If you’re anything like me, your heart skips a beat whenever you hear about a new bass. Truth be told, some manufacturers get inordinately worked up over vanilla variations of the same old theme. But there are times when the introduction of a new bass is actually something worthy of getting frothy over.
Such is the case with two recent product announcements from Yamaha. These aren’t just any basses, mind you — they’re a duo of limited-run high-end instruments released within weeks of one another: the BBPH Peter Hook Signature and the Billy Sheehan Attitude 30th Anniversary. This is truly a big deal! Let’s take a closer look at each.
If ever there’s been someone deserving of his own custom instrument, it’s Peter Hook, the renowned “lead bassist” for Joy Division and New Order. Recognized as a true innovator by peers and fans alike, Hook’s tone is synonymous with upper-register grooves and swirling melody lines. Interestingly, it’s something he gravitated towards out of necessity — simply to be heard — but it’s a sound that went on to become his own. It not only drew the spotlight to him, it also influenced a generation of bassists. You know, typical bass hero stuff …
What’s particularly interesting about the evolution of Hook’s sound and style is that he was lucky enough to hone it on an instrument whose design couldn’t have been more conducive to what it would become. Hook’s first bass, a Yamaha BB600, was stolen during an early U.S. tour, but its replacement — a Yamaha BB1200S — proved to be a match made in heaven. The neck-through design and slim profile of the BB1200S felt custom-built for Hook, and its reversed split coil pickups accentuated his melodic lines and trebly double-stops. In recent years, the more modern Yamaha BB734A, with its bolt-on neck and extremely versatile active tone circuitry, started working its way into Hook’s arsenal. So when Yamaha approached him about creating his own bass, he thought long and hard about the qualities and characteristics he valued most in both basses. The BBPH Peter Hook Signature bass represents the perfect amalgamation of all of them.
Like the BB1200S, the BBPH features reversed split single coil pickups (these ones are VSP7n Alnico V pickups). The reverse design means that the traditional location of each half coil is swapped: the half dedicated to the D and G strings is closer to the neck, and the half dedicated to the E and A strings is closer to the bridge. This results in a sweeter, rounder sound for notes played on the two higher strings, and tighter lows for the two lower strings.
The BBPH draws on the BB734A, incorporating switchable active/passive three-band equalization, as well as a six-bolt mitred neck joint rather than a neck-through design. Two of those bolts connect at a 45-degree angle, which helps deliver the hallmark strength and solidity that Hook liked in the BB1200S neck-through design and also draws out extra brightness and snap from the upper mids and highs.
When it comes to construction and looks, the BBPH cuts no corners. It melds an alder/maple/alder body with a five-piece neck constructed from maple and mahogany, along with a rosewood fingerboard. The bass is finished in a sexy maroon finish (with a matching, autographed headstock), and comes appointed with lightweight open-gear tuners and a Vintage Plus bridge that gives you the flexibility of convertible stringing (top-loaded or through-body, depending on your taste).
Billy Sheehan is a master bassist whose monstrous shredding style and boundary-busting experimentalism are well known … but perhaps less known is his expertise as an innovative designer. To celebrate the longstanding collaboration between Sheehan and Yamaha for the past 30 years, they worked in tandem to create the Attitude 30th Anniversary — a limited run of 30 basses made in honor of the auspicious milestone.
The Attitude 30th honors all of the defining characteristics of the heavily modified and customized bass (“the Wife”) that originally inspired the line of Sheehan Signature basses, and it spares nothing to effectively tweak out the absolute best performance features, design tolerances and flawless aesthetics.
If you’re lucky enough to get your hands on one, you’ll immediately notice the beautiful sunburst finish — just like the original finish on his legendary customized bass, except without the scars — dressed up with a four-ply tortoise pickguard and nickel-plated hardware. You’ll also recognize the maple neck and maple fingerboard with its upper-register scallops. Like the original, the neck is bolt-on, designed to maintain the integrity of that body-neck connection in spite of the aggressive thrashing that Sheehan inflicts on his basses every time he takes the stage.
And then there are all the modernized features that bring the Attitude 30th firmly into the 21st century, such as a DiMarzio® Woofer pickup in the neck position and DiMarzio Will Power™ split pickups in the middle position, along with dual outputs to enable true separation and finer articulation of the signals coming from each pickup (this also makes it easy for you to bi-amp the signal if you desire). As if that isn’t enough, each bass comes with a sturdy hard-shell case and a numbered certificate of authenticity signed by Sheehan, as well as a signed second pickguard.
As I said, these are product announcements worth getting excited over, with both instruments incorporating innovative design and quality control at its finest. If you’re serious about bass, you owe it to yourself to check them out!
Click here for more information about the BBPH Peter Hook Signature bass.
Click here for more information about the Billy Sheehan Attitude 30th Anniversary bass.