Often time’s bass players believe their 12-pound 1970s-era Fender basses have superior punch, sustain and tone. However, if you think a bass has to be heavy to sound heavy, then perhaps, Yamaha’s RBX4 A2 bass will change your mind.
Yamaha employs a construction concept called Alternative Internal Resonance (A.I.R.) technology, to give players balls and punch in a lightweight instrument. The RBX4 A2 is ideal for players looking for resounding sustain without the heavy weight associated with bass guitars.
“The A.I.R. construction method is ideal for bass players,” said Armando Vega, product manager, Yamaha Guitars, Pro Audio & Combo Division. “Some of the musicians we’ve shown this to have been amazed by the sustain and resonance of this bass. In addition, players love them for their simple and contemporary looks.”
One of the most significant features of the A2 is its distinctive body construction, which combines lightweight, resonant softwoods layered between expanses of harder tone woods. Yamaha’s objective was to create a lightweight instrument that has depth and sustain and weighing in at only 7.3 pounds, their goal was successful. The Yahmaha RBX4 A2 is one of the lightest full size basses on the market today, but don’t let that fool you—the A2 produces a surprisingly heavy tone.
“Once again, Yamaha technology has shattered people’s perception of how guitars are made,” said Bryan Savage, marketing manager, Yamaha Guitars. “A.I.R. has proven that it is possible to build a great-sounding, highly resonant guitar without using heavy hardwoods.”
The unrivaled bridge design also plays a major role in Yamaha’s A.I.R. concept. The sleek-style die-cast bridge has three “sound tubes” that run through the body for greater sustain. Yamaha affirms this helps transfer string vibrations through the body’s inner wood layers. The strings are also routed through the body, a practice that some builders consider the key element for transmitting string vibration.
The RBX4 A2 is also equipped with two Yamaha single-coil blade pickups. Thanks to Yamaha’s genius placement design, the pickups are positioned for maximum tones: the bridge single-coil is two inches from the G string saddle, and the neck single-coil is five inches away at essentially the same spot as the treble coil pickup on the P-bass.
Without a doubt, the A2’s most eye-catching features are the rings of blue and red LEDs that surround the individual volume controls. The lights dim as you lower the level of volume on each pickup, and that’s basically it for their practical use is concerned. They do look really cool though. It is too bad that Yamaha didn’t add a light for the tone control as well. The lighted controls might cause you to think this bass has active pickups, but don’t let that fool you, the bass is loaded with passive electronics. The onboard battery is strictly for powering the LED lights.
With the instruments jet-black attractive gloss finish and the subtle pinstripe metallic silver binding gives the bass the look of a customized car. The 24 fret rosewood fingerboard provides sensible access to the upper neck positions. Underneath the black gloss finish, the neck is maple, and it’s rounded “C” profile and 1 ½–inch width nut feels nice and comfortable. Add in the black-chrome hardware, enclosed tuners and smooth bridge, you will be enthralled with a players guitar.
In the guitarworld today, it seems someone is always coming up with dazzling new concepts that sound wonderful on paper but rarely sounds good in wood. So it’s easy to understand how the A2 might raise suspicions with their assertion that it delivers phenomenal punch and sustain without the weight associated with those qualities. However, in this case, it’s true. I was actually surprised with the performance of the RBX4 A2. It’s a little strange to strap on a seven-pound ax and get such a heavy sound from it, but it certainly impressed (that’s an understatement).
The End Line
There’s nothing missing from the A2’s tonal makeup. The notes are well formed and balanced, while producing a solid attack, excellent sustain and clarity. It does have a bit of a bright sound to it, but a simple turn of the tone knob easily rounds off the edge. The A2 can produce a kick ass modern slap tone, a thick chunky front pickup tone that fills up the low end, a well articulated reverberate for soloing, and has real cutting power for rock music. For more information, visit Yamaha’s official website at www.yamaha.com.