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RBX 374 too "hot" & "cold"

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Steamtronic, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Hi, I've just purchased a Yamaha RBX 374 second hand on ebay & am having some issues I hope someone might know something about.

    The bass pot (ie low freq. pot) makes the E & A strings seem unnaturally loud to the point of being overdriven, creating distortion at even low volume, while the D & G seem too quiet. If I play very softly on the E & A they don't distort, but when I dig in it's a muddy buzzy mess. The distortion starts just before 1/2 bass pot , getting worse until its a muddy mess at full bass pot (by which time the D & G sound Oprah - i.e. lovely & warm & fat!). The battery for the active pickups is brand new. Cant tell you what guage the strings are but they look thick - E could easily be used as a B.

    Ive played a few 374's & 375's and have not noticed this before, so Im thinking its a set up issue. The only thing I can think of is slanting the pickups so the E side is lower than the G side. Aside from this, anyone got any suggestions?

    I really hope someone knows something about this kind of issue, its really bugging me that I can't play it as God intended :bassist:

    EDIT: I've adjusted the pickup heights and this improved the D & G volume issue no end, however the E & A still distort like mad (no, not string buzz - electronic distortion). Worse on the neck pickup, the more bass pot the worse it gets. On bridge pickup with bass & treble pots wound right back to zero, it nearly disappears altogether (but this is not a setting anyone would ever use). If I use my little Korg Pandora unit to add an effect or amp style, it really gets bad.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. xxx666


    Jan 12, 2008
    Endorsing Artist G&L Guitars
    Is it active? It may have a weak battery?
  3. Thanks XXX, yes, battery is new (mentioned in OP).
  4. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    That's a shame about your recently purchased RBX 374. I have a 375 & absolutely love it! But it definitely sounds like something is wrong - is it perhaps the amp you are playing through is being overdriven by the amount of low boost you are asking of it? The Bass & Treble on the RBX 374/375 are powerful - small adjustments go a long way. If you haven't already, I'd consider giving it a spin through a couple more bass amps just to confirm whether or not the problem follows the bass no matter what you are playing through.

    Beyond that, it could be the pickups and/or preamp have an issue. If returning it isn't an option, there are sellers on e-bay who sell complete pickup/preamp components from the RBX series from time to time.

    Perhaps a visit to a local repair shop for a 2nd opinion wouldn't hurt either. Best of luck with it!
  5. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    Also, I know the battery is new, but you might want to try another one regardless or throw the existing battery on an ohm meter to see exactly what voltage it is putting out. Sometimes batteries sit on shelves or in warehouse a long time before being purchased. A quick & cheap experiment at worst. Good luck!
  6. Thanks Stingray,

    I know what you mean about the 374/5's - I was trying out basses at a store, looking at the lower end Warwicks & Squire J's, and just picked the Yamaha up out of curiosity. It really was night and day for me, It just felt and sounded streets ahead of the others. The only thing I am a bit iffy on is the look - a bit too Star Trek for a Tommy Shannon wannabe like myself. Anyway the combination of feel & sound easily sold me above the appearance, Ill just have to get used to the inevitable guffaws from the rock & blues "purists" when I pull this baby out. (Ironically the whole "roadworn" concept came about due a professed lack of care for appearance over ability & sound. Maybe I'll have to take to it with a length of chain and stick a set of antlers on it or something. Humans are a funny lot, especially the deeper into the land of music you travel.)

    I'm taking your advice and taking her to the local repairer & getting her professionally setup at the same time. She was not treated well - she is an ex-rental and looks like shes had everything removed and put back a few times, so it could be internal (I sincerely hope not, she'll cost more to repair than it cost to buy!!) I'll post back once the formal diagnosis is in, just in case anyone else comes across this.
  7. stingray69

    stingray69 Talkbass Legit

    Aug 11, 2004
    St Louis Area
    No worries Steamtronic - just hoping to see you with a properly working 374 soon. I've had mine - a metallic red one for about 2 months or so & I'm really, really enjoying it. So much in fact, I think I'll be purchasing a silver one as a backup very soon. Both tone & playability are absolutely wonderful - best bass purchase I've made in a long time! I happen to love the body design - and it definitely has got some smooth flowing lines to the shape. It sure isn't your run of the mill J or P shape - and I like that. I find it very comfortable to play. But I know what you mean about the modern body style vs musical genre & purists. But heck, I've introduced mine into the country/rock band I'm in & no one in the band seems to mind as long as I can cop a good full & punchy sound akin to a jazz - which it can & much more. My band mates are used to me experimenting with gear - and I do have quite a few jazz basses I can always use but they are taking a back seat to the 375 for a while. And you're right - humans are a funny lot & imo, the purists can go suck eggs & chase rabbits for all I care, lol. They'll just have to get over themselves. I think we as bassists are generally more open minded to technologies & experimental with our gear than what strictly by-the-book Strat & Tele guitarists tend to be. Or worse yet, a close-minded bassist in the crowd - don't even sweat it. As long as the tone is great & supportive to the genre, I say rock it. And the 374 is a highly versatile instrument - no worries in that dept. The Tommy Shannon inspired playing will follow if you are happy with your instrument & tone. :cool:
  8. OK, got her back from the shop today. Professionally setup. I was assured the electronics are in perfect order.

    However, string buzz is worse than when I first got it, and pickups are raised so high the E & A constantly click against the neck pup with even light plucking, don't even think about slapping.

    So, back to the shop tomorrow with my bass and a jar of vaseline (use your imagination).
  9. willbassyeah


    Oct 9, 2011
    so does the bass still get distorted? if it is just string buzzing off the fretboard that just means you have a low action.
  10. The distortion is still present - its definitely not string buzz I'm talking about (although that is present as well), I know the difference. I'm thinking now my amp is just a piece of poo and can't handle the high-gain output from that fearsome 9-volt preamp ;). Im used to playing a passive through it.

    The string buzz is a pain though - Ill have them raise the action because it sounds like a tin can full of hornets.

    Out of curiosity, is string buzz in a properly set up bass "normal"? Or is it a matter of preference?
  11. chatterbox272


    Apr 12, 2012
    does your amp have high/low inputs? and are you using the low one if it does? Have you tried turning the volume down on the amp or on the bass? Are you sick of my questions yet? :p

    I think it's a bit of preference but I would assume that it would be something you'd ask for specifically if you wanted it. If I took my bass to get professionally set up and it came back with horrible fret buzz I'd take it back and have them either give me back my money or fix it.
  12. Thanks Chatterbox,

    Yeah distortion is still present on high input. Damn it, I'll just have to tell my wife I NEED to buy a new amp to go with my new bass! What rotten luck! ;)

    Seriously though, it kicks in at about 20% bass pot (a level at which its pointless trying to play at anyway). Above that it is present regardless of amp volume. My no-brand cheap chinese passive bass has no such problems, neither do my 6 string guitars (all passive).
  13. bumperbass

    bumperbass Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2012
    Just for curiosity, what amp do you play it through now? I've had my RBX374 for 2 years now and haven't had one problem. It's a great bass. even though it's cheap. There's no way your strings should be anywhere near the pickup pole pieces. If your preamp is toast, you could always have it wired passive with a few 500K pots and two tone controls, or a blend & volume with two tones, etc.
    Sounds like your action is too low, and maybe you have too much bow in the neck as well. These basses aren't very hard to setup. Yamaha has good QC and mine was perfect out of the box. The NUT was even the perfect height, which isn't seen too often with most production basses. Good luck.
    As an experiment, you could always unsolder the pickups and put then through directly to your amp to find out whether the preamp is bad or has been modified.
  14. A 50 watt, 30-year-old love-you-longtime piece of fecal matter. It's great for looking even uglier than it sounds. :b. I have a suspicion it is not a dedicated bass amp, I bought it cheap off an old acquaintance a few decades back and it worked fine with my passive which came with it and was probably made in the same factory.

    I'm short of cash & not working atm so I can't splash out on much shiny new stuff, hence my eBay shopping. I'm a hobbyist who jams with a group occasionally so I don't need 1000W and 4 cabs from the fine folk at Marshall, but I definitely want something that a) can handle an active for backyard BBQ gigs and b) makes me sound like a Motown king. Although constant practice will probably have more to do with that.

    Turns out the guys I paid to set it up didn't touch the pickups at all. I was under the impression that there is some arcane knowledge and the use of star-trek-like oscilloscope gadgets involved in setting correct pickup height, but after complaining to him about the string situation he just pulled out a philips head driver and turned it down as far as it would go. I'm going to give it a good slapping when I go to collect it again, and if it still isn't fixed I'll do the same for him ;)

    Action was indeed to low - I don't think he even played it after restringing it, he just used his string ruler to check the heights and knocked off for the day. Intonation was all right (although is suspect that to be a coincidence). Neck looks dead straight - maybe could use some convex? Dunno, THAT'S WHY I PAID A #*&^%!#% PRO TO SET IT UP FOR ME!!!! Worst $80 I've ever spent, damn bass didn't cost much more.
  15. SGD Lutherie

    SGD Lutherie Banned Commercial User

    Aug 21, 2008
    Bloomfield, NJ
    Owner, SGD Music Products
    $80 for a setup?!? Never pay more than $40!

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