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Ibanez EHB1005 and 1505 headless basses


lowregisterhead
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SHORT REVIEW:

The basses finally arrived at Andertons in Guildford earlier this week, actually a couple of days ahead of the delivery date they gave me.

They got four 5 strings in stock - two of the EHB1005MS model (multi-scale, solid colour, Bartolini pickups - one in black, one in seafoam green) one EHB1505 model (standard scale, Nordstrand pickups, pacific blue burst with poplar burl top) and one EHB1505MS (the same specs as the EHB1505, but with a multi-scale neck).

On playing the 1005's, they both had one glaring issue - a really noticeable dead spot at the E at the 9th fret on the G string. There was another less serious problem: the neck pickup on the seafoam bass was flapping about loose (the screw had literally fallen out). They had only come into the shop that day, but it makes me question the standard of quality control at the factory and at the UK distributor. The roasted maple/walnut neck was comfortable, slim and fast, but the Bartolini pickups were pretty bland and lacklustre to my ears, although the Vari-mid 3-band EQ did help to lift the tone.

So, slightly disappointed, I moved on to the more expensive EHB1505 basses. Tonally, they were very different from the cheaper models. The Nordstrand pickups had much more breadth, bottom end, mid and high end detail. They sounded good in passive mode, and switching in the preamp improved them even more. The panga panga / walnut neck felt a little more sleek than the maple of the 1005, although the general standard of finish was very good on all the basses. There were a couple of other QC issues with the 1505MS, however. The stacked mid controls were badly fitted so they were off-centre in their recess in the poplar top, and the outer ring was rubbing against the edge of the recess. The bass also rattled when moved around. On closer inspection, the sound was coming from inside the battery cavity. I took out the battery, moved the bass around, and a screw fell out! The 4 screws securing the battery compartment were all in place, so I can only assume a stray screw must have fallen in during assembly. Not a great place to have a loose piece of metal rolling around.

They all shared another problem that may be more difficult to fix, for me at least. The range are well balanced, and also very light, due to the chambered bodies. With the bass on a strap, and the strap button position being above the tuners, along with the bevel of the upper part of the back of the body, the bottom of the bass tends to sit up. This makes the fingerboard easier to see, but forces you to bend the fretting wrist round a little more, which I didn't find particularly comfortable. More importantly, if you have a playing style that involves pulling on the strings (slapping/popping for example) the bottom of the bass lifts up and away from your body easily due to its light weight.

One way to counter this problem would be to fit the strap button lower down, but the cutaway to accommodate the tuners, and the position (and size) of the jack socket makes that difficult. The strap would end up getting in the way of one or the other. The action on all of the basses was acceptable, but on the 1505MS I got a marked increase in fret buzz in two positions on the G string, indicating a couple of high frets. In the age of PLEK technology and high-tolerance manufacturing techniques, that shouldn't really happen, especially on a £1400+ bass.

So all in all, something of a let-down. I'm a fan of this kind of design, having owned many headless basses over the years, and I like the concept of a headless multi-scale bass, but in reality it has too many issues for me to take on board. You may feel differently of course, but I'd strongly recommend trying one out before taking the plunge.

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  • 1 year later...
  • 2 months later...
On 07/03/2020 at 14:12, lowregisterhead said:

SHORT REVIEW:

The basses finally arrived at Andertons in Guildford earlier this week, actually a couple of days ahead of the delivery date they gave me.

They got four 5 strings in stock - two of the EHB1005MS model (multi-scale, solid colour, Bartolini pickups - one in black, one in seafoam green) one EHB1505 model (standard scale, Nordstrand pickups, pacific blue burst with poplar burl top) and one EHB1505MS (the same specs as the EHB1505, but with a multi-scale neck).

On playing the 1005's, they both had one glaring issue - a really noticeable dead spot at the E at the 9th fret on the G string. There was another less serious problem: the neck pickup on the seafoam bass was flapping about loose (the screw had literally fallen out). They had only come into the shop that day, but it makes me question the standard of quality control at the factory and at the UK distributor. The roasted maple/walnut neck was comfortable, slim and fast, but the Bartolini pickups were pretty bland and lacklustre to my ears, although the Vari-mid 3-band EQ did help to lift the tone.

So, slightly disappointed, I moved on to the more expensive EHB1505 basses. Tonally, they were very different from the cheaper models. The Nordstrand pickups had much more breadth, bottom end, mid and high end detail. They sounded good in passive mode, and switching in the preamp improved them even more. The panga panga / walnut neck felt a little more sleek than the maple of the 1005, although the general standard of finish was very good on all the basses. There were a couple of other QC issues with the 1505MS, however. The stacked mid controls were badly fitted so they were off-centre in their recess in the poplar top, and the outer ring was rubbing against the edge of the recess. The bass also rattled when moved around. On closer inspection, the sound was coming from inside the battery cavity. I took out the battery, moved the bass around, and a screw fell out! The 4 screws securing the battery compartment were all in place, so I can only assume a stray screw must have fallen in during assembly. Not a great place to have a loose piece of metal rolling around.

They all shared another problem that may be more difficult to fix, for me at least. The range are well balanced, and also very light, due to the chambered bodies. With the bass on a strap, and the strap button position being above the tuners, along with the bevel of the upper part of the back of the body, the bottom of the bass tends to sit up. This makes the fingerboard easier to see, but forces you to bend the fretting wrist round a little more, which I didn't find particularly comfortable. More importantly, if you have a playing style that involves pulling on the strings (slapping/popping for example) the bottom of the bass lifts up and away from your body easily due to its light weight.

One way to counter this problem would be to fit the strap button lower down, but the cutaway to accommodate the tuners, and the position (and size) of the jack socket makes that difficult. The strap would end up getting in the way of one or the other. The action on all of the basses was acceptable, but on the 1505MS I got a marked increase in fret buzz in two positions on the G string, indicating a couple of high frets. In the age of PLEK technology and high-tolerance manufacturing techniques, that shouldn't really happen, especially on a £1400+ bass.

So all in all, something of a let-down. I'm a fan of this kind of design, having owned many headless basses over the years, and I like the concept of a headless multi-scale bass, but in reality it has too many issues for me to take on board. You may feel differently of course, but I'd strongly recommend trying one out before taking the plunge.

Great review. Been trying to find one to try before buying but having a hard time tracking one down 

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  • 3 months later...

That's a useful review thanks, I've been eying up the Ibanez EHB range and I'll definitely try before I buy in-case of QC issues rather than chancing it with a delivery.

 

Luckily most of those things you pointed out are minor screw tightening type things but the dead spots and fret height are more serious so I'll be sure to check for them.

 

The balance with the bottom of the Bass sitting up is a really good observation too - it's the something that might be difficult to notice just having a fairly quick test in a shop or sitting down but long-term it's the sort of thing that gets annoying and affects playability but very rarely gets mentioned in reviews. I find there is an optimal weight for a Bass (about 3.5kg for me) where any lighter than that they can tend to slide around the leg when sitting down or bounce about/lift up when standing up and doing things like slap/pop so the good balance needs to account for more than just not having neck-dive. 

 

 

 

 

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I bought an EHB1005SMS last week and didn't have any of those issues at all (though mine was an ex-demo one, so things may have been sorted in the shop). I did do one mod though. Lowendlobster on Youtube moved one connection on the active preamp (takes less than 5 seconds) and that gives the Bartolinis more bite (well worth doing). He also swapped the pickups for Aguilar DCBD4's, but as they are about £300 I'll give that a miss. I also have put some fluorescent tape (using a hole punch) over the side markers as they are so small they blend into the roasted maple neck and are almost unseeable. I absolutely love the short scale fan frets and, once the connection mod is done, would happily have another of these basses.

Edited by 6feet7
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On 07/02/2022 at 16:52, 6feet7 said:

I bought an EHB1005SMS last week and didn't have any of those issues at all (though mine was an ex-demo one, so things may have been sorted in the shop). I did do one mod though. Lowendlobster on Youtube moved one connection on the active preamp (takes less than 5 seconds) and that gives the Bartolinis more bite (well worth doing). He also swapped the pickups for Aguilar DCBD4's, but as they are about £300 I'll give that a miss. I also have put some fluorescent tape (using a hole punch) over the side markers as they are so small they blend into the roasted maple neck and are almost unseeable. I absolutely love the short scale fan frets and, once the connection mod is done, would happily have another of these basses.

 

 

If you swap the other connection on the preamp you'll get another 6db output when the preamp is active. Depends whether you like to have the same level with it on or off really.

 

I had my side dots drilled out and replaced with bright white plastic dots. Much better!

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 15/02/2022 at 15:40, fretmeister said:

 

 

If you swap the other connection on the preamp you'll get another 6db output when the preamp is active. Depends whether you like to have the same level with it on or off really.

 

I had my side dots drilled out and replaced with bright white plastic dots. Much better!

 

Thanks for that. I just picked up a new EHB1265MS-NML from Andertons, after seeing it on their website a couple of weeks back due in soon, and putting a deposit down. It's one of only two they got into stock, and the other one was sold before it arrived as well.

After my niggles with the EHB1505MS two years ago, I have to say this is quite a different animal. Knowing what the potential pitfalls are helped, but not only was this very playable straight out of the box, but the preamp re-plugging made a substantial difference to the sound - not just a higher output, but noticeably more top end bite. I'll stick with the Barts for now, but I'm interested in the replacement Aguilars, just not interested enough to shell out £299 for the set!

 

I love the look of the walnut top and ash body combination, much less gaudy to my eye than the pacific blue burst, but more interesting than a solid colour. I also have a Dingwall Combustion, so the multi-scale was no surprise, but the 35"-33" scale is really nice to play - not as much of a stretch as the Dingwall's 37"-34" scale. Particularly since re-plugging the preamp, the EHB has noticeably more zing and bark to its sound, making the Dingwall sound a little pedestrian in comparison.

 

The strap button's going to have to move though. At least with the fanning of the tuners due to the multi scale, it can be re-sited on the body in a more traditional position in line with the middle tuner, which will help with the neck tilt issue. I've got a rehearsal with one of the bands on Sunday, so I'll report back once I've had a chance to use it in anger! First impressions are very positive though.

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  • 4 weeks later...

They are useful reviews on here. I've owned a EHB 1005 MS for a week now and my thoughts are:

 

Good:

  • Sounds good.
    • I think it makes a great consistent sound with no noticable dead spots, all strings feel part of a team.
    • The 3 band EQ with sweepable mids is good, loads of different tone options.
  • Comfortable and easy to play:
    • I can play certain fiddly things that I struggle with on my Jazz Bass. I guess that's down to the slightly tighter string spacing (18mm vs 19mm), neck, fanned frets, and fret access - which is very good.
    • It's lighter than I expected (3.3kg) but being headless is still well balanced so it makes it very comfortable to play standing up for a long time. 3hr long band practice a few days ago was fine, my legs got sore before anything to do with the Bass. 
    • Reasonably low string action (but not amazing).
  • Multiscale:
    • The 35"-33" multiscale is good, consistent tone and tension across the strings and 35" seems plently for a good clear B string. (I've owned a Dingwall Combustion with 37"-34" which was less comfortable to play as it has more extreme fanning either end of the fretboard and a longer reach needed. The longer B and E on the Dingwall are great but the  A, D, G  string perhaps felt a bit too long and a bit twangy in comparison to the Ibanez.) 
  • Headless:
    • It is relatively easy to tune and it holds tuning well and intonates well. It doesn't need specific headless strings, and I guess normal string sets will work fine with it - especially as it doesn't need any string length to wrap around tuners.

Small things that are not so good - but easily fixed:

  • The neutrik locking jack is annoying - but the lock part can be disabled easily.
  • Side dots are small and aren't very clear - but stickers have fixed that.
  • Lower parts of the stacked knobs are difficult to see where they are set - but tippex has solved it.
  • A couple of very minor quality control things,  small paint splatters, the edging around the control panel is a bit rough - but the small paint spatters have almost entirely rubbed away and it will be a quick job to do the sanding.

 

I thought the contoured back was going to be an issue as it angles the fretboard upwards a bit so potentially more reaching around needed to fret which I thought will be uncomfortable - and it did seem uncomfortable for the first few days but a bit of strap height adjustment and time getting used to it and it seems fine. It didn't make my fretting wrist sore after standing and playing for 3 hrs so I guess it's not an issue and just takes a bit of getting used to. 

 

My only on-going slight issue is one with multiscales in general: Generally on non-multiscales I pluck vertically down through the strings - parallel to the pickups  i.e. if I pluck just in front of a pickup on the B string on a Jazz Bass I also want to pluck slightly in front of the pickup on the G string for consistent tone (in fact, it usually sounds more consistent plucking slightly further towards the neck on the G). On a multiscale though you need to  pluck quite a lot further forward as you play the higher strings in order to be the same position relative to the pickup, it doesn't seem like a natural/erganomic thing (although isn't as extreme on the Ibanez as a Dingwall), it'll hopefully be something I get used to over time though.

 

Overall it's a great Bass and good value for money. I think I'd go so far as to say it's the best Bass I've owned in terms of comfort, playability and variety of tones (and that includes more expensive things like USA Jazz V, Sandberg TM5, Lakland 55-02, Dingwall combustion).

 

 

 

Edited by SumOne
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I've added glowtec fret markers (also to the knobs), I think it's a good look as this body colour already looks like it should glow. Time will tell if they stay in place and and looking clean:

 

20220401_131130.thumb.jpg.1d190eb518dd794470d379b51ce3c84e.jpg

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