Sound — 8
The sound was fine with the original round wound strings fitted. It did particularly well in a setting with acoustic instruments doing jazz, folk and all kinds of world music, but it would also rock if the demand was there. For the real heavy electrophonic stuff it was not persistent enough though. Hardcore metalheads should look around for something else. All this became even more pronounced after I fitted flatwounds. This really pushed the sound into the unplugged, upright acoustic bass mimmicking region, especially through my little SWR LA-12 amp. Through the Trace Elliot we use on stage it was a little bit more electric and somewhat less articulated (but much, much louder). The electronics were not shielded and the single coil pick-up could produce a lot of hum on occasions. Not enough to be audible while playing, but always enough to remind me to shut off the volume knob when I put the guitar on its stand. One big drawback of the flatwound strings was that they effectively reduced the bass to a three string, for after the conversion the G string was one big dead spot all the way from B up to F. Only in the far upper and lower end of the fretboard there was a little bit of sustain left. This must have been the reason why this guitar was originally equipped with round wounds. They were eating into the fretboard, though, so I had to replace them. Obviously the RBX is a little bit too light to be a fretless. As for the variety of sounds: sporting only one single coil and one tone knob that really doesn't do a lot, it may appear that tonal possibilities are limited, but that is not at all true. It is extremely sensitive to variations in playing style. By shifting thumb position a few centimeters or slight variations in fretting technique one can make more different sounds than the knobs and switches on a lot of other, more sophisticated basses. Personally I really like a guitar to be obedient to ones own dynamics and in this respect the Yamaha suited me very well.
Overall Impression — 9
I did trade in the Yamaha because I wanted something more versatile, but I found out that the multi-pickup, hyper active heavy weight Ibanez I bought instead has actually a narrower range of voices. Another big advantage I found the light weight and good balance on the strap. Ergonomics were superb and are not matched by my new bass, I have to regret. On the other hand it was probably the light weight that was to blame for the the biggest shortcoming of the Yam', namely the dead G string. This most probably doesn't apply to the fretted RBX260. Reliability, quality of hardware and overall finish all make for a most excellent price/quality ratio. As said, I did actually buy another guitar because I wanted something more beefy, and it took some persuasion to have me buy something else than a Yamaha. Now that I did I don't regret it, but I do miss the simplicity, the ergonomics and easy handling of my old Yamaha. I wish I could have kept it, but getting J150, on trade in was an offer I couldn't refuse. Chances are slim that another brand of bass in the same price-range could have matched this.
Reliability & Durability — 10
About reliability I can be short; nothing ever broke down or wore out. I had it for two years and during that time I did a lot of work on a lot of guitars, but never on this one. It never occured to me to take a second bass to gigs.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Because I did buy the guitar second hand I can't tell how well it was set up in the factory. All I can say that everything was perfect when I got it. Finish was good, except for a slight rough spot in the body shining through the laquer. Especially the neck felt very smooth and pleasant. Everything that mattered was spot on, crisp and precise; the electronics tidy and neatly soldered. The overall appearance a little bit too obviously CNC processed to my taste, though.
Features — 9
Basic features and specifications were already discribed in the above reviews. The only important difference is that mine was the RBX260F fretless version (I write this in past tense for the bass is no longer mine). It had the original rosewood fretboard with the slots filled up with strips of a lighter coloured wood, thus providing convenient position marks for easy intonation. As already said, this guitar is very basic and simple. There is not much on it, but what is there is of good quality.