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Hands-On Review: Fender Standard Jazz and Precision Basses

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Fifty years after and still the best bass buy

By Todd Ragland

Fender Standard Jazz Bass Headstock

All bass players hold a deep, abiding love for Fender. The story has been the same for nearly every player over the last 50 years. You learned on something funky but affordable. Eventually you graduated to a Fender the Precision for some, the Jazz for others. You fell in love with your Fender the first time you played it. Now, with its finish worn away by your thumb and your forearm through many years of playing, you love it even more. It’s still your main squeeze. You may have other basses you’ve collected over the years. There have been a lot to choose from. But you still keep going back to your Fender, because it’s the sweetest of all.

Fender hasn’t introduced many other styles over the years. There was the Mustang, a short-scale Strat-like bass. There were the nifty MB-4s a few years back that now are being reissued by Squier. Most recently came the Zone basses, which are firmly in the P/J tradition, but are slimmer, sleeker, and employ a combination of P and Jazz electronics. When you have the two most successful basses of all time, it makes a lot of sense to focus on refining what you have going, and that is what Fender has done created subtle, well-thought-out variations on the two classics the immortal P-Bass and the equally immortal Jazz Bass.

Almost infinite variety

Fortunately, a great number of Precision Basses and Jazz Basses have been developed over the years: vintage reissues, signature models, American series, hot-rodded customs, the P/J hybrids, five-string models, fretless models, and countless color and pickguard combinations. The enticements seem nearly endless and for pro players or those looking for the high-end Fender Bass of their dreams, the problem is making up your mind which one to choose.

Fender Standard Precision Bass Guitar

It’s also easy to overlook the basic Fender Bass models that started it all. With so many fancier Fenders to choose from these days, it is easy forget that most older and experienced players still have a Standard P-Bass or Jazz that they play and love. For younger players, these two still represent the best bass deals around. They offer exceptional quality and superior design for a price that is almost ridiculously low.

An international affair

The Standard Precision Bass and Standard Jazz Bass are produced in Ensenada, Mexico, at Fender’s state-of-the-art facility. The Ensenada shop is all Fender. The workers are highly skilled and committed using the same machinery and techniques Fender has refined over many years. As a result, the Fender Standard Series Basses produced in Ensenada are instruments of exceptionally consistent quality. They have the same look, feel, and sound that has made Fender numero uno in the bass world for 50 years.

New old wrinkles

If anything, they continue to improve. One recent change for both the Standard P-Bass and the Standard Jazz is an upgrade in the pickups. In the case of the Jazz Bass, this change has also meant a return to the original pickup style where the bridge pickup is slightly longer than the front. For some years Fender had used pickups that were the same size, which meant if you wanted to swap them out for something fancier, you had to do some routing or buy two front pickups. Not any more. Now the pickups have the traditional widths. If you want to change to Noiseless® pickups, for instance, you can swap them without any cutting.

Fender Standard Jazz Bass Guitar

Another change in the Standard models is more cosmetic, but still cool. For years the Standards have been fitted with Strat-style plastic knobs with numbers marked on them. Now Fender has returned to traditional knobs—plastic for the Jazz with only a single line marked on them and knurled metal knobs for the Fender Precision Bass. In both cases, it is a return to vintage roots.

If you are just starting on the bass or if you’ve been playing for a few years using some Fender wannabe, you should consider a Fender Standard model as the way to start right or step up. They are affordable and you’ll have an instrument that will play smooth, sound sweet, and become a friend that will stick with you through many years. The only question is P-Bass or Jazz Bass? That’s one you’ll have to decide for yourself.

Musician’s Friend offers a wide selection of Fenders including all of the current Standard Precision and Jazz Bass models. You can have the color and style you want, and get it for the friendliest price on the planet. Call us today, and we’ll have the Fender bass you’ve been wanting in your hands in no time.

Features & Specs

Standard Precision® Bass:

  • Body: poplar
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Radius: 9.5"
  • Scale length: 34"
  • No. of Frets: 20
  • Nut width 1.625"
  • Machine heads: standard butterfly
  • Pickups: Standard P-Bass split single-coil
  • Controls: volume, tone
  • Pickguard: 3-ply white
  • Bridge: Standard P-Bass

Standard Jazz® Bass:

  • Body: poplar
  • Neck: maple
  • Fingerboard: rosewood
  • Radius: 9.5"
  • Scale: 34"
  • No. of frets: 20
  • Nut width: 1.5"
  • Machine heads: Standard butterfly
  • Pickups: 2 Standard J-Bass single coils
  • Controls: volume, tone
  • Pickguard: 3-ply white
  • Bridge: Standard J-Bass

Fender®, Squier®, Precision®, Jazz®, Strat®, Zone®, P-Bass®, J-Bass®, and Noiseless® are all registered trademarks of Fender®.

Tags: Electric Bass Fender

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