Yamaha TRBX304 4 String Bass Guitar
Yamaha have added a lot of interesting components normally only seen on more expensive models, making this one of the best bass guitars available for beginners.
The TRBX304 is one of the few models in the entry level bass guitar range to feature a composite Maple Mahogany neck, which is a huge plus.
Equally, Yamaha’s innovative EQ and preset combinations is pure genius, a simply flick of the switch and you’re good to go.
Let’s take a closer look to see what’s under the hood.
Sleek and ergonomic in shape, it’s obvious Yamaha have made an effort to make a comfortable body for hours of shredding.
The top section tapers off allowing your hands to freely meet the strings, the bottom gives you plenty of room for moving around whether standing or sitting.
The choice of wood is solid mahogany which is well known for it’s warmer tonal properties and strength. Bolted to the end of the body is a solid die cast bridge which can be easily adjusted as needed.
Neck and Headstock
5 piece composite necks are notoriously strong, thinner and faster to move around on. On the technical side, the 4 string model is 38mm and standard full length (34″) with a total of 24 frets
Across the top of the neck is a rosewood fretboard which resonates well with the warmer output of the mahogany body.
Another interesting component is the tuning key locations, each string is pulled straight over the nut for a balanced tension.
The pickups are surprisingly good quality especially considering this is a cheap bass guitar. While most starter bass guitars feature single coil pickups, Yamaha have added 2 noiseless ceramic humbuckers in a J-Bass configuration instead.
Compared to standard single coils, humbuckers are designed to reduce the amount of static noise and deliver more warmth and thickness to the sound.
The small cutout on top of each pickup for your thumb to rest on is such a cool idea, you have to give the Yamaha design team a lot of props for that one.
Active EQ and Hardware
This is probably the most impressive part of the TRBX series. The 2-band active EQ (2 band, meaning treble and bass control knobs) is far more advanced than you’d expect for this price range.
The ‘Performance’ toggle switch is unlike anything you’ve seen before. By changing the switch position, you can select 5 presets which automatically adjust the tone to fit different style techniques.
Having these presets on tap while also being able to adjust treble, bass and pickup selection gives you a lot of options to play with.
The knobs themselves must be designed by ancient vikings. Impressively spikey for the lack of better words! Even if your hands are covered in sweat, you should have no problem getting a good grip.
The tuner keys on the headstock and fully adjustable die-cast bridge are pretty solid too which makes for more consistent tuning.
How Does it feel to play?
In a nutshell, you’ll find this both a fun and easy bass guitar to get along with. You might find some adjustments are required, but it’s a personal choice depending on what you like.
More advanced bassists might find the action (string height to the fretboard) needs adjusting, and the supplied bass strings might be better replaced to get a different feel of tension (check out our bass strings review for some ideas).
The neck is super comfortable. Having 24 frets to solo on is a great feature, but the last 2 – 3 frets are a bit hard to reach as the cutaway doesn’t go deep enough. This is not just a Yamaha thing, but something a lot of 24 fret bass guitars tend to struggle with.
Overall, the thinner neck and nut width combined with a perfectly contoured body make this a great bass guitar to hold, play and cuddle for hours on end.
How good is the sound quality?
You have to love modern design and manufacturing. The TRBX304 honestly plays and sounds like an expensive bass guitar. The tone has punch and focus, especially on brightness and the deeper bass range.
The neck pickup has an almighty growl, the bridge pickup has far more punch and low end than single coil beginner bass guitars in the same price range.
Mid range tones are not as emphasised throughout the presets, which can be a little restrictive when trying to get the perfect old school motown sound. But, as far as modern tone is concerned, Yamaha have nailed it.
The presets themselves are a lot of fun, and there is a bit of adjusting you can do depending on the exact tone you are after.
More advanced bassists might find having presets more restrictive, mainly as you can’t completely change the EQ in all directions.
How does the Yamaha TRBX304 compare?
If you have a tighter budget to start with, here are 2 more beginner bass guitars to consider.
Squier Affinity 4 string Jazz Bass
The construction and features are nice and simple, two passive pickups, basic controller knobs and a solid body and neck.
Even though much simpler in design compared to the TRBX304, there is a long list of famous artists who use Fender’s original Jazz Bass. Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers is one example of how awesome Fender’s Jazz Bass tone can be.
The overall body, neck and hardware are all decent quality, the neck is easy to get along with in shape and feel, and the sound quality is not bad either.
These bass guitars also make for easy upgrade projects on pickups and hardware. The options are endless.
Ibanez GSR200SM 4 String Electric Bass
The GSR200 series is one of the more popular beginner bass guitars, the SM variety adds a stunning high gloss wood grain finish.
The pickups are a mix of precision and jazz bass single coils and ‘bass boost’ EQ which delivers a much deeper tone perfect for heavier styles of music.
The neck is a full scale length of 34” and is slightly thicker than what you may find on the TRBX304, but not overly difficult to get used to.
While not as versatile as the Yamaha in tone, the build quality is good and the Phat II bass boost EQ is a nice touch too.
Going down the Yamaha TRBX304 route is certainly one of many good options, especially if you’re looking to get a hold of your first bass guitar.
The features are what sets this affordable bass guitar apart from others in the same range, it’s the thought process around the 5 way preset switch which tips my hat.
When I first started on bass, I had no clue how to set the EQ for different styles, it would have been much easier to flick a toggle and be ready to go.
Yes, it’s an affordable factory-made bass guitar which means it’s definitely not perfect, but it garners a lot of positive feedback from bass players who have put this bass through it’s paces.