Price paid: € 400
Purchased from: Local music shop
Features — 8
This electric 5-string bass is from the new TRBX series which was introduced in 2013. The TRBX 305 basses are made in Indonesia. The body is made from mahogany, the neck is a 5-piece maple and mahogany one with a satin finish. It is bolt on with four screws. The neck shape is modern and flat but not super thin. The fretboard is a very dark rosewood, it has 24 medium-jumbo frets and pearl dot inlays. The bridge reminds me of a classic fender bridge but it is much more massive.
The pickups are two Yamaha humbuckers with a good amount of output, huge pole pieces and a unique ergonomic shape seen on the RBX series before. The electronics are active (of course), the potentiometers are master volume, pickup blend, bass and treble boost/cut. There is also a 5-way switch for selecting EQ-presets "slap, pick, flat, finger, solo." The jack position is a little awkward, it is right in front of your right leg when you play the bass standing. This is a bit annoying and I'd be afraid of knocking it off during a gig. Be sure to get an angled jack plug for this.
As the name suggests, the body style is a mix of the TRB and RBX series. It looks a bit more modern than the TRB but not as spacy as the RBX. The headstock is taken from the TRB series and it is slightly angled. The TRBX 305 comes in four different colors: black, snow white, metallic red and "pewter" - a metallic silver which is slightly darker than most silver finishes. I got the last one. The hardware on mine is black chrome and looks very good with the pewter finish. All in all these are really good features for the money. However there are a 5-string basses in this price range which have a full 3-band EQ. E.g. from Ibanez and ESP LTD.
Sound — 8
The Yamaha TRBX 305 has a full and round but very clear and modern sound. There is absolutely no noise. The low end is much better than on several other basses I've tested. There is also enough treble for good presence. The sound is very clear and it is hard to get this thing roaring unpleasantly. I compared it to the RBX 375 which I first wanted to buy and the difference is HUGE. The pickups and electronics may look very similar but the sound of the TRBX is much more defined. The basic bass and treble EQ works very well, it's easy to shape your sound with - nothing to complain here. Now to the interesting part: The 5-way selector switch. The five different positions are EQ-presets. First there is the "slap"-preset. According to its sound and a graphic you'll find on Yamaha's website, the mids are pretty much scooped out here. It's a slap-friendly, percussive tone. I found it also works really well for Metal-style playing with distortion. This sound is very clear and doesn't get muddy. The 2nd position is "pick". The mids are scooped a little here, but not as much as in the slap preset. The sound is much rounder with a lot of punch. It really sounds very good when played with a pick, but it's also great for fingerpicking. A nice modern rock bass sound and my favorite preset on this bass. 3rd is "flat" - nothing to say here, it's all about the bass and treble knob to shape the sound coming from the pickups. The 4th preset is "finger." The treble is smoothed out here while the mids are boosted. This is a very fat and round sound. It works well for classic rock to jazz. The 5th preset is called "solo." It's very similar to the finger preset but with even a little more mids and bass. It is also a bit louder than the finger position.
All in all the sound of the Yamaha TRBX 305 is very versatile. It can handle everything from metal to jazz. The presets all sound very good but I miss a real 3-band eq. The sound is nothing "special" (like a bass made especially for players of a certain style), this is an all-round instrument that will give you a bit of everything. You can get a lot of different sounds from a single bass, and due to the 5-way switch, even beginners will get different sounds in a second.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The factory set-up was very good but not perfect. I could get the action even a bit lower without string buzzing. The action is now very low - the frets and fingerboard seem to be very good. I can really see the difference between the TRBX and my first, cheapie LTD B-50 here, which is impossible to set up like this without buzzing. The frets don't have any sharp edges and they do not stick out at the sides of the fretboard. As usual, Yamaha delivers great quality here. The pickup height was good too. The playability of the satin neck is very good but keep in mind that this is not an Ibanez or ESP like feeling. You have a good amount of mass in your hand but it is still thin enough for very fast and comfortable playing. In my opinion this is a good balance.
What I really wanted to mention is the unique pickup shape. It is designed for players who like to rest their thumb on the pickup. There are ergonomic grooves on the sides of the pickup which make this very very comfortable and there is no chance your thumb will slip. I have never seen something like this on another bass guitar, it is one of my favorite features of this bass.
I was surprised at the quality of the potentiometers. They turn with a decent amount of resistance but not awfully hard. You can feel the zero-position on the boost/cut pots quite well. The silver finish is very good but there are some tiny flaws at the edge of the pickup holes. You cannot see this from two feet away but this is an ugly mark of mass production. As everything else like hardware, tuners and nut is very good out of the box.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Not much to say here. Yamaha delivers excellent quality. The bass is built like a rock, the hardware is very solid and screwed tightly to the body. It could definitely withstand live playing. The battery can be swapped tool-less within seconds. I also took a look into the electronics cavity. The electronics are shielded with shielding paint and foil. The solder connections are very good - nothing to worry here. I've got this bass for half a year now and I have no complains about the reliability. I still won't give it a 10 because who knows what will be in some years.
Overall Impression — 9
…aka tl; dr. The new Yamaha TRBX 305 5-string basses are really good instruments. You get great features for a price under 500 euro. The instruments are very well made as you can usually expect from Yamaha. The sound is defined and full. With the 2-band EQ and the five presets you can get a lot of different sounds for many different styles of music. The concept of the 5 presets is very nice and a perfect feature for non-professionals who want to get a matching sound quickly. However, professionals may miss a real 3-band EQ.
I play this instrument in the local big band where we play everything from jazz to film score to march music (welcome to Germany :-)). At home I play a lot of metal (from heavy to death) and rock. All these different styles work very well for me with this bass guitar. I highly recommend it for people who want a modern 5-string bass and play different styles.