Ibanez Ergodyne EDA-905 five string bass

Discussion in 'Gear Reviews' started by Drew, May 30, 2005.

  1. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Yeah, yeah, pictures will come, don't worry. ;)


    Ok, I was looking for a reasonably priced 5-string to record with, after finally coming to terms with the fact that my Squier played miserably and just sounded too "vintage" for what I wanted (compare Hendrix's "1983" to Tool's "Forty-six and 2" - it just wasn't happening, lol). I'd been eyeing the EDR series, until Darren pointed me towards this at American Musical Supply, being cleared out at $450, less than the (lower end) EDR's I'd been pricing, even with an extra $99 for a hardshell case. And matte silver over dark charcoal? A no brainer.

    I've had this thing a few weeks now, and here's my thoughts:

    Build Quality

    Well, it's a luthite body (synthetic material with wood-like acoustic properties), a finished maple neck sprayed the same matte silver as the body, rosewood fretboard, and what seem to be fairly small, narrow frets for a bass (slightly taller but narrower than the frets on my UV, strangely enough). To my surprise, for a bass that originally went for around $900, the serial number sticker tags it as a Korean, from the Cort factory, presumably a 2002. The fretwork isn't spectacular (there's actually a slight glue spot on the edge of the treble side of the fretboard at the top two frets), but seems pretty even throughout, and while the finishing isn't anything you'd write home about, they seem to have at least recieved a certain amount of attention at the factory, and are definitely acceptable. I'd never owned a guitar with a painted neck before, but possible due to the matte finish, it didn't bug me nearly as much as I thought it would - it's not bare wood, but it still feels smooth under your fretting hand. The nut's a little rough and appears to be made of some sort of plastic, but the strings don't bind and the first fret action is quite good. The overall finish is also well done, although it's slight texturing (it's matte) wouldn't show imperfections as well as a mirror-y gloss. It's technically a matte silver, although it's more of an antique silver with traces of green, and complments the cosmo black hardware quite nicely. The rosewood fretboard, in particular, impressed me - glue spot at the top aside, it was perfectly smooth, with beautiful grain and a very even radius.


    Cosmetics

    Let's just say if you brought this one to a jazz gig, you'd raise a few eyebrows. It's one of the most radiclly flowing body shapes I've ever seen, like maybe an anorexic, windswept Conklin. It just looks evil, like something out of an Orgy video. Yet, it works - strapped on the balance is quite good, with excellent upper access, and seated, it babalces perfectly on my left leg a la a classical guitar posture (I generally rest guitars on my right, but whatever, it's not inconvenient). It's an aptly named bass - it's ergonomic as all hell.

    Interestingly, there's no name on the headstock, but rather an Ibanez Ergodyne logo behind the single pickup. Not an issue - I know what it is, and it's not a bass anyone's going to confuse with a fender anytime soon.

    As an aside, my dad (an acoustic guitarist who doesn't care for the appearance of most electrics) took one look at it and immediately said it was one of the most beautful electric instruments he'd ever seen - a JS10th and most of the PRS line being the only two other examples of what he'd call attractive electric guitars I can think of. So, it's definitely eye candy, just in a fairly unusual way.


    Feel

    This should come as no surprise, but the factory setup blew. The neck alignment was a bit off, so while the action was fine at the lower end of the neck (and, in AMS's defense, the neck actually came with just the slightest amount of relief dialed in, more-or-less perfect - I suspect the finished neck has something to do with this stability), it got a bit too high further up. Dropping the saddles only helped so much, but a quick neck shim later, and I was able to get the action actually lower than I'd want it. Raised the saddles back up a bit, and it was playing pretty well. The action's probably a little on the high side, but as a sloppy bassist, I'm erring on the side of reduced fretbuzz from a rather uneven picking/plucking technique than ultra-low action across the neck, and really the playability is pretty even. I'm afraid I'm not sure what the neck scale is, but it's reasonably comfortable, while still providing enough tension on the lower strings.

    Does it "feel" like a $900 bass? No, and I might have been a little dissapointed had I bought it at full price. But, I'd say it feels like a $600 bass, and at $450, it's a steal.


    Tone and Electronics

    This one's interesting. First, it goes without saying that eventually I'll want to swap out the pickup for something else - I haven't met an Ibanez with Ibanez pickups that didn't benefit from new pickups, so while the magnetic pickup isn't super-inspiring, it's also not bad, and will likely be quite good when I get something else in there.

    The peizos are the intersting bit, though. They're intended, not to make the bass sound like an acosutic, but to add some extra clarity. and, to my ears, it works - the best sounds seem to come with the mags up full and the peizos maybe at 70%, adding a little extra high end and "richness" to the signal. Through my J-Station's Trace Elliot model (sound clips to come, eventualy), I was able to dial up some VERY tool-esq tones - score.

    However, the EQ configuration is unconventional, to say the least, and I think may have a lot to do with why this one's being cleared out. You7 have a volume for each pickup system, an treble/bass boost/cut for the mags, and a treble EQ on the body with an internal bass EQ trim for the peizos. Each control has a center detent. For the magnetics, one way from the center boosts both the bass and treble, while the other cuts the bass and treble, with a perceived midrange boost. the peizo, meanwhile, boosts treble one way, and cuts treble the other. Not only is this a rather radical departure from the simple high-end rolloff I'm used to, but I also believe it's pretty nonstandard for active bass electronics, too, and if you like playing bass with the treble rolled off, this control setup will feel very strange to you (I used to, because it was the only way to make my squire p-bass not sound like crap).

    Initially, this was kinda a turnoff for me, as there was really no "highs rolled off" tone available (the closest I was able to get was each pickup full up with the treble/bass boost cut full up, actually, and the peizo treble cut all the way back, as this gave a full low end with a slightly attuned high) but after I spent some time getting used to it, well, there's some great sounds to be had here. Once again, I think this bass is best when the peizos are blended in slightly behind the mags, but the various shadings allow you some very nice, musical, clear, bass sounds. If you want a dark bass tone, you'll have to cut treble at your amp, but once I came to terms with the layout, it began to make sense to me. And, I won't know for sure until I try this one in a mix, but I have a feeling that this is a bass that doesn't need all the treble rolled off to be made to work, like my old squier.

    The other odd thing here is that this bass is uncannily resonant. Like, almost resonant to a fault, so much so that you have to stay on top of your muting technique as the remaining strings will break into sympathetic vibration quickly if you're not careful. This is especially true of the D and G strings, and could potentially be a problem on solo peices (or could just be a fault of my sloppy playing. ;)) Either way, you hit a note, and you can feel the body vibrating. It's cool, Luthite may not be wood, but it's clearly well-suited to electric instruments.


    Overall Impressions

    Ibanez was looking for a revolutionary bass design, they say, when they introduced this, and I'd say on those grounds it was a sucess. Build quality was definitely within acceptable limits (I didn't know it was Korean until I glanced at the back of the headstock), playability is excellent (after some tweaks), and it's a great sounding bass. However, it was such an unconventional instrument, both in apearance and in electronics, that it was pidgeonholed for a niche market right off the bat - metal bassists who dug the appearance, and progressive minded bassists who were willing to give a non-wood body and an unusual EQ and pickup configuration a try (or, guys like me who thought, "that's cheap, and looks fuckin' badass - I want one!"). With its looks and tonal clarity, I could see this being an exceptional progressive metal or solo bass, as well as just being a fun bass to play. Like I said, I'm not sure it'd have been worth the initial $900 selling price, but at $450, it's a steal provided the looks and unusual EQ layout aren't an issue.

    -D
     
  2. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    And, until I can get a pic of my own bass up...

    [​IMG]
     

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  3. Shawn

    Shawn Ibanez Guitars Forum MVP

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    Very nice. Im so used to the Soundgear series so looking at the Ergodyne is a bit stylish.
    I like it though. Very sleek looking and looks comfortable. Nice color too.

    Korean made? Wow. I didn't know that was made in Korea.
    For a 600 dollar bass, I'd say that it looks worth it. I could imagine that it plays well.:)

    Good review. Nice bass. Awesome. :yesway:
     
  4. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Yeah. Thing is, at AMS, it's currently a $449 bass. ;) They originally went for somewhere around $800-900, and at that price, it wouldn't be a bad bass in the least, but you're getting into territory where there are other options than Ibanez that might be worth looking into.

    For less than $500, though, it's worth every penny and more. :)

    It's surprisingly comfortable, actually, probably because there's surprisingly little to the body - the pic doesn't do it justice, in person it looks like it's all neck. :lol: It just melts to you when you strap it on, though. It's a very comfortable body design.

    -D
     
  5. BloBBeBo

    BloBBeBo Bassists Do It Better

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    I just bought one of those after I walked into Guitar Showcase and instantly fell in love with it. I've been looking for a new 5 string bass for some time now, and this is it. I'm getting it this Sunday. I'm so excited! It was listed as $899, but I got it marked down to $398.
     
  6. eleven59

    eleven59 None shall pass. Contributor

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    A friend of mine had one in the royal-blue burst finish, and it was one of the nicer looking and sounding basses I've seen/heard in person. Unfortunately his neck twisted rather badly one day (lived in residence at school on the top floor, where it varied between extremely hot and extremely cold a lot) and when he sent it in for repairs, they initially said they'd replace the neck on warantee, but then realized that it was discontinued, couldn't get a neck for it, and just gave him back his money.
     
  7. Lakonthegreat

    Lakonthegreat Cheese Snack Bringer

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    Having played one of these earlier models made of complete Luthite and in the galaxy noir finish, I have to say that if you can get past the way the neck feels, it's an amazing bass. I just felt that for the body to be so streamlined, I had a problem with the neck being on the bulky side. I've played my bassist's custom Soundgear, and it's far superior to anything in the Ergodyne series.
     
  8. punisher911

    punisher911 blah blah blah

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    I wanted one of those so bad it hurt. A few years ago I found one sitting at a music store for $350 new, just waiting to leave with me. By the time I got the money, it was gone. It was the first 5 string I felt comfortable with. Exact one too. Silver 5 string with the piezos.
     

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