Phil Maneri’s
BASS
LAB

This articles was published in #Issue 18 in winter 2006.

I want to serve up this bass to all the $2,000 and up makers who struggle with the fundamentals in instrument building. I often see expensive, great-sounding instruments that miss some of the simple, but essential, bedrock procedures – like a fully functioning truss rod, straight and true fret work (polished without file chatter and sanding marks), clean electronic wiring and full shielding. This bass has all that, without drawing attention to itself, and sells for $500.

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I don’t have much to complain about. Okay, yes, the hardware is just okay and the paint looks dull, but it’s a great-sounding, great-playing bass. The mahogany body, maple-and-mahogany sandwich neck and rosewood fingerboard yield a warm, fat, punchy sound. The hardware is pedestrian, but functional. The star of the show here is in the electronics. Great-sounding pickups and a versatile active circuit manage to sound way better than the price point usually does. The finish is well-applied and functional. The body is well-balanced and looks pleasing to the eye. The truss rod is double-acting and real easy to get at to adjust. It’s perfect. The bass can adjust wherever you want it, and most likely will continue to do so over time.

This bass is getting some new competition from a relatively recent brand that we are also reviewing right now, but if it wasn’t for this newcomer, the TRBX would be out all on it’s own in its price point. Put this in the short list under $1,000.

bass test
Yamaha Bass TRBX504

Yamaha TRBX504

CONFIGURATION

Strings:4
Style:Double cutaway
Overall Length:43"
Body Dimension:19" long x 12,5" wide at lower bout
Body Contouring: Heavy
Weight:8.75 lbs

NECK

Scale length:34”
Neck width at nut:1.507”
Neck width at 12th fret:2.186”
Neck width at joint:2.422”
Neck thickness at nut:.842”
Neck thickness at 1st fret:.762”
Neck thickness at 12th fret: .852”
Neck thickness at joint:.990”
String spacing at nut:.368”
String spacing at saddle:.720”
Fingerboard radius:9.5”
Descriptor for neck shape:D
Peghead break angle:12 deg
Bridge break angle:16 deg
Afterlength at nut:2” to 4 3/8”
Afterlength at saddle:1 3/8” to 1 5/8”
Attachment:Bolt-on
Pocket gap:.006”
Truss rod type/access:Dual-action / body end
Fret count:24
Fretwire:90x50

ELECTRONICS

Pickups:Yamaha HHB5n, HHB5b (Alnico V)
Pickup location(s):11 5/16", 14 3/4" from the 12th fret
Electronics:Proprietary
Controls:Volume, blend, bass, middle, treble, active/passive switch
Shielding:Paint
Preamp circuit voltage:9v

CONSTRUCTION

Body Woods:Mahogany
Neck Woods5-piece maple/mahogany
Fingerboard:Rosewood
Body Finish:Urethane
Neck Finish:Urethane

HARDWARE

Strings:D’Addario XL170 Nickel Roundwounds
Gauge:.045, .065, .080, .100
Attachment:At bridge
Bridge/color:Yamaha high mass / black chrome
Nut:Teflon
Tuners/color:Gotoh / black chrome
Knobs/color:Metal knurled dome / black chrome
Pickguard:n/a
Control cavity cover:Black plastic

GENERAL

Company:Yamaha Corporation of America
6600 Orangethorpe Ave
Buena Park, CA 90620
www.yamaha.com
County of origin:Indonesia
Warranty:Limited lifetime warranty
Price:$795 list, $499 street
Options:None
Accessories:None
Available colors:Translucent Brown, Translucent Black, Translucent White
Acquired from:Yamaha Corporation of America
Dates:Spring/Fall 2015
Locals:Ohio
Test gear:GK 700RB-II, GK Neo115/Neo210, Ampeg Micro-VR, Ampeg SVT-210AV, Michael Arnopol Soundworks MAS-66/110, Peavey MiniMega, Genzler BA12-3, Squire by Fender ‘62 Jazz Bass Reissue, Sadowsky WL-4, Pedulla Nuance 4

TEST RESULTS

1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)

In-hand

Features: 4.5
Tonal Flexibility:3.5
Ease of Use: 4.5
Aesthetics:4
Ergonomics: 5
Tone: 4
Value:5

In-hand Score 4.36average

On-bench Score 4.53average

On-bench

Overall construction4
Wood choice4
Materials choice4
Joinery4
Fretwork4
Fit and Finish of adornments4
Quality of finish work5
Ease of repair 5
Potential range of setup5
Balance on knee4
Balance on strap4
Overall electronic quality5
Solder joints, wire runs5
Clarity5
Noise5
Shielding5
Quality for Price Range5

SONIC PROFILE:

Low: Full and warm, but not muddy; supportive
Mids: Full and meaty; more low mids than high mids
Highs: Smooth and polite; can dial in some bite


TONE-O-METER:

Great passive “Yamaha” tone right out of the gate, with a supportive, vintage vibe. Active preamp allows for more options and more attack.

author avatar
Phil Maneri