Friday, June 10, 2016

1980 Yamaha Pulser Bass 600 Review


By now you may know that I have a deep fondness for eccentric Japanese guitars and basses, and today we are looking at yet another lawsuit-era bass: a 1980 Yamaha Pulser Bass 600, a faithful and unabashed copy of a 1970s era Fender Precision Bass.

This bass is in great shape and seems to have been spared the indignity of ill-advised and unnecessary modifications over the years, which is a real bonus for me. Things are only original once, you know.

This one has a contoured P body and it is hard to tell from the grain, but it is probably Sen, an ash-like wood from Asia. It was sprayed with a stunning 3-tone sunburst with a subtle red in it, and a 3-ply faux tortoise shell guard is installed. There was a thumb rest and a couple of pickup / bridge covers installed at one point, but they are long gone.

This Yamaha’s 4-bolt maple neck has a nice thick layer of poly on it, and it is still in excellent shape, front and back. The 20 (king of fat) fat frets are still in great shape, with a little bit of wear. It has the typical 1 5/8” P width nut (plastic), but the neck is not overly chunky. I would call it a medium profile C shape. The truss rod adjusts at the heel, and it still turns easily.

The Pulser Bass headstock shape is an exact copy of one that would be found on a Precision Bass, and their logo even is styled to resemble Fender’s. The small print on this one reads: “Nippon Gakki Co. LTD, Made in Japan, Since 1887”

The hardware is very good for a middle of the price range instrument. The non-reverse machine heads are 4-screw open-gear pieces that look like Fender tuners, and the bridge is a pretty thick copy of a 5-screw Fender unit. The chrome is not flaking on any of these parts (or the knobs), which is unusual for Japanese instruments of this era.

The pickup and electronics are original to the bass. There is not much to say about them except that they are exactly what you would expect – a split coil pickup with volume and tone pots. It sounds very good and beefy, with no untoward noises or humming.

This Pulser Bass is not terrible heavy, coming in a bit over 8 ½ pounds according to my digital scale. It is pretty easy on the back, not to mention the eyes. And it is very attractive -- it is in very good overall condition, particularly when you consider it is 36 years old. The finish does not have very many blemishes and it still shiny – it has not been abused. There only distraction is the blemish on the headstock, which could be a crooked cigarette burn or maybe impact damage. It adds character, I think…

It is a good playing bass with no buzzing and a low action. The pickup has strong output (hotter than its contemporary Fenders, and there is no buzzing or static. I play P basses with the controls dimed, and this one really makes my Genz Shuttle bark (in a good way). I like it a lot, so I might try to keep it around for a while.

By the way, since this bass has the “600” designation, this is an indication of what the original price was, which in this case would be 60,000 Yen. This would have been around $271.50 in 1980 when this bass was built. Hopefully this helps illustrate why these basses were such a threat to Fender – the Pulser Bass was a lot of instrument for the money at the time, and Fenders of that era were simply terrible.

It is hard to place a value on the Yamaha Pulser Basses as there are very few of them in the states, and this is the first one I have ever seen in person (I bought it at a secondhand store in Japan). But, judging from a sample of one, they are reasonable priced and are fantastic instruments. If you get the chance to buy one, jump on it!



  1. Hi Rex. I really enjoy your posts, but specifically look forward to the ones concerning Japanese bass guitars. I am fortunate enough to own two; a 1980 era Yamaha BB 1200 and a 2000 era Yamaha TRB 4 string. There were both made in Japan. I was wondering if you know anything about basses manufactured by the History firm (I see the advertised on Reverb from Japanese music stores). I also have an interest in basses that seem to have been overlooked and are good value. For example, the Peavey T 40 (I own one). Please keep up the great work. Mike from Canada.

    1. Ahh yes. There are plans for a T40 review one of these days.

  2. Hello I have a Pulser 600 in a very good condition (8.5/10), just bought it in a pawn shop, it has this serial number: 002275 made in japan, I have tried to find the date, but can't find any clue, a friend says it´s from 1975 (41 years old) if you have any information about it please send me a mail to how much $$ you think it worth? Greeting from Yucatán, México

    1. I would say that is from around 1980 or so. In good shape you can probably get around $400 for it, I would think.

    2. Thanks a lot!

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  4. Hi Rex,
    I really enjoyed this post! I've been hunting high and low for a PB400/PB600 in this finish; do you have any recommendations on where to find one?

    1. This one is for sale - shoot me an email @