So I actually got this last Tuesday...GREAT mail-order company, btw. Sweetwater let me choose the exact bass (by serial #), and they did a pretty darn good setup, too. Let it be known that I'm VERY picky with my setups, also, so props to Sweetwater.
Anyway, this thing is UNBELIEVABLE for the money, and especially because I've owned/played the best, as I also went to Winter NAMM '09. The BTB easily rivals basses costing waaaaaaaay more, both in playability and sound. The action is super-low, reminding me of when I was at Mike Tobias' booth to try a 535 and a Saratoga (US model). I really like that the BTB line has two truss rods, which is one of the reasons I came back to the series. I only had to flatten out the treble side a bit...maybe a 1/4 turn. Aside from a few higher frets, the neck is pretty flat, imo, and almost plays itself. There's a little buzz here and there, but not that noticeable live, and I like a little buzz for that "Rex Brown/Jason Newsted" grind, anyway. The funny thing, is that this 6'er plays a lot more easily than my last BTB, which was a Prestige 1005e (5'er, Japanese). Not only is the action lower, but the string spacing isn't as wide, 17mm as opposed to 19mm, so the 35" doesn't bother me now. This is definitely my favorite neck of all time, and the gloss (as opposed to satin or oil) didn't phase me one bit. The only other company that glosses their necks, that work nicely, is Carvin. The neck has an assymetrical shape, so it has a nice wide and thin profile, with juuuust enough beef to it, ala grand BTB tradition. I was really enjoying the substantial volute this past weekend, too, which was the bass' debut appearance. The overall construction is as solid as a tank, and it basically weighs as much as one. But, I actually prefer heavy basses, as they seem to just have more impact, and don't throw me off like a light bass does...balance seems to be better. This one clocks in at 11.6 lbs, and actually doesn't seem too much heavier than my old Prestige. I have a big Mono strap, so the weight is no problem for me. It's a good thing I work out a lot!
Now, the sound is the other amazing aspect...it ROARS. The open strings are consistent in volume, as are the fretted notes, from the highest C to the lowest C. You should hear the sustain on this monster. It rings out like a grand piano, and I grin like a bastard when I do big slides on the low B...love it. I always have the on-board mid up to max, and other than needing a little more treble from my amp and on-board eq, compared to my Prestige, it's sound is identical, if not growlier. Oh, and the on-board bass isn't overpowering or maybe "unuseable" like my Prestige was, so that's a plus. Our monitor guy said that he thinks that this one actually has hotter output. I can't tell a real difference between this one's 9-volt power, versus the Prestige's 18. It sounds louder in a band mix than any other bass I've ever had, and we have two guitars at times, or a guitar and banjo, or guitar and fiddle, along with four vocalists, and a LOUD drummer, and yet still it punches right through. The sound I hear in my in-ears, is what comes out of the PA. I love my GK amp, too, so that helps. The low b is as growly as the others, so it's nice to not hear any dropoff compared to the other strings. Elixir strings came stock, and they're my faves, so that worked out perfectly for me.
Once again, I've come back to Ibanez...now I just need a sponsorship or endorsement....