RD500 review by Ibanez

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 9.2 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.5 (24 votes)
Ibanez: RD500
1

Sound — 10
This guitar scores 10 out of 10 here. There is a good setting for any kind of music and any kind of playing style. It might take a while to sort it out though for the 6 way pick-up selector is not at all straightforward and the response to playing technique quite nervous, but it's all there with a twist of the right knob or a slight shift of playing style.

Overall Impression — 9
I purchased this bass first of all because of its stunning beauty. It's deep wine red transparent finish with the tiger stripe maple veneer showing through, it's deep dark rosewood fret board and it's delicate matching coloured headstock with four massive cast butterflies protruding to one side made it love at first sight. The finish is immaculate and up to the highest standards. Not the slightest sloppiness can be seen. Just perfect. Strong point is its versatile active electronics, incorporating a single coil Duncan replica neck pick-up and a Duncan rep humbucker at the bridge, two tone knobs that actually do something and a six way pick up selector. This gives lots of tonal possibilities from the mellowest of jazz to the hardest rock and anything in between. Another strong point its fine hardware like the cast bad ass style bridge and the beautifully cast open gear tuners. Then I would like to mention the extremely fine feeling and comfortable D-shaped neck, accessible all the way up to the 24th fret. Very well thought out I think is the Machine Head. It seems like a straight head a la Fender, but a closer look reveals it is offset a bit and protruding well beneath the plane of the fingerboard. Together with the string tree over all four strings this ensures a strong and equal tension of the strings on the nut. It's something that Fender has failed to sort out for over half a century now. But there are weak spots too. Small flaws that could easily be corrected, such as the rather edgy original Elixir strings that I replaced for more mellow tone Rotosounds. A minor problem might be the fairly complicated pickup switch. There must be some logic, but I haven't found it yet. Luckily I only use two of the six possible settings. The biggest problem I have with the body shape. In fact I found all the major drawbacks of this guitar to be due to several aspects of the body that are not well thought out. First the horn holding the strap lock button is too short, making the headstock droop and impairing playing comfort. I solved this by having a saddle maker make me a specially designed strap that doesn't slide over my shoulder. Then the battery cavity proved to be too small, making it very hard to change the battery. I've put a ribbon underneath now with which I can pull out the pill without using tools, but it is still not easy. Another thing is the sloping edge that slopes in a place where I don't reach over to get to the strings. Where a traditional Jazz bass has it's slope, I have to rest my wrist against a sharp edge. Finally there is the output socket that is on the lower edge of the body exactly where it must be supported by a guitar stand. That definitely doesn't work. After several broken jacks and ripped out cords and many times not finding a decent place to safely put my guitar I finally decided enough was enough and drilled a new hole for the socket. That ruined the finish(though not on a clearly visible place) but also marks the moment that I decided that this guitar is definitely mine and that I'm not going to sell it. I don't have a lot of playing styles, but I do play a lot of styles of music, and this bass has the versatility to cope with that. It plays well and it sounds excellent. Maybe I'd move on if this one got lost or damaged beyond repair, but otherwise I wouldn't bother to change. And I'm still in love with the looks.

Reliability & Durability — 8
Not entirely perfect. A screw holding the tuner sprocket turned out to be missing while packing up after a major gig. Luckily the sprocket didn't come off. One time during practice a wire came loose from the output socket cutting off all sound. The finish still looks flawless after one and a half year intensive use.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Again 10 out of 10. I did have to change the action, but that's more due to my sloppy technique than a fault of this guitar. Fret placing is flawless. No sharp edges and precisely intonated all the way up the neck. Fits and finish stand up to microscopic scrutiny and surpasses guitars twice as expensive.

Features — 9
I don't have to say anything about the specs. Bahizta-fclef already did that in his review on this page. I'll limit myself to what I can add from my own experience. After having played it for one and a half year, I think I can make a well balanced judgement.

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