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  • No. of Frets:
    20
    Scale Length:
    34"
    Construction:
    Bolt-On
    No. of Strings:
    4
    Body Material:
    Alder
    Neck Material:
    Maple
    Nut Width:
    1.5"
    Fingerboard Material:
    Maple or Rosewood
    Bridge:
    Standard Vintage 4 Saddle Bass
    Pickups:
    Standard Vintage Alnico magnet Jazz Bass single-coil Bridge pickup
    Other Specs:
    Demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5I9bcPufiaU

Recent Reviews

  1. Crazy John
    4/5,
    "Love the neck and woodwork."
    Tone:
    4/5,
    Build Quality:
    5/5,
    Feel:
    5/5,
    Value:
    3/5,
    Pros - The neck I like, very easy to upgrade.
    Very playable
    Cons - Hardware
    I traded in my Geddy Lee MIJ for this. I wanted a thin neck without the constant adjustment the GL required. The carbon rods seem to make the neck very stable. I bought second hand American Standard pickups and bridge, and installed some Hipshot tuners I had. Then I changed the tone control to the American Standard circuit. So why didn't I just buy the American Standard Jazz? It would have been a better bargain. it was because of the neck. The funny thing is, I have an American Standard Precision that I love unmodified. Sometimes I like a thin neck, sometimes a thick one.
    This American Special plays and sounds the way I like a Jazz.
    Price Paid:
    $850
  2. LoveThatBass
    5/5,
    "Like the neck feel"
    Tone:
    5/5,
    Build Quality:
    5/5,
    Feel:
    5/5,
    Value:
    5/5,
    Pros - Nice feel to the neck. Easy to play, sounds great
    Cons - Stock Bridge and tuners
    I liked the feel of this bass's neck over the Standard. This is the first bass I didn't change the pickups. They are much better sounding than the 2004 MIA Standard I had. This bass stays in tune due to the very stable neck. I bought a BabicZ bridge, hipshot tuners and a nice Fender case like comes with the Standard. The difference in price allowed me to put a much better bridge and tuners. I love this bass. It's neck is fast and easy to play. Better deal than an MIA Standard? Probably not, however I have a bass more tailored to my likes. I put a Fender series/parallel pickup switch/push button on it and love all my options. I now get a wide range of options including a more P bass tone in series mode.
    Price Paid:
    $750
    Crazy John likes this.
  3. Psychbunny
    5/5,
    "Fast neck"
    Tone:
    5/5,
    Build Quality:
    5/5,
    Feel:
    5/5,
    Value:
    5/5,
    Pros - Fit and Finish, fast neck, U.S for not much more than MIJ or sig. MIM
    Cons - No case, no string through
    I have always been a J player but never had owned a Fender due to cost. I recently decided that I would return to the bass after a 10 year break and bought an EDGE with EMG's this sounded much beyyer than my old Stinger DBX. I bought a gibson flying V which I love and actually prefer over the Fender but I missed the Jazz tone. I have a Godin PJ which is good for a P tone but not growly enough for the way I like a J so I picked up the 09 Am Sp in 3TSB witha black PG. It is a thing of beauty. I m not a fan of bthe WPG so Iam glad the PO had that switched out for me. The neck is thing and smooth, the tone is great, It didn't break the bank (I traded the Dean in so I only paid abou $500 in the end). I t is simply a beautiful, classic looking Bass with a warm and growly sound. I am unlikely to mod it and it sounds pretty good stock. If you want a case you may as well consider the standard but in a side by side test I preferred the feel of the special (may be due to set up as the std, was set too low for my taste).
    Price Paid:
    $599
  4. hags2k
    4/5,
    "Would buy again"
    Tone:
    4/5,
    Build Quality:
    4/5,
    Feel:
    4/5,
    Value:
    4/5,
    Pros - Solid construction, nice finish, good fretwork, US made
    Cons - Lacks upgrades and options of American Standard series
    So, there's a lot of preconceived notions when it comes to US-made Fender guitars and basses. A lot of people review the instruments based on what they "know" about Fender instruments, rather than the merits of a particular offering. I've owned this particular instrument for a year now and, while not the most experienced player out there, I am also pretty obsessive about my gear.

    So, without further ado, here are my thoughts on this bass.

    First of all, let's compare this instrument to the lesser-priced Mexican-made Standard series. Here is what you get when you upgrade to this instrument:

    More detailed construction - while the standard series is a solid instrument, there are subtle improvements in the Am. Special series. The construction is more consistent from instrument to instrument, and the wood, on most examples I've seen, appears to be better finished and higher quality. The fretwork is more consistent - after a proper setup, you can get more even, buzz-free action on this neck. The fingerboard edges are, in fact, rolled just like the Am. Std. series, though this is something you can do on your own without too much effort.


    The fit and finish is more consistent, and, at least in the one that I've got, the finish seems to be durable and expertly applied.

    Honestly, that's about it. You are paying more for a better-built instrument, but the differences are not night and day. They are subtle, and I guarantee quite a few players not only wouldn't be able to tell the difference, and even more probably wouldn't care. I am not one of those players - the difference in feel, while subtle, is definitely worth a little extra money.

    The neck DOES include the graphite reinforcement that the Am. Std. and Am. Deluxe necks include, and this does make the neck noticeably more stable. Again, though, in practice this is a feature that only has a subtle affect on the playability of the instrument, and again a lot of people wouldn't notice. I happen to really appreciate this feature, though, as it makes adjustment easier as the weather changes and when switching strings.

    Here's what you're NOT getting - noticeably better sound. This is subjective, but I've found that nearly all Fender standard Jazz pickups sound pretty bland. The pickups in this instrument are a jack of all trades, and master of none. Check out the huge, multi-pickup review on Talkbass.com - there are a ton of pickups out there that improve on various aspects of the sound. The standard pickups, while clearer than some vintage-styled pickups, do not provide the sparkle of many after-market upgrades and don't touch active systems. At the same time, they also can't provide the warmth and punch of pickups like the DiMarzio Model J (a favorite of mine, and the pickups currently in my bass) or the Seymour Duncan Antiquity, Fralin pickups, Nordstrand single-coils, etc. I think the standard pickups are not offensive to anyone, but not particularly good at any particular sound.

    Let me put it this way - Fender's latest Am. Std. series now includes the "Custom Shop 60s" pickups. N3 Noiseless on American Deluxe instruments, and some custom shop basses come with Seymour Duncan pickups - check out the "Custom Classic" series with SD Quarter Pounder pickups at Sweetwater, for instance. There's a huge market for aftermarket Jazz Bass pickups - and if you really want an improved sound, swapping the pickups is the way to go. I would NOT upgrade from the standard series to the american special series expecting a significant improvement in sound.

    So, if tone is your biggest concern, by all means go ahead and buy the American Special, but be prepared to drop in some replacement pickups. However, you can do this pretty easily on the Mexican basses as well. If you think that better wood makes a difference in sound, I'd check out Talkbass.com again and look for the "plywood bass" test. I cannot tell the difference between a nice instrument and one made of plywood, as long as the pickups are the same! Wood has almost no affect on the tone of a solid-body bass when amplified, at least as far as I can tell. I'm not sure the wood is that much better in the American Special, anyway :meh:

    As far as the rest of it goes, there aren't too many differences between the Standard and Am. Special Jazz. The bridge seems to be identical, the tuners aren't anything special, and the electronics package is not significantly different, as far as I can tell.

    Now, here are the differences between the Am. Special and Am. Standard basses:

    Slimmer neck - this is a pro for some, con for others. Personally, I don't think it's a game-changer. I tend to prefer a beefier neck, but the slim neck on the Jazz does feel good. On the Precision, though, where the chunky neck is more traditional, I find I much prefer the feel of the thicker Am. Std. neck. This is just personal preference, though. If you really prefer the feel of this neck, though, then stop reading - just buy this bass. You can't get that neck profile on any of the other Fender basses right now.

    Fewer finish options - if you like the red color but want rosewood, too bad. You only get a couple of choices. The Am. Std. series comes in more finishes, and each finish is available with a rosewood or maple fingerboard. Still, though, the choices are still pretty limited on the Am. Std., which is a shame. Iconic colors like surf green or butterscotch blonde aren't available in either series. Still, though, if you want a color that's only available on the Am. Std. series, spend the extra cash and get it. An instrument in this price range is meant to last, and unless you are a big gear-trader, don't skimp out now. Get what you want and keep it forever.

    Lower-end hardware - the tuners on the Am. Std. are superior, don't let anyone tell you differently. The bridge on the Am. Special is the standard, vintage bridge. The saddles slide around a bit, and they don't allow you to adjust the string spacing like the bridge on the Am. Std. On the other hand, the Am. Std. bridge is not the end-all and be-all of bridges, and if you want a really cool bridge, you can install it on this bass just as easily as on the Am. Std.

    No hard case - I'll be honest, the hardshell cases that Fender includes with the Am. Std. series are quite nice. Still, you get a gig-bag. It's nothing special, but it'll get the job done for most people. If you really want to protect the finish on your bass, though, or if your gear gets thrown around loading into gigs or in the back of a truck, you'll want to factor this in and plan on getting a hard case if you go with the Am. Special.

    So-so pickups - Fender recently updated the Am. Std. with 60s custom shop pickups. They appear to be a bit warmer, a bit hotter, and generally considered to be an improvement over the standard pickups. However, if you are like many tone-conscious players, you'll be able to swap pickups in the Am. Special quite easily, so for me this is not a deal-breaker.

    At the end of the day, the American Special Jazz Bass is a solidly-build instrument with a ton of potential for upgrade and modification. The fit and finish are great, the construction shows a real attention to detail, and the fretwork is as good as any factory-made instrument out there that I've had the pleasure to play. It's also highly upgradeable. Simply put, there are more drop-in replacements for American Jazz basses than any other bass on the planet. You can swap pickups, install a drop-in preamps like the J-Retro, replace the tuners and bridge, and there are a ton of case options. There's a long and illustrious tradition of modifying Fender basses, and it's easier and cheaper than ever before to turn a good instrument into your own fully-customized dream guitar at half the price of the least expensive custom instruments on the market.

    Still, though, if you are trying to decide between the Am. Special series and the Am. Std. series, try not to focus too much on the price difference. The Am. Std. is easily worth it if you want the 60s pickups, want a finish only available on the Am. Std. series, or prefer the feel of the slightly thicker neck on the Am. Std. When you consider the improved tuners, bridge, and included case, the difference in price becomes a non-issue. I think it's analogous to buying a car - the Am. Special is the base model, and the Am. Std. is the "sport" package. They're basically the same car, but you get some nice extras if you get the sport package. Like the cars, though, the Am. Special is not a fundamentally inferior instrument - it's the same instrument just a bit stripped down, and if you want to choose your own pickups, tuners, bridge, etc, then I suggest picking up the Am. Special and upgrading it as you choose. That's the route I went and it's working out well.

    So, in the end, after owning this instrument for a year, would I buy it again? Yes. I love the black pickguard on candy red finish, the feel is solid, and after swapping in some new pickups, the sound is exactly what I wanted. That being said, my next bass purchase is going to be a US-made precision, and I'll be getting the Am. Std. version, not the special. For the precision, I prefer the feel of the Am. Std. neck and the finish I want is not available in the Am. Special series, and that's enough to justify the extra cost for me.
    Price Paid:
    999.99

Comments

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  1. Tommy33
    Nice neck worth buying just for that