Testament Bassist Explains What He Loves About Ibanez, Recalls How He Started Using Their Basses

Metal bass virtuoso Steve Di Giorgio, best known for his work with thrash metal titans Testament, explained why he loves playing Ibanez basses and why he loves collaborating with the company.

Of course, Steve has used other brands as well, but Ibanez seems to be his preferred one now, and he even has a signature model with them, the five-string SDGB1. In an interview with For Bass Players Only, the Testament bassist reflected on how the decision came to be. As it turns out, the love for Ibanez comes from one of his jazz fusion influences (transcribed by Killer Guitar Rigs):

“I always liked the sound of Ibanez because Gary Willis [of Tribal Tech] was one of my main [influences]. My ears pulse with Gary Willis. For years, I just would listen to that.”

“I love that sound of his playing, but every time I would pick up the Ibanez that he plays, it was tiny to me. He’s a smaller guy, so the bass was made for him, and I realized that I was way too big to play this instrument.”

Interview with Testament bassist Steve Di Giorgio

But despite thinking that “Ibanez wasn’t for me” due to these reasons, Steve actually came back to it, kind of by accident.

“Years later, they came out with a newer model,” Steve recalled. “It had a big giant fat body on it, longer neck, and everything fit a big giant like me. That was the BTB model.”

By an unfortunate set of circumstances, he actually got the chance to try one of these out:

“Exactly at this time of realization this model was around, we were on tour with a German techno thrash band called Obscura. Our instruments got stuck in an airport in Russia when we landed in Brussels.”

Steve Di Giorgio Signature Bass SDGB1 | Ibanez

“The local promoter in Belgium went out and rented a bunch of basses and guitars and stuff for us to use for the show, but everything he threw my way was a piece of junk.”

“So I had to break down and ask the bassist for the support band [Obscura’s Linus Klausenitzer] if I could borrow his Ibanez for the show, and he graciously allowed me to use this fretless Ibanez BTB.”

As Steve recalled, his bandmates were blown away by it. On top of it, the instrument felt really good in his hands. He continued:

“And of course, everybody in the band is looking at me, going, ‘You sound better.’ The sound man after the show, ‘Oh, you sound better. That’s your sound.’ And I told my bass tech, ‘You know what was weird about the whole thing? It felt like my bass in my hand.'”

“I didn’t have to get used to anything. There was no learning curve. This bass felt completely natural to me, just the way it was built — it was perfect.”

After that, Steve got in touch with Ibanez through Obscura’s Linus Klausenitzer for BTB models.

“They were customizing them for me,” Di Giorgio said. “They modify them by ripping the frets out. I have a few threaded models — I still play threaded bass, especially with Testament. It’s a switch-off, threaded and fretless combined — so I have some completely stock models and some modified models that are all de-threaded.”

Ibanez BTB625EX IronLabel | Steve Di Giorgio

According to Steve, these modifications were important for him. But it all panned out in the end and he liked what he got. The bassist added:

“But the point was, they never made a factory-fretless BTB, so finally, with all these modified versions, they obviously realized that I had found a home, and I realized I didn’t want to try out anything else.”

“So it was a big reward last year when they hit me up to make a signature model,” Steve said of his SDGB1 bass. “It just came out last November. And that’s when I saw you at NAMM in January — I was there doing my in-person FaceTime and representing the launch of this signature model.”

“So it’s almost the complete BTB model — like I liked — but it comes stock out of the box fretless, and it’s got a modified EQ system where it has a huge sweepable mid-range section.

Microtubes B7Kv2: "Overactive Imagination" (Death) by Steve Di Giorgio

Going into more detail, he also explained some of the reasons why he requested these modifications:

“I told the guys, ‘That’s very important for fretless bass players to have control of the mid-range because that’s where you get a lot of the vocal quality of that more fretless-y sounds.’

“So there it is, that’s what I’m playing. I’ve been with Ibanez for years, and now I got my own bass with my own name on it, and its every little detail is down to my specific likings.”

Microtubes B7Kv2: "Children of the Next Level" by Steve Di Giorgio

At the end of the day, it’s important that Steve is impressed by the support he got from Ibanez and the great collaboration he has with the company. Discussing this professional relationship, he said:

“It’s a great company to be affiliated with. I’m glad that they’re more than just supplying gear — they’re supplying a lot of support, and they really get behind their artists. That trickles down to their customer care as well.”

“I know it sounds like a damn commercial, but it’s just the way it is. They’re awesome. I love it that they have tons of great products. The amp heads are beautiful and powerful, and they make a shit-ton of effects pedals — everything you need.”

Steve Di Giorgio bass playthrough | GONE IN APRIL, As Hope Welcomes Death

Photo: Frank Schwichtenberg (Testament – Elbriot 2016 12)

  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at Ultimate-Guitar.com, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor and brands like Sam Ash.