Fender Jazz vs Precision
Be it funk, jazz, rock or reggae you'll find bassists using either of the iconic Fender basses - the Precision and the Jazz. Which one is best for you and what are the differences?
The eternal vs question for many bass players...Fender Jazz vs Precision.
So what is the best bass? Should I buy the Fender Jazz Bass or the Fender Precision Bass? Well, I can now categorically tell you that there isn't a winner...sorry! It's very much horses for courses, and what floats your boat may not float mine. That being said, there is a reason why both basses have been around for well over 50 years and are still be used by top players today...thanks in no small part, to a certain Mr Leo Fender and his amazing designs all those years ago.
A brief bit of history on the pair. The Fender Precision Bass (or P Bass as its commonly known) was first introduced in 1951 and came about due to the need for the bass instrument to be fundamentally louder. As bands grew in volume the good old upright bass was unable to keep up so Leo Fender set about creating an electric bass, and so the Fender Precision was born. The Fender Jazz bass was first introduced in 1960 and was offered as an alternative to the P Bass, delivering a sleeker body design, different neck profile and 2 pickups
Ok lets start our comparison and look at the basic body and neck differences (for the record, woods used will vary from model to model so we won't take these specifics into account). The Precision and Jazz bass both utilize a slab body design with the Jazz having an offset waist that visually delivers a curvier, sleeker appearance. As for neck designs/profiles, and this is a big one, the Jazz has a slimmer neck and narrower nut than the Precision making it great for zipping around the fretboard and for guitarists who play a bit of bass too. Now the slim neck of the Jazz doesn't make it a better playing bass (as I said earlier, horses for courses), as some may prefer the meatier Precision bass neck with its slightly wider string spacing.
Next, tone...the Precision bass with its split-coil single pickup design delivers thunderous power and a good 'ol thumping retro sound that sits in the mix of a band, like, dare I say, no other bass. Some say the P Bass does one thing well, but hey, it does it very well! The Jazz Bass on the other hand has the versatility card up its 'sleeve'. The combination of 2 single coil pickups means that the Jazz Bass can still deliver some similar P Bass power and tone with its neck pickup but with the added growl, bark and mid punch of the additional bridge pickup, you really are treated to great tonal pallette of usable bass sounds with excellent note clarity. Both basses traditionally have passive electronics (just pickup volumes and a tone control), but certain 'Deluxe' models now include active circuitry giving you added tonal options with onboard EQ controls.
Famous Precision Bass players include James Jamerson (please google him, he is Mr Motown), Steve Harris (Iron Maiden), Nate Mendel (Foo Fighters), Pino Palladino (session legend!) and Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power). As for some well know Fender Jazz Players we have Jaco Pastorius (the legend), Marcus Miller, Geddy Lee (Rush), Tim Commerford (Rage Against the Machine), Larry Graham (the slap bass inventor) and Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers). The list of famous and legendary Jazz and P bass players could go on for ever and continues to grow!
As stated at the beginning, only you can decide what bass would suit you most, but as a brief synopsis, if you want a bass with a slim, fast neck and a good wide palette of bass tones suitable for fingerstyle, pick and slap playing think Jazz. If you want a bass with a wider, potentially more comfortable (depending on hand size) string spacing and a powerful, solid underlying bass tone that is also great for fingerstyle and pick playing then go with a Precision. Both basses have been used for decades across many genres including rock, funk, punk, jazz, soul, reggae and more, so don't let the style of music you play let you decide what bass you choose....a Jazz Bass isn't just for Jazz!
We stock a great range of Fender basses (and Squier, the Fender sister company) at GigGear so whether you want to give us a call for further information (01279 432900) or want to pop in to the store and compare a Precision to a Jazz then please do so.
Below is a selection of Fender and Squier Jazz and Precision basses worth checking out.
Posted on 31st July 2013 by Rob Evans