What is it?
When Yamaha announced the launch of a signature bass guitar for Peter Hook there was huge excitement among the bass playing community at large. Then, moments later, a little panic.
Here was a modern replica of Hooky's legendary BB (Broad Bass) BB1200S series and the BB734A that's become a staple of his live show. With both body and headstock resplendent in the distinctive BB1200S red finish, the reverse split-coil pickup format, it looked the part. Furthermore, Yamaha was built in Indonesia and had a price tag that was more than attainable.
But, the panic. Only 14 instruments were made available in the US. No word yet on how many would make it to Europe. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away... The question is not whether you wanted the BBPH, it was whether you could track one down.
Those successful would find signature flourishes kept to a minimum. Hook's signature and “Manchester, England!” is written on the rear of the headstock. Otherwise, everything is designed with practicality in mind.
The BBPH offers a switchable active/passive performance via a toggle switch mounted adjacent to the bridge. There are four knobs controlling that one split-coil VSP7n pickup. The largest positioned closest to the fretboard is for master volume, then you have bass boost/cut, middle boost/cut and treble boost/cut – the latter acting as a master tone control when the BBPH is in passive mode.
Six bolts are used to secure the five-piece maple/mahogany neck to an alder and maple sandwich body. Elsewhere, you've got a Rosewood fingerboard with a 10“ radius, 21 medium frets, a 34" scale, a Vintage Plus bridge and lightweight open-gear tuners. The string-through-body setup for the bridge is very neat and tidy.
If the look of the BBPH is authentic enough for Peter Hook super-fans, it's not going to put anyone off. The BB design is a crowdpleaser, bridging the gap between the classic Fender bass designs that ushered in the age of electric bass and the more modern builds.
Sure, the more future-centric bass player might baulk at only one pickup option, but that active 3-band EQ will wring every last drop of tone out of it. It is a formidable active preamp. There's even a warning LED on the battery compartment that illuminates when the battery is low.
Performance and verdict
Don't be fooled by the single pickup configuration. The BBPH has got a lot going on tonally. In passive mode, that master tone control has a wide sweep to it that can take you from thick and plummy to metallic and sharp. Your mileage, of course, may vary. There are some players for whom this is enough. Others will want to flick the switch.
In doing so, they'll find the BBPH respond in kind with some real power. The 3-band EQ is made of sterling stuff. Go all-in with the bass control and it'll swallow everything whole. The mids will help you find some body and a little bark, too, while there is enough treble here to ensure that every little detail is heard through the most challenging of mixes.
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That has been a leitmotif of Peter Hook's bass playing. He drives the melody with basslines riffs, and there's a presence in his tone that is easily teased out of the BBPH. Should you go to the 10th fret and beyond, it'll offer full tactical support.
The sustain is quite superlative. It would be a waste if you didn't make the most of it by staking out some melodies in the upper registers. Add a little chorus, maybe even some overdrive and you can advance the rhythm section and pull it into the foreground. Just like Hooky does.
For this price, the BBPH is a no-brainer. The only question is finding one. That's easier said than done. The slinky feel and the playability is there. Active or passive it doesn't matter: the tones are there. Those who do get their hands on the BBPH might just find themselves reappraising the capabilities of a single-pickup instrument.
MusicRadar verdict: Don't be fooled by the single-pickup configuration. With a super passive performance that's switchable to a high-powered active preamp, the Peter Hook BBPH signature is a real player's instrument with plenty of range. It looks damn cool too. Grab one if you can.
- PRICE: £1129 / $2000
- MADE IN: Indonesia
- BODY: Alder/maple/alder
- NECK: Five-piece maple/mahogany, 34” scale
- NECK JOIN: Bolt-on, six bolts
- FRETBOARD: Rosewood, 21 frets, Graphtech nut
- PICKUPS: Reversed P-style split-coil
- ELECTRONICS: Active preamp
- CONTROLS: Volume, 3-band EQ (bass, middle, treble/passive tone), active/passive switch
- HARDWARE: Lightweight open-gear tuners, Vintage Plus brass/steel bridge with strings-through-body option
- WEIGHT: 4.3 kg / 9.5 lbs
- LEF-HANDED OPTION: No
- CASE/GIGBAG INCLUDED: Gigbag
- CONTACT: Yamaha