Ibanez Volo BTB33: First Impressions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by matthewbrown, May 26, 2016.

  1. I've been playing an MTD Kingston Heir and a Michael Kelly Club Deluxe 5, strung E-c, and I wanted to find a two-octave fiver with E-c tuning, mainly for jazz; a fellow TBer recommended the Ibanez Volo. When I found one used for a reasonable price, I ordered it. I have been looking for a fiver to replace the MTD as an all-round instrument, to use opposite my fretless archtop.

    I'm impressed by the design, and the build quality is quite good, too, given the price ($1000 new). The frets are not flush with the sides of the neck; they could be smoother. It's a nicely balanced bass, standing or sitting, although a little divey sitting. The fingerboard does not impress me, but we'll see how it goes once it's been oiled -- it seems dry. The electronics are very intuitive. The bass control adds so much bottom that full-on is more than my 12" Eden can handle. The treble control adds real sweetness along with the edge. The midrange switch works nicely -- good voicing. The bass is not too heavy, and the body is fairly small.

    This bass has two features that are new to me. It's a neck-through. This I love -- lots of ease working in the upper register. It also has a ramp, and I find I don't mind this at all. I can dig in close to the neck and then use the ramp for passage work and quicker stuff.

    We'll see how I like it in a week or two. But so far, this bass seems to have a lot to recommend it.
    skeeler and Captain Pike like this.
  2. nonohmic


    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Bringing this back....any updates??
  3. Update: I bought this bass to replace an MTD Kingston Heir as my main all-around bass. I miss the Heir for its light weight, but the Volo is still a great all-around bass for me, even if it's a heavier instrument. It's very comfortable, in spite of the weight, as it's so well balanced.

    Because of the 2-octave neck and the high c-string, I can be an extra melody instrument, and for the background jazz gigs I do very often, this is a big asset. It's also been a lot of fun! The Volo has enormous flexibility in its tone, just as the Heir did. The combination of the midrange switch and the midrange sweep control gives you a huge range of tones. The bass and treble controls are excellent, too. I basically set my amp flat with a midrange cut (thanks for THAT KNOB, Carvin!) and I can get basically any sound I want, funk or fingerstyle. It's also quieter than the Heir when the treble is boosted.
    The 33" neck has taken little for me to adjust to. I will still need to oil the neck again -- it's a very thirsty fingerboard. The ramp is awesome -- it really adds to the speed I can play fingerstyle.

    As for aesthetics, this is a really nice-looking bass, with great build quality at its price point. It is a great complement to my main bass for jazz, a Veillette Archtop fretless (<3!). I think fusion players and crossover jazz players will flock to this instrument as it becomes better known. This is not an old-school bass, and it doesn't look it, so there's no pretending it's a P or a J. It gets a LOT of compliments for its appearance and sounds, and I think it deserves them.