2008 American Standard P Bass V

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ElMon, Jul 5, 2008.

  1. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Its been a while since I've done one of these, so bear with me..........

    First, a little back story on my quest for tone.

    I first fell in love with the sound of a Pbass. Motown comprised my earliest bass memories, where I was drawn to that down-in-the-bassment thump of James Jamerson, and years later when I first got my mitts on a bass, it was a Pbass. So, in a sense, that 'sound in my head' is forever tied to what Leo Fender bestowed upon the bassworld in 1951.

    If only it hadn't taken 20+ basses, all but a few traded on this wonderful site, to realize this!!!! Of course, Fender hadn't yet 'smelled the coffee' and realized to themselves that other bass builders had been making excellent Fender-copies in a 5string model that felt and sounded, for the most part, just like the real thing.

    I was taken by the beauty of woodwork, the lightning fast playability, and modern sound, of many different breeds of boutique. Ken Smith neckthrus and bolt-ons, MTD's, Warwicks, Modulus, mulitiple Sadowsky, Roscoe, etc. 9 times out of 10 I would usually run the neck pickup on those fine basses, trying to emulate that pbass thump in a 5 string.

    Well, as the song says, 'Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing'. I've come full circle in my gear quest, realizing that my ultimate 5string is completely passive with a split coil single pickup and a symetrical body, and a killer B string.

    I must say that that last part was not immediately evident when I took it out of the case for the first time. The stock fender B string was pretty floppy, but still not as floppy as some other Fender B's. Being adventurous, I picked up this bass from the ol GC right before going to a gig in Tulsa that evening, where I would be playing in a boomy concrete area in a Space/Science museum, complete with a too-large Mackie PA. In other words, a challenging environment.

    I did some adjusting before the gig, raising the action slightly and rearranging the pickup levels. Still can't figure out why Fender ships the bass with pickups like they are: slanted away from the E/B string so you can barely hear them and slanted towards the A and D strings, which become overly boomy. IMO/IME anyways.

    Plugging into my rig (Aguilar AG500SC thru two GS112s) and firing up, I noticed right away that Munjibunga was right on in his in-store review of this bass:

    It had that lowmid kick in the lowend in spades, although the Bstring was fairly overwhelming at first in the mix. It sounded like a sub kick, with not a whole lot of note definition, especially from low D down to low B. I had to really baby the string throughout the gig, especially in light of the ginormous PA that was a little overkill for the venue. As far as playability goes, let me dive into that for a second.

    FINALLY Fender figured out that a lot of us like wide spacing!!! Coming from the ultra-wide spacing of the Yamaha John Patitucci Signature 6'er, I didn't at all feel cramped. The maple neck feels solid, and the rosewood fretboard (not PauFerro, which I personally loathe) is a thing of beauty, adding warmth to each note. The neck pocket is tight and the neck itself was arrow-straight right out of the case, a big +1 for me. And let me also add that the intonation on this bad boy was dead-on through a strobe tuner. Fender really paid attention to everything as far as fit and finish, especially in light of me having unboxed god-knows-how-many Fenders during my 4+ years combined working at Mars Music (RIP) and Guitar Center.

    In between that first gig and the next, I remembered that I still had an old set of TI Flats for a 5string, having once upon a time put them on a Sadowsky Metro RV5 to good effect. That's when this bass truly came alive for me. Huge but controlled fundamental to every note on the Bstring with awesome pitch clarity, perfectly balanced with every other string. In short, the perfect supportive fingerstyle tone that stands out in the mix without overwhelming other instruments. For 90% of the playing I do, this sound is 'it'. I occasionally slap and have been known to use a bridge pickup tone every now and then, but for that, I just might have to pickup Fender's J Bass in a five.
  2. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I just plugged in my Sadowsky Pre/DI in front of my rig, and WOW!!!! Fat and modern while retaining that classic P goodness!!!!!
  3. jamesblue


    Mar 27, 2005
    Thanks for the post, I've been considering the 2008 P five string for some time. I use and like the TI flats, good to know it works well on the P bass.

    I've only had one 5 string, Carvin LB75, liked it but didn't use the lower sting much, that was 10 years ago and am now getting the urge to go lower again.
  4. EBMatt


    Nov 21, 2003
    Springfield, MA
  5. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    I saw that same thread and was inspired to post! That's a good idea. If I wanted roundwounds on this bass I would certainly be taking the plunge.
  6. B strings are finicky things...good pressure on the nut and bridge saddle is importaint...the string retainer idea is a good idea...

    do you suppose Roger Sadowsky already knew this ;)

    I think Fender should abandon their old school string buttons and move into the 21st century (leave the buttons for the vintage instruments)
  7. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Wanted to update this a little bit after finding, IMO, the perfect set of strings for this bass:


    Perfect balance between grindy pbass with rounds sound and classic flat-strung pbass, and more importantly, the B string response is simply amazing! This brings about a further observation on how the split pickup setup on the Precision bass brings a certain unique character and response to the Bstring.

    IMO, most amazing B strings that I've come across in my hi-end bass odyssey have benefitted from some sort of bridge pickup. IME, this point of contact on the string help the B achieve a certain pitch clarity in that it is the point at which the string is vibrating least. You can observe this yourself if you watch how far the B string vibrates back and forth over the neck joint/neck pickup versus how it vibrates back by the bridge.

    With the stock strings that came on this bass, their rubbery tension resulted in a mushy, but not blurry, B string. In other words, it had discernable pitch, but sounded huge and a little unbalanced with the other strings. However, the tension on the D'Addario Halfround is much higher, and the result is that the B string still has that hit-you-in-the-gut fatness that IMO only a P pickup can bring to the table, but it also has more pitch focus to the B string.

    As it is now, my Fender P's Bstring is every bit as good as any Sadowsky/MTD/Modulus/Ken Smith that I've owned. My next purchase will definitely be the Fender Jazz 5, with a maple neck.
  8. ElMon

    ElMon Supporting Member

    May 30, 2004
    Oklahoma City, OK
    Played this bass with my new Markbass Little Mark II through one GS112 and was blown away by how well the matchup sounded. In our rehearsal space, I had been using my AG500SC thru the same cab and was underwhelmed by the girth and overall volume. For some reason, despite being relatively the same power, the Marbass was KILLING it! Deep yet controlled lows that didn't fart out my cab even with agressive low B attacks (the AG500 would punish my single GS112 into a farty mess at times) and the volume was almost double, despite the same signal chain for everything else, down to the EQ settings.

    The darker lowmid kick that is inherent in the LittleMark is PERFECT for the Pbass. The notes cut through the rehearsal much more than the Aggie. I also liked the variances I could get between dialing-in/cutting back either my Pbass's tone knob or the VLE/VPF knobs. With the tone wide open on the bass, I could take that punchy and agressive P-tone and could smooth it out with the VLE without muddying it up in any way. On the opposite side of the coin, I could leave the tone knob all the way off on the Pbass, and combined with a flat EQ setting on the LittleMark, I had that coveted (to me at least) 'cotton beater on a calfskin kickdrum head' punch to every note. Perfect for dark yet defined support lines.

    Finally, I dialed up the VPF knob and found this tone in my rig: