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When it comes to anything rock-related, why play anything else. In other words, what are the "problems" with the P-Bass that subsequent models were attempting to fix?

-

Austin

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I don't think there were any problems, per se. More of a variety thing. Also, as time went on, some bass players preferred a brighter tone from a pickup situated closer to the bridge.

There's also the irresistible urge to fix something that isn't broken. Like all the Firebird X-esque attempts to improve on the Les Paul, Strat and Tele.

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Much agreed in regards to acquiring a brighter tone with an additional j pickup at the bridge. P-basses are great, but IMHO I prefer a a greater range in tones and improved definition which can be easily attained "On-Board" with a P-J and/or J-J pickup set-up.

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My main bass (and only bass) for several years now has been a Highway 1 model Precision...this particular variation of that model came with a stock Badass II bridge, thin satin nitro finish, and graphite rods on either side of the truss rod before that became a standard feature on the American made stuff...and this was really a budget model too.

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I shopped for years (and years), asked tons of questions (and even more questions) and generally worried the crap out of anyone who would provide an opinion, then finally pulled the trigger on this (posted before, late last year):

IMG_1761.jpg

'97 American Deluxe P-Bass, Humbucker at the bridge, stock Fender (9V) three-band active electronics. I've played other basses, but I've found nothing that I like better for the money. After playing it live for a few months, I realize I could probably have been fine with a simple P configuration, but that humbucker really brings a lot of additional versatility.

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It took me 30 plus years to understand the P bass simplicity. Like Marshall amps, and Duncan JBs, what you hear noodling around at home, is not what you're gonna hear in a band mix. I've owned all the big name basses, in search of that "sound" that we all interpret as being perfect.

Last 2 shows I've played on bass have been on a 2008 P. In a 3 piece live setting, the sound is nothing short of phenominal to me. I use a Trace Elliot amp, and I'm sure that has somehing to do with it.

Listening while I was playing, I was amazed at how good the bass sounded.. just a full tone, that was lacking nothing. Also had a guy come up to me, after the show, and tell me how the bass cut through the mix with authority. So there you have it. Simplicity at its best.

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It took me 30 plus years to understand the P bass simplicity. Like Marshall amps, and Duncan JBs, what you hear noodling around at home, is not what you're gonna hear in a band mix. I've owned all the big name basses, in search of that "sound" that we all interpret as being perfect.

Totally true...I didn't like them til I bought one on a whim and took it to band practice...totally changed the way the whole band sounded compared to how my G&L L2000 did. Instant believer!

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This is my 70 bucks P-bass. It's an early 80s Yamaha bs400. Maple neck & mahogany body. It's just PERFECT. (Did I say it cost me 70 bucks :D ).

Yamaha-BB400S-bas.jpg

Yamaha-BB400S-body.jpg

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The Music Man Stingray was Leo Fender's upgrade of the Precision. The main difference was the pickup. To me, it is the perfect bass pickup.

It's also an active bass, with tons of EQ option. I had a nice Stingray last year, and sold it to buy one of the new P bass deluxes.. active/passive, P bass + J bass pickups. Between those 2 I prefer the MM. In '95 I cut a CD, and used a MM... today, I hate the bass tones on that CD, lol.

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Not a problem for some, but of the few P Basses I've tried the necks seemed way too chunky for me. I went with a slimmer neck T-Bird.

Are there slim neck P Basses?

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you can find some P-basses that have J-bass necks. My "P-Bass" is a G&L SB-2, which has the G&L versions of the P bass pickups and J bass pickups.

I will say one thing about it: the output of the P-pickup is HUGE. As in, louder than I can get my active Stingray to be. I've gotta keep my amps on "active" mode or i'll overdrive the input stage. It is a great sound though, and you really can FEEL it when you use the P-bass pickup.

As for the Stingray, I've got one of those too, and they are just a different kind of sound than the P-bass. They really do "growl" compared to the thump you get from a P-bass. If you like the sound, they are great. If you don't, you won't like it. The same thing with Rickenbacker basses.

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I've got a fretless late '70s P-Bass that is slightly thinner at the nut for some reason, but...it's FRETLESS, so doesn't really do me a whole lot of good! :D

I also have a J-Bass neck on my other P-Bass, and that seems to be the best of both worlds.

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I am primarily a P-Bass player. My main Pbass is a 73 sunburst. I started on wide necks (Sears Silvertone) and prefer the p-bass neck.

However, the Jazz bass and other later Leo Fender designs such as the Music Man StingRay are also great basses.

More tonal options and better ergonomics on the Jazz bass body & slimmer neck.

I picked up a sunburst 79 StingRay with a maple neck last year and a RI 63 sunburst Jazz bass this year.

A number of players that prefer skinnier necks swap out the Jazz bass neck and install them on Pbasses (e.g., Tim Comerford- Rage Against the Machine).

They're all good.

Stevie_June192010.jpg

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Nice '73. I picked up a '73 last year, but the neck had a twist, so back it went. They made some changes in 2008, and I've found Fender basses since then to be nice, as well as consistent... only speaking of the US models here... no experience with anything else.

I have a Rickenbacker, but unfortunately, I don't think the new ones sound like the old ones... even with that push pull vintage tone pot.

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P-basses were made with a slimmer neck profile too = I think they were the "A" profile?!?

MIne is a Squier Japanese Vintage (JV) model from '82 and it has the perfect slimmish but meaty neck. I love it.

DSCN1509.jpg

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The Music Man Stingray was Leo Fender's upgrade of the Precision. The main difference was the pickup. To me, it is the perfect bass pickup.

To my ears the Stingray pickup has a "clang" that very few if any bass players I've ever heard have been able to dial out, which precludes it from being the perfect bass pickup IMO.

Again, there was really no good reason to "upgrade" a Precision. Certainly not from a recording standpoint.

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Foreward from The Fender Bass: An Illustrated History

April 3, 2001

To the archaeologist of the future:

There are few artifacts of the 20th century as consistently recognized and recognizable as the Fender Bass. Those elegant functional lines have etched themselves into our consciousness for over half a century.

Hewn from a living tree, shaped by the lathe in the hands of an artisan, it is a sculpture of great beauty and power. The Fender bass has the weight and heft of a sturdy tool in the hands of those who suffer from stage fright.

A Fender bass can shake a room with its thunder or moan softly like a sleeping giant. The bass is the round of all harmony, the root, the foundation of all musical structure. Because the bass is the secret heart of the music: aggressively male, achingly female, dynamic yet tender, it attracts men and women of quiet strength, those who understand the true spiritual power of music.

A Fender bass has been my constant companion for most of my life ----- a brother to me, a sister, the loom on which I have woven dreams and stories ……and my oldest friend.

- STING

Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar

- ZAPPA

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I have six basses including some a lot fancier than this, but this Pilot, Guild's 1985 take on a fretless P-bass, is just about all I play anymore. The first time I brought it to rehearsal the backup singer/flautist flipped over the way it slid right into the blend.

GuildPilot.jpg

For me it's perfect. The tone of a clean, powerful P-bass with the expressiveness of fretless, a thin-profile neck with the stability of quartersawn wood, and a thoughtfully sculptured body that's even more comfortable and better balanced than a J-bass.

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If you've gotta have the narrow neck width of a Jazz, but with a P-Bass pickup, this might do it:

http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0138301301

Need both a P and a J pickup, too?

http://www.fender.com/products/search.php?partno=0146500323

I don't care much for Jazz style pickups, but I DO LOVE P Bass pickups, and P-Basses in general. Fender P basses tend to have a thicker (thus, heavier) body than most 1st Gen Hamers or the Guild Pilots I've had (I've had a few Guild Pilots with the cake-knife headstock in the past--they were OK but I didn't care much for the Poplar bodies under the solid color factory paint schemes on mine). 2nd Gen Hamer Cruise Basses are about the same thickness as Fender solidbody basses, the only downer on those (for me, anyway) is that they have Jazz style pickups. I've never cared much for 1st Gen Cruisebasses as I didn't think they had enough mass for my taste (too light), but I love the heft of the old Blitz bass. YMMV.

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When it comes to anything rock-related, why play anything else. In other words, what are the "problems" with the P-Bass that subsequent models were attempting to fix?

-

Austin

Fender released the Jazz Bass with the thinner neck to keep the guitarists-doubling-on-bass happy. And, the JB covers different sonic territory with the two single coils.

But these weren't 'problems', just variations on a theme.

I have a half dozen basses, each with its own character. My '95 Mexican P-bass is just kickass! And it fits anywhere: funk, country, blues, even jazz if you massage it correctly...

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Fender P basses tend to have a thicker (thus, heavier) body than most 1st Gen Hamers or the Guild Pilots I've had (I've had a few Guild Pilots with the cake-knife headstock in the past--they were OK but I didn't care much for the Poplar bodies under the solid color factory paint schemes on mine). .... YMMV.

My red fretless Pilot has (AFAIK) a poplar body, but I like its tone. I also have a '94 fretted Pilot Pro, which has a reverse P/J pickup arrangement and nicer woods--mahogany body and ebony fretboard. I love the tones on this one.

DSC06478.jpg

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To me, the P-bass pickup is the heart of the tone, but sometimes I like to roll a little J-Bass bridge in there just for a bit more attack or to fill up a bit more space in a sparse arrangement. When recording, it's almost always straight P-Bass though.

My Pilot fretless has a trans black finish over a maple body and an ebony board and the P/J configuration. With ground rounds it gets a marvelous fretless "bwaaah" growl and it's possible to slide harmonics on it, even. Again, the sound is mostly the P pickup. And since it's fretless, nobody tries to borrow it. ;)

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