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Ibanez ’83 Roadstar II electric bass

Last night I was a a client’s house helping with his setup. He had this old Ibanez bass sitting in the corner, it looked interesting and played pretty well. He said it didn’t record well and said “If you want it, it’s yours. If you sell it, give me half.” Good deal!

Well I got it home and tried it out. Acoustically it’s pretty loud and it actually records very well!

It’s an Ibanez Roadstar II Sunburst made in December 1983, so it’s older than I am and in better condition. I used to have a 1984 Roadstar II which was completely dissimilar except for the pickups. Looking around online there are dozens of Roadstar II bases with different body, headstock and pickup configurations.

The flat top body is fairly comfortable but can dig into the arm a bit more than I’d like when playing seated. The pickup is a huge humbucker. A 3-position toggle selects normal humbucker, single coil or reverse-polarity humbucker. The middle position get’s pretty noisy but has a nice clear tone. The reverse polarity position is interesting, it has a drastically different tone from the normal mode with a sort of honky midrange.

Here’s how it sounds along with some drums. The pickup is in the ‘normal’ humbucker position. It’s going through an MXR M80 DI/Distortion, and Amplitube 3 for amp tone.

[audio:|titles=1983 Ibanez Roadstar II]

For comparison, here’s my other bass, the Sterling Ray34, made in 2009(?) running the identical signal chain.

[audio:|titles=Sterling Ray 34]

My Ray has pretty dead strings but it’s pretty clear that Roadstar is badass! So much grind and growl.

The next step will be to dismantle it, and get it all cleaned inside and out, and give it a proper setup. I may try out different a few different tone capacitors and see if I can reduce the noise in the single-coil mode.

The point of this post isn’t to brag about the free gear I got, but to encourage you to try out older gear, and even try some of the lesser known brands. See if your friends or relatives have ‘junk’ gear they will give you, because sometimes it’s pretty awesome stuff.


  1. Snaggy (@Snaggy)
    Snaggy (@Snaggy) March 6, 2015

    I have your bass’s slightly-older twin, born in November of 1983! Thanks for posting that, I’ve been trying to find more info on it.

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