Yamaha is always a safe bet.
They make excellent instruments at all price levels. And every one of them is great value for money.
But the Yamaha TRBX 504 stands out.
It is the best bass guitar under $500 on the market.
The sound quality and playability are unmatched at this price level.
Even many higher priced instruments can’t come close.
But the tone it produces is not for everyone, even though it is incredibly versatile.
Read the rest of this review to find out if this is the right bass for you.
Table of Contents
Yamaha TRBX504 Review: Overview And Features
The TRBX504 is a mid to low-priced bass guitar that delivers the best ergonomic, aesthetic, and sonic qualities available at its price level.
It has two humbucker pickups, but the preamp and tone shaping controls give you a ton of versatility, making it a great bass for any style.
There are certainly better bass guitars on the market, but they all cost far more. You will not find anything close to this model at this price range.
- Mahogany body
- 5-piece maple and mahogany neck, bolt-on construction
- Rosewood fretboard
- Full-sized 34-inch scale length
- 10-inch fretboard radius
- 24 frets
- Two Alnico V humbucking pickups
- Active electronics with an active/passive switch
- Volume and balance controls
- 3-band EQ
Design And Construction
The mahogany body was designed to enhance your playing experience. It features a double-cutaway design that goes deep towards the higher frets.
Both the front and the back side of the body have contours and indents that make holding and playing the bass much more comfortable.
The access to higher frets, however, is pretty basic, aside from the deeper than usual cutaways.
The mahogany body is accompanied by a bolt-on 5-piece maple and mahogany neck, fitted with a rosewood fretboard and 24 medium-jumbo frets.
These features make it a great choice for more virtuosic players who also love to invade those higher-pitch territories on their 4-string basses.
The TRBX504 has a full-sized scale length of 34 inches. The fretboard radius is a bit flatter than usual, measuring at exactly 10 inches.
Combined with the aforementioned ergonomic features, as well as the fact that it has 24 frets, this is yet more proof main target are virtuosic bassists.
The overall aesthetic features are surprisingly great for an instrument at this price level. It comes in two finish variants: Translucent Black and Brick Burst.
Pickups And Hardware
Things get even more exciting when you take a look at the pickups and electronics. It has a fine pair of Alnico V humbucker pickups, with active circuitry.
There’s even a switch that lets you choose between active and passive modes, which greatly increases this instrument’s versatility.
The preamp features a 3-band equalizer, one master volume control, and a balance knob that lets you choose between the two humbuckers.
The resulting output is pretty strong and thick due to the combination of active electronics and humbucking pickups.
But you can make it brighter, softer, and more mid-heavy – pretty much anything that comes to mind, all thanks to its detailed controls.
Advantages And Disadvantages
- Great deal for this price
- Very useful ergonomic features
- Solid build quality
- 24 frets give more options
- Its controls make it fairly versatile
- Nothing at this price level
Yamaha TRBX504 Vs Sterling StingRay Ray34
Finding a professional-level instrument at a more reasonable price level can be difficult. But there are a few rare examples on the market.
In addition to Yamaha, Sterling is another brand that delivers quality while keeping prices at a reasonable level. Sterling is a subsidiary of Ernie Ball Music Man.
They make stripped-down versions of Music Man instruments that retain the quality, but sell for a much lower price. Our favorite example is the Sterling StingRay Ray34.
While not as sharp-looking as the Yamaha bass, the Ray34 is higher quality and intended for experienced players.
It has a standard double-cutaway body and three basic variants that differ in build materials and finishes. Black, Swamp Ash, and Vintage Sunburst options feature bodies out of mahogany, swamp ash, and nyatoh respectively.
All three variants have roasted maple necks, although the black version comes with a rosewood fingerboard, which makes it unique in this aspect.
One of the main traits of the Ray34 is that it comes with an active preamp, just like Yamaha’s TRBX504. But it lacks the feature that lets you choose between active and passive electronics, despite being a more advanced bass.
What’s more, the base version comes with only one humbucker pickup in the bridge position, making it much simpler.
There is also the Ray34HH variant that comes with two humbucker pickups and a 3-way toggle switch. This one is slightly more expensive, but it is the one we featured in our full Sterling Ray 34 review, and the one pictured here.
The Ray34 has a regular scale length of 34 inches, as well as a 9.5-inch fretboard radius. But it only has 21 frets, compared to the Yamaha’s 24.
That said, the neck on the Ray34 feels a bit better than the one on the TRBX504. And, in the longer run, it’s a more reliable instrument.
It may not have as many tone-shaping options, but it can still find its place in plenty of different genres. Its humbucker pickups are amazing and sound fuller than those on the Yamaha model.
While the Sterling is the all-around better instrument and aimed at more advanced bassists, the TRBX504 is more versatile and costs a lot less.
You’ll have to decide for yourself which is the better option for you. The good news is: whichever one you get, you’re getting an amazing bass and an amazing value for your money.
Yamaha TRBX504 Bass Guitar: Conclusion And Rating
The main target group for the Yamaha TRBX504 are intermediate players looking for a transitioning instrument on their way to becoming advanced musicians.
But the TRBX504 is also a great choice for frequently gigging musicians who need a reliable instrument, but have a limited budget.
It can work well for live shows, especially if you prefer humbuckers over single-coil pickups. But what really makes it stand out in its price category is its versatility.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find another bass this affordable that lets you choose between active and passive electronics, in addition to a 3-band EQ.
That’s why we voted it the best bass under $500 and gave it a Musicaroo rating of 4.5 out of 5.