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Review of the Yamaha BBNE2 (Nathan East signature)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by songwriter21, Jan 8, 2018.


  1. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    I'd been wanting to try this bass out for a long time, only having seen it online and/or in magazines. I was scanning through GC's used site, and I saw that a BBNE2 came in at a store near me. So, I made a trip over there, and finally got to play this bass.

    Well, mixed thoughts on this one. First off, the good points, and they were indeed that. This thing is on the heavier side, but, it balances really well on your lap...very minimal neck dive, if any. The neck was on the fuller/beefier side, and still, it really didn't phase me much, nor did the gloss finished on the back of the neck. That finish really surprised me, as I play satin, so nice job on that part. The ebony board was also solid, with no fret ends sticking out (can be common with how ebony can shrink easily in the dry winter air). Access was no problem at all to the 24 frets, and every note was big and full-sounding, with crystal clarity, and they all sustained quite well. You can see the 5 pieces of laminated wood for the neck, if you look carefully at the black color (reflected under light), where the paint shows ever-so-slightly raised surfaces from the joined pieces.

    Along with the great sounding pickups, the eq section was POWERFUL...but, tasteful, if that makes sense. I couldn't find a bad sound on this bass, locating pretty much everything from a P to a J-Bass, regardless of what some say it not being able to do. I can see why Nathan East trusts this thing for tone, because it's got studio-clean authority. Anyway, the eq is blend, master volume (yes, after the blend), bass, mid, treble, and a mid-cut switch with a evel knob. That last control is basically a simplified version of Nathan East's old effects box from Yamaha, the NE-1. I have one, and will never sell it. The built-in "magic box" on this bass, is close to effectiveness of the box, but I wasn't thrilled about the set frequency and q point (sweepable on the NE-1 box). The mids on this bass can cut through any band, I would think. About the only eq point that isn't massive-sounding, is the treble. It's certainly more subtle than the mids and bass, but effective. The bass is perhaps too? big...didn't take much to make the speakers fart, so that was used sparingly. The blend was pleasantly predictable, as the bridge pickup could really grunt and burp, with harmonics that shimmered while not sounding brittle. The neck pickup had nice beef, but not totally an actual P-Bass (duh). The J-Bass comparison was almost there, too, or perhaps more (J-Bass on steroids, I think). So yeah, I was curious as to why the blend knob is the closet to the neck, while the volume was closest to the bridge. My only guess, is that Nathan requested the volume to be closest to his fingers, for better access to live volume changes/swells. I actually kind of like this.

    Okay, yeah, then there's what killed it for me. The fret job wasn't that great (very surprised), as they looked pretty off as I sighted down the neck, even with the bass side being relatively flat. The treble side, I couldn't flatten to save my life, as I think a well-made bass should have a pretty-much equally-flat neck on both sides, or at least, have the same relief on both sides. Totally not the case here, sadly, because this bass, along with bottomed-out saddles, was at the end of the line. I say, sadly, because if this bass could achieve what my Peaveys' necks can, then OH MY GOD, the BBNE2 would crush. All in all, this was a bittersweet experience, because again, the sound and balance were phenomenal, and then there was the neck playability....

    I seriously wonder if this one bass was somehow a dud that slipped out of the east? I really can't see a top-tier pro (like Nathan East) accepting something "off" like this. This was a used bass, but it didn't look like it.

    Thoughts?
     
    Al Krow likes this.
  2. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Earth
    I picked ups used BBNE2 this week. Fit and finish was perfect. There was some light swirling on the back, as this bass had been gigged, but not abused.

    You can clearly tell that this bass was designed to sit in the mix, when compared to my Fodera, Sadowsky, and Fender it lacks a characteristic sound. Now Fender Jazz growl, no Fodera cut through, no Sadowsky bottom...

    It records easy... use it live tomorrow... will know more after that.
     
  3. stingray78

    stingray78 Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2012
    I own a BBNE2 and agree on all points. Quality of workmanship is outstanding through and through, no issues with the fret job on mine. In spite of being slightly over 10 pounds, the bass balances nicely on my strap. It doesn't feel heavy at all.
    It sits in the mix real nice, without ever getting buried; both live and when recording. But it does lack character, which is more of an issue when played by itself. I felt similar about my Yamaha BB3000 in the 80s and my Warwick Streamer Stage I 5 String in the 90s, I was underwhelmed when playing them on stage but always impressed when listening to live recording afterwards.
    The BBNE2 is a real nice player though. Very narrow neck in the lower registers, wide at the 24th fret.
     
    Acoustic356 likes this.
  4. Acoustic356

    Acoustic356 Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2014
    Earth
    I hated the tone on my NS Design played live, but loved it when recorded.

    This one, I love the sound live and recorded.
     
  5. RSmith

    RSmith Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2003
    Springfield, Missouri
    Thanks for posting this thread.
     
  6. ranat

    ranat

    Dec 22, 2010
    LA California
    Man this bass is the bass I'll never sell, for me it's all perfect!! Lemme know if you guys spot the pewter one, I need that ;)
     
    Dave Neal and Acoustic356 like this.
  7. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    Sheesh, good luck with that unicorn....
     
    ranat likes this.
  8. ranat

    ranat

    Dec 22, 2010
    LA California
    Thanks man! It's just like a quest for a treasure exciting lol
     
  9. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    I saw someone on here, who had an avatar of their basses, one being a pewter BBNE2. Do some hunting around here with keywords and see what you find.
     
    ranat likes this.
  10. filwitheneff

    filwitheneff

    Feb 22, 2008
    SEMO
    I bought the BBNE2 just about 3 weeks ago. My need for a 5-string kept growing, and I searched for a few months to find the right one. I've owned other 5's in the past, but I've never kept them because I could never get comfortable with the necks. They were either too wide, or too thick, or just plain wrong.

    Then I saw a post, right here on TB, from an owner of the BBNE2 who said that the neck on the BBNE2 was as comfortable as any of his 4-strings in his arsenal. So I took a chance and bought one.

    While I don't think the neck is as comfortable as my P-Basses, it really is a comfortable neck for a 5-string. And it had no such issues with frets or relief that you mentioned. However, I did my own setup, and the G and D strings are bottomed-out at the bridge. But I don't need them any lower anyway (good thing, right!?!).

    Overall, I think I've finally found a 5-string that I'll keep.
     
    Al Krow, Acoustic356 and songwriter21 like this.
  11. ranat

    ranat

    Dec 22, 2010
    LA California
    Good idea thanks man!
     
    songwriter21 likes this.
  12. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    Yeah, the bottoming-out of the saddles disappointed me. I was just really shocked as to how "off" the thing was, regarding playability. I'm sure that one done right, would be great like yours. It didn't fly with me, because this is how low I like my action (similar among the three Peaveys of mine...pic was a previous Cirrus):

    18558622_10212545230165183_3205354050684802133_o.
     
    filwitheneff likes this.
  13. filwitheneff

    filwitheneff

    Feb 22, 2008
    SEMO
    Wow! That is some LOW action! I guess I'm too heavy-handed for that.
     
    songwriter21 and Dave Neal like this.
  14. songwriter21

    songwriter21 I have an obsession for wood. The musical kind. Supporting Member

    Jul 31, 2005
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Sponsored by Hipshot
    Indeed. I've since raised it a touch, for the times on stage when adrenaline gets you playing harder, and you need to strings to sustain better from not being so twangy.
     
  15. Al Krow

    Al Krow

    Jan 15, 2018
    London
    The versatility of the EQ seems truly awesome on the BBNE2!

    I've not been able to find out from the online manuals what frequencies the BBNE2's bass, mid, and treble EQ knobs are centred on - does anyone have this information to hand?

    I guess a little harder to track down will be the range that the sweepable mid-cut dial covers - but again if anyone has this, that would be much appreciated! :)
     
  16. So I decided to give the BBNE2 a try. I was hoping for a TRB 5PII spin off but now that it is in my hands it actually reminds me more of a Spector or Warwick which is not a bad thing. I wanted to see tonally where it sits against all my other basses so I made this audio test. Towards the end the footage of the TRB 5PII is tonally what I am shooting for but I think I can get that tone with the BBNE2. I will try in my next audio installment. Let me know your thoughts.
     
    lo-freq likes this.
  17. Bliff Curton

    Bliff Curton

    Sep 10, 2018
    Thank you for posting that comparison.

    It helped confirm what I thought: that I prefer 21-frets over 24-frets because there is less string noise using my heavy-handed right-hand technique.
     
    alotabass likes this.
  18. I used to own a BBNE2 (bought brand new and owned for 5+ years), and really miss it. I'm playing mostly MTDs these days but BBNE2 was arguably the best at just "sitting in the mix". I found that it has its own unique voice too, even though some commented that it lacks character. I will definitely buy another one sometime.
     
  19. lo-freq

    lo-freq aka UFO

    Jan 19, 2003
    DFW, Texas
    Yamaha,
    You should produce a working-man's version of the BBNE - same pickups & preamp, but bolt-on neck, no gold plating, & regular tuning keys.
    Thank you,
    JD
     
    songwriter21 likes this.
  20. bassooka

    bassooka

    Feb 24, 2007
    Belgium
    There was a lower cost version, a five and a four string version. While I have the BB ne2 myself as main instrument for over 10 years, I remember wanting the four string so badly. I remember the following:
    The body did not had the cutaway in the back as with the BBNE-2.
    The hardware was chrome I think. Certainly not gold.
    I am hesitating if the jack was in a cutaway at the side.
    The four string version got my attention because it must be the "fastest" neck I have ever experienced up until now.
    The midcut was not there, but I may be wrong.
    I am still searching for a bb 2004. It is a jet and a bomber at the time. Anybody?
    The four string was 1600 euro and the NE2 was 3000. And they are worth it.
    I find these are the nicest looking BB's.
     

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