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NBD: TRBX goodness


Iron1
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Gonna preface this by saying I'm a singer turned singer/rhythm guitar playing songwriter by trade. So, I know a great bass when I see one, but don't have need for a great one like many of you own.

I owned a 2004-ish Ibanez GSR200 and was always wowed at how nice it was for a cheap bass. Had legit bass player friends play it and have get same reaction. Then, a few years ago I decided I needed a 5 string to accompany riffs written on 7 string guitars. So, I got a 1990 Fender HM from Guitar Center and was really excited as a buddy of mine who is a phenomenal bass player has had one since he bought it new and it's incredible. Well, the one from GC showed up and it was fairly well ruined. Took it to a buddy who builds high-end custom guitars and he messed with it for days, then advised me to sell it. :lol: So, away it went. Then I got an Ibanez SR305 I loved, but my brother passed away unexpectedly last October and I inherited his Ibanez EXB445, so I sold the SR305. After awhile of jamming on the 445, it's years of use & abuse made me year for another new bass, so that's where this story begins. 

After going down the entry-level bass rabbit hole, I kept finding people raving about the TRBX174 series. Bass players better than I could ever hope to be thinking it was as good, if not better than a lot of basses that cost 3, 4, 5x as much. I'd narrowed my search down to another GSR200, a Jackson Spectra or one of these. So I went down to one of the local Guitar Centers and played a GSR and a Spectra and since I couldn't find a TRBX anywhere, I settled on the Spectra.

Well, GC had them on sale for Memorial Day weekend, but I was a day late on that deal. So, I called, figuring they would honor that price anyway cause they need to sell stuff. The guy who answered the phone was a giant customer service fail and made it out like I was lying about the thing being on sale... like, seriously, you work there and don't know what your sale that just ended was? And, instead of trying to find out you question a customer's honesty? fosters off. 

Then I googled Guitar Stores Near Me (we just moved to this area a few months ago) and found a cool mom & pop shop about 20 minutes away. And, they had six TRBX174s in stock. I hoped in the car on my lunch break, drove over, played all 6 of them and thankfully the blue one, which is what I wanted, was the nicest of the bunch. But, it wasn't like the Jackson entry-level stuff I'm used to, where there's a huge variation in quality control. If I'd bought any of the TRBXs, I'd have been happy.

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The body is heavy enough to feel good, but not so heavy as to wear you out playing it. Surprised me that it's definitely heavier than my 5-string Ibanez. It feels really solid. The Spectra felt very lightweight in comparison.

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Neck is fast, straight and smooth. The action was a bit high, so I lowered it ever so slightly.

Not really loving the pickups, so I'm going to replace those pretty quickly. Most likely with a set of Entwistle neodymium P/Js thanks to several awesome peeps on these here forums. 

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The bridge is just sad. Literally looks like someone bent a piece of chrome dipped sheet metal and slapped some saddles on it. But, I can get a Hipshot replacement for $50-60 so no big deal. Any recommendations for a better option are certainly welcome! 

Tuners are nice, but apparently Yamaha has adjustable tension ones on the TRBX304, so I might look at getting a set of those down the road when these ones start to wear. Same with the bridge, if you have a great recommendation, I'd love to hear it. 

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Not sure I love the tone I dialed in at first, and probably need to knob fiddle a bit more with it, but the bass is so much fun to play I lost interest in tone chasing and just jammed.

 

Edited by Iron1
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I like Yamaha basses I have an RBX 5 string and it is awesome. I have gone down the route of upgrading everything on a bass and, IMHO the bridge is that last thing I would change.Those BOBT bridges are more than good enough and often the "high mass" AKA heavy bridges actually add nothing to the tone.

Edited by Chienmortbb
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5 minutes ago, Ricky Rioli said:

The specs for the TRBX range, if anyone else apart from me finds such things endlessly fascinating 

Oh, cool. Yeah, I geek on stuff like that too... does nothing for my playing/writing, but is still fun. Thx! 

2 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

I like Yamaha basses I have an RBX 5 string and it is awesome. I have gone down the route of upgrading everything on a bass and, IMHO the bridge is that last thing I would change.Those BOBT bridges are more than good enough and often the "high mass" AKA heavy bridges actually add nothing to the tone.

That's good to know. My two concerns are tuning stability (like the saddles slowly dropping which happens on the newer, less expensive Ibanez ones), and tone: does a thicker, more formidable bridge transfer more tone to the body? 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Iron1 said:

That's good to know. My two concerns are tuning stability (like the saddles slowly dropping which happens on the newer, less expensive Ibanez ones), and tone: does a thicker, more formidable bridge transfer more tone to the body? 

It depends on who you ask, however the biggest chnage with bridges is, as far as I know, the amount of sustain. Again as far as I know, Brass saddles give the best sustain and so the best upgrade for the bridge may be a Wilkinson. High mass may well work against sustain but then most times I am muting in some way, to reduce sustain, so sustain may not be desired in some applications.

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Good to hear positive reports about the RBX range. I did a couple of trades recently with a fella who bought one for Reggae - he wasn't happy. I suggested changing the strings - he believed the strings were SS but wasn't aware they are probably the brightest option (except maybe the EBS Titanium).

Haven't spoken to him for a few weeks to see if his opinion has changed.

Glad you're happy - there are lots of Yamaha fans here.

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53 minutes ago, Chienmortbb said:

It depends on who you ask, however the biggest chnage with bridges is, as far as I know, the amount of sustain. Again as far as I know, Brass saddles give the best sustain and so the best upgrade for the bridge may be a Wilkinson. High mass may well work against sustain but then most times I am muting in some way, to reduce sustain, so sustain may not be desired in some applications.

When I'm bored, I'll check out the Wilkinson bridges, but good to know it's not a pressing issue. Thx! 

37 minutes ago, TheGreek said:

Good to hear positive reports about the RBX range. I did a couple of trades recently with a fella who bought one for Reggae - he wasn't happy. I suggested changing the strings - he believed the strings were SS but wasn't aware they are probably the brightest option (except maybe the EBS Titanium).

Haven't spoken to him for a few weeks to see if his opinion has changed.

Glad you're happy - there are lots of Yamaha fans here.

I can't speak to how they play for reggae, but this one does fast metal very, very well. Hopefully he's come around to loving it. 

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You just can't go wrong with a Yamaha. Never played a bad one, always well made.

@Chienmortbb brass saddles are the worst for sustain, because brass is a softer metal than your standard steel saddles, so absorbs vibrations more, meaning they deaden the sound. If you want sustain get a bone nut and high mass bridge. 😀

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Agree with @hooky_lowdown - Yamaha make really decent basses and incredible price points. The think I've found (having owned a few over the years) is that they seem to have nailed down the quality control really well, so the general build fit & finish is usually good. I have found them sometimes to be a bit on the heavy side.

One of my very early basses was a Yamaha TRB5 (first series) and I thought the bridge on that was brass (I may be wrong) and the sustain was excellent. The only thing often found on them was not so great jack inputs, easily fixed by switching to a better quality component.

So have you swapped rhythm guitar for good and come over to the dark side? If you have, just be aware that you will never appear in any music videos !!!! 😂😂 We are invisible !!

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1 hour ago, Risk101 said:

Agree with @hooky_lowdown - Yamaha make really decent basses and incredible price points. The think I've found (having owned a few over the years) is that they seem to have nailed down the quality control really well, so the general build fit & finish is usually good. I have found them sometimes to be a bit on the heavy side.

One of my very early basses was a Yamaha TRB5 (first series) and I thought the bridge on that was brass (I may be wrong) and the sustain was excellent. The only thing often found on them was not so great jack inputs, easily fixed by switching to a better quality component.

So have you swapped rhythm guitar for good and come over to the dark side? If you have, just be aware that you will never appear in any music videos !!!! 😂😂 We are invisible !!

Definitely very impressed with the build quality, like ya said. Good stuff. 

And, I use it for songwriting. My days of stage and such are in the past. I did the whole signed/studio/tour and such back in the 90s. Nowadays I just play and write songs to keep my sanity. Funny thing is that I wanted to play bass for my first band back in high school, but they already had a bass player who convinced me to be the singer... then the band immediately fell apart but I kept singing... I was playing bass the last time I got on stage, though... so maybe that counts? :lol: 

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6 hours ago, Iron1 said:

tone: does a thicker, more formidable bridge transfer more tone to the body? 

If you mean sustain, I'd say No 😃

 

The old Peavey T-40, of which I've owned several, has a huge bridge. Hefty base plate, chunky saddles and it weighs almost 2lbs.

 

Now when folk talk about the T-40, they mention the weight (12lbs on average). They mention the tone circuit. They'll say "first CNC build bass guitar", partly true they were built using early CNC  but they were not the first. Trouble finding a TR tool is a common topic. 18th fret ski jump due to poor TR design sometimes gets an airing.

 

Nobody every utters the sustain word despite T-40s being strung through body, another thing some folks claim adds sustain 😀

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20 minutes ago, kodiakblair said:

If you mean sustain, I'd say No 😃

 

The old Peavey T-40, of which I've owned several, has a huge bridge. Hefty base plate, chunky saddles and it weighs almost 2lbs.

 

Now when folk talk about the T-40, they mention the weight (12lbs on average). They mention the tone circuit. They'll say "first CNC build bass guitar", partly true they were built using early CNC  but they were not the first. Trouble finding a TR tool is a common topic. 18th fret ski jump due to poor TR design sometimes gets an airing.

 

Nobody every utters the sustain word despite T-40s being strung through body, another thing some folks claim adds sustain 😀

What I mean by tone is, say you're playing acoustically and you hit a note. On some guitars/basses, you can feel that note all over the body very strongly. Some you feel it in spots, some you feel nothing. If the note isn't vibrating through the body, then the body/wood/etc isn't influencing the tone. So, all that to say, would a more substantial bridge transfer more note frequency vibration throughout the body? 

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1 minute ago, Iron1 said:

So, all that to say, would a more substantial bridge transfer more note frequency vibration throughout the body? 

A more substantial bridge should stop string vibrations from escaping into the body. 

 

It's never an exact science, I've a bass with nothing but a strip of Corian acting as a bridge. There's very string vibration felt on that bass.

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Number one influence on your sound is the strings. Then pickup type (alnico, neo, ceramic), neck and body woods have a very small influence on one's sound, a natural wood body or one with nitro will give a tiny bit of warmth, if it's covered in thick poly, you'll get a more snappy, punchy tone due to the vibrations from the strings bounding off the plastic like surface. I'd say electrics have as much influence as neck and body woods. 

Sustain is different from tone. A heavy or high mass bridge because of its shear mass, will increase sustain due to vibration lose through the body is less then a bbot bridge for example. The choice of nut material can also influence the sound. A cheap plastic nut, because of its relative softness will give a softer, warmer sound. Other materials can give a glass like tone, super crisp.

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22 minutes ago, hooky_lowdown said:

Number one influence on your sound is the strings. Then pickup type (alnico, neo, ceramic), neck and body woods have a very small influence on one's sound, a natural wood body or one with nitro will give a tiny bit of warmth, if it's covered in thick poly, you'll get a more snappy, punchy tone due to the vibrations from the strings bounding off the plastic like surface. I'd say electrics have as much influence as neck and body woods. 

Sustain is different from tone. A heavy or high mass bridge because of its shear mass, will increase sustain due to vibration lose through the body is less then a bbot bridge for example. The choice of nut material can also influence the sound. A cheap plastic nut, because of its relative softness will give a softer, warmer sound. Other materials can give a glass like tone, super crisp.

I'd actually say #1 influence is the pick and your hands first, then strings, etc. But, YMMV. I totally understand the difference between sustain and tone, but just know from decades of playing guitar that the ones where I feel nothing in the body tend to sound the worst - it's like they lack the musicallity required to sound good. I've played multiples of the same brand/model back to back and experienced it time and again to the point where if I pick up a guitar/bass and can't feel what I'm playing, I put it right back down.  

Good to know the high-mass increases sustain. Maybe I'm just so used to guitar bridges, where the thinner/smaller/less substantial they are the more they tend to suck. :lol: 

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