NBD: Restored / Upgraded Ibanez RB999 'Bean Bass' Fretless

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by hooky_marr, Apr 7, 2020.

  1. So last year, I got an Ibanez RB999 (1984 version with passive pickups) thanks to Danny Stewart of Japan Bass Direct. I used to own a few of these and missed having one.


    It was a little bit worn and funky, and had some issues with the pickup coils.

    I discussed it with my luthier pal Steve Rozitis of R Guitars here in Calgary. As I already had a couple of fretted basses, I thought about doing a fretless conversion, but I decided that rather than modifying the existing neck, it'd be an idea to make a new fretless neck from scratch.

    Steve jumped on the idea and we traded pics back and forth. We decided to build a multi-laminate neck similar to the ones on the Musician basses. Steve sourced a beautifu block of roasted birdseye maple, and walnut for the stringers. We went with a pau ferro lined fingerboard and (why not) a bookmatched pau ferro veneer on the headstock, sliced from the same piece of wood.

    Meanwhile, I started scouting for replacement pickups. I came upon the Musician Bass thread here, and discovered bjelkeman's shape files to 3D print new ones - the RB760 has the same two pickups, the Super J6 humbucker and the Super J5 single-coil.

    I got in touch with Adrian Smith at Nordstrand about doing a custom shop build - I got the covers printed at Shapeways using their nylon-based Versatile plastic with their Premium finish - really lovely and solid. We put three NJ4S pickups (humbucking jazz singles) under the covers, each with individual leads to allow flexible blending or switching. Right now we have it wired like the original, but I might change it later.

    And here's the result:

    These last three pics were sent to me today - they're on Steve's gorgeous live edge dining table :) I'll be picking it up later this month. Apparently it is 'mwah' and sustain for days.

    He sent me pics throughout the process, and I've put them into a Flickr album in more or less the correct order here for anyone who'd like to have a look at the journey from raw wood blocks to finished neck :)
  2. LowEndLobster

    LowEndLobster Bass reviewer and youtube dude guy. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 29, 2003
    Northern MA
    I forgot these existed. This is KILLER! Thanks for sharing, man!
    hooky_marr likes this.
  3. My pleasure! That specific model is 36 years old and I guess the Roadstars / Musicians are all pushing 40 now. I would love it if Ibanez reissued them and/or did an updated version for the anniversary... an MC888 style body with the pointier horns, All Access neck joint, and maybe a filter-based preamp like the ACG / John East ones :)

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