I tried to come up with a different sentence to start this blog other than “It’s finally done!”. Don’t know if this one’s any better, but oh well. Nevertheless I’m quite happy this project is finally finished.
Let’s recap; this Ibanez Ripper copy had quite a rough life and was reduced to a fraction of its original size after one or several run-ins with a saw. Besides these ‘curious modifications’ the Ibanez was also converted to a fretless bass, which appears to have been done somewhat professionally. I’d love to know more about its history, it is a complete enigma.
The original tuners and bridge were the only hardware left on this bass. Unlike the Gibson Rippers these Ibanez basses came with chrome mudbucker-style pickups like EB-0’s or -3’s would have had. I tracked down two mudbuckers, one from an old Japanese EB-0 copy and another with unknown provenance, likely a newer Chinese knockoff. Although not the exact same size I’d argue it adds to the already mismatched, offset theme of this bass haha.
Because of the limited space for any electronics the luthier who worked on the bass had carte blanche on where to add the pots and switch, I didn’t know where it could fit. The pickguard was made to accommodate the pickups and the rest of the electronics. I must say the complete picture almost looks like how it came out of the factory in the 70s. Almost, maybe if you squint your eyes just a bit…
I had no expectations of the sound and play-ability, but for a gimmicky bass like this it’s not too bad to be honest. Like you’d expect the neck dive is very bad and playing the bass sitting down (or standing up without a proper strap) can be quite a challenge. There is also a bit of a volume imbalance between the bridge and neck pickup. The bridge pickup is significantly lower output than the neck pickup. Otherwise, the neck humbucker sounds really full and punchy, very appropriate for the fretless sound. I still need to do a complete set-up, there is a bit of ‘fretbuzz’ on the high notes. Plus I haven’t decided which strings I should get, any recommendations are welcome.
To conclude, I am very pleased with this bass so far and it is a real conversation piece should I use it on stage in the future. This also won’t be the most easy bass to learn to play fretless on haha. Glad I can finally cross this off my project list.
What does the future hold? Don’t worry, there will be more projects coming up soon. Some might remember I have an Ibanez Black Eagle neck laying around that desparately needs a body and some hardware. Will be on the lookout for something suitable. Secondly, a Yamaha SG-40 is (hopefully) on its way halfway across the world in need of some care and repair. Till next time!