Friday, June 13, 2014

Flood Victim #2 - Yamaha RBX775 FSL

My Two Cents
This 2004 Flat Silver (FSL) RBX775 was made "by Kaohsiung Yamaha Co., Ltd. in Taiwan in accordance with specifications of Yahama Corporation." Like the Washburn XB125 featured in an earlier post, this bass suffered quite a lot of damage due to the floods of early 2014. Once again, the main consideration was to resuscitate the instrument at minimal cost.

The 24-fret bolt-on maple neck, tuning machines and rosewood fingerboard were still in great shape despite being submerged for around 24 hours in muddy water. The truss rod, located at the heel end of the neck, functioned adequately after cleaning and a lube job. As such, besides a thorough cleaning, nothing much had to be done to the neck.

The alder body, however, was a totally different story. The finish had cracked, bubbled and was in danger of peeling off in several places. After stripping the body down to bare wood (which had quite an attractive grain), I discovered severe discoloration around the control knobs and switches due to rust and a blackish substance (probably shielding paint). I also found patches of rotten wood and a few cracks, which were repaired using wood splices, glue and clamps. The cavity that housed the DPDT boost switch was also sealed with a wooden dowel. As expected, a fair amount of sanding, leveling and reshaping had to be carried out before the body was ready for refinishing. Unlike the XB125 refinish job, no stain was applied to the wood as the grain pattern stood out nicely on its own. All that was needed was a couple of coats of sanding sealer followed by a few more coats of clear lacquer.

Like the body, the BPZ-8 bridge assembly was in bad shape. I guess that rust never sleeps. All the wood screws had to be replaced (thanks to Mr. Liew of Kuantan Music for having them in stock). The bridge itself was taken apart and all the components de-rusted and lubricated. I'm especially thankful that the tiny saddle height adjustment screws were useable after being treated with a wire brush, contact cleaner and grease.

Now, let's talk about the electronics. Sad to say, the only useable components were the pickups. I suspect that the black epoxy Yamaha used to seal them did a good job of keeping water and other assorted flood gunk from getting in. Nice job, Yamaha! That being the case, I opted for a simple passive wiring setup. This included aluminium foil shielding, a 3-way toggle switch for pickup selection, a pair of Alpha 500K pots plus a 0.047uF cap for master volume and tone, and a new barrel output jack.

I'm pleased to report that this 'naturalized' RBX775 performed admirably through a Hartke 4x10 combo amp during two recent gigs (9th and 11th of June). The tone was nicely balanced with deep and defined lows, growling mids, plus a snappy top end. Not too bad for a passive bass. Now, I just can't wait to find out what the Washburn XB125 will sound like through the same setup. Enough said, then. Let's look at some pictures.

References and Credits
1. My Cool Guitars
2. richardwitt74's Flickr Photostream
3.Yamaha USA
4. Yamaha RBX774/RBX775 Service Manual


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