Sound — 10
This bass came with very nice medium gauge Elixir strings and perfect action and intonation. The strings were immediately replaced with Rotosound SH77 flatwounds, which required some big adjustments to the neck. With both sets of strings the sound is pure and sweet. I play everything from Iron Maiden to The 5th Dimension and I can use this bass for virtually all of it; I have another bass set up with tapewound strings for more acoustic sound. It has plenty of bottom end without losing any top and stays crisp and clear. Currently I play through a Peavey MAX 115 set to Vintage with the mids pulled back about halfway. I also use a Behringer Bass V Amp, although I find that the dry sound of this bass/amp combination is really better than any effect I can put on it. I do use some compression and a little chorus, not much. I'm kind of hysterical about extraneous string noise, etc. With the flats there's virtually no stray noises unless I want them; the pickups are sensitive but not overly so, and have a full, balanced sound that never gets muddy.
Overall Impression — 10
For the most part I play (older) metal, but also blues, folk and some classical. This bass is good for virtually all of it. I have another Ibanez that's set up with different strings for a more acoustic sound when I want it, but if I didn't have that one I could do just fine with this. I've been playing about a year and a half. The first time I played this bass it was through a Peavey Tour 700 head and a set of Peavey cabs and I was just blown away by it. Since I'm not touring anything but our music room I'm playing through a Peavey MAX 115, but it sounds just as sweet, if not quite as loud. I fell in love with this bass from the first moment I picked it up. It's lightweight and the neck is so thin and narrow even my small hands can get around it easily. In fact, this bass is what convinced me I could actually play a full-scale instrument. And before I'll even look at another bass, I compare that neck to this one. I do wish the knobs were different, but it's such a minor point it's almost not even worth mentioning. If it was stolen or lost I wouldn't sleep until I got a new one, and if I ever found the person Who did it. Of all the instruments I've played, I've never found one that sounds so sweet and feels as good as this one.
Reliability & Durability — 9
The finish is beautiful, but not the most durable. I've been playing it a year and you can look at it and know exactly how I play. The satin finish soon becomes shiny, and just fingers and nails have made their mark. I don't mind it looking loved, but if you're all about looking Brand New, then be careful with it. Apart from that, it's tough. Where we Live this bass has to endure a lot of temperature and especially humidity changes, and takes it all in stride with barely even a tuneup needed. Once you get it how you want it, it's there.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Setup and action were good straight off but I changed out the strings almost immediately. The Elixirs it came with are good strings and most anyone would be happy with them; it's just that I prefer the flatwounds. The neck did need some big adjusting afterwards but settled right down. The pickups and bridge are perfect. They're accessible if you need to make adjustments, but I haven't had to. I wasn't happy with the strap buttons. We got strap locks but there were issues with the screw sizes that actually required some drilling.
Features — 10
This bass was made in 2006 in Korea. It has 24 medium frets on a super thin, super comfortable, super super neck that has for me become the standard by which all others are judged: 38mm at the nut, about 43 at the 12th fret. The bodies of the Ergodynes were originally luthite but this one is maple, with an interesting black satiny finish, a maple neck and rosewood fingerboard. The medium frets are comfortable. The body is small, with scooped out areas to give you lots of access to the high end. I do a lot of messing with my basses and the Accu Cast bridge has stood up to all my tinkering (I'm not always gentle) just fine. The electronics are good with a 3 band active EQ that lets you get precisely what you're looking for. I am not fond of speed knobs as a rule but they have a good feel and you can really dial things in nicely. The Ibanez DXH humbuckers are smooth and quiet. The tuners are tough and perfectly tensioned; everything holds well, even with wild temperature and humidity changes.