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2010 Fender American Deluxe Jazz - My tale of two basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by VroomVroom, Oct 11, 2010.

  1. Hi Folks,

    Last week I ran into a perfect storm...absolute stupid prices on two basses I've had my eye on for a while, with two weekend gigs on the books that were perfectly suited for those instruments. Add in my lack of will power, and bada boom...both basses came home. Fender American Deluxe five-string Jazz... one alder/rosewood, the other ash/maple. Here's the bass porn from each gig...



    I've been interested in this model since first experiencing a four-string bass many months ago. Loved the sound - passive as well as active - dug the playability, and was ready to buy. Unfortunately the first five-string bass my local store got in had horrible noise issues. This was followed by a long wait as Fender dealt with inventory problems. The alder bass arrived a coupla' months ago, and the ash one showed up two weeks ago. Pre-purchase impressions: the ash bass was on my radar at regular street price...great sounding instrument. At the sales price it was really a no-brainer. The alder one was more of an impulse...one I easily avoided until seeing the special three-day-only price.

    Initial Impressions
    Sonically, each bass does it's own thing really well. I really like the passive tone on each bass, and on both the preamp does exactly what I like...add some oomph down low and a bit of sizzle up high. Having a three-band pre as well as a passive tone control is a huge plus in my book. The alder bass is heavier...I'd guess it's right around 10lbs, and it's certainly warmer with a much 'happier' midrange. The ash bass is very punchy, and is nice and crisp up high.

    Spending More Time...
    I installed DR Sunbeams on both basses. Each took some time to dial in the setup. Fretwork seems to be exceptional - at least to the extent I'd notice - and the 'B' string is terrific. Setting the intonation was a bit adventurous. The screws are 7/64" hex, but the case candy included no wrench. Worse, the owner's manual states that intonation is set via a Phillips screwdriver. Doh. C'mon, Fender. Really? Fortunately I had the right wrench in the toolbox, but this seems like a really silly slip-up. Nonetheless, intonation set easily, and the neck has held just fine since my initial adjustment.

    On the Gig...
    The alder bass is noisy. Passive/active/blend centered...doesn't matter. There's a nasty hum. Could be the venue's electrical setup but I didn't have the issue with the other bass I brought to the date. It's also uneven sonically - I had a few solos and found myself adjusting my touch based on where I was on the fingerboard. Not something I caught at the store or when 'shedding at home. Time will tell if I can adjust to this, but it's not something I'm used to seeing/hearing. Otherwise, good bass. Great mids, and my favorite tone comes in passive mode with the bridge pickup biased...very burpy and fat.

    The ash bass? No issues, really. A bit mid-scooped until either boosting the frequencies in active mode, or biasing the bridge pickup in either mode. Very versatile sound, with amazing punch and sizzle. It seems to do Jaco as well as Marcus. It was a big hit with the other players on the date as well.

    In general I love the electronics. Great passive tone - sounds like a Fender. Active tone is versatile and the tuning choices seem to be perfect. Craftsmanship seems good...fretwork, neck joint, nut...all good. Bridge and tuning hardware seem great. Cosmetics....totally my sweetspot. I've always been a sucker for blocks and binding, especially in each of these configurations. I can't deny that looks played a bigger factor than they probably should have.

    I don't like the noise on the alder bass...could be a showstopper. I'm disappointed with the oversight on setting the intonation. Small issue, but I also don't care for the oversized screwheads for the battery compartment. Marketing logic says you can use a dime on the gig to swap batteries. Bleh. I'd rather not risk damage to the finish by turning a standard-head screwdriver, and I don't like how far out the screwheads stand. And the compartment? Seems like an afterthought. I dig the 18v concept, but the wiring is sloppy, and on both basses the foam insulation stuck to one of the batteries instead of the compartment wall.

    Final (for now) Impressions
    I had the opportunity to chat up the local Fender rep when buying. He asked pointed questions, and I gave him pointed answers. Good conversation, and he's proud - rightfully so - of Fender's work with these instruments. The ultimate question for me is how/if they stack up to the competition. At this price point - at least at normal retail - things are awfully close to a number of smaller brands who seem to do things better. Craftsmanship, playability, and of course, sound. Thus far, I like each of these basses because the "good" Fender things outweigh the "bad" ones. Whether I hold on to them...or more telling, whether I part ways with my Sadowsky or Lull basses...remains to be seen.

    Hopefully this helps a bit for anyone considering these instruments. As always, these are just my opinions and your mileage may very well be much different. Thanks!
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    As a guy who really loves Fenders, I have come around to the opinion of boutique dudes like KJung. Fender Deluxes are just too close in price to boutiques to have some of the construction issues thy tend to have.

    Vroom Vroom, I hape they work out for you, but I suspect an American standard with an outboard preamp is the best way to have a Fender with a good active sound and no noise. I know it worked well for me when I had that set up.
  3. Will Kelly

    Will Kelly

    Mar 3, 2010
    Nice review, excellent post.

    Is the preamp the same as it has always been in the American Deluxe series, or have they changed the frequency response points in this new model?

    I always disliked the preamp voicing of the American Deluxe series.
  4. Dub56

    Dub56 Supporting Member

    May 28, 2005
    Interesting review. Strange to hear about the noise differences between the basses.

    I haven't had a chance to get my hands on one of these new deluxes, but I definitely want to give them a try. Sounds like they are still plagued with some of the the typical "hit-or-miss" issues I've come to expect from Fender, but looks like they are definitely on the right track. This is the first year in quite a while that I've really stopped and said "WOW, I want one of the American Deluxes", even if just from a visual standpoint.

    I'm not normally a huge fan of natural finished basses, but that ash/maple is KILLER. Really nice grain, looks like you got a good one.

    It'd be great to hear some clips of both basses!
  5. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Good review.

    I still wish they'd do the maple-black blocks/binding neck on the white body, it'd look killer.

    Bit of a shame the 3tb is so noisy...
  6. LilRay

    LilRay Commercial User

    Dec 27, 2007
    Between my Roscoe and Leather
    Owner: Cockeyed Cow Custom Leathercraft
    What is the regular street price now between these and a Lull, Jerry? Are we talkin' </> $500? I understand on the stoopid deal thing though.:D

    You are great at constructing reviews. Somebody should hire ya.;)


    God Bless, Ray
  7. Thanks for the comments, folks.

    Total echo. You just summed up my thoughts in far fewer words than I can manage to use. :D

    I'm not sure on the pre-amp voicing for this year's model as opposed to prior ones...as in the quote above, these basses weren't remotely on my radar until earlier this year. I can say that I really dig the tone, and even with doing some knob-fiddling the sound says, "Fender!" to me. Which is totally cool. Neither of these basses sounds anything like my Lulls or Sadowsky.

    And speaking of sound....here are some clips. Rig is as-pictured...GB Shuttle 9.0 and Bergantino AE212. On the amp, everything is @ noon, except for pre-gain, which sits @ 7/10. The tweeter on the cab is @ noon as well.

    3TB alder/rosewood bass. Slight bias toward bridge pickup, active w/ lows boosted to 6/10...everything else centered.

    - Lovely Day

    - My Baby Just Cares

    Natural ash/maple bass. Same EQ settings.

    - Nothing Ever Hurt Like You

    - I Wish

    - Slap Groove (Blend centered, otherwise same EQ.)
  8. t0t0m


    Dec 8, 2008
    Love that Ash - Maple...
    Now I am GASsing for 1...thanks Jerry
  9. mstott25


    Aug 26, 2005
    Guntersville, AL
    I don't know about this one...brand new 5 string Fender American Deluxe with blocks & binding can be had for around $1600.

    I don't think you'll get any of the boutique jazz builders to build you anything equivalent for under 3k.
  10. t0t0m


    Dec 8, 2008
    I am even saving my money for one...:bassist:
  11. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Thanks for the soundsamples. They both sound good.
    The 3TSB is a bit louder in the mix, so it seems to sounds better. It also seems to have more mid range presence in the clips. Is that so?

    Since I saw Rhonda Smith playing with Jeff Beck this week I have some GAS for that black 2010 American Deluxe Jazz bass. Is she playing a stock 2010 deluxe?
  12. The alder bass definitely has more mids going for it - no real surprise there. The ash bass is something, though - those mids can be dialed in by biasing the bridge pickup or through EQ. Lots of focus, punch, and sizzle with that bass. I'll be gigging the alder one on Saturday, and afterward I'll decide if it needs to go back to Fender to address the noise issue.
  13. Very nice review Jerry! I have the alder/rosewood and the midrange in the active, and the passive/tone control, both are unique sounding to me in that their EQ points seem a little different/lower? In otherwords, when I want more punch to cut thru during a passage, cutting the treble and cranking the midrange sounds incredable to me. Not harsh/very punchy/thick. Not thin like many single coils.

    Not what I'm used to in fender active pups/preamps either. I'm giggin it first time (Va. Beach Amphitheatre) tomorrow and hopefully will not encounter the hum issue... .

    Les Fret, I wish he/she was coming to the states on the recent tour (?) I'm curious....
  14. Interesting, Jim - I haven't yet found the need to boost the mids on that alder bass, but I do love the burpy/grindy tone when favoring the bridge pickup.

    I'm curious, if you don't mind...did yours come with a 7/64" wrench for setting the intonation? I mentioned to my local rep that neither of mine came with one, and he's thinking they simply forgot to include them at the factory.
  15. ...nope, mine neither Jerry. Actually, I'd forgo the wrench to get a better strap...:) Same ol cheezy one's they give you.

    I'll try experimenting with the bridge pup...thanks brother.
  16. Thanks! Too funny...I thought the same thing. In this marketspace, forget about the strap and instrument cable. Save the $7 and apply it toward better shielding. :D Or at least the proper tools to adjust the instrument. :ninja:
  17. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    The ash/maple is gorgeous
  18. bassomane


    Apr 3, 2002

    What Bass do you like better? The alder or the Ash one?
  19. Les Fret

    Les Fret

    Sep 9, 2009
    Normally with Fender jazz basses I prefer a rosewood neck for fingerstyle and a maple neck for slapping. Don't know how that will be on this 2010 deluxe.
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Talking new basses, you are 100% correct. Talking used, it is not too hard to find Metro is good shape for $1,600-$2,000. Used Lulls and AtelierZs can be found in that price range too.

    I guess a better comparison would be Music Man. I just don't hear about Stingrays, Bongos, Big Als, etc. with noisy preamps or other issues. I do love Fenders, and I have owned a few Jazz Deluxes. I just wish Fender would be more consistent.

    That said, the new Deluxes are gorgeous, and I would like to try one out. Who knows, I might try one and east my words? IT sure wouldn't be the first time!:D

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