Reviewed: Yamaha Broad Bass BB 234, 434 and 734
If my tinfoil hat and I didn’t know better we’d think that maybe the Yamaha Corporation, not the Rothschilds, were secretly in control of the world. They have their fingers in so many pies, from motorbikes to electronics to grand pianos, that they are the commercial equivalent of that one friend who is too good at Monopoly to play against. Far from being as dystopian as I could suspect, it seems the whole company is run on the steam of thousands of good ideas. As instrument manufacturers their reputation precedes them; they are one of the handful of builders responsible for the infamous ‘lawsuit’ era of competitive guitar making that kept the big guys on their toes in the '70s. Since then they’ve marched through the decades with a wry grin and a quintessential industriousness as their banner. Add to that foundation a generous dollop of playability and low-end freedom and you have pretty much described Yamaha's new Broad Bass series of four and five string behemoths.
FENDER AMERICAN PROFESSIONAL JAZZ BASS
Tried and trusted, Fender’s Jazz Bass is a living classic. From the outset its brighter tone, richer midrange and more prominent treble made it a much-loved point of difference to the Precision Bass, and an embraced constant in the ever-changing Fender range. It’s a bass guitar with style, with pizzazz, with oomph and versatility thanks to a couple of well-refined single coil pickups, added controls and a sleek offset body. Like any proven formula, it’s something that you don’t want to mess with too drastically, otherwise risk muddying the sonic personality and the aesthetic appeal of the instrument. With every new iteration of the bass model, it always begs the question: what can Fender do that hasn’t been done before? And after that, what is the impact of these changes and/or additions? With the release of the new American Professional Jazz Bass accompanied by a bunch of new features, it’s time to once again answer these pertinent questions.
Ernie Ball Music Man Cutlass Bass
As the eldest sibling in a reasonably large litter, it has always been my job to bear the focus of my parents as they set off on the first lap of the child-rearing racetrack.
Ernie Ball Music Man 40th Anniversary “Old Smoothie” StingRay Bass
Picture this: the year is 1976. You’re sitting in a sunken lounge lined with shag pile carpeting listening to your brand new copy of Frampton Comes Alive or Songs In The Key Of Life, reading about the dissolution of the Viet Cong. Everybody has been talking about this raucous new wave of bands they’re calling ‘punks’; The Ramones have just put out their first 12”, some ugly English kids calling themselves The Sex Pistols have played two shows to less than fifty people (many of whom would go on to change the world themselves) and it all sounds like the second coming of rock and roll Jesus. You swap the newspaper for a catalogue from your local music store and nestled somewhere around the forth or fifth page is the brand new StingRay Bass. Little do you know the lasting effect just about every detail of that situation is to have on the next forty years!
Guild Starfire Bass Guitar
Sometimes in this job you have what I’ve come to refer to as a ‘Pulp Fiction’ moment. You get a call from the Editor to go and pick up a couple of bits and pieces for the next issue. You’re greeted with an imposing, black tolex case that sits quietly in the back seat all the way home. You lay it out on the table, flick open the latches and your face is bathed in the golden glow of something truly magical. This is exactly what happened to me with the Wine Red Guild Starfire Bass.
Yamaha TRBX204 Bass Guitar
Before getting into this review, it’s worth pointing out that in 20 years of playing in bands, working in music stores, writing for magazines and working with gear companies, this writer has never come across a bad anything from Yamaha. Their quality control and construction standards have never been anything less than gosh- darn impressive, whether you’re talking about an entry level acoustic guitar, or a top-of-the-line Billy Sheehan Attitude Bass. So you know that when it says Yamaha on the headstock it’s going to be reliable. So what’s this particular instrument, the TRBX204, all about?
Diamond Hailfire SM 15 Bass Guitar
It’s always a good day when a Diamond guitar visits for review, but this is the first Diamond bass to drift into my claws. The Hailfire SM 15 Bass is very similar in looks to the guitar version of the Hailfire we reviewed a little while ago (maybe you’re in a Diamond-playing ZZ Top tribute band and you want your guitar and bass to look the same?) but with all sorts of bassy touches.
MUSICMAN STRINGRAY 5 THROUGH NECK BASS
The Stingray is a not only a MusicMan classic but a classic of the bass community as a whole. Used by players such as Flea, Louis Johnson, John Deacon and Tony Levin, its sound has defined many albums and gigs with its punchy tone and playability making it a favourite amongst pros and weekend warriors alike. Whilst Neck Through is a newish innovation for the Stingray, it is an even newer idea for their five string model, (initially being offered on the four string versions) with this slim heeled fiver being unveiled earlier in the year to much interest from bass playing pundits.