Sound — 10
As of yet I have only used it on a friends 35w Laheny amp and my own Ibanez SW20 amp. Sounds excellent through the Laheny, sounds better through the Ibanez. I have used a variaty of effects through an effects processor with no problems. Very good with WAH. I can't specifically comment of the sound because the BTB556MP provides a variaty of tones whether you want it to sound like a guitar for bass solo parts or a full on warm bass. Regarding Live playing, if that noisy guitarist is getting on your nerves... whack up the bass and both mids and you'll probably give him/her vibration sickness ha ha! It is a very powerful bass and if you play around with it's controls you can increase power on the top 3 strings or bottom strings, whatever you want. I personally play progressive and experimental material which is often very technical and quick and it suits that perfectly. But you can easily play whatever style you want if you spend some time on experimenting with the EQ.
Overall Impression — 10
I looked at a lot of other 6 string basses on internet sites. This was the best looking (in my opinion) and insanely cheap compared to most other 6-strings. The other basses I was considering were; John Myung's signature model Yamaha and a variaty of others around the 600-800 price. I chose this because of looks, reviews and make (not because of it's price). I admit, I was slightly worried at why it was this cheap (399) and I still don't know why. It makes people's jaws drop. If this bass was lost or stolen I would definately buy it again. I will also be buying more of this model in the future for customising etc. I never want a different bass. Buy this bass and you will never stop looking at it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Haven't restrung it since I got it over a year ago which is suprising when you consider my playing style but that is because of the Elixer long lifes. The long life coating is only just coming off. The hardware all feels very solid, as I said there was only that one problem but even I could sort that out. The matt finish doesn't wear off, it just shines up a bit with play but it isn't noticable until you get really close up. I wouldn't personally take a backup to a gig but I would take some batteries just incase it decides to die, but that wouldn't be the basses fault.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Overall, it's a solid axe. I didn't need to make any adjustments when I first got it. Last week I did actually have a problem with the balance knob, It can either be in a central position where it clicks into a groove or you can rotate it either way until it can't go any futher but instead it went all loose and could rotate all the way around. I don't know much about the insides of a bass but I fixed it within 2 minutes when I opened up the back panel. The pick-ups are beautiful. Well machined. The only thing you might not like is the Elixer long life strings that come with it. I like them but everyone has their own preferances when it comes to strings. The strings are easily adjusted and replaced and all of the Alan keys you need for the job come with the bass. If you are questioning it's quality from this review, buy one and check out the cool hand-signed quality assurance sticker on the back.
Features — 10
The Ibanez BTB556MP is beautiful bass. It's body is comprised of a slab of mahogany sandwiched between 2 pieces of maple. The neck is a 5 piece maple/walnut mix which is chunky but surprisingly easy to handle bearing in mind that it supports 6 Elixir Long Life strings. The wood is left completely unpainted and unvarnished, it is mearly treated to show of the natural beauty of the wood. There are 6 controls; Volume, Balance, Mid high, Mid Low, Bass, and Treble which are all hooked up to the 18 volt active electronics. The control knobs are matt silver in colour and are very solid and smooth to use (excellent quality). It has two huge plain black Bartolini MK1 humbucker pick-ups which pick up what ever combination of controls you give them perfectly. The bridge is comprised of 6 "Mono-Rail II's" which make each string completely independant. The tuning heads are in 3 on top, 3 on bottom formation. There are 23 frets on the B, E, A, and D strings and 24 on the G and C strings.