yamaha bass with a hard case

Yamaha basses, basic and signature series

The iconic Yamaha brand is associated with a wide range of products, including musical instruments, fancy motorcycles, computers, speaker systems and even golf clubs. The company has also developed its own music education program. It is suitable for all ages and helps to use its products competently. 

But our area of particular interest today is Yamaha bass guitars. 

Having released its first bass in 1966, the company has closely followed the developing trends in the musical world, and subsequently, the creators of the instruments have met the expectations of consumers and often anticipated them.

Let’s start with the rather large Yamaha TRBX family

yamaha bass trbx

There are many instruments, each interesting in its own way. The choice may depend on the genre in which the musician works, the preferred technique of playing and the allowable cost.

A budget option is Yamaha 200 series bass guitars

  • The body is alder, the fingerboard is maple. Bolt-on mounting, as with other models of the series.
  • Four strings.
  • Decreasing the price of the model by covering the body with polyester. This material is strong and durable, but is more toxic than polyurethane. 
  • The bridge pickup, a single, gives a clean, natural sound. It’s great for solo parts and doesn’t get lost in the mix with other instruments. On the downside, it tends to pick up background noise. This is compensated for by the second cartridge – a split cartridge, which dampens unnecessary noise and gives a deeper sound.
  • The ceramic magnet gives rich, heavy bass.
  • The active two-band EQ allows you to adjust the treble and bass strength on the bass body itself.

300 Series

  • Mahogany body. 5-band maple and mahogany fingerboard with bolts.
  • 4 or 5 strings.
  • The bridge is injection-molded, easy to tune, reliable, clearly transmits the vibrations of the strings to the body – in this and subsequent models.
  • Coating is glossy polyurethane, as in the following models.
  • Sound pickups – two coils, dampening the interference of each other and giving a deep, volumetric, low sound. Good for heavy styles of music. The coils have a thumb rest for easy playing.
  • In addition to the two-band EQ, Yamaha specialists developed an active Yamaha Perfomance EQ circuit specifically for this model. It features five adjustable EQ curves. A toggle switch provides instant access to preset tones.

500 Series

  • Massive mahogany body. 5-band maple and mahogany glued fingerboard with 4 bolts.
  • 4 or 5 strings.
  • Double coil pickups are designed for both active and passive modes.
  • Alnico V magnets giving a tight and stable midrange.
  • Three-band equalizer (treble, midrange and bass), volume, balancer, mode switch.
  • The enclosure is equipped with an LED sensor to alert you when the battery is low.

Improvements in the 600 Series TRBX

  • Two types of wood – alder and maple – make the body lighter.
  • For those who care about the appearance of the guitar, Yamaha offers a choice of coatings: glossy, matte or satin polyurethane.

Yamaha TRB bass guitars

Much the same structure as the latest TRBX models. The same “layered” body and neck structure, the same three-band equalizer and battery charge sensor. The main difference is the bass is very convenient for solo and jazz parts.

  • The fingerboard is longer – 24 fretted pads.
  • Sound pickups – single coils with Humcanceled noise reduction with Alnico V magnets.
  • Only active control circuitry that allows you to change the sound characteristics with the built-in preamplifier.

Speaking of this Yamaha series of basses, we can’t help but mention the Yamaha TRB JP2. This signature model, created with the help of legendary jazz bassist John Patitucci, was designed in 1994.

  • Super long fingerboard (26 fret), 6 strings.
  • Four-layer body (maple, ash, alder and maple). The resonance properties of these woods give the instrument a unique timbre.
  • Special notch in the body of the bass for easy slap playing.
  • Noise cancelling dual coil pickups that give you a clean sound even when you play chords.
  • And, the cherry on top of the cake, white mother-of-pearl pickups.
Yamaha TRB JP2 (video)

Bass players note the rich, velvety sound and the ability to convey subtle nuances when playing.

Yamaha BB Bass Guitars

yamaha broad bass series
  • Three-layer alder/wood maple/alder body lightens the weight of the instrument and resonates with mid-range frequencies.
  • The fingerboard is attached to the body with 6 bolts. This reliable attachment integrates the neck and body in a single structure, improves the tone and increases the sustain.
  • Strings are fed through the body at a 45 degree angle to reduce the tension.
  • The bridge has adjustable saddles. Thanks to it the angle of tension of a string and its sound changes.
  • Sound pickups: The split fingerboard and bridge single are custom picked for each model and provide a unique sound in passive mode.

Nathan East, in cooperation with Yamaha, created a unique 5-string Yamaha BBNE bass and made his own additions to the classic model.

nathan east yamaha bass
  • Five-layer through-board fingerboard, in maple and alder body.  
  • Humbuckers Alnico V.
  • Bridge with separate saddles for each string. To reduce the influence of string vibrations on each other.
  • Active electronics. One-touch midrange cutoff.
  • And again, pearl picksups and fingerboard markers.

Nathan East is one of the most recorded and richest bassists along with Paul McCartney. He is a winner of Grammy and other prestigious awards. As a bassist, producer and songwriter, Nathan has collaborated with many leading artists such as Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Elton John, B.B. King, George Harrison, Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Justin Timberlake, and even Daft Punk.

nathan east

Nathan East has been a Yamaha artist for over three decades and remains one of the most sought-after musicians in the world. He also plays on a Yamaha SLB200 silent contrabass, which was made exclusively for him.

Yamaha Attitude Billy Sheehan

However, the first musician to create a signature bass guitar model with Yamaha was Billy Sheehan in 1990.

The musician took part in every step of the instrument’s development. He named the guitar “Wife” and never parted with his “soulmate”. The unique Yamaha Attitude series has already celebrated its 30th anniversary and is back in 30 copies with minor changes and an impressive price tag of $7,000. 

The Attitude boasts the following features:

  • Separate treble and bass outputs from different pickups. As a result, sound waves do not distort each other. Stereo and mono modes are available.
  • Three-piece body with a slotted joint. The neck is bolted to the body at an angle. This sturdy construction increases resonance from string vibrations.
  • D-tuner for playing in a lower tunings.
  • The characteristic feature of the Billy Sheehan model is the scalloped frets from the 17th to the 22nd. Anyone familiar with the musician’s playing technique will know that it’s a bit tight on a standard fingerboard. 

“I made them with a screwdriver instead of a chisel. I didn’t measure anything. I didn’t know what I was doing”.

Billy recalls his experiments

What do bass players look for when they’re picking an instrument? The number of strings? Active or passive electronics? Type of wood? Price tag? Size and appearance? As we’ve seen, Yamaha has a bass to suit any style of playing and any genre of music.

Choosing a musical instrument is an important step for a true musician. With a bass guitar, you will have to work side by side and live soul to soul. Billy Sheehan calls his bass no more, no less – “The Wife”. What can you say, high relationship!

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