Yamaha BEX-4 F-Hole Semi-Hollow Reviews 4

Bass Northwest, online, $500US, no case. I really like hollow basses, especially if they combine piezo with magnetic PUs, so I was already on the watch for just this sort of ax.

Even though it's semi-hollow, it sounds like the vocal chords of some wood-bodied animal. It really sounds like it's some kind of living voice. It sounds this way with the roundwounds it arrived with, and with the Fender nylon covered RWs that I put on it. I also like that for some reason, there's little or no finger-string-fret noise [at most EQ settings] despite the problems I usually encounter [noise-wise] with piezo PUs on fretted axen. And of course, there's that haunting tone, like wood with lungs and vocal chords ... Although it has no upper horn and has a full scale [34"] neck, it is close to a neutral balance on the strap. Neck dive is VERY slight. Some SOLID-bodied basses dive more than this one. I also like the control layout: 2 knobs on the front for gain and PU blend [on this ax PU blend is a MAJOR tone control] plus a triple slider control for 3-band EQ up on the shoulder facing me. And did I mention tone? that it sounds like a living voice ? I DID ? OK.... Lastly, but very important to ME: it has a bolt-on neck. The idea of a through- neck bass with non-adjustable bridge is rather scary [IMNSHO]. I like bolt-ons.

Even though the lack of an upper horn has not resulted in objectionable neck dive, it still shifts the fingerboard very much to the left, especially combined with the many extra inches between the bridge and the end-pin [typical of hollow bodies]. This makes quite a reach to the low end. Actually, any complaints I have are just the typical ones of hollow bodied basses, none specific to the BEX-4, and these are all at a minimum on this ax. Exception: Some semi-hollow axen have access panels to the pots, jack etc on their back sides, but the BEX-4 does NOT.

F-hole semi-hollow body with full-height center block connecting top to back. Not much thicker than a solid body bass, with a not-blocky but not-extra-sleek 4-bolt neck joint and single cut-away. Veneer top on one-piece carved-out hardwood body. Bridge is typical-looking wooden acoustic style, but with metal innards, and is screwed [not just glued] in place [screws reach the hardwood center block]. There's a piezo PU in the bridge and what looks like a humbucker in the "p-bass" location. Tuners are the usuual compact sealed type, 2+2, plastic nut, rosewood on maple neck, don't see any multi-lamination but there is a large V-joint for the tilt-back head. About 21 frets, many of which *slightly* catch my hand at the edges but not enough to slow me down. Rod is accessed at the headstock, and it works effectively and easily [important, since the rod is the only control you have over the action on this type of ax]. Controls are described in the "things to like" section, above. I think all the electronics are in-house Yamaha. Overall, it seems like a well made ax for a standard production model: solid but not custom-built, no fancy details. It's made in Japan, so you know that concern for a price-point didn't overwhelm EVERY aspect of buliding it.

As wooden-bridged, hollow basses go, this one is about as player-friendly as you are likely to find. Then there's that tone. This is not primarily a thud bass [altho you can dial up some of that]. This ax is a very "woody" voiced critter, but not so strange that you would reserve it for only special tunes. It can be your main ax, and if it is, you will be remembered for "your" fascinating tone. I'm rating it a 4 because of the fret-end thing mentioned above, and because use of a fully adjustable metal bridge with piezo saddles would be suitable on the BEX since the top is attached to a center block.

Golem rated this unit 4 on 2003-12-04.

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