What an absolute POWERHOUSE of a bass!
I have been playing bass for about 25 years and through my journey many basses have come and gone, all of which I have loved. I have owned passive and active basses, five stringers, P-basses, J-basses, basses from many different brands, and even though they have all been a joy to play, I have finally found the one.
I am definitely past the ‘honeymoon’ phase at this point, yet my GAS has mostly subsided, which is when you know you’ve got something special (I don’t think the GAS every truly goes away, but I digress). I have always tended to gravitate toward very simple passive basses, like the standard P-bass, but to my surprise my favorite of all of them, this one, has both controls up the wazoo and is active, and uses two 9V batteries no less, but it’s only active when I want it to be.
The moment I plugged this in and jammed around at the shop I knew it was meant to be. This bass has the cleanest and most natural active sound I’ve heard yet with virtually zero buzz and is very well balanced. On top of that, when it’s active the 18V worth of power creates an absolute MONSTER! I love being able to control the tone with a 3-band EQ which allows me to punch through the mix with ease or sit in the background as support with the twist of a few knobs. This level of control with the P-bass tone makes for an unstoppable force. Throw in a little J-bass with the bridge pickup and there’s a tone for everyone.
The best part - I can go back to passive mode with the flick of a switch. Not only is this great for getting a true classic P-bass tone, it has also saved my arse on one occasion. I was in the middle of playing with the band when I heard my volume start to choke because my batteries were dying, but no problem! I just flicked it into passive mode, cranked the volume a bit, and I was seamlessly back in the groove.
Having the 21st fret is great and it makes much more sense because when in E-standard tuning that means both the lowest and highest notes are E. 20th-fret Eb on the G-string (on the standard P) never felt quite right to me, even though I rarely play that high up the symmetry of E to E puts my brain at ease.
The build quality is phenomenal. The C to D compound neck radius transitions smoothly and really does allow for much better reach when I’m high up on the neck. This is also the best feeling neck I have felt on a Fender bass - it’s so silky smooth and super fast. The fit and finish are top-notch. Having a truss rod adjustment wheel is icing on the cake, I no longer have to keep a special tool on me and making adjustments is quick an easy. The 5-bolt neck adds a nice touch over the standard (though perfectly adequate) 4-bolt neck on previous generation Fender basses. The included case when purchased new is very high quality and very plush, giving this lady the perfect hug she deserves (bonus - it’s stackable).
I’m struggling to come up with any cons. The only super ridiculously tiny nitpick I have (and I’m seriously reaching here) is that I wish the tone and pickup knobs were swapped. The pickup knob is next to the volume, which is where the tone knob would normally be on a standard P-bass. On this bass the tone knob is part of a stack on the far right (if you’re looking down on the bass as if you were playing, volume being on the far left). If the tone were next to the volume then it would be setup just like a standard P when in passive mode and would just feel right. This is where my hands want it to be.
Just when I started to feel like Fender was becoming a little old-hat and a bit tight in the pants they release this near-perfect creation, and I commend them! Be careful though! Fender has unleashed a monster and if you get too close then it will take a big bite out of your wallet!
Fender American Elite Precision Bass
- 5/5, 5 from 3 reviews
switchable active/passive PJ bass
Fender does it again and unleashes a monster
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed May 12, 2018
- Build Quality:
- + Ridiculously good tone.
- + Ridiculously good feel.
- + Ridiculously good build quality.
- + Ridiculously Sexy.
PawleeP likes this.
- - Tone/pickup knobs should be swapped - Ridiculously tiny nitpick.
Fender American Elite Precision Bass
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Sep 25, 2016
- Build Quality:
- + The bass is super versatile in terms of tonal palette and the 18V onboard preamp is very powerful
- - Maybe a little heavy but in general no cons to highlight
i own four Fender basses, two jazz abd two precision.
One is an Am. Std. Jazz bass.
Well this Am. Elite precision bass destroys, yes literally destroys them all to such an extent I now want to sell the others to buy an Am. Elite jazz bass.
The bass tone is a very warm precision tone with the actual possibility of buzzing it a little bit using the bridge pickup.
The passive tone is fantastic and in fact I play the bass mainly passive since the preamp is so powerful that you have to get well used to it in order to achieve a good control of the instrument when played active.
The bridge pickup is also powerful although not very suitable for a biting Jacoesque tone in my opinion.
The neck is very comfortable especially in the high range improving the bass use in the high register.
Guys give this bass a try!!
Extremely versatile, great sounding beautiful bass
- 5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Aug 22, 2016
- Build Quality:
- + Extremely versatile, active or passive operation, PJ configuration, superb fit and finish, sounds great, plays great
- - Somewhat heavy
This is a terrific and versatile bass. A very good P-bass in its own right, it also can get into Jazz Bass territory by blending in the bridge pickup. I don't view it as a full-on Jazz bass replacement, but as P-bass+ with enhanced tonal versatility. In my own playing I tend to favor either the Precision pickup on it's own for classic p-bass sound, or else blended with the Jazz pickup (providing a host of great sounds). The Jazz bridge pickup on it's own gets the classic J-bass bark and growl, but the bridge-only sound is not one that I tend to use a lot (even on a regular J-bass). However, slappers and Jaco-philes should find it quite useful.
The active preamp adds considerable punch and clarity, while a convincing classic vintage sound can be had when switched to passive mode. Both modes sound great, and it's easy to set the controls so that switching between active/passive does not sound jarring. Although I was specifically looking for good active capabilities, I've been surprised just how great the Elite Precision sounds in passive mode; I'm finding that I probably spend about 70% of the time in passive, and only switch to active when I want some extra oomph or clarity.
Active mode sounds great to me and is very useful for getting more modern sounds; it is definitely on the brighter, highly articulate side. I've found it most effective at boosting eq bands; the active treble eq rolloff still leaves a relatively bright tone. If you want a more classic pillowy rolled-off p-bass thump you'll probably want to flip the switch to passive mode.
[BTW, I've seen some internet comments saying that the American Elite's tone control works in either passive or active mode. It does not; the tone control only works in passive mode, while the on-board 3-band eq controls only have effect in active mode.]
I had been looking for a good all-around PJ bass for some time. I had tried a couple of passive-only PJs and found that the pickups tended to be unbalanced; the powerful P-pickup tending to overwhelm the J-pickup. The passive-only PJ models often seem to have weak-sounding Jazz pickups... that's *not* the case with the American Elite. The Jazz pickup has considerable punch, even in passive mode.
It's become my #1 bass. Overall fit and finish were outstanding, and in particular the neck is beautifully finished and is a joy to play. A great all-around player with endless tonal options.
- No. of Frets:
- No. of Strings:
- Body Material:
- Neck Material:
- Nut Width:
- Fingerboard Material:
- Fender Hi-Mass Vintage bridge
- Fender Elite Precision (middle), Fender 4th Generation Noiseless Jazz (bridge)
- 9.6 lbs
- EQ / Controls:
- master volume, pickup blend, stacked 3-band active eq (bass, mids, treble) + passive tone control, active/passive switch
- Other Specs:
- 18V preamp, active/passive switch, Posiflex™ graphite support rods, 9.5-14" compound radius fingerboard, bone nut, new truss-rod adjustment wheel at the butt-end of the neck