With its first BB bass launched in 1977, Yamaha is celebrating 40 years of making basses this year. It’s taking this opportunity to push out a line of new models at Summer NAMM over the last weekend.
The range caters for a wide spread of price points, starting as low as the BB234 at USD $470 and working its way up to the BBP35 at USD $2575 and beyond. The series has eight basses, and with 4 or 5 string versions and a lot of finish options, there’s certainly a fair amount of choice!
All of the new BB basses have multi-laminated Alder/Maple/Alder bodies and a six-bolt neck joint. They also have Diagonal Body Thru Stringing where strings are angled at the saddle, so that they pass through the instrument to the bridge at a 45º angle.
Yamaha says this last design feature will help take the stress out of the string but maintain the efficient transfer of energy from string vibration to the basses body. I’m sure that they have done plenty of research in their 40 years of building high-quality basses. With players like Billy Sheehan on their roster, I can imagine they get a lot of feedback from professional touring musicians on these design choices.
Each bass in the series has custom-wound pickups that feature a medium-high output with ‘vintage’ voicing, so you should be able to coax lots of classic bass tones from these models.
The whole series looks quite Fender-like from the front, yet if you look closer you can see where Yamaha has developed their own twist on that design. With the additional design elements I mentioned above, I don’t think they are direct copies of Leo’s 1950s bass designs.
I think Yamaha has a bit of an uphill struggle with ‘design’ vs desirability. I honestly think they make some truly fantastic instruments, yet they don’t have the same ‘cool’ factor as, say, a Fender Precision. Quite often, they get less press coverage and are left by the wayside by musicians, as they can look a little stale in comparison to the big US makers and boutique builders.
We’ll need to hear what players think, of course. Hopefully, some decent reviews will surface soon on this new 2017 range. For now, you can check out the ‘official’ videos below and get an overview of what these are all about.
My major gripe with these is the naming of the basses is hard work (reminds me of Ibanez and their cryptic naming system) and there are just far too many versions of them to keep up with!
Yamaha BB Bass Range RRP – USD 470 – USD 2575
Yamaha BB Bass Range product page