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Old Horse Murphy

Newish American Fenders- a bit of personal ambivalence

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So sadly my used P Bass hunt proved a bit of a dead end and as a result, I thought I'd cast the net a bit wider and landed on a Jazz Bass! Specifically a 2017 Fender American Professional Series Jazz in sunburst. 

I am a Fender fan through and through, but when I opened the case to reveal a gorgeous coloured Jazz bass I must admit, I felt a bit....meh. When I plugged it in, it sounded great but again I felt like I was driving a good quality hire car: there was no emotional attachment at all.

This is a feeling that has been creeping up on me for a while now and I generally get the same feeling of ambivalence when I see new Fender Americans on hangers in guitar shops (remember them?)

Conversely, when I look at and play one of the Mexican Vintera or road worns , it's a totally different kettle of fish. They just seem to have more character and feel more alive in the hand. Years ago though, I'd have run a mile of anyone has suggested a Mexican Fender, label snob that I am. 

All a bit strange really  

 

 

Edited by Old Horse Murphy
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Apologies for the tangent, but have you thought about a used Limelight? They really do feel lived-in.

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IMO about the time the a AVRI 62ri and 75ri became a 63ri And 74ri the finishes On the necks got a load thicker 

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44 minutes ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

When I plugged it in, it sounded great but again I felt like I was driving a good quality hire car: there was no emotional attachment at all.

I've always felt that this was the beauty of Fenders, especially the Precision, and part of why players, producers and engineers love them so much. Like a decent hire car, they're predictable, reliable, have no unexpected quirks, and most do the same thing the same way. Pick up a Wal or some of EBMM's more esoteric models and you're talking a very different kettle of fish. You make a bass 'feel' by playing it, just like you make a car your own by driving it :) 

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13 minutes ago, Beedster said:

I've always felt that this was the beauty of Fenders, especially the Precision, and part of why players, producers and engineers love them so much. Like a decent hire car, they're predictable, reliable, have no unexpected quirks, and most do the same thing the same way. Pick up a Wal or some of EBMM's more esoteric models and you're talking a very different kettle of fish. You make a bass 'feel' by playing it, just like you make a car your own by driving it :) 

While I agree on the whole, Chris, I've always found that if a bass doesn't feel right to me, I'm likely to be driving at 50 miles an hour in the middle lane (to continue the analogy). It's just one of those things: some instruments inspire me to push myself while others (such as the newer Fenders) just don't. 

It's probably just me, but there you go. 

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Oh and to finish the anecdote, I ended up with a Firemist Silver 60th Anniversary road worn Jazz. As soon as I picked it up it just felt "right" to me 😀

Edited by Old Horse Murphy
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20 minutes ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

Oh and to finish the anecdote, I ended up with a Firemist Silver 60th Anniversary road worn Jazz. As soon as I picked it up it just felt "right" to me 😀

Always good to hear a happy ending :)

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I do think that the feel of a bass is very important, given that in general we are looking to play them regularly. I’ve had Fenders that whilst fine basses just felt, well ok - for me mainly these were the S1 models. Nothing wrong with them, just didn’t get any inspiration from them. Whereas my current ones, 2015 (US Standard) & 16 (US Professional) Precisions and two 2017 (US Professional) Jazzes, well I just enjoy playing them so much. My 2015 Precision is my fave due to the sentimental value, but in terms of playability and enjoyment through playing them, well they’re all equal. I do feel a special warmth when playing the 2015 though, I’ve done so much with that bass and have so many memories from using it in some very special - to me - situations.

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7 minutes ago, Lozz196 said:

I do think that the feel of a bass is very important, given that in general we are looking to play them regularly. I’ve had Fenders that whilst fine basses just felt, well ok - for me mainly these were the S1 models. Nothing wrong with them, just didn’t get any inspiration from them. Whereas my current ones, 2015 (US Standard) & 16 (US Professional) Precisions and two 2017 (US Professional) Jazzes, well I just enjoy playing them so much. My 2015 Precision is my fave due to the sentimental value, but in terms of playability and enjoyment through playing them, well they’re all equal. I do feel a special warmth when playing the 2015 though, I’ve done so much with that bass and have so many memories from using it in some very special - to me - situations.

Spot on Lozz. My main bass is a 2007 US P Bass with the custom shop pickups. Build-wise it's probably inferior to the new US Fenders but I don't even have to think about playing it and when I let other people play it, they're usually very impressed with how it feels and sounds. 

Horses for courses I guess but it's the only instrument apart from my Baritone sax that I'd never get rid of. 

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1 hour ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

While I agree on the whole, Chris, I've always found that if a bass doesn't feel right to me, I'm likely to be driving at 50 miles an hour in the middle lane (to continue the analogy). It's just one of those things: some instruments inspire me to push myself while others (such as the newer Fenders) just don't. 

It's probably just me, but there you go. 

You are not alone. I used to own a US Pro P bass in CAR. It sounded ok and the neck felt ok. I liked the look (CAR is one of my fav finishes) but I just did not bond with it. I sold it within 6 months. I also used to own an AVRI 58 P bass. Great sound and looks; however, the neck was not too my taste, so I ended up selling that one as well. I sometimes do miss it though.

I recently came across an EBMM Cutlass and that one is a killer. Admittedly, I am not so keen on the look of the pickguard but the neck feels great and the sound is amazing. It has what my Fender Ps missed: balls, big balls 😎 Man, this thing makes the room shake and, during Christmas, it literally blew the Christmas cards off the fireplace mantel. It has some real oommph,  bottomless low end. Love it!

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And here it is, along with my other Fenders and then a full family shot which is rather eclectic. 

Funnily enough, the JMJ Mustang was an impulse buy that I decided to get rid of as soon as it arrived. Well that never happened. I'd describe it as the equivalent of my office dog: it sits in a stand right next to my desk at home and when the teleconferences are a bit long it sits in my lap :)

87D73D28-CD8F-4C5A-B203-8237E8160801.jpeg

 

 

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4B070E58-2538-4DB0-9620-0520FD8D15FC.jpeg

Edited by Old Horse Murphy
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That’s the joy of Fender, I guess? When you get a good one, they’re really good? My old sunburst P you had Nick, that was the one for me. I don’t think I’ve ever played a better Precision. I can’t remember the year it was, it was one of the first once they’d changed to CS pickups, I believe. I had another in CAR that was about the same age, which was really nice and well put together, but didn’t quite have that magic.

also, I’d still really like that SR5 😩

Edited by [email protected]
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For me its all about the amount of cash I lay down. Spent a few quid on various  "vintage" ,models over the years and then one day on a quest for strings at PMT picked up a Squire Vintage Mod P without even thinking about it.....for £250 it smoked the 70's P I had at the time. I've still got it and the old P is long gone. Having said the thick neck on the vintage P was to die for but the bass was heavy and terribly uneven across the strings.

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4 hours ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

And here it is, along with my other Fenders and then a full family shot which is rather eclectic. 

Funnily enough, the JMJ Mustang was an impulse buy that I decided to get rid of as soon as it arrived. Well that never happened. I'd describe it as the equivalent of my office dog: it sits in a stand right next to my desk at home and when the teleconferences are a bit long it sits in my lap :)

87D73D28-CD8F-4C5A-B203-8237E8160801.jpeg

 

 

F09282F6-729C-4E0A-BDB0-69EA334DA674.jpeg

4B070E58-2538-4DB0-9620-0520FD8D15FC.jpeg

I wish they made a Mustang with the same shape but slightly bigger and a 34” scale length. I’m on the talk side, live the look and sound of them but they look and feel silly (on me). 

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36 minutes ago, [email protected] said:

That’s the joy of Fender, I guess? When you get a good one, they’re really good? My old sunburst P you had Nick, that was the one for me. I don’t think I’ve ever played a better Precision. I can’t remember the year it was, it was one of the first once they’d changed to CS pickups, I believe. I had another in CAR that was about the same age, which was really nice and well put together, but didn’t quite have that magic.

also, I’d still really like that SR5 😩

Hi Matt

That P Bass was a cracker. It's was a 2007 I think (the same as my main bass). Had my roving eye not caught something else I'd have kept hold of it!

I hope you're all keeping well. 

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I bought a Elite Precision, new in 2018, and when it was delivered I was distinctly underwhelmed.

I own a couple of other USA Fenders, a deluxe Jazz and a 75 reissue Jazz and they felt much better to play than the new bass.

The neck felt chunkier than previous precisions I'd owned and although the action could be set up pretty low, I didn't like the tension of the Fender strings, so changed them to Rotosounds.

I still wasn't convinced and after a few gigs, although I liked the sound and versatility of the Elite, I didn't like the feel and playability.

My MIJ Precision has a set of Elixir lights on it and I really like the feel of them, so bought a set for the Elite.

What a difference! The bass has come to life and the feel and playability is now where I like it.

I think it could now be my favourite bass in the herd and all it took was a change of strings. So don't write off your USA Jazz. Maybe all it also needs is a few tweaks and a change of strings?

Edited by gjones
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21 minutes ago, greavesbass said:

For me its all about the amount of cash I lay down. Spent a few quid on various  "vintage" ,models over the years and then one day on a quest for strings at PMT picked up a Squire Vintage Mod P without even thinking about it.....for £250 it smoked the 70's P I had at the time. I've still got it and the old P is long gone. Having said the thick neck on the vintage P was to die for but the bass was heavy and terribly uneven across the strings.

I've had several 70's P Basses and the best one I had was a feather-light natural one from 76. It still didn't feel as good as my current P Bass to me. 

I've been in to 80's-90's Jackson's/Charvels for a few years now. I've got three more at my mate's but due to lockdown I haven't been able to retrieve them. In terms of build quality and playability they're unbelievable and are a really good price for what you get. I don't even mind the pointy headstock either!

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2 hours ago, Old Horse Murphy said:

Hi Matt

That P Bass was a cracker. It's was a 2007 I think (the same as my main bass). Had my roving eye not caught something else I'd have kept hold of it!

I hope you're all keeping well. 

Same here, it’s an old story isn’t it 😂

 

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Weird isn't it.  I never really got on with the US basses I've onwed (one exception is my '66P that is lovely).  Currently bonding most with a 57RI MIJ P bass.

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11 hours ago, wateroftyne said:

Apologies for the tangent, but have you thought about a used Limelight? They really do feel lived-in.

Yes .. Mine isn't "perfect" but it has the "thing" ... wouldn't part with it

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I remember being in Andertons and playing the Adam Clayton Jazz and being completely underwhelmed and disappointed by it. No life or character to it, the neck just felt weird and sterile for lack of a better word.

Now some people may like a clean slate and blank canvas of an instrument to make their own and bond with, but it wasn’t for me.

I put the AC down and picked up a Squier Vintage Modified PJ, and it had so much more character for some unknown reason. The neck felt nicer, it resonated more, the set up was better and it was just more fun. Wish I had bought it to be honest.

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4 minutes ago, NJE said:

I put the AC down and picked up a Squier Vintage Modified PJ, and it had so much more character for some unknown reason. The neck felt nicer, it resonated more, the set up was better and it was just more fun. Wish I had bought it to be honest.

Ha...I was the biggest Fender gear snob on the planet....but after picking up my VM P it all went out the window. For a few quid I bought a lightweight nice feeling bass and those Duncan PU's are pretty good

Edited by greavesbass

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On 31/01/2021 at 11:21, wateroftyne said:

Apologies for the tangent, but have you thought about a used Limelight? They really do feel lived-in.

Are you on commission from Limelight?

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On 31/01/2021 at 11:12, Old Horse Murphy said:

 

This is a feeling that has been creeping up on me for a while now and I generally get the same feeling of ambivalence when I see new Fender Americans on hangers in guitar shops (remember them?)

Conversely, when I look at and play one of the Mexican Vintera or road worns , it's a totally different kettle of fish. They just seem to have more character and feel more alive in the hand. Years ago though, I'd have run a mile of anyone has suggested a Mexican Fender, label snob that I am. 

 

 

I’ve always felt like this about most new (non-reliced) Fenders. I don’t know why either. Roadworns etc just look and feel so much better to me. And it only seems to apply to Fenders too, I don’t necessarily feel that way about other makes. Very odd. 

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