Ibanez SR800 upgrade or replace

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Elblis, Aug 23, 2020.

  1. Elblis


    Sep 16, 2014
    I have a Korean made SR 800 (I think 1995 because of the inlays on neck and Japan tuners) that has big electronic problems. The circuitry is fried and I'm not sure about the pick-ups. I bought it used for $175 and it started going bad just a few months after I got it. Maybe I got taken, but I love the feel of this bass. If I replace all the electronics (about $300 at local shop) I would have $500 in a bass that is worth much less and I don't know how it would sound.
    Would you replace them or simply buy another bass?
    Please no "do what is right for you" type replies, I am interested in your opinions and suggestions. I truly do appreciate your input
  2. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    What exactly do you mean by "the circuitry is fried" -- and what makes you sure that is? Is it possible that it's actually a simple problem that might be a cheap fix?
  3. Usually the pickups are passive and the eq does the rest. You can get a budget eq and get it put in or else convert the bass to a passive circuit for a lot less money than your $300. If the bass feels really good, it might be worth doing the work.
  4. Elblis


    Sep 16, 2014
    I was hoping for that. I took it to a trusted repairman and thats what he told me. While I was playing it started fading in and out and eventually I was unable to get any sound out. I don't know that the pots are bad but one is bent. i just need it dependable because this is my only bass right now
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  5. Elblis


    Sep 16, 2014
    any suggestions on eq?
  6. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Roots and fifths and a little extra. Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    First, get a real diagnosis on what is wrong. It could be a bad pot, crappy soldering, anything. Could be cheap, you never know.

    Second, ask yourself how much you love the feel of it, the neck, the frets, the body weight and ergonomics. If it's anything less than your dream come true, dump it. If it is everything you ever wanted in these areas, upgrade it and resolve to never sell it. You'll never get your money back if you do.
  7. Spidey2112


    Aug 3, 2016
    Did you try a new battery?
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  8. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
    I don't mean to question your "trusted" repairman, but "the circuitry is fried" doesn't seem like a real diagnosis to me and I wouldn't be too quick to assume that all the electronics need to be replaced. For example, if the "bent" pot was caused by some kind of physical whack, it might have simply loosened up a soldered joint or something. Maybe others here who are more knowledgeable can help you figure out where exactly the problem is. My bet is that it's a simple fix once you figure it out, and that replacing all the electronics won't be necessary.
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  9. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    A few things....does the serial number start with "F"? I'm pretty sure that's not Korean but Japanese. "F"=Fujigen factory, Japan.
    Not surprised you like the feel of the bass either as these were the premium or prestige level of Ibanez basses during their day, the neck is very comfortable on these. The pickups are PJ and should have some writing on it - either Lo-Z or AFR (I'm thinking because of the date, probably the latter) and the pickups, if the original ones - "AFR" stands for Active Full Range, the pickups are active not passive. It's a full active bass, pickups and preamp.
  10. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Try meter both pickups to make sure they work. If yes, either convert in fully passive mode or replace a US Bart Pre or Aguilar OPB Pre .
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  11. Artman

    Artman a.k.a. Eddy Garcia Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2017
    Georgetown, TX
    I had one of those back in the 1990's. Mine was Japanese made. Very nice woodwork, fretwork, tuners, and bridge. The preamp bit the dust. I installed an EMG two band preamp and a pair of EMG active pickups. It was worth every cent and the time for me to do the install. Your experience may vary.
  12. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    I would agree with this! Those older Japanese or Korean made SR's are usually well made. I have two older Korean Ibanez SR's I bought used for just over $200 each and both have nicer fretwork than a much more expensive SR1300 I bought recently. If you like how it plays I would replace the preamp and possibly the pickups, starting with the preamp.
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  13. fourstringbliss

    fourstringbliss Supporting Member

    Oct 5, 2003
    Puyallup, WA
    If you like the bass neck, body, and hardware enough to keep it then I would go with a preamp from Audere Audio. I don't know the control setup on your bass but you can customize the layout of the new preamp, they come prewired, sound excellent, and are a bargain compared to other preamps (unless you want to go with a cheapy off Ebay).

    The bass on the left below is an older SR480 that I bought used for $225. I installed an Audere "Classic" preamps which has treble, middle, bass with a mid-frequency switch (250, 500, 750) and would cost you $130 shipped. I know that's almost as much as you spent on the whole bass, but if the bass itself is a keeper you'd do well to invest in quality electronics. The second switch gives me series/parallel on the P pickup.


    Oh, and those other things above the e-string on each bass are wooden thumbrests that I make because that's where I anchor my thumb when I play.

    Also, if I had to choose a bass to keep it would be the SR480 over the other fancier ones, hands down.
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  14. Matty Koff

    Matty Koff Inactive

    Aug 21, 2014
    First thing to check is the battery ofc.. if you haven't already, and if you have, sorry, but, we can't know what you've tried.

    If so, and you like the feel of the bass, a new preamp might be all you need.'

    $175 for a used SR800 is a pretty banging deal. A new off-brand preamp can run less than $200 and a couple hits with a soldering iron.

    If it's just potentiometers, they are stupid cheap. I had a passive mim jazz I bought for $250 with nasty dirty pots.. replacing them was less than $20, though I had my dad do the soldering. (He's had soldering irons laying around all my life, though not a professional engineer)
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2020
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  15. boxerrider


    Mar 16, 2009
    My SR800 is a 1991, I think, and came with the AFR pickups Maxdusty mentioned. It developed an occasional wierd noise after a couple of years. I replaced the stock pickups with a PJ set from EMG, which worked great. Several years ago I came across a bargain on an EMG BTS and installed that - I like the blend, master volume, bass and treble controls better than a pair of volume and tone controls.
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  16. wardak


    Dec 3, 2001
    Seems like it’d be worth it to replace the electronics. I‘d bet the bass, being an Ibanez 800 model from the 90’s is nice, well made, as mentioned above. Personally I don’t think buying that sort of bass is for the savings, but rather to get something that is a good platform to make your own... well-done wood/neck/body, the styling/comfort. Older basses like that are likely to need some attention on the electronics, whether it’s getting into individual components or just replacing them outright (that can be the fun part).

    One recommendation, which seems easy and cost-effective in line with your comments: EMG Geezer PJ set and use the included EQ wiring/pots (passive, skip the battery), well under $200–then as a future project, you can wait for a deal on an active EMG EQ to come along, like mentioned above (if you want to). I have a different-brand Japan bass with these pickups and the active EQ, but I don’t actually EQ it very often... mostly I shift the balance between the pickups (all P, some J mixed in, or 50:50).
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  17. AudioTaper


    Sep 23, 2018
    So many great comments and so much love for the 90's MIJ SRs. I had a SR800, 1996 (serial started F6.....) I bought new (way back in high school, I feel so old now) and it was a great bass. I wish I hadn't traded it in, but oh well.
    +1 on just replacing the vari-mid onboard preamp and active pickups. I would go with Bartolini or EMG for the pickups, Bartolini, EMG, Nordstrand, or Aguilar for the preamp. You dont NEED the variable mid control. I actually quite dislike the feature, but that's just me.
    I didnt see a comment about this, but are you interested in doing any of your own work vs having your tech do it?

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  18. HearNoStevil

    HearNoStevil Inactive

    Jul 17, 2020
    Safelite repair Safelite replace
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  19. Dean N

    Dean N

    Jul 4, 2006
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I have 2 Korean Ibbys from the early 90's and will never sell them. Very nice build quality. I'd replace the electronics. 25 year old Soundgear electronics probably aren't doing that bass any favors, and with a replacement, even getting spendy on it, that bass will punch far above its weight. I'd probably go with EMG (easy DIY, actually) or Barts + Bart preamp. A passive Soundgear just seems off to me.
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  20. Harold Runyan

    Harold Runyan

    Apr 27, 2015
    Ashland, KY
    I’d buy or borrow a meter. Start by checking the leads from the battery. Then the output jack. Then measure the resistance on the pickups. Since you mentioned the sound fading in and out I suspect it is likely a preamp failure. Usually (not always!) a bad pot gets scratchy and will pop in and out and not fade. Regardless, I’d replace the bent pot even if it turns out to be something minor. Good luck.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.