NAMM 2015 – Ibanez BTB33 Short Scale Bass, Codename: VOLO

Now here’s something you don’t C every day – a 5 string bass that has a high C instead of a low B. This is because (and I realize I talk about scale length too much – but really, understanding the science behind why you like certain things will make it much easier to find your sweet spot instrument plus ISN’T LEARNING NEAT?) there aren’t very many short scale 5 string basses. Manufacturers generally assume that if you want a 5th string, you want a low B, and most of the time they’re right.


But this bass, the Ibanez BTB33 Volo, assumes the opposite – that you want to go up, up, and away, and invade the guitar’s territory (and they deserve it, don’t they? What with all the invasion of bass space that’s been going on lately). Hence the name Volo – it’s apparently Italian for flying, something you do up high. So they’ve equipped the BTB33 with a 33″ scale and appropriate gauge strings for an EADGC tuning.

Are the bass and guitar moving in opposite directions? Will the high end of music be replaced with bass guitar and the low end with guitar guitar? I kid, of course, but it sure looks that way.

It also features a bass ramp between the pickups, which creates a different feel when playing between the pickups – you’ll find just as many bass players that hate them as love them, but this is a specialty bass, so we can expect some division anyway. Plus, you can always just take it off.


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As Editor-in-Chief of Gear Gods, I've been feeding your sick instrument fetishism and trying unsuccessfully to hide my own since 2013. I studied music on both coasts (Berklee and SSU) and now I'm just trying to put my degree to some use. That's a music degree, not an English one. I'm sure you noticed.

Latest comments
  • I love that tuning! Some (very few) 5 string guys come into my place of work and have me string their five strings up this way. I always thought a six string bass strung like a guitar would be pretty cool too.

  • Let me know when they start making long-scale 5 strings with F# B E A D tunings

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