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AC­TIVE, PAS­SIVE, TRA­DI­TIONAL, MODERN... YAMAHA AIMS TO BE A LIT­TLE OF EV­ERY­THING AND A WHOLE LOT OF PLAYABLE WITH THE TRBX605 BASS. WORDS BY PETER HODG­SON.

Australian Guitar - - Contents -

Yamaha just doesn’t make bad gear. Their qual­ity con­trol is fa­mously con­sis­tent, to the point of gen­er­at­ing envy among most other gui­tar com­pa­nies. The TRBX605 is, of course, part of the long line of TRB basses – a se­ries which be­gan in the late ‘ 80s as a six-string bass with a low B and high C, at a time when such in­stru­ments were rare.

The line has re­mained one of the bass world’s most de­sired and re­li­able, and since those glory days of the late ‘ 80s, the TRB has been con­tin­u­ally re­fined and reimag­ined, not only in its orig­i­nal six-string con­fig­u­ra­tion, but also as four-and five-string in­stru­ments (the one we’re look­ing at today is a five-string bass).

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The TRBX605 has a sculpted alder and maple lam­i­nated body with a mass-op­ti­mised 3D design, which not only nails the per­fect bal­ance of com­fort and tone, but also weight dis­tri­bu­tion. And, as an added bonus, the car ving looks su­per cool, al­most cre­at­ing the im­pres­sion of an arch­top in­stru­ment, but with­out the steeper neck an­gle that an arch­top would re­quire.

The same at­ten­tion is paid to the neck , which is a five-piece maple and ma­hogany lam­i­nate with the slimmest neck pro­file Yamaha of­fers. The bolt-on neck joint is clearly man­u­fac­tured within very strict tol­er­ances, with a nice, snug fit and max­i­mum vi­bra­tion trans­fer, while also be­ing carved for great up­per-fret ac­cess – a design func­tion that you might not guess from look­ing at the gui­tar front-on where the neck joint looks like it might get in the way of those higher notes.

The nut is 43 mil­lime­tres wide, and there’s a nice and straight string-pull from the nut to the tuners to im­prove tun­ing sta­bil­ity and re­duce weird over­tones.

Hard­ware in­cludes a high-mass, die-cast bridge de­signed to ef­fi­ciently trans­fer string vi­bra­tion en­ergy to the body, with 18-mil­lime­tre string spac­ing suit­able for a wide va­ri­ety of tech­niques – es­pe­cially slap and fin­ger styles. Yamaha uses high-qual­ity gold-plated parts for in­creased con­duc­tiv­ity at key sig­nal chain con­tacts, and there’s a low-bat­tery-warn­ing LED built into the back panel, so you’ll know at a glance when it’s time to change bat­ter­ies (in­stead of find­ing out when your bass cuts out in the mid­dle of a gig ).

This is all good stuff in its own right, but Yamaha has paid ex­tra spe­cial at­ten­tion to the elec­tron­ics on­board the TRBX605. At the heart of this bass is a duo of YGF H5 hum­buck­ing pick­ups with Al­nico mag­nets (which don’t sound as com­pressed as ce­ramic mag­nets) and a quad-pole design to fo­cus each pickup’s mag­netic field.

The pick­ups are paired with an au­dio­phile-grade ac­tive/pas­sive cir­cuit for fine tonal con­trol and ex­treme flex­i­bil­ity, of­fer­ing level-matched out­put whether the bass is in pas­sive or ac­tive mode.

Herein lies a very clever design twist that Yamaha have snuck in: in its ac tive mode, the tone con­trols cover bass, mid­dle and treble – but when you switch over to the pas­sive mode, what was pre­vi­ously the treble con­trol turns into a pas­sive master tone knob. It’s a very use­ful lit­tle fea­ture, if we may say so our­selves.

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