1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Tale of two Roadstars (twin Ibanez RB850 8-String Beauties)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by L. L. Elwood, Mar 25, 2014.

  1. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood

    Jan 22, 2004
    I wanted to find a really cool 12 string bass...there just isn't one out there with an aesthetic that I like within my price range.. So I decided to "make" one. I use the term make loosely. Basically Make = Convert.

    Though I'm not a professional luthier, i've spent the last 20 years working on, setting up, adjusting and customizing my own basses. I've collected some decent tools and such.. So I decided to "make" a 12 string.. For some reason, I had it in my mind that starting with an 8 string conversion might be the best idea, then work up to a 12! The hunt for the right "bones" began.

    • Decent to good quality
    • Affordable
    • Cool design
    • headstock that would accommodate octave tuners without having to fill holes etc...
    • Neck through or multi-ply neck for stability.

    Settled on the 1984/85 Ibanez RB850. Totally interesting cool basses that are REALLY affordable.



    Decent shape, some weird cracking in the finish, but functionally fine..



    Mission accomplished!

    • Cost: Cheaper than the least expensive Decent to Good prebuilt 8 string.
    • Appearance: Stunning!
    • Sound: Massive!
    • Time investment: 12 Hours
    Uniqueness: Very, Possibly the only RB850 8 string on the planet!


    Being really happy and proud of my conversion.. I posted some photos on the 8 string club thread here and was quickly contacted by another TB'er asking if I wanted to sell..."No, but..."

    Here's what happened next... Twin Roadstars...


    Both basses play really well and sound amazing! Just finishing up the second one and going to ship out to the new happy owner in a couple weeks... Now to "make" my new 12 string...

    Attached Files:

    JCooper likes this.
  2. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    I like the first one where you have the octave string position reversed from the normal place, much better for fingers instead of picks I think. Awesome conversions, both of 'em!
  3. Roscoe East

    Roscoe East

    Aug 22, 2011
    It took me a while to figure out what looked odd about your headstock(s). At first I just thought it was the densely packed real estate, all those tuners on a headstock that was only designed to accommodate four.

    Then I realized it's the symmetry.

    Every other 8-string bass that doesn't use identically-sized tuning machines for all eight strings will alternate small/large, small/large...so that when you get to the D & G strings the right side of the headstock is not a mirror image of the left side.

    But yours looks so freakin' cool like that!!! Really striking.
  4. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood

    Jan 22, 2004
    Yeah, that was my first inclination.. However, I found that when playing the bass, the natural "resting" of your plucking finger as it plays over the string, mutes the octave strings about 50% of the time. So i actually switched the first conversion to the standard set up with the octave on top, and man, does it make a sonic difference in the effect when playing. You get a lot more octaves ringing and an over all "bigger" brighter sound. I guess that's why pretty much all manufacturers use that set up??

  5. wild4oldcars


    Jan 22, 2012
    Garner, NC
    Rad. Really rad. You should call them RB-858 haha
  6. L. L. Elwood

    L. L. Elwood

    Jan 22, 2004
    Yeah, I know what you mean. Basically, I didn't want to have to fill existing holes and redrill to accommodate that standard configuration, so the existing D and G "Bass" tuners on the right side of the headstocks now function as the octave tuners and the Grovers handle the D and G strings, just fine I might add.
  7. Big John66

    Big John66

    Feb 12, 2008
    Holy cow, that's cool! Great idea and nice work.