Re: Ibanez roadster bass (RB800)

Posted by Big Al (The Sonic Kitchen Studio/Jack DeJohnette Project) on Mon, 11/19/07 - 06:43:15.

I bought my 1981 Japanese Ibanez Roadstar RB800 4-string Bass brand new in NYC in 1981! It was a truly horrific Fire Engine Red with tiny metallic flakey sparkles when i got it. 26 years later, and its dulled down to a pretty cool looking deeper red. She's got "Ibanez RB800. The Ultimate Expression Of Craftsmanship" along the body, just above the neck. (Bolt-On Neck, Arrow shaped Headstock) She also has the Fender type PUps and all-active system. The neck is really skinny for a bass, even narrower than my Fender Jazz Bass. I LOVE this bass. I've used her constantly for almost 26 years now!
In session it's sound just outclasses Fenders, Ricky's and even a couple of Alembic's I've used. I've had clients request a "Grunting Precision Bass sound..." in a session, and after about 3 mins on an Ashdown 4x10 tube combo, and 5 mins on my Ibanez, I had the producer saying "Thats the fattest grunt i've ever heard..." (He's obviously never met my mum!) I went through the entire 80's with her doing "Slap Bass" sessions, Jazz sessions, Rock, Blues etc etc. BUT... My Ibanez RB800 truly excells in the "Funk Bass" dept. The action on her 2 octave superscale neck is **** ing amazing.
It's never fretted out or choked. The Frets did actually turn green though!!! Against the dark Rosewood board and the deep red neck, it looked sort of cool, but even on a new set of strings she was starting to sound a bit tired. I got her refretted in Boston (94) and the guy who did the job said that she had the wildest feel he's ever played. With a set of Med long scale strings, the action at the 12th fret is just slightly higher than my 75 Gibson LP Standard! In 26 years, she's been pro setup only TWICE and refretted ONCE! She's so well setup, that if i want to, i can actually play just a little more behind the frets, and give her a Ricky or PBass "Grunt" or do lead lines on her.
After 26 years, my only gripes about her is 1: THAT colour!
2: When the 9volt battery runs out, things get ugly. All of a sudden it's fizz, fizz, fart......nothing! So i always keep a spare few 9volt batts in the original Ibanez RB800 Case (built like a tank!)
Not too bad a list of gripes really i think. I cant say enough about my RB800. It can also do Dub Reggae effortlessly too... I'm going into the studio today, where i'm producing and playing guitar/bass on a truly amazing Singer/Songwriters debut album. I'll take her out of her case, look at her and go "Uuuuugh what the **** was i thinking about with this colour!" plug her in and put down 10 hours worth of excellent sounding bass tracks.
Cant say anymore about her.
I would never think of selling her, but am looking for another one (NOT RED!) I'd love to know what the wood is under the paint. If i do ever see another one for sale, i'd buy it, and get my Red RB800 stripped and Nitro'd natural.
Big Al
Audio Slave
The Sonic Kitchen Studio

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