BGRA: Yamaha BB 5000A

Manufacturer Yamaha Model BB 5000A
Reviewer Joey Wilson
Experience 20 Item owned Less than 1 month
Review Date 2003-12-25 Price paid $600
Bass type5 string fretted
Neck joinNeck Through
Neck construction5-ply, maple w/mahogany 'stripes'
Fingerboard24 fret ebony, oval pearloid markers
Bodyalder body wings
Finishgloss pearl white
PickupsYamaha (Gotoh?) 5P/J
HardwareGotoh keys, locking bridge
ElectronicsActive vol-bal-bass-treble
As a very busy club player in the 80s, I adored the BB Series Yamahas. I owned a 1200, a 1600, and a 3000. I transitioned to 5-string in the late 80s, and could NEVER find a BB5000. After being back-ordered on my 3000 for a YEAR, I just moved on to other brands the FIRST time I was told the 5000s were back-ordered. I found a very clean, barely used 5000A in a local pawn shop about a month ago, which I jumped on for $600. I'm very pleased with it, with a few reservations. It's a neck-thru, which I prefer. Yamaha went to the trouble (in the late 80s) of building an non-symmetric P pickup: the bass side is three strings wide, the treble side the regular two. Amazing that Fender finally got around to this just a few years ago. The J pickup is a stack, and these two pickups with the accompanying vol/bal/treb/bass circuit is quiet and toneful. As quiet as EMG setups I've had. The bridge is the locking Gotoh. This is the first bass I've owned with this bridge. Each saddle adjusts for intonation, height, spacing, and has an Allen set screw to snug it against the bridge plate when the adjustments are finished. Like my other BB's, Yamaha spec'd a striped ebony fingerboard with the oval, Alembic-style, pearloid markers. Plastic nut, which I'll change to brass later. BB's also featured tuning keys that look like the traditional open gear keys, but with a difference: There is a collar around the shaft between the 'elephant ear' and the gear that can be tightened or loosened to adjust the 'drag'. Just like the screw in the ear of a sealed gear key. Brilliant. My other bass is a custom Alembic Spoiler 5, with Alembic's AXY pickups. I wanted a 'Fender' style 5, but rejected all the bolt neck basses, and the remaining choices were out of my price range. So this was a very USEFUL find for me. My only reservations are, I'm sure, the result of being an Alembic owner. As a 'production' instrument it's as good as any and better than a lot of them. But it's no Alembic. I do my own setups, and the work to bring it up to my spec was a lot slower than my other bass. There's only one truss rod instead of two. No adjustable nut. Wood screws. The pickups are riding on foam. The Gotoh nut is a fabulous piece of engineering, but very tedious to adjust. The paint is sloppily-thick by comparison. But, as a 'production' instrument, it is a very good bass, and I'm tickled to finally have one after all these years. It was VERY clean, and a great buy for $600. It was vastly superior to any current bolt-neck 5 for my taste. As a BB trivia note: This is the third and final model BB 5000. The first were basicallly 5-string 3000's: narrow neck, passive picups, and had the brass surrounds around the pickups. There is a rare transition model of this first version with active pickups and the brass surrounds. The A model is the third and last: wide 5 neck, active pickups/electronics, modified body shape, and the 4-knob layout. Also, the first two are Japanese-built, the A model is from Taiwan, as the Japanese guitar industry began building more and more guitars 'offshore' as Japanese labor costs rose.
construction (90%)
typical Yamaha
playability (90%)
nice neck/body transition
appearance (90%)
I'm a sucker for white/gold parts basses
sound (90%)
It has that P/J sound in a five string, not easy to accomplish
value (95%)
I made a great buy in this shape for $600
service (75%)
Like most Japanese companies, if it's not a current model, you're on your own
overall (90%)
I ALWAYS prefer a neck-thru, and this bass was WAY preferable for me than a StingRay 5, Lakland, Fe
The BGRA is generously underwritten by David King of Bass Guitar Systems.
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