The Ibanez GSR200 Full Review: definitely worth it!
There’s plenty to love about the Ibanez GSR200, which we consider to be the best bass guitar that will give you the most value for your money. The GSR200 currently sells for $200 on average – it’s not the cheapest out there but it’s certainly the best out of all the models at this price point.
It’s mighty hard to find a bass at that provides a good balance between price and performance, so we’re pretty stoked to see what the Ibanez GSR200 can offer players just starting out with a limited amount of cash. If you’re looking for a budget bass guitar that can serve you well throughout the initial phase of your musical journey, this Ibanez four-string bass would be the best one to have in your hands.
The Ibanez GSR200 is part of the GSR or Gio Soundgear series, the company’s budget line of SR basses. This range is targeted toward beginners looking for guitar models offered at an entry-level price but don’t sacrifice quality. With the GSR series, Ibanez is able to provide beginner bassists with SR quality sound at a price they can afford.
- Budget-friendly guitar for beginners
- Excellent sound quality for the price
- Lightweight and comfortable to play
- Good build with easy-to-use controls
- Tuners not that great and can feel stiff
- Fret ends can feel sharp
Build and Design
The Ibanez GSR200 has a straightforward build and design with a smooth, contoured double cutaway body. There are curves in all the right places – there’s a belly cut so that the bass sits against your body comfortably and an arm contour so that your lower arm can rest on the guitar as you play.
The shape of the bass is similar to that of the top-tier models in the Ibanez range. It’s a full-size bass guitar with a scale length of 34 inches. It’s probably not suitable for very young or small players, but then again we’ve seen kids rocking it out on full-sized guitars, so why not?
The solid body of the GSR200 is made of agathis, a tonewood commonly used for entry-level models. Agathis is similar to mahogany in sound but is considerably cheaper, which helps to keep costs down. It’s also a low-cost alternative to maple. The body wood itself is dense, offering a stable platform for the bridge and control knobs.
Agathis has a fairly balanced sound. Many players on a budget prefer agathis over other low-priced tonewoods such as basswood.
The neck is made from a single piece of maple and it’s bolted on to the body with four bolts. The neck construction spreads the weight evenly, keeps the neck stable and adds resonance.
The GSR4 neck profile is slim, allowing for fast and easy playing and adds to player comfort. The neck joint is also rounded off, which together with the double cutaway makes it easier to access the upper frets.
The width of the neck at the nut is 41mm, widening to 62mm at the last fret. The neck has a 305mm radius.
The fretboard is made of rosewood and has 22 medium frets. Medium-size pearloid dot inlays serve as position markers.
It’s important to note that some newer units have jatoba fretboards because of greater availability and import restrictions on rosewood. Ibanez is just one of the many companies that have turned to alternative tonewoods for use in their instruments, in compliance with trade regulations for the conservation of endangered wood species.
The Ibanez GSR200 headstock is black in color and sports the Ibanez logo along with the Gio and Soundgear logos. At the back of the headstock is where you’ll find the guitar’s serial number and the country of origin. The GSR200 is made in Indonesia and imported around the world.
The GSR200 has an adjustable truss rod, allowing players to adjust the neck to counteract the string tension. The truss rod (and consequently, the neck relief) is adjusted by turning the truss rod nut clockwise to tighten or counterclockwise to loosen.
The Ibanez GSR200 feels good in the hands and is comfortable to play. The agathis body makes it lightweight at only 9 pounds, so beginners can practice or just noodle with it for hours without getting themselves muscle strain in the process.
The GSR200, like other 4-string basses by Ibanez, is factory equipped with .045, .065, .085 and .105 gauge strings.
The action, however, can feel a bit high for some players, so an initial setup is recommended. The standard string height among Ibanez bass guitars at the 12th fret is 2.0mm at the treble side and 2.4mm at the bass side, but the height may change as a result of changes in temperature and humidity. It can also change when the neck is adjusted and/or when the strings are changed to a different gauge. This is why it’s necessary to readjust the action prior to playing.
A proper setup can also address issues such as sharp fret ends and fret buzz, which are common problems in mass-produced, entry-level guitar models.
The GSR200 has a solid color finish in black. Other finish options include Transparent Red, Jewel Blue, Soda Blue and Pearl White. The guitar case is sold separately.
Now let’s take a look at what the Ibanez GSR200 has in terms of hardware. Like the build, there’s nothing flashy about this bass guitar’s chrome hardware, but then again that’s not what matters here. Low-priced as the GSR200 may be, it however comes with durable hardware.
The bass guitar’s B10 bridge is a standard fixed bridge that comes with roller saddles that are fully adjustable. It’s sturdy and has small slots that hold the saddle height screws firmly in place. The bridge does well in preventing the saddles from moving sideways, keeping the tuning stable even if you play aggressively.
Adjusting the intonation is done by turning the intonation screws at the rear of the bridge. A clockwise turn moves the saddle backward and a counterclockwise turn moves it forward.
The tuners are standard, with sealed chrome machine heads, and will do perfectly for beginner use. They certainly get the job done, but like other tuners in entry-level guitars, these would probably need some upgrading down the line.
As for the control knobs, they also function as they should, but may also need to be replaced as these tend to come loose like most other plastic knobs on beginner electric guitars.
What makes the Ibanez GSR200 stand out and win as an overall budget beginner bass is its active electronics. Other models in this price range would just have a passive system built in, but not the GSR200, which boasts an active preamp as well as powerful passive pickups.
At the neck position you’ll find a Powersound P split-coil pickup and at the bridge is a Powersound J single-coil pickup. It’s a classic, tried-and-tested P/J configuration that blends the benefits of the Precision Bass-style split pickup and the Jazz Bass-style pickup. Both pickups have steel pole pieces with ceramic magnets, which are strong and deliver some fairly high mids.
The pickups deliver beefy, full tones – the neck pickup gives plenty of punch, while the bridge pickup offers those added highs. The P/J pickup configuration allows for a good range of tones and a balanced sound along with reduced hum. Some models may have the Dynamix P and J pickups installed.
The active EQ is what Ibanez calls the Phat II. The Phat II active bass boost provides additional low-end power. The active preamp runs on a 9V battery, which comes pre-installed in the guitar. You’ll never know when you’ll need a replacement though, so make sure you have a spare battery just in case.
You can still play the guitar even without the preamp/bass boost feature though. The passive pickups don’t require batteries.
For the controls, each pickup has its own volume knob. The bass also has one master tone knob and a knob for adjusting the bass boost. The controls are straightforward and easy to use. Note that since there is no master volume control, it can be tricky to adjust and balance out the volume of the two pickups while keeping the tone constant. The easiest way to maintain the tone you’ve set up is to make the volume adjustment on the amp instead.
The P/J pickup configuration captures and recreates the bass guitar sound seamlessly. The sonic output of the Ibanez GSR200 is characterized by a good mix of precision and warmth, along with an impressive low-end response. You can say it’s a versatile sound that fits well with a variety of music genres, which really makes it a great choice for beginners still exploring and developing their own voice.
The preamp with the Phat II bass boost allows for tonal variety, particularly at times when you feel the standard tone seems a bit flat. The bass boost offers an added richness to the sound, making individual notes stand out and allowing players to do some bass soloing.
All in all, the sound quality is more than decent for an electric bass in this price range. The Ibanez GSR200 is definitely a good learner bass for beginners, but this doesn’t mean pro musicians can’t take it out for a spin or use it as a backup bass for gigs and practice.
The Ibanez GSR200 may be considered a beginner model, but you’ll find that it offers more than a fantastic beginner experience. Ibanez was able to make it affordable without compromising quality, something we appreciate in electric guitars of all types, shapes and sizes.
This Gio Soundgear model is not just for serious beginners. It’s also an excellent choice for those who are not 100 percent sure they would like playing bass. It’s priced low, but it isn’t cheap in a way that it would disintegrate as you play it. It won’t give out in the middle of playing and instantly make you frustrated, certain the bass really isn’t for you. In short, the Ibanez GSR200 is the perfect model for finding out just what the bass is all about.
The GSR200 performs extremely well for a bass at its price, and for that we highly recommend this model for everyone looking for a reliable bass guitar that exceeds expectations.