5 Yamaha Boulevard

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Posted by Mickster on June 28, 2001 at 16:58:49:

Hey gang, after much shopping and searching, I finally bought a 5 string. It's a Yamaha BBN5II. This thing is a real sleeper, and not that expensive. I was minutes away from asking the salesguy in Sam Ash to bring up an Ibanez BTB405QM, which I had checked out 3 times in the past month and a half when I thought to myself, "why don't you check out a few more basses before you *get married* to the Ibanez?" I'm glad I did. The Ibanez is an unbelievable instrument, and I recommend it highly (it's still on my list) but, when I plugged in this Yamaha, it was love at first listen. Let me give you all a quick review, again in Bass Player Mag's format; everything's rated 1 to 5 with 5 being the best.

Construction: 4.5 This bass has an alder body, maple neck w/rosewood board. It's dimensions and feel are very Fender like. The body has a light sealer on it, not like the almost laminated feel some basses have. The neck joint is very tight, and the overall workmanship is high. The fretwork is good, but the thing that impresses me a lot are the machine heads. They're about half the size of the ones on my MIM Jazz, and are secured with a nut, a thing the Fender lacks.
Very smooth too.

Electronics: 4 This bass is the succesor to the BB5N. It has two big humbuckers in the usual Jazz bass positions(the BB5N had single coils) and the same control setup: Two volume and one tone. The pots though are just as annoying as the ones on my MIM Jazz; instead of smoothly increasing tone or volume from 1 to 10, they come on abruptly between 7 - 10. What can you do? This is it's worst point. The pickups though are "Studying in the Library quiet," something I can not say about the pups on my MIM.

Playability: 5 This bass just feels good in your hands. It feels very much like a 5 string Fender Jazz, with wide string spacing at the bridge, then narrowing down to medium spacing at the nut. Unless you demand very wide spacing at the nut(like a Musicman or BTB) this shouldn't bother you. It has a
two octave neck, and access to all 24 frets is easy. The body and headstock are both slightly smaller than a Fender, and this bass balances well sitting or standing. The action out of the box is lower than I like, but there are no buzzing frets. If you like to slap, there's just enough room between the end of the fingerboard and the neck pickup.

Sound: 5 If you like a growly Jazz Bass sound with very strong low mids, you won't believe this bass. The sound this bass puts out to me, is EXACTLY the Jazz type sound I love. These pups have high output and the sound I've heard in some hot rodded basses. A lot of people replace the pups in their Jazzes to get this sound, but, Yamaha must have been listening to someone because it's here in a stock moderately priced bass.

Value: 5 O.K. you should remember this is all my opinion, but if you're looking for a bass that sounds almost more like a Fender than a Fender, and doesn't need any upgrading, you really should check this one out. I had my heart and mind set on that Ibanez BTB, and this thing changed my mind in 5 minutes, and I'm not easy to sway. I'm not knocking Fenders at all(I own a MIM) but so far I'm happier with the Yamaha. And at $479.00 w/case, how can you go wrong? I've heard some people say that Yamahas are good instruments, but, these were drastic understatements. If you get a chance, check this one out. For a passive no frills bass, it will knock you over.


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