Hey guys it’s Brian here with World Music Supply, and today I’m here to talk to you about something that hasn’t been covered before in depth in this blog, and that is basses, specifically Fender basses. Fender basses have been the industry standard for bass guitars since the beginning, probably because Fender is the company that invented the modern electric bass guitar.
Clearly one of Leo Fender and the Fender company’s most illustrious achievements has to be the invention of the Precision Bass, taking the musical range and sound of the upright bass, and making it a compact and easily transportable form. Fender also decided to add a fretted fingerboard, so that bassists could play in tune quickly and easily. Eventually, Fender also produced the Jazz bass, with its thinner faster neck profile, and its much mellower sound. So lets go through a brief rundown and review of some of the most popular Fender basses on the market today.
First and foremost, is the Fender American Standard Precision Bass. With a tone that is bold, punchy, and iconic, it’s widely understood that the P bass can fit in almost any situation. Sure, you would assume that one pickup doesn’t give you much versatility, but that has never stopped the P bass from playing in everything from rock and blues, to funk and R&B, all the way to shred metal, modern pop and hip hop. There is nothing that a P bass can’t do.
I sat down with the American Standard P Bass, and put it through its paces. I was able to get everything from thundering low growls, which were great for quick jazz runs, to bright sounding rock tones with nothing more then a quick roll of the tone knob. The neck felt smooth and comfortable, and the body shape fits you like an old friend. There is nothing I could dream of adding to, or changing about this lovely instrument, and I would give it a 10 out of 10, except it would be unfair of me to grade the P bass. As the P bass was the first real bass guitar, all other bass guitars are judged by the bar it set all of those years ago.
Next up, is the Fender American Standard Jazz bass. Invented as a part of the plan by fender to help bring jazz players into the electrified world, the Jazz bass was given a thinner neck, an offset body style, two redesigned pickups to help give it a darker, more mellow tone, and a different control scheme that gave it far more versatility tone wise. Yes, it was designed for jazz, but that has never stopped it from being played in everything from metal to country, and anything in-between. As with its brother the P bass, it seems that there is nothing the Jazz bass isn’t capable of.
Sitting down with the American Standard Jazz bass, I was impressed by how it all felt. Playing jazz lines, on a jazz bass will always just sound and feel right, because Fender really got this instrument right. The tones were delicate and bold at the same time, with punch and growl, but playing softly resulted in those classic soulful, yet whispery tones. Being able to zip from really bright tones on the bridge pickup, and then by a twist of the two volume controls, and a whirl of the tone, go bright bridge tones to the darkest neck tones imaginable is a testament to how versatile this instrument really is. Slapping and popping gave me all of those old tones, that would be more then at home on any old funk record ala Sly and the Family stones. Playing with the pads of my fingers gave me big open jazz tones, and switching to a pick gave me all of the big rock style tones I could ever need. It really just does it all, and does it all with style.
This is a bass that can do it all, easily a 10 out of 10, but like I said with the P bass, these two basses are the ones that started it all, without them the instrument as we know it would be far different indeed.
The next bass in the review is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass. Fender tends to use their Squier brand to produce one of two things, cheaper versions of their Fender made instruments, or they use them to create radically different instruments for markets that would be too expensive to fill with their higher dollar instruments. This is a good example of the latter.
The smaller scale length of this instrument seems fitting, as Fender has made many quirky short scale basses over the years, with models like the Bronco, or the Mustang bass, as Fender has always attempted to figure out a way to exploit that niche as much as possible. The neck on the Short Scale Jaguar felt comfortable, and after it was strung up with heavier strings, this thing came to life. The super versatile electronics of this guitar include a jazz bass style volume and tone layout, with both a Jazz bass pickup in the bridge, and a Precision bass pickup in the neck. Being able to have the punchy-ness of the P bass, and all of the mellow growl, and the ability to pan between pickups like a Jazz bass just gives this instrument way too much power.
The body feels strangely unlike a bass, and the short scale of the neck does make it feel a lot more like a guitar then a bass. This can lead the odd syndrome of wanting to play guitar style lines on a bass, with big huge jumps between notes, leading you away from the standard walk along the neck that bass players have done for so many decades. The only downside I can find about the Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass, is that they didn’t include the active bass circuit of the rest of the Jaguar bass models in the Vintage Modified line, a feature that would have given this already dark sounding bass a little extra edge . Overall though this little addition to the Fender family does exactly what it needs to, and is one amazing little bass at a really affordable price. For its versatility and cool short scale playability, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Short Scale Jaguar bass gets an easy 9 out of 10, because while it’s not every bassist will like the short scale length, every bass player should own atleast one short scale bass, for their unique dark mellow tone.
The last guitar in this review is another Squier, and the bass in question is the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz bass. I’ve always loved the added versatility that a low B gives you, and with the big bold tone that Duncan designed pickups gives you, this bass definitely has a lot more power then anything in its price range. This is an amazingly high quality bass, not just a high quality Squier, but definitely a true high quality bass all around.
Sitting down with the bass, I loved the added body, and sustain that the extra wood and weight gives to the Jazz basses tone. Playing through standard jazz changes is far easier when you can shift down to that low B as you walk higher up the neck, as you can leap around within the changes much easier then on a standard four string. Dropping the low B to an A, I was able to play everything from some deep down funk, some bright rock, even some dark metal chugging, without the low A ever seeming unnecessary or misplaced. As far as bass guitars go, the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Five String Jazz Bass is miles above and beyond its competition, and nothing in its price bracket comes close to its power, and tone. The Vintage Modified Five String easily snags a 10 out of 10, for just being so practical, and affordable.
As you can see, even though Fenders range of basses isn’t that gigantic, and even though the design of said basses have rarely changed in sixty or so years, they are still just as important and revolutionary to modern music as they have ever been. So why don’t you start playing the same basses that revolutionized modern music all those years ago, and go pick up a Precision, a Jazz, or even the newer Jaguar basses over at Worldmusicsupply.com today!