Yamaha TRBX304 MGR 4-String Electric Bass Guitar Review

Bass guitars are key to many different genres of music, either as lead instruments or as part of the rhythm section. A good bass guitar ranges from about $400 and up depending on tone, construction, and electronics. The Yamaha TRBX304 is an intermediate bass guitar that offers good value.

What To Consider When Buying A Bass Guitar

Bass guitars have many different features to compare. Everything from the wood, the finish, the shape, the electronics, and more will vary from model to model, and all of these things affect the sound and feel of the bass. The price can also be very different, although many of them are clustered in the $400 to $700 range.

Introducing the TRBX304 MGR

The MGR is mahogany with active pickups, an onboard EQ system, and a Strat-like body. These are standard features for the upper echelon of bass guitars, but the MGR costs $350, which is less than the feature set would imply. The pickups are designed in-house which means it is possible to improve them later on with an aftermarket set, although they are good enough for performance as is. The high-mass bridge is die-cast and is stable, improving the durability of the instrument. In terms of sound, it is fairly standard- warm, but not particularly rich or detailed with the stock pickups, and neutral as far as bass and treble tones are concerned. The MGR responds well to distortion in particular but works with any effects that you wish to add.

  • Excellent EQ system
  • Good construction
  • Full scale
  • Versatile for different styles of play
  • Pickups could be better
  • Plain design
  • Not aggressive enough for full-on specialization in any particular genre

Features and Benefits

EQ System

Yamaha TRBX304 MGR 4-String Electric Bass Guitar

In addition to a standard 2-band EQ that controls the treble and bass tone, there is a 5-way switch that customizes the guitar to the style of play you are using: slap, pick, flat, finger, and solo. You don't need to use the mode associated with your style if you don't want to, but they do a good job at shaping the sound to accommodate your play. This is a fairly unique feature, a Yamaha specialty, and it is rare to see something with this level of detail on such an inexpensive bass.

Pickups

The M3 pickups in the guitar are designed by Yamaha and used in a few other of their models. Their tone isn't colored in one direction or another. As active pickups, they can generate more volume than passive pickups as long as they have battery power. The sound is adequate, and for a few hundred dollars you can always upgrade them later if necessary.

Design

The "extended Strat" form is typical among basses, and might be the most common body type. The guitar is well-balanced and comfortable to play, and the neck is thin and fast. This makes it easier to play and learn. There are five options: black, white, red, green, and pewter. Each of them has a solid, flat finish without additional elaboration or decoration.

Value

At $350 this guitar is priced as if it was aiming for the budget market. Typically anything under $400 is essentially a beginner instrument. That is certainly not the case, because the TRBX304 comes with an excellent set of features. THe one weak spot is the pickups and as mentioned above they are the easiest part of a bass to upgrade. It's common for a performance bass to cost at least $700, but this one is half that price and certainly capable of live play as well as recording.

Ratings

Design

4

Performance

5

Construction

4

Value for the Money

5

User Satisfaction

5

Alternatives

Ibanez SR300E

Ibanez SR300E

The SR300E is the same price as the Yamaha but does not have the five different EQ modes. It still has in-house pickups, but the quality is slightly better. The Ibanez also has a thinner neck. It's a better fit for those who want better pickups without having to pay for a replacement set and install them.

Comparison

Ibanez SR300E

Price: $350

Body: Mahogany

Features: 3-band EQ, active pickups

Yamaha TRBX304

Price: $350

Body: Mahogany

Features: EQ switch, 2-band EQ, active pickups

Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4

Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4

At $450 the Schecter Stiletto is a step up in price from the Yamaha. The biggest difference is the sound quality. The Stiletto uses Diamond pickups that sound more detailed and rich. Like other Schecter products the Stiletto works best in metal with lots of distortion and perhaps scooped mids. It also has a left-handed version that csots another $20 more.

Comparison

Schecter Stiletto Extreme-4

Price: $450

Body: Mahogany

Features: Diamond pickups and bridge

Yamaha TRBX304

Price: $350

Body: Mahogany

Features: EQ switch, 2-band EQ, active pickups

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV

The Thunderbird sets itself apart by its body shape. As the name indicates, this is Epiphone's take on the Firebird body shape, although slightly more rounded than standad. The pickups are in-house designs by Epi with standard EQ and volume knobs. The Thunderbird comes in 3 designs: white, vintage sunburst, and natural oiled finish.

Comparison

Epiphone Thunderbird Pro-IV

Price: $450

Body: Mahogany

Features: Firebird-style body

Yamaha TRBX304

Price: $350

Body: Mahogany

Features: EQ switch, 2-band EQ, active pickups

Final Thoughts

Bass guitars in this price range of $350 to $450 are at the sweet spot of good tone at an affordable price. The Yamaha model featured here has a particularly attractive special feature in its EQ system, but generally good quality and durability are not hard to find for those who want to spend less than $500. You can also refer to our bass guitar guide to see what we have picked. It is generally not hard to either upgrade the pickups or buy pedals and amps to obtain a great sound that you can customize. Any of the instruments in this article play well and are versatile enough to perform live in many different kinds of bands or musical projects. Here are the other types of guitar you can choose from.

Stephanie Su
 

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