The Ibanez SR300 E CUB Active Bass review

Step into most music shops around today, and it’s likely you’ll come across a section adorned by guitars that could have been left behind by an alien visit. Guitar bodies in avant-garde shapes finished with futuristic chrome or iridescent bursts of blues, purples and silver. This is unmistakably Ibanez territory.

Ibanez SR300E

The Ibanez Brand

Ibanez has been producing top quality instruments for a lot longer than you may realise. Founded in Japan 1908 as Hoshino Gakki, the musical instrument section of a bookstore, the Ibanez brand as it is recognised today really came into being during the late fifties and early sixties. Popular music was changing forever, and Ibanez (named after a renowned Spanish instrument-maker called Salvador Ibáñez) were producing guitars that were out-there and otherworldly compared to models produced by rival brands.

By the 1990s, Ibanez was producing top of the line guitars especially popular with rock and heavy metal guitarists such as Steve Vai, Dave Navarro and John Petrucci. Their bass guitar models have been recently played by the likes of Thundercat, Paul Gray (formerly of Slipknot), and Fieldy from nu-metallers Korn. The Ibanez SR300E- priced currently around £308- is the latest in a series of mid-range basses known for their playability and flexible tones. 

Overview and initial impressions

The Ibanez SR300 model we’ve played comes in Cerulean Aura Burst, a lush iridescent finish blending black and blues- very spacey, very ultra-modern. It’s a double-cutaway bass with a longer top horn and curved edges that only enhance that signature Ibanez look.

Ibanez SR300

The headstock has the same finish as the body, and there’s that sleek and slim maple neck we’ve come to expect from Ibanez, with silver frets and white dot inlays. So we definitely can’t say that it doesn’t stand out! There are two dual-coil pickups in ‘Cosmo Black’, five- yes, five– equalisation controls AND a Power Tap selection switch. This is where the magic happens, according to Ibanez. We’re eager to plug in and see just how much tonal customisation we can get.

Construction and feel

For years, Ibanez has been designing and building guitars that are lightweight and non-restrictive to the player. It’s largely this ideology that has led to their popularity among the rock and heavy metal crowd, allowing for fast-fingered shredding and heavy-hitting bass lines. Even with this in mind, the Ibanez SR300 is incredibly lightweight at just 6.8kg and the ultra-slim body is just 10cm thick.

There’s a nice balance between the neck and body meaning there is no neck drop when playing while stood with a strap. It also sits comfortably in our lap when settling in for some sit-down practice, good to know if you’re planning some extended jam sessions! Where this bass really excels though is the feel and playability of the neck. It is, quite simply, a joy to play. The smooth satin, maple rosewood neck measures in at just 19.5mm thick at the first fret and 21.5mm at the twelfth fret, but is robustly built and never feels fragile. The frets are well spaced with solid intonation, meaning we didn’t have to alter anything around this area from out the box.

The A string tuning screw was a little bit loose but could be fixed easily in under a minute with a small wrench. We’ve found in the past that an out the box setup usually requites a little time to fine tune to our liking- a little fret sanding here, some bridge adjustment there. No such issues with the Ibanez SR300 though. It’s a happy surprise given that a common complaint about previous Ibanez SR series basses is they were poorly set upon delivery.

Ibanez SR300 Bass guitar review

Sound of the Ibanez SR300

The Ibanez SR300 comes with some powerful tonal control dials consisting of bass, mid and treble boosts/cuts, a pickup balancer and volume control, all of which have come fitted as standard with previous Ibanez SR models. Coupled with the pair of PowerSpan Dual Coil Pickups, you can achieve some rich, full and twangy tones thanks to the pickups’ high-frequency response that doesn’t compromise on the weighty low-end sounds.

The big high mass bridge offers extra resonance and room for some seriously thick gauge strings- perfect for the discerning metalhead. Now, this is where things get interesting. The addition of Ibanez’s innovative Power Tap switch aims to unleash a stream of sonic possibilities to the bass player. It’s a nifty three-way switch that means the Ibanez SR300 can be played in three different modes- Normal Tap, Series and Power Tap. In the upwards Normal Tap position, only one coil from each pickup is active and the result is a bouncy, funky twang.

The Series selection has the pickups act as humbuckers, giving a thicker yet disappointingly muddy coloured sound. In downwards Power Tap mode, the best of both worlds combine as the single coils are given boosted lows. We felt this is where the Ibanez SR300 came to life. After some playing around with the previously mentioned equalisation dials, we found a tone that was thick and full yet the overall clarity was completely undiminished.

Afterwards, we honestly didn’t see much reason to switch out of Power Tap mode. So with some experimentation, you can surely find a tone that pleases your ears, though it’s worth considering that without the added Power Tap selection, the Ibanez SR300’s sounds are only around the average quality expected for similarly priced mid-range guitar models.

Guitar Dimensions and Stats of the Ibanez SR300

  • Dimensions- 126 x 60 x 10cm
  • Weight- 6.8kg
  • Front material- Nyatoh
  • Back material- Nyatoh
  • Colour- Cerulean Aura Burst
  • Neck Pickup- PowerSpan Dual Coil (Passive)
  • Bridge Pickup- PowerSpan Dual Coil (Passive)
  • Equaliser- Ibanez Custom Electronics 3-band EQ with 3-way Power Tap switch
  • Neck Material- Maple Rosewood
  • Fretboard material- Jatoba w/white dot inlay
  • Frets- 24
  • Scale- 864mm/34”
  • Number of strings- 4
  • Size- Full

Experts Feedback

We’re happy to say that the Ibanez SR300 is a solid upgrade on previous SR series bass models and continues the Ibanez trend of evolution and improvement year on year. The neck is one of the most enjoyable to play we’ve come across and is certainly the sleekest on a bass guitar. This makes it a great choice for pros who want to quickly run across all 24 frets and beginners after something easy to hold and work their hand around.

Considering its mid-range price point, you can get a really solid sound out of the 3 way Power Tap switch, though the tonal versatility is slightly lost when considering other selections are only slightly above adequate. Overall though it’s a worthwhile investment if you’re looking for a playable, top-brand bass that could steal the show with its looks alone.

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Ibanez SR300 Review
Overall score74%
76%Overall Score