A (Belated) Review of the Fender American Deluxe Dimension HH V

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dcgriggs79, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. TL;DR: Gorgeous bass whose foundational sound is like a Jazz on steroids. If you're not an avid fan of Jazz honk, you'll find yourself mostly cutting treble and mid and gravitating to the neck pickup. The active electronics are wasted because the boosts are too extreme. The good news is that you can throw on some flats, put the selector on neck, and roll back the treble and mids, and you have yourself a very tasteful, do-anything tone that's 75% Jazz, 25% Stingray.

    Full Review: In my never-ending quest to find that "perfect" bass, I recently found and decided to give a try to a new/old stock 2013 Fender American Deluxe Dimension HH V in Violin Burst finish. I threw on a black pickguard in place of the stock white as you'll see in the pics below.

    So you understand my perspective, my first bass was a Precision and I played those exclusively for a while before I gave Jazzes a try. I'm not a huge fan of the nasally, honky sound of Jazz basses when played tone up on the bridge. But in playing live I've come to appreciate how a tasteful amount of Jazz mids can cut through the mix when needed. But, "home base" for me is Precision tone.

    Enter this new Dimension bass. I love everything about it physically. It's unique, modern, and the violin burst finish is (to me) the most beautiful finish I've seen on any bass ever. The body is smaller than a Jazz bass. If you stand them up back to back, the horns on the Dimension are about an inch shorter than the Jazz.

    Tonally, the prevailing two comments I've seen from other reviewers is that you can do "anything" with the Active EQ and 5 way selector. And that, while it's attempting to capture the spirit of a Stingray, it doesn't sound like a Stingray. To the latter point, I agree. It is not a Stingray. To the former, I emphatically disagree that this instrument can do "anything". The one caveat I want to make before I continue is that I haven't yet played this in a band setting. That will come next week. I'm playing through a Fender Rumble Stage 800, btw, on the Rumble V3 Clean model -- pretty neutral.

    While the tone is highly shapeable with the EQ and 5-way selector, the foundational sound of the instrument is like a Jazz on steroids. With EQ flat, it is far too trebly. The pickups are incredibly powerful and - dare I say - unforgiving. I put on some flatwounds which I'd say are almost an absolute requirement for this bass in terms of reducing string clacking noise and toning down the behemoth hum buckers. I can see virtually no scenario where anyone would want to boost treble or mids on this instrument.

    I would say you first start getting into useable tones when you cut the treble 25% from zero, and cut the mid about 10% from zero. And even then, my preference on the selector switch was to gravitate back to the neck pickup. To my ears, no amount of treble/mid cut would tone down the honk enough to make the bridge pickup very useable. Again - unless you want Jazz type tone and want it in spades. Toning down the treble and mids even more on the neck pickup never quite achieves that deep, focused tone that you get on a Precision.

    Bottom line for me is that this bass is beautiful and unique and you can achieve a really tasteful, Jazzish tone. But it takes a lot of dialing back to make that happen. Despite it having humbuckers, you have to set the controls even more extreme to get close to a Precision type tone, and it still doesn't quite get there. It makes me think the passive version of this instrument that was offered for a time makes most sense, given at no point did I feel any boosts were really helpful. All of that said, this is me fiddling around at home. I will use this bass on a gig next week and see how I feel about it after that. I'll follow up here!

    If anyone else has experience with this bass and can offer a comparison, I'd love to hear it. IMG_5387.jpeg Screen Shot 2020-06-07 at 3.06.47 PM.png
    jazzburst77 and Vinny_G like this.