Yamaha BB235 review
Not a lot of reviews around, decided to write one. I am new here, don’t know if there is a better sub-forum for this.
This is my first 5-string bass. Never even played one before, so can only compare to 4-string ones. Took a risk, ordered it unseen, but I trust Yamaha - have played and liked their basses, guitars, synths, amps and so on. Chose the cheaper model instead of BB435 because didn’t feel like paying almost double the price for an instrument I might not find any use for (and liked the BB235 finish options more). No used basses available where I live either. Also considered an even cheaper Ibanez TMB105 as an alternative but decided to go with Yamaha. Ordered from Thomann, arrived in 5 days.
First impressions: very well packaged. Vintage White with black headstock & pickguard looks much better than in pics (it is my first white bass ever).
Maple neck has nice flames, extremely thin matte finish, rosewood fingerboard looks good, it’s dark (maybe dyed?) with even grain. Neck seems almost perfectly flatsawn, don’t expect it to be warping easily. Very good!
Surprisingly light weight, less than my BB1200S. Construction seems fine.
Very comfortable neck profile: similar C-shape to BB1200S, not as thick and slightly flatter radius. Close enough to feel familiar immediately.
Set-up is adequate: strings had been loosened for transit, after tuning up neck stayed straight with minimal relief (0.3 mm or so). Excellent! String height quite optimal, intonation good enough, nut seems cut just right. There was no need for retuning in the first half an hour of playing. Tightened the neck, bridge and tuner screws before tuning up, a few were slightly loose.
How does it sound? Played at home (Zoom MS-100BT SVT model to home stereo with cheap subwoofer, some AKG headphones) I’m surprised. It sounds perfectly usable as is. Pickup balance seems well adjusted, so is string-to-string balance. No need to adjust anything. The factory strings sound clear, deep and balanced, they hold their tuning quite well.
Negatives? Of course. After half an hour of so, the smell of the strings started bothering me. Hard to describe, but I can’t stand it. They also coloured my fingertips black. Anyway, those strings performed better than I was expecting, as I was prepared to change them right away. Got an evening of play time off them, fair enough.
Scratchy pots, all of them. They work smoothly, but all three have scratchy noise when adjusted. Poor quality? Probably. But what to expect, I’ve changed pots on instruments costing three times more. Might try cleaning them first, see if it helps. Might be dust or something in the control cavity. Or, maybe the cavity shielding leaves something to be desired. I’ll find out later.
Close inspection of the body, its countours and finish reveals little surprises. The contouring is functional, if not exceptionally pretty. The paintjob is fine until very close inspection, which reveals some imperfections. Jackplate is plastic, so not the most durable. The output jack nut was slightly loose out of the box. Nothing serious.
The 235 is new and shiny and I’ve owned it for less than 24 hours now. I’m quite happy with it. String change next, some more playing at home, then in a few days I’ll take the bass to my studio to test it with a Darkglass/Ampeg rig. More to follow.
Btw, sorry for the autocorrect. There may be some inexplicable mistakes because my IPad insists on translating everything to Finnish as i type.
Part two: new strings & findings
I had a 5-string set of D’Addario Chromes ready. What happened: the .132 low B string end wrappings did not fit through the bridge! Not happy to do any major modifications on the bridge, yet. Four local music shops later no 5-string flatwound sets anywhere. Returned home with Dunlop Nickel Wound 45-125s. They are fine, much better than factory strings. No smell, no dirty fingers. Intonation needed adjustment - the bridge works and seems stable enough. Still want them flatwounds, though!
Control cavity has no shielding whatsoever, I doubt the pickup cavities are any better. Pots are made by Alpha, so the quality is ok. Pot noise must be a grounding/shielding thing. Some Copper Tape Magic needed.
More to follow in a few days, after some testing at proper volume levels.
Part three: more volume & finally flats
So, took the BB235 to my studio to play it through Darkglass M900 & Ampeg 1x15. Everything seems ok: it holds its tuning and sounds perfectly usable as is. With 45-125 Dunlop Nickel Rounds at a loud level, the imbalance of non-reverse P pickup feels a bit irritating: G and D strings sound unnecessarily bright, the lower strings slightly out of focus. Nothing wrong with that, just one of the reasons why I prefer reverse P configuration.
No surprises, the BB235 really is a solid instrument and performs quite well. As noticed earlier, the finish on the back of the neck feels extremely thin, almost non-existent, and either it isn’t perfectly sanded or, playing the neck makes moisture off my hands lift the wood grain just very slightly. Whichever it is, I think the feel could get better with some extremely fine grade steel wool and suitable oil or polish.
Yesterday I finally got a set of Dunlop Stainless Flats (45-125). Did not have much time to play the bass after changing strings, but I liked the feel and sound already much better than the roundwounds. Minimal adjustments were needed, trussrod was fine with 1/8 of a turn, couple strings needed their intonation checked.
More analysis and final verdict to follow, in a week or two. Maybe better pics too.