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What about this BTB405?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wademeister63, Oct 31, 2004.


  1. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Being pretty new to playing bass and owning them I've been going through a few instruments. Within the last few months that has been Ibanez to start off, EDB690 4 string, EDB605 5 string and the wonderful BTB405 fiver. At least I though the BTB was wonderful at first. It's comfortable, looks nice, in practically new condition, and has plenty of knobs to fool with. I had a complete crap amp setup which annoyed me to no end so now am playing through a Bmax and RMX1450 with 115 and 210 cabs. The band is playing blues and classic rock, but I also like a lot of "alternative" stuff and jazzy rock as well and may eventually try to get in a band that plays more of that.
    So there's the background.

    Then I got this ugly green, amateur refinished G&L SB-2 (4 string) at the big guitar show a couple weeks ago. It was a little too bright for my tastes so I put some T-I Jazz Flats on it and ooh la la! Now it seems no matter what I do with my Bmax EQ I don't like the sound of the BTB anymore. Lacks character is the best description I can come up with. This is a shame since I want a 5 string and actually like the one I have, so I've come asking questions.

    Not wanting to spend too much more money, what would you suggest doing with the BTB? I'm not convinced that putting the T-I flats on the Ibanez will really have the desired effect. I've never changed pickups on an instrument before so I'm not sure how huge a difference that makes, and I'd have to rout the body to change them so I think I don't really want to do that, but yeah maybe I would if that looks like exactly what i need to do. Or maybe change the onboard preamp? Or there's this very nice sounding 80's model Guild Pilot hanging in a nearby pawn shop, maybe I need to work out a trade and just go with the beat up 20 year old 4 stringers.

    What would you do?
     
  2. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Nothing?

    Am I the only one who isn't thrilled with their BTB 405?
     
  3. Hey Wademeister63, I understand you COMPLETELY!

    I bought a BTB405 last June. I was just getting back into playing regularly after 20 years, and wanted to give a 5 string a shot. Didn't want to spent a lot of money, but wanted something fairly good with lots of sounds. I really liked the BTB, and played it for 9 months exclusively. I've tried a couple of other strings (D'Addario Half-Rounds :spit: , D'Addario XL coated :meh: ), but still felt the best sound was with the Elixars. Haven't tried TI Jazz Flats on her (has anyone else in TB land done this????).

    So I started playing my old 4-string Kramer in April, and decided I wanted a new 4 string. After lots of reading and playing, I took home a Lakland Skyline Hollowbody from BC while on vacation in September. Also discoved TI Jazz Flats, and put a set on her two weeks ago. OMG!!! :eek: :eek: :eek: :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:

    BTW: My current rig is a Mesa Boogie D-180 and an Aggie GS-112. I also use a Sansamp BDDI and a Boss CE-2 Chorus. Play classic rock (50's-70's), jazz, progressive, and some odd new-age experimental stuff too.

    So, our rigs are different. Our new basses are different. But the BTB405/Elixar to a new 4-string with TI Jazz Flats is the same. I think there are several things we're experiencing:

    1) A jump up in quality of instrument. Both the SB-2 and HB are big jumps up from the BTB405. Even if my HB was spraypainted black (God forbid :eek: ), I could still feel the difference in quality. I thought the BTB was a nice instrument when I bought it. Now all its little problems are obvious.

    2) TI JAZZ FLATS ARE UNREAL!! The last time I used flats was on a Univox Coily (Fender flats) when I was first starting to play back in 1974. I created a preconceived notion of what all flats sounded like. I WAS WRONG! These are the most amazing strings.

    3) A "modern" instrument vs. a "classic" instrument. The BTB has all the modern features and sound. But the SB-2 or HB gets it sound from woods, strings, good pickups, and little help from fancy electronics. Just good physics going on!

    I, too, am now wondering what do I do with my BTB? In both of our cases, I think we've discovered the "TI Effect" and the "classic vs. modern" issue (along with that dang 4-vs-5 question). Now there's nothing wrong with a "modern" tone, and there is something to say about keeping a bass around that sez "modern" instead of "classic." I found that using a BDDI really improved the BTB's tone. But if you're already using a BMAX (nice pre BTW), I don't think you'll see much improvement. I'm NOT looking to do radical surgery on my BTB (i.e., new preamp, new pickups, etc.). I'd rather keep her stock and sell her than play Frankenstein. I may re-tune her as EADGC to see if I like this tuning for a 5'er better. But that's really all I have planned for her now. The HB is my main axe for the forseeable future.

    Actually, in my situation, this whole issue goes far deeper. The sound and feel of the HB + TI Jazz Flats has me rethinking almost everything I thought was "truth" about bass: hollow vs. solid, passive vs. active, flats vs. rounds, 4 vs. 5. The last time I played regularly, passive 4s ruled the world. I'm revisiting this "future retro" in the HB and lovin' it. I'm wondering if a modern 5 is for me. Or even 5 (but that's another issue). My current thinking is, when I'm ready, I'll probably sell the BTB. It was a good starter-5, but I'm moving on. If I stay with a 5, my first choice (today) would be a Lakland JO5. This was my 2nd choice at BC, but the HB won the "take home" decision. Then again, I may go completely gaga with the HB and decide to have Dan make me a USA HB, and/or buy an HB fretless too.

    So, in summary, I think you may be best off keeping your BTB stock. Why not try a set of TI Jazz Flats on her - only $50, and the cheapest alternative. If that doesn't work out, go play your SB-2 awhile and save up for another 5 that Jazz Flats sound great on. If you're diggin' G&L, an L2500 or Tribute might be your "nervana."

    I really think it's the "TI Effect." Did I mention TI JF's rock!!! :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:
     
  4. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    Well, I wouldn't go so far as to say thrilled, but I'm quite happy with mine for what I use it for... Fraternity party gigs. If beer gets thrown on it, no biggie. Meanwhile, since it was used when I bought it, It's the only sub-$400 5 with tone and string spacing I can be ok with.

    On the other hand, it doesn't hold a candle to what I normally play, but I wouldn't expect it to, either. :)

    Basically, it does the job it was hired to do, so I'm happy with it.
     
  5. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    I have a BTB 505, which is from the first year they came out (i think). They don't make these anymore. It is swamp ash with no top and is 5-string. I can get a very "vintage" sound out of it, but I hate the pre-amp. I does nothing for me.

    I also went from a BTB to a G&L, and now I almost never play my BTB. It just sounds fake and weak.

    I've thought about ripping out the electronics in the BTB and putting different pickups in.

    I don't know if I could just hide some single coils under the soapbar pickup covers, but that would be the ideal situation.
     
  6. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I tried that too! I put on some DR Fat Beams with a .029" C string added and really liked it. For a couple days. I can't hear notes on the G string already with the band and never even tried it with the C string. It did sound nice playing solo but really lacked substance and would no doubt get lost completely in the mix.

    It's good to hear you guys thoughts backing up what I was feeling and that I wasn't just snobbing out over my more vintage bass. So what does anyone think about those old Guild Pilots? The one I tried is a little beat up but sounded great considering I played it at a pawn shop with their only bass amp and of course no band. I may try to get that one and string it BEAD with some TI flats or rounds.

    Man learning about really good bass tone is turning out to be an expensive lesson for me. I appreciate the feedback from you guys with years of experience.
     
  7. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    I think the Pilot in BEAD would be a good idea.

    I wish I had just strung another 4 string BEAD instead of getting a 5er. But the BTB just has to much "character" now, if you know what I mean.
     
  8. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    Well...

    The guy went for a straight up trade so I'm no longer an Ibanez owner. Sure, he got the higher valued instrument but I have one I like instead of one I don't like for next to no effort. Let him be happy making a profit, I'll be happy making music!

    I had tried the Pilot a few times in the last few weeks and just about everything else in the store to compare and I'm very happy with this one.
     
  9. asonepraise

    asonepraise

    Aug 20, 2004
    I just bought a BTB405QM like 5 days ago, and it sounds "twangy." I love the look, finish, and thick neck on it, but the sound doesn't even compare to my $350 Spector Q5 with EMG pickups. Is it the Elixir Nanoweb strings that is making this thing sound all twangy? After shipping it back (for 40$ with insurance) and once they take a processing fee ($25), I stand to lose $65!!! Any suggestions?

    Aaron
     
  10. Wademeister...glad things worked out for you with that trade.

    asonepraise...I'm not sure what "twangy" sounds like. What are you playing it through, and what sound are you looking for? For $65, you could try one or two different types of strings to see what works for you. Not sure if you're hearing the Exilars or the basswood/maple top body and/or the pickups and EQ (things more difficult to change). The body wood is not as bright as all maple, but not as mellow as swamp ash or alder. The EQ will give you a lot of variety, but I find flat a bit weak, so I tend to boost treble, bass, and mids to 7 o'clock (6 o'clock being flat). After I got a Sansamp BDDI, I thought the sound was much weaker straight than with the Sansamp. I have an issue with the output signal level from the preamp. Really low, lower than some of my passive basses. I thought an 18V preamp would give a hotter signal, but not on this.

    If you like the feel and looks, maybe you could try some different strings. Then again, if you've got a 30-45 day return policy, you might just be better off punting.
     
  11. asonepraise

    asonepraise

    Aug 20, 2004
    I guess what I mean is, I hear a lot of top-end string noise even with the treble rolled off. The sound is not fat and punchy. I'm playing through a GK 800RB into an SWR Goliath III. The output is weak, but I can crank this rig pretty loud. It's just the tone that I'm worried about.
     
  12. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    VERY strange... especially with the variable mids, I've always been able to tune in a nice tone with this bass! Admittedly, it's not "smokin' out of the box" like some more premium basses, but for the money, I've got NO complaints, and I've always been able to dial in a tone that sounds decent and cuts well.

    This has been true with both my heads (EBS 350HD and GK 1001RB-II) through the same cabs (pair of Eden 210XLT's), so I assume it's not just the amp.

    Here's something you may try that's worked for me on that "click" freq range...

    Leave the treble alone as a "bright" control (IMHO it's too high freq for a bass's treble, but that's another story). However, turn the freq ring on the mids up ALL the way (or way up, at least) and then CUT (to taste) with the knob.

    That mid sweeps well into the high end of a bass's freqs, so you can actually pretty much use it as a more useable treble control, too. You lose some "roundwound ring" that way, 'cause both tones live in the same freq range, but hey, no free lunches.

    Hope this helps.
     
  13. Scottie Johnson

    Scottie Johnson

    Sep 8, 2004
    It took some time for me to find an EQ setting on the bass combined with the EQ on my amp.

    I'm running mine through a SWR sm900 with an ACME Low B2. Sometimes I run my Ampeg combo with that as well.

    Wademeister, I'm glad you could get a trade.

    asonepraise, trade it if you don't like it. There are too many quality basses available.
     
  14. Wademeister63

    Wademeister63

    Aug 30, 2004
    Denton Tx
    I got some TI Powerbass strings and set the Pilot up BEAD tonight. Didn't really like the B string with that setup so tried it EADG and it was lovely. Sounded just great with the band at practice. Definately a keeper!