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When the term “tonewood” gets thrown around, the price of an instrument usually increases, especially with basses. Thankfully, Yamaha’s got the ability to bring a bass to market with high-end materials and construction techniques for under $600.
The body of the TRBX604 (man, we wish more companies would just adopt simple model names) is quite ergonomic, and very comfortable played either seated or standing, with very great overall balance. The alder body has a gorgeous flame maple top, and the carving technique shows off the trend of exposing the layers in a very cool way where the contours meet. The bolt on neck is a 5-piece lamination of maple, with two pieces of mahogany running down the length, and is capped off with a rosewood fingerboard. Offset markers sit between the E and A strings, in a very modern way. The headstock is very classy, with a matching flame maple veneer, and only Yamaha’s tuning fork logo denoting the brand. It’s slick and very understated.
The bridge is a high-mass style, but isn’t encumbered in a huge casting, and finished off in a black chrome finish, as are the sealed-back tuning keys. Out of the box, it played very well, with excellent action. The frets are very well dressed and polished, there are 24 of them, and the body’s cutaway and neck joint allow easy access to the upper registers. The neck’s feel is super comfortable with a great shape that’s right down the middle, not too think or too clunky. It’s the Goldilocks zone: just right. Digging in and wrapping your hand down in 3rd position, pumping a G and then sliding into some bass lines that need to have the thumb down the centerline of the neck, there’s no odd shifting around to find comfort or definite anchoring.
On the electronics side, the pickups have pole pieces galore! Four per string in fact, and they’re connected to a really great sounding preamp. It can be used in active or passive mode, with the active 3-band EQ giving the player the ability to cut or boost the treble, mids and bass. The pickup blend control works very nicely and provides smooth transitions between the treble and neck pickup. As mentioned, it can also be used in passive mode, but the only EQ option in that setting turns the treble knob into an overall master tone. In both active and passive modes, it’s got tons of great tonal combination.
In passive mode the output is a little darker, but not in a bad way; think old R&B smoothness. The active mode seems more modern, even with the EQ set flat, and the pickups balanced in the middle. The really cool thing is when the EQ is maxed out at either end of the spectrum, it’s still usable. The 9v battery compartment is located on the rear, and the electronics control plate has a LED to indicate when it’s time for a new battery. More of this in the industry, please!
Overall it doesn’t feel like it’s held back by anything. It’s a wide open palette; set the EQ, and its slap and pop time, roll it back and go into passive mode for a vintage roundness and warmth. Players who like to sit back in the mix, especially live, can find their sweet spot without getting consumed by the bass drum, or stepping into the range of the guitars and keys. Plugging it in direct, and again, no issues, and the EQ doesn’t bring in any noise, hiss or wooofyness, even at max settings.
Forget the unique construction, the flexible electronics package — just pick it up, hit that low E and everything feels simple and easy, no fighting with it to get to the sounds you’re looking for, or having to find the right feel. Yamaha made it easy to sound and play great, and the modern look is more than just icing on the cake. No muss, no fuss, just great bass.
Well made, great playing, great sounding, great price, great value. Did we mention “great”?