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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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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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