Skip to main content

Revelation RBN 5 review

Behold the budget five-string bass with figured-maple pizzazz

Revelation RBN5
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

Impressive value for money, and a fine bass to boot, this would make a stylish choice for those looking for their first five-string.

For

  • Eminently playable.
  • Decent passive tones.
  • Amazing price.

Against

  • Did we mention that it’s heavy?

The Revelation brand is known for delivering pocket-friendly instruments, and they tick many of the boxes that any player might require, but this particular model stopped us in our tracks. 

Once we’d picked ourselves up off the floor, it was time to look a little deeper and try to determine if there’s a downside to the RBN 5’s affordability...

Build Quality

There’s no denying the looks on offer – the quilted maple top over an okoume body core with a dark sunburst and gloss finish is highly impressive, as is the matching headstock. 

Flip the bass over and the rich brown okoume is totally in keeping with the warm aesthetic. With contouring front and back to aid playing comfort, and a deep lower cutaway for upper fingerboard access, the curves complete a well-crafted body.

Then comes the ‘But...’ This is one heavy instrument – and weighing in at 4.5 kilos (10 lbs), it’s not surprising that the bass suffers from significant headstock bias, with the body equally hefty in the weight and balance stakes. A strap offers some help in making the bass sit across the player’s body at a playable angle but some support from the player’s fretting hand is also required.

The clear scratchplate allows more of the sumptuous quilted top to remain on display

The broad maple fingerboard is a deviation from the standard slimness of a Jazz clone, especially given the 45mm nut width. That’s not to say that this bass is a handful – its shallow C-shaped neck profile is accommodating and the overall setup is impressive, aside from a couple of sharp fret ends. 

Abalone fret markers adorn the front-facing of the fingerboard while black dots have been used along the side. 

The clear scratchplate allows more of the sumptuous quilted top to remain on display, and the chrome hardware functions as it should. There’s a vintage-looking control plate and control set, made up of dual volume and tone controls for each of the Neobass-5 humbuckers.

Image 1 of 3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 2 of 3

(Image credit: Future)
Image 3 of 3

(Image credit: Future)

Sounds And Playability

Unsurprisingly for such a weighty instrument, the acoustic tones are big and bold, with bags of sustain and a fair chunk of resonance – so if you like Jazz basses with a darker tone than usual, this model could well be for you. The string volume is clear and fairly even across all five strings, as well as across the whole neck. 

The low B string particularly deserves a mention with its powerful and taut delivery – surprising on a bass at this price. Plugged in, and with both humbuckers at full blast and wide open tonally, the signal is very responsive and clear. 

Pulling the tone controls back a little provides a smoother, rounded tone, but if you want grit and power with a significant bite to it, dig your pick out and go for it. 

If you want grit and power with a significant bite to it, dig your pick out and go for it

The neck pickup is fat and powerful, while the bridge pickup brings a mid-range punch that helps to accentuate the natural bounce from the bolt-on construction. The instrument’s response to different playing techniques is apparent, and its passive simplicity works very much in its favor. Thankfully, all four controls operate across the whole turn, which is pleasing to see.

With 18mm string spacing and a highly-playable string action, this is a fine bass to play and get to grips with – as long as you can handle the weight aspect. 

Some players prefer a heavier instrument, and if this is you, then there is much to admire here. The bass is comfortable to play and hold, especially if you’re sitting down: It’s just the hanging weight when standing up that detracts from its performance.

Conclusion

At $540, there is much here to impress any bassist, and sonically, the RBN 5 is a solid performer in every department. You’re getting a lot of bass for your money, so prepare your biceps, give one a spin and see for yourself...

Specs

  • Price: $540
  • Made In: Indonesia
  • Colour: Dark sunburst, gloss finish
  • Body: Okoume with quilted maple top
  • Neck: Maple, 34” scale, gloss finish
  • Neck Joint: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
  • Nut Width: 45mm
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Frets: 21
  • Pickups: 2 x Alan Entwistle Neobass-5 Neodymium humbuckers
  • Electronics: Passive
  • Controls: Volume, volume, tone, tone
  • Hardware: Chrome hardware, standard bridge, open-gear elephant ear machine heads
  • Weight: 4.5 kg / 9.92 lbs
  • Case/gig bag included: No
  • Left-hand option available: No
  • Contact: Revelation Guitars