
    For what it's worth, I recently purchased a SR300 in metallic gray and am very happy with it. I was in the market for a backup bass that didn't break the bank, but one that was light and had a thin, fast neck (personal preference of course). This bass hit the marks, and while I wasn't expecting the world in terms of electronics at this price point, the 3 band EQ and pickup blend knob do a really nice job in dialing in a wide variety of tones. I've played a SR500 on a few occasions, and it too is really nice. While the electronics are Bartolinis in the SR500, in my opinion the quality and range of tones you can get out of the SR500 aren't a whole lot different than the SR300. The SR500s natural finish body is light and has a great feel, and the jabota/bubinga neck is fantastic feeling. If I had been looking for a primary bass, the SR500 would have been my choice hands-down. But since I scored my SR300 for under $300, and the SR500 runs double that (retail), it wasn't worth the extra dough to me.
    PawleeP likes this.
  7. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    +1 on a used SR500, that's probably your best bet for under $500, and there a lot of them around.
  8. acoustic58


    Mar 18, 2015
    I just want to thank everyone for taking the time to respond to my questions. All good info and much appreciated.
  9. ii7-V7


    Aug 4, 2002
    Baltimore, MD
    i'd love to know if this is accurate. If so, I could snag an SR 300 and just replace the electronics.
    PawleeP likes this.
  10. PawleeP


    Oct 8, 2012
    have a sr300DX vb, (bt<stacked>) that sez DX on the stock pj pups. found a sr400 pj w/v-b, b-m-t.. Are there any differences between the dx and sr400 (no name) pups? appreciate it
  11. MordBass


    Nov 1, 2017
    90's MIJ SR800 can be had for some really good prices.

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