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Retro "Bean Bass" - What Should I do with this?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Hawkeye, Mar 18, 2005.

  1. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    What should I do with this?

    I picked up an Ibanez RB999 "bean bass" this week from a local shop. $159 Cdn (about $125.00 US). It was an impulse purchase.

    I am of two minds on this bass:

    A. Leave it as a beater bass and keep it behind my office door for the odd lunch hour when I want to practice some tunes.

    B. Fix it up and really mod it.

    Things it has going for it:

    - Big, dense, thick tone. Active electronics, they seem quiet too. The previous owner disconnected the single tone control, said it was too harsh sounding.
    - Beautiful tuners. Satin finish, solid, silky mechanism, really nice.
    - Solid cast bridge with satin finish has lots of adjustment and is in great shape.
    - Extremely light. It's as light as my daughter's Fender Cyclone electric guitar.
    - Truss rod works smoothly. I already adjusted some bow out of the neck and it straightened right out.
    - Very good tonal variation between neck and bridge pickups, more sounds in the panning control than I've heard on any other bass.
    - Carved and rounded body top, pretty different from anything that's available today.
    - strap pegs are solid
    - The neck feels like a precision with a slightly more pronounced "C" profile. Basically comfortable for me.
    - seems to stay in tune.

    Things going against it:

    - The finish is a metallic pearl that has seen better days. Lots of little dents and dings. Definitely not my favourite colour.
    - Refinishing would be a lot of work because the whole neck is painted in the same colour too. Lots of refinish and sanding would be required. I'd do the neck natural with a satin finish like my Fender Precision MIA.
    - Frets on E and A string positions are quite worn up to the seventh / eighth. It doesn't buzz yet though. Refret definitely called for.
    - Biggest issue I see is that it's got a crack in the headstock which has been repaired. It goes from the bottom right thru the tuner holes to the top. Apparently it was spread 1/16th of an inch and filled with glue and it "seems" to be in good shape.
    - Between the headstock crack, refret, and extensive refinish, there would be a lot of work to do on the neck. Also, the neck pocket looks not quite as tight as some other guitars, so maybe I'd have to leave the paint alone at the mounting point of the neck to maintain the OD to preserve fit.

    If I modded it, it would maybe include:

    - new preamp, current one a bit dark sounding.
    - refret and redress plus refinish neck OR, be done with it and by a Warmoth or something like that. The neck pocket looks to be standard 2.5" width.
    - refinish body and stain dark reddish brown trans. If body grain wasn't that well matched, it wouldn't matter with a dark colour like that. OR maybe paint it a solid colour too black or surf green maybe?)

    So TB'ers, what would you do? Mod it or keep it as a Beater.

    Attached Files:

  2. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    Leave it be. :D
  3. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

  4. shirojiro


    Jan 24, 2001
    San Francisco
    Another vote for leave it be.

    I had a similar Ibanez, (back in '84) but it had 2 humbuckers instead of the quasi-P/j setup you have. I think mine was passive, but my memory gets foggy on that. I do remember, however, that the strap pins were "V" shaped, and very hard to get a strap on and off of.

    I could never get a tone that I really liked from mine. To this day, I still prefer single coils over humbuckers for bass.
  5. Depending on how bad the frets are- maybe refret it if it needs it.

    Maybe replace the preamp- if you really don't like it.

    Don't refinish it.
  6. genderblind


    Oct 21, 2004
    I'm not one to join the bandwagon, but this is a great bass as is - let it live in it's original vibe!!!
  7. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    You could sell it to me!
  8. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    Surf green... so tempting! I have dreams about refinishing stuff in surf green.
  9. I would say +1 for leaving it, maybe refret, don't refinish,... beaters are'nt bad.... I'm looking for a beater..... :bawl: I hate my town.... Nice score though congrats!
  10. steviecsg


    Aug 16, 2002
    oddly enough it looks like a variant of the ibanez musician basses from the early 80s. i have one like that, just different pickups.

  11. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    Let sleeping dogs lie, dude -- and this is certainly a dog. In a good way! ;)
  12. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I had major GAS for bean basses back in the day! I would still like to own one some day.

    I say leave it as is, except for the frets.
  13. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    I had one, mine was grey metallic in BAD shape. I stripped the paint, refinished it brown natural stain with wax. It was my first bass after a 5-year layoff, got it for $50. Didn't like the tone too much at first, mine had one double jazz like a Rio Grande PowerBucker or a Roscoe Beck in the classic Stingray position, and it sounded rather "choked". After the refinish, it sang! Light as a feather, too! I played it as my main (and only) bass for a year, then sold it. Still regret it to this day- it was one speedy mo'fo! And killer slap tone! I'd say refinish it. But be careful- the body wood is pretty soft!
  14. lyle

    lyle Guest

    Jan 10, 2004
    Vernon, B.C. Canada
    Looks like a stubby knuckle too me. Im sure the knuckles blow the socks off that ibanez though. :)
  15. Hawkeye

    Hawkeye Canuck Amateur

    Some good suggestions here. There seems to be a consensus for letting the old girl age gracefully without cosmetic surgery.

    I just came up with another option. Seeing that it needs a refret, I could have it de-fretted instead and make a fretless bass out of it.

    My other basses are Fender Precision MIA 4-string with flats, Godin BG-5, and Lakland Skyline 55-01, so a fretless would be something completely different then.
  16. Gastambide


    Mar 4, 2005
    I have one of the 80's Musician "Bean' basses, that I had de-fretted years ago. It's the 2-tone natural finish w/gold hardware. Beautiful little bass, though it's showing some wear by now. Mine had a passive PJ pickup config., but they were housed inside of larger "soapbar" pickup covers. They also had individually adjustable pole pieces, since each magnet was essentially a screw. I eventually had a fine luthier defret and fill the slots w/ ebony. I wasn't impressed by the sound as a fretless, so I decided to change the pickups - which was a REAL problem because of the huge routes left by those darned soapbar covers! Closest thing I found were Bartolini's which I ran passive (because this little bass has no room for extra preamps in it's tiny cavity). There's still a small gap around the neck pickup, but it's the best I could do. The sound is pretty good on the top three strings, but a bit hollow on the E string, especially as you go up beyond the fifth fret. I'm now hoping to have the fingerboard finished w/ epoxy to see if it helps give the tone on the low E more focus. I still love this little bass, though!

    By the way, does anyone know if having the hardware re-plated (gold) is possible/practical, and if so, where would you go to get that done?
  17. Bassic83


    Jul 26, 2004
    Texas, USSA
    Try a trophy shop, or a custom car shop. They do plating all the time. Another pick would be an engraver's shop.