BB404 Fretless Review

manufacturer: Yamaha date: 04/06/2015 category: Bass Guitars
Yamaha: BB404 Fretless
Typical mellow jazz tone with plenty of bottom from the 2 octave neck. The sustain is superb.
 Features: 9
 Sound: 8
 Action, Fit & Finish: 10
 Reliability & Durability: 10
 Overall Impression: 10
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review (1) pictures (3) user comments vote for this gear:
overall: 9.4
BB404 Fretless Reviewed by: andrew.jj.lawre, on april 06, 2015
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Price paid: £ 80

Purchased from: Private Seller

Features: Made in the mid 1990's.

  • Nathan East Sculpted Body Design
  • Solid Alder Body
  • Maple Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • 24 Frets
  • Dual Humbucking Pickups (Standard single coil J-type, not true humbuckers, need to be balanced to cancel hum, although they are very quiet wrt hum).
  • Diecast Chrome Tuners/Hardware - Closed back, inexpensive but they work fine.
  • Passive controls (Vol/Vol/Tone).
The pups are Yamaha designed and are the best sounding J-types I've ever heard tbh. They are very quiet for single-coils even when unbalanced. The body style is very "Musicman," which I personally prefer to the standard RBX type "angular" horns. There is a nice "chamfer" to the lower horn allowing very easy access to the upper register (not that I play there much). I have replaced the strap-buttons, but not because they were faulty or of poor quality. On the fretted version, I believe the frets are "Jumbo." I'm not sure if this bass was available with a maple-fretboard, all the ones I have seen have been rosewood.

Again, wrt the pickups, they are J-type but NOT different sized, so anyone wanting to replace the pups (lord alone knows why, as the stock pups are superb) would need to remember that standard J-type pups normally differ in size between the "bridge" and "neck." The finish on mine is natural and matte/satin. I believe it came in various colour options, all with matching headstock, which is a nice touch for a budget guitar. // 9

Sound: Great lows and highs, mids need a little EQ on the head to get the best out of the pups (I use an Ashdown Superfly with Parametric EQ). The only other FX I use is the Zoom B1On which can be quite noisy, ok live but nor for recording without some messing with EQ. This bass punches way above it's weight. It has very rich, well rounded tones, never harsh. It's no longer made (sadly, as I would love a fretted version). Obviously, as this has two single-coil J-type pups then it can get a little "hissy" when unbalanced, however, nothing that can't be sorted out with some gentle EQ'ing. // 8

Action, Fit & Finish: Typical Yamaha quality even at this budget price. Everything is rock solid, the bridge especially, for a budget instrument is a high-mass, cast affair, not pressed steel. No flaws at all, the neck is beautiful and quite fast, somewhere between a Jazz neck and a P-Bass. Considering it's age, the bass has held up really well, nothing has needed replacing (except strings obviously). I'm currently running a set of TI Jazz Flats on it and it sounds beautiful.

The pups and pretty much everything else about this bass are absolutely fine and do not need replacing unless they fail. The tuners stay in tune, the bridge is "high-mass," the neck and fretboard are beautiful. I have heard people who have modded their BB404 and then returned it to a stock set-up as that is what sounded best, I'm not surprised, Yamaha tend to do their homework and this bass sounds great as it is. If there was one area that I may eventually "mod" then it would be the simple addition of a 2 band EQ ("Stinger" Preamp). Apart from that very simple addition (soldering of 3 wires) then there is nothing else that I would change about this bass. // 10

Reliability & Durability: Will easily cope with the rigours of live playing, no back up needed. As its a passive bass, not battery either. I did replace the strap buttons with Harley Benton "straplocks" (a Schaller rip-off at a fraction of the price of Schallers), purchased at Thomann. Perfectly balanced, no neck dive at all. The body is quite small and comfy, the bass only weighs 3.9Kg (8.6lbs). The finish is natural on the solid alder body and matte. I would have preferred a heavy gloss finish, only as I think the bass would look much better with a gloss coat over the natural wood. // 10

Overall Impression: Typical mellow jazz tone with plenty of bottom from the 2 octave neck. The sustain is superb. I picked it up for next to nothing from a guy who had bought it to record a few tracks with a fretless. There is nothing I hate about this bass, I may, at some point in the future add a "Stinger" 2 band (Bass/Treble Cut & boost) preamp to it which is available from David Konig at Probass in the UK... then this bass will really "sing." I would never sell it as I don't think I could ever replace it with anything that plays or sounds better without spending around £400... so she stays with me... forever. // 10

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