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jazzyvee

I've had a P-bass moment!!!

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In the past I'd never really paid much attention to P-basses, when I'd heard them on gigs they pretty much didn't move me at all,  but on Saturday night I had a gig at a 60th birthday playing bass with a Stevie Wonder Tribute band. The birthday boy played in his trio before we hit the stage and had a well used and loved i guess Fender P-bass and man...... the sound was incredible. Full warm and punchy just the kind of sound I read that so many on here love about them and not the dull thud I'd been hearing a lot in the past!

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It always amazes me when people manage to get a bad sound from a Precision - with most amps set flat they work well in the mix, and if you then eq them they can do so much.

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I avoided them for years because I thought they were boring.

Then one day I decided to see what all the fuss was about and instantly fell in love with the sound.

 

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I truly believe that every bass player experiences a single moment in time that says inwardly "that's the sound".

Since 1964 when I first started playing bass I have had three or four such moments. 

First was my Gibson EB3 thro a Marshall 1x18 sound bouncer and TWO Hiwatt 4x12.

Secondly was my 1972 Fender Telecaster Bass thro a 1971 Acoustic 136 100w 1x15 combo. 

Finally my Fender P Bass thro my Mesa Subway D800 and Barefaced Super Compact. 

Leo probably got it right and everything else simply orbits round the P Bass centre of gravity,  offering various additions and flexibility to that core P bass sound.

Call me a "sad ole romantic" if you like but if we were honest with ourselves there is a modicum of truth in what I say l

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I've had 30+ basses of all sorts but the best one I've had in a band was a MM Fender P. It's simple and just does the job.  Desert island disks bass - "the Bible , Shakespeare and a P bass - what else would you have?"

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All true. I had a complex about liking Precisions when I first started playing (they looked 'boring') so I was all about Jazz basses. Then I went to more gigs, where more people were playing P's and I was blown away - I've had some variation on a P as my main bass for the 14 years since. 

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I think I have had 3 proper precision’s and 1 Yamaha with a P bass pickup and I think I am still waiting for that epiphanal moment. 

I happily gigged a USA precision for years as a teenager and then went through a squier classic vibe and vintage modifies in recent years but thy just don’t stick. It’s something to do with my right hand position when I play and the lack of ‘tightness’ from a bridge pickup. I think a PJ is my ultimate bass because I love the massive fat 50’s/60’s necks.

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Don't get me wrong, I'm not suddenly going out to buy a Fender P,  it's just that this was the first one that Ive heard live that had a sound I could recognise from what people on forums have described as a classic P-Bass tone. In actual fact I have had my own Alembic P-style bass for about 11 years and it sounds awesome, but when I bought it I was more of a guitarist and wanted a bass for writing and I knew nothing about P-basses and their distinctive tone. I've done a few gigs with it and used it on jam/open mic sessions but I have to say it gets the least playing time since it has a particular tone that for me doesn't fit with most of the stuff I do. 

http://club.alembic.com/Images/411/35752.jpg

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I love a good P-bass, but it hasn't always been the case. It took playing an especially good one for me to "see the light". That opened the floodgates, so to speak. Now I wouldn't be without one!

10 hours ago, NJE said:

I think a PJ is my ultimate bass because I love the massive fat 50’s/60’s necks.

Err - why would a PJ be your ultimate bass then? Most PJ basses seem to have skinny J necks...

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30 minutes ago, Bigwan said:

I love a good P-bass, but it hasn't always been the case. It took playing an especially good one for me to "see the light". That opened the floodgates, so to speak. Now I wouldn't be without one!

Err - why would a PJ be your ultimate bass then? Most PJ basses seem to have skinny J necks...

There lies my problem, PJ basses with thick necks are slim on the ground. I think there are only a couple of models Fender have ever done. I stupidly didn’t buy a well priced Hot Rod Precision a year or so ago, and have only seen one since. I think that would be the cheapest way of getting what I want.

I think as and when I have the money it will need to be a custom build or mod a standard Precision.

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MIJ Jazz Bass Special is a PJ with a P neck. Really good quality instruments. 

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22 minutes ago, NJE said:

There lies my problem, PJ basses with thick necks are slim on the ground. I think there are only a couple of models Fender have ever done. I stupidly didn’t buy a well priced Hot Rod Precision a year or so ago, and have only seen one since. I think that would be the cheapest way of getting what I want.

I think as and when I have the money it will need to be a custom build or mod a standard Precision.

I have the bits for a PJ (with a classic 50's profile neck) sitting around waiting for me to get to so we're in the same boat!

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It finally dawned on me that the reason why I was disappointed with most of the basses I owned was that they weren't Precision basses.  Once I got that set in my head Life became a lot more straightforward until I needed 5 string basses.  The issue with this is I need light weight basses with narrow string spacing, which automatically discounted most production 5 string Precision-type models. After kissing a few frogs the answer was clear - get a 5 string precision made to my spec.  Enter stage left my prince - a Maruszczyk Jake 5 - weighs in at 8lbs, 43mm at the nut ( this is a 5er...) and 17mm spacing at the bridge.  The Delano pup is everything I hoped for and more.  No more GAS!  :)

 

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The thing with P basses is it depends a lot on the strings. Flat wounds are my favourite, but there is even a big difference in tone between Thomastiks and Rotosounds. To me while Thomastik’s feel nicer, they completely lack warmth and character compared to the Rotosounds.

I also get a very different flavour from Roundwounds. With sets of nickel and steel, the bottom end isn’t as thick or as present compared to the flats.

So when trying a P,  you should take the strings into consideration.

I also hate the fat C necks, so I’m lucky mine came with a shallow B neck. It’s a MIM 2006 P with Lindy Fralin P/Us.

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After years of trying various basses, I now exclusively play P basses. @OliverBlackman is right about strings - they are so important to the sound. I've tried almost every type of string and keep coming back to Chromes on my P basses, Fender flats are also pretty good as well. My Fender MIJ 62 RI with Chromes nails the sound I like, but I also like 51 P basses for there huge warm sound and fat necks. In fact I'm getting gas now for another 51 P.

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Agree with the strings comment.  Im a flats user and following the collapse of Picato and subsequently Status Hotwire flats I spent ages finding a flatwound as good (and also as cheap!).  Finally settled on Elites Flatwounds.  Lovely thump, not massive tension and there is high end in there if you need it.  These on my P bass (and Jack Casady bass) through a nice valve amp like my Ampeg Sb-12 is tonal heaven

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Never liked the offset pickups and was always a Jazz man until I stumbled over a 72 Telebass last summer. Since then have a bought a  68 reissue Blue Flower P, a JV Squier P and a PJ Standard Squier which is a nice compromise.

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7 hours ago, Paul S said:

It finally dawned on me that the reason why I was disappointed with most of the basses I owned was that they weren't Precision basses.  Once I got that set in my head Life became a lot more straightforward

 

Pretty much the same for me, I was chasing a sound and all the basses I`d bought sounded good, but didn`t quite get what I wanted. I then decided after many years to get a Precision and suddenly it made sense, seeing as virtually all my fave bassists use one. That sound that was a bit "meh" on its own sat wonderfully in the mix, and did everything I`d been wanting from a bass. It`s got to the point where any bass in my hands that isn`t a Precision just doesn`t sound right to me, Jazzes and Stingrays particularly, I love them when someone else plays them but I just make them sound cack.

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My issue with the P is that  it looks just like they made a strat a bit bigger. It's unoriginal, even if that is an oxymoron as it's kind of the original. Possibly the prime reason gig audiences think you're playing the same as the guitarist but can't count past 4.

Commercially - the never-ending model changes with above-par price hikes leave me feeling cold about Fender basses. (I have a Tele, but that's probably different as I never liked the Strat copy I had for years.)

As for the sound; given the amount of modding people do to pickups, I'm surprised there is still a sound, and if there is, you can probably get close enough with any variety of bass with a P-pickup.

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On 11/06/2018 at 13:09, Lozz196 said:

It always amazes me when people manage to get a bad sound from a Precision - with most amps set flat they work well in the mix, and if you then eq them they can do so much.

This. Trouble is in the bedroom they can sound dull if not played with a light touch, maybe this is why a lot of players don't like them. I played through an old Marshall 4x10 and 450 watt top on Saturday...the old el cheapo Squier had punch and clarity for days.....very satisfying, band loved it too.

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I bought a P at the weekend. I, like a lot of people, have been round the houses when it comes to basses, but you just can't beat the raw simplicity of a P.

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I've been playing the same P bass since 1994. I liked it well enough to buy it, and for a long while it was the only bass I owned. 

Then over the years I tried other basses - jazzes, a few PJ variations, some active basses etc.

But I've come full circle and realised the sound I was after was essentially what I already had. The P bass is the sound in my head. Sure it doesn't do absolutely everything, but it does what I want. 

I wouldn't be without one now.

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