Thursday, November 3, 2016

1984 Ibanez RB630 Roadstar II Electric Bass Review

Aloha!

Today we are looking at a gem of a bass that I recently picked up, a 1984 Ibanez RB630 Roadstar II Electric Bass. This is one of the great instruments that were being built by FujiGen Gakki’s Japanese factories back in the 80s.

The Roadstar II is, unabashedly, a copy of the venerable Fender Precision Bass. Yeah, it has a goofy headstock shape, but the body shape, electronics, playability and sound are P-Bass all the way. For starters, look at the body profile. The basswood body is carved into the distinctive Precision profile, and it is finished in a nice thick and shiny black coat of what appear to be poly. These were also available in burgundy, if I remember correctly.

The body has a 3-ply W-B-W pickguard, and it is loaded up with a “Super P4” pickup that is wired through the expected volume and tone pots. Sadly, the original “Sure Grip II” knobs for these are missing, and they have been replaced with really inappropriate looking Stratocaster knobs. Also missing are the funky “Dead End” boomerang strap pins, as somebody has installed pathetic little strap buttons. Boo.

The fellow that sold this bass to me told me it was a 1983 model, but in 1983 Roadstar basses still had two-on-a-side tuners, and this one has the 1984 style 4-in-line tuners. The headstock is kind of big and ungainly, but at the time Ibanez said it was designed this way to “provide a more balanced distribution of sound vibration.” On the back of the headstock is a set of “Hercules B” open gear tuners. They must be strong, and don't worry -- this is the last of the crazy Ibanez part names I will be throwing at you today.

Like all of the RB630 basses, this one has a maple fretboard, and there are 21 fairly chunky frets sunk into it. Truss rod adjustment is at the heel of the neck, but there is a really nice cutout in the body and pickguard so it is not too hard to get to. Like a P-bass, the neck is pretty fat, and it is about 1/5/8 inches wide at the nut. This is a 34-inch scale bass, and it balances well on a strap, which is good because it is a tad heavy, coming in at around 9.3 pounds.

Other than the changed parts (including that black plastic nut), this Ibanez is in pretty good shape, with not much fret wear and only a dings and chips on the body. 33 years have been pretty kind to this thing. It has a fresh set-up with DR strings, and I is really a nice player. They neck is comfy, and the tone is very good. Oddly enough, the tone knob actually seems to do something on this bass. Usually on P-basses I dime the tone knob and forget bout it, but on this instrument there are actually a few usable tone settings that are either more warm or more edgy.

This thing is awesome, and I have to say that I have never played a bad Roadstar. These basses are one of the last great values from the golden era of Japanese guitar manufacturing. Check one out if you get the chance!

Mahalo!

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