Ibanez AxStar Headless 4-String Bass Reviews 5

I got the 1st one online, forgot where, at about $250. The 2nd one from Daddy's Junky Music in Albany for $190 incl OEM hard case with EMGs installed and OEM PUs in the case along with extra sets of strings in heavy, very light, and half round. Obviously the previous owner made several attempts to get his/her tone [incl new PUs] before giving up. Lucky me.

It's a 34" headless bass that uses normal strings via an excellent clamp built into the top of the neck. The body is NOT the typical mini-size "berger" style, but it's more like a 2/3 sized "semi-normal" body with a top horn. Having a top horn but no peg head, the balance is terrific. It can easily fit in most guitar-sized gig-bags. PU config is my favorite, twin humbuckers, as are the controls which feature a fader- balancer rather than seperate gain knobs. Sound is what I expect from 2 humbuckers, mellow but responsive to the tone control. Tuning is berger-style knobs and like most berger-esque axen it holds tuning forever.

String change is slower than the double- ball berger system, as you need a 3mm allen wrench and must take care not to lose the smallish lock screw.

It's a made-in-Japan 1980s ax and has the excellent build quality of that period. Finish is opaque, all over, incl back of neck but I've heard that the body is made of poplar. Neck is 24 frets on rosewood, 4-bolt with reasonably unobtrusive joint at the body. The rod is accessed under a typical small cover between the nut and the string clamp. PUs are passive twin humbuckers with knobs for fade, gain, and tone. There is no visible shielding in the control cavity but a ground wire to the bridge is visible. Bridge is 2-part, blocky saddles in a heavy brass locking yoke plus a seperate tailpiece containing the tuning system. BTW, there is a 5-string model but it's weird: the 5 strings are in the same space and neck width as the 4 strings, it's very close spacing that I found was beyond my finger-style ability. Maybe it was made for playng with a pick.

I like it so much I avoided reviewing it until I had acquired the 2nd one for back up because these babys are quite rare and I wasn't going to tell the world and then have to compete with you all to find my 2nd one. I got mine, now get you yours! I'm rating it a "5" as a production model headless bass. I've had [and have] many headless, both double-ball and std string systems and I love the AxStar. If it were made of 100% graphite like my berger, I'd rate it a 7 or 8 [on a scale of 1 to 5].

Golem rated this unit 5 on 2004-02-03.

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