I have played a few Ibanez basses over the years, including their Soundgear and older Roadstar models, and have generally been pretty happy with the instruments they produce. They are a good value and play and sound fine. So, I figured their Talman line of basses would also be good enough for the job and they did not disappoint me!
The Talman name goes back a ways for Ibanez as they started building instruments with this name in 1994. The have been discontinued a few times, but last year they re-introduced Talman basses as another pretty good entry-level line of instruments. I did a little research and have no idea exactly what a Talman is, so your guess is as good as mine.
When this bass came out of the box, the first thing I noticed is that it is pretty darned cool looking. This is subjective, of course, but I think the fat horns and offset waist give it a new feel compared to the P-bass shape that has been ubiquitous for the past 50 years. It is not too goofy, and almost comes off as a vintage vibe.
The TMB310 Talman that we are looking at today come in eye-catching poly gloss finishes, including the Turquiose Sparkle shown here and a very nice looking Silver Sparkle. These colors are sprayed over a mahogany body, which is also notable at this price point, as a lot of the cheaper basses are made with basswood, it seems. There is classy black 3-ply pickguard that provides a nice contrast to the sparkly finish. Turning the body over, there is a battery compartment for the active electronics, and no neck plate for the attachment bolts. I have always thought this looked neat…
This is a standard 34-inch scale instrument, with a maple neck and a white plastic bound rosewood fretboard. I like the large acrylic inlays in the board, as I thing they look classy. There are 20 frets sunk into the 9.4-inch radius fretboard, and the cutaways give good access to all of them. The neck has a reasonable profile that falls between the baseball bat Roadstar necks and the almost too-thin Soundgear shape. This results in a 1 5/8-inch nut width, and a vintage feeling C profile.
The Talman’s hardware selection is ok, but not really outstanding, and given the price point that is not too surprising. There are open gear big cloverleaf tuners that seem just a little loose and a fairly standard-looking bridge. These are finished in bright chrome, as it the control panel and knobs.
It was exciting to see the big humbucker at the bridge on the Talman, and the first thing I though was “Musicman!” This is combined with a split-coil precision pickup at the neck, and these active pickups are wired through 2 sets of stacked pots: volume / pickup balance and treble / bass. There is also a coil tap switch on the pickguard to turn that humbucker into a single coil. Ibanez calls these Dynamix pickups, which is apparently a criminal mating of the words ‘dynamic” and “mix.”
This Talman was made in Indonesia, and the craftsmanship is good. The finish is nicely applied, even around the boltholes for the neck, which can be kind of tricky. The fretwork is good, and they are level with no buzzing or terrible dead spots. The fretboard inlays are flush and have crisp edges, which can be kind of a sore spot on other low-end basses. It did need a slight truss rod adjustment, which is not surprising as this thing was shipped over 8,000 miles from Indonesia to California, probably with a few stops along the way. In case you are wondering, it weighs in at right around 10 pounds, which might seem a bit heavy, but remember that the body is mahogany, not basswood.
Once properly set up, the Talman is an easy bass to play. It balances nicely on a strap and it is not a stretch to reach to reach the lower frets. The neck is very comfortable and though it has a glossy finish on the back it does not feel sticky. The mahogany body seems to give it a bit more sustain, though I cannot recall anybody ever complaining that their bass did not have enough sustain…
As far as the sound goes, this bass was about exactly what I expected, and that is a fairly generic low end active bass tone. There is no extra noise or hum, and it can do respectable Precision and Jazz sounds (with the coil tap on), though there was no way I could get it to sound like a Musicman. There is a metric ton of treble and bass that can be gained with the 2-band EQ knobs, so it should be easy to make yourself heard though a muddy stage mix. There is nothing offensive about the tone, and it can get growly if you crank the knobs up enough. The will do the job for most any type of modern music you want to play through it, as long as you are not looking for a woody passive tone.
The Ibanez Talman TMB310 bass is a pretty good instrument and it comes in at a reasonable price, too. It has a list price of $428.56 and a street of $299.99 (case not included), which is pretty competitive in the low-priced bass field. Check one out if you get the chance, and let me know what you think!