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Active "Power Jazz Bass Special" (Fender)

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Groover, Jul 26, 2005.

  1. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Hello, I have a regular passive Jazz Bass Special (MIJ in the 80's) and I'm pretty happy with it.

    Maybe GAS or whatever, but I'm wondering what the benefits are in the Active version of that bass (the Power Jazz Bass Special).

    Also, I found the manual online and it states that the electronics are active on the Power version. Does that mean the pickups are active, or are those two things different. (if so, is there such thing as passive pickups on active board?)

  2. luknfur


    Jan 14, 2004

    active pickups have a built-in preamp and is not the same thing as active electronics. The primary advantage to active circuitry is, quieter operation, tone boost (which comparatively doesn't amount to much in preamps from 80's and 90's) and capacity to run long cords without signal loss.
  3. Keep the passive one, though. I'm pretty sure that's my 'seller's regret' bass. :( You might also try a preamp pedal, ala Sadowsky or Aguilar. But the tone of my old pearl white/black Power Jazz was sweeeet. If there were such a thing as a 5-string version in pearlescent seafoam green, I'd be in trouble.
  4. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Thanks for the replies.

    bassteban, did you have both at one point and sold one (both)?
  5. My first real(or brand-new)bass was the aforementioned Power Jazz. $447 w/case, sold it for $450. What a swindle, eh? I still get all teary-eyed whenever I see one for sale, but I just don't use 4 strings much when I have 'em. No offense, I'm nothing spectacular regardless of string count. :rolleyes:
  6. 4stringman


    Oct 12, 2008
    Memphis, Tn
    Ok, man
    I have the active version, and it's active/passive with low and mid-boost controls. It is a very amazing bass comparable only to a modulus.

    Aside from emg's all pick-ups are passive, but can be made active with a preamp

    keep on rockin dude: hope i could help
  7. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    The Power Jazz Bass Special differed from the regular Jazz Bass Special in a couple of ways besides the electronics. The Power JBS had an active EQ circuit after the passive PUPs, the P-bass coils were reversed, it had extra frets (or at least partial ones- I recall the end of the fingerboard being angled), and a layer of graphite fiber under the fingerboard. The graphite layer extended across the headstock so the the fibers were visible under the clearcoat.

    It had the same PUPs as the regular Jazz Bass Special, so the the only "power" aspect was the active EQ circuit.

  8. kerenn


    Apr 24, 2008
    Just got my power jazz bass.
    The controls are very confusing, unlike any other bass I've seen or owned up till now.

    The large switch (with the black 'head') chooses the pickups: P only, both, or J only.
    The knob closest to the neck is the volume knob. Affects both pickups.

    Now - the rest is a bit confusing.
    The small switch, probably selects active/passive.
    When in the position closest to the neck, I guess it's the 'passive' mode, because the knob closest to this small switch doesn't do anything in that position.

    The other two positions of this small switch (middle position or towards the bridge) are two 'active' positions, but I fail to see the meaning of each position.
    When in these positions, the knob next to this switch has a weird functionality. When 'open' the sound is 'thin', and when 'closed' the sound is very thick, lots of low end, like kind of bass boost.

    Does anyone here knows how exactly this bass works?
    Thanks :rolleyes:
  9. A Wine Guy

    A Wine Guy

    Aug 30, 2009
    1987 Fender “Power” J-Bass Special Model 27-9000

    In 1987 Fender combined the best features of its two Basses, the Jazz Bass and Precision Bass and added many features to create the ultimate Fender Bass.

    It was a Jazz Bass neck on a Precision body with active/passive electronics (no other Fender Bass had active Electronics). It had a 22 Fret neck (standard was 20), a special black bridge, a Carbon Graphite Nut (not Cyclovac), and matching Black Keys. It featured two Adjustable Pickups, the one in the Neck Position was the Precision Bass Split Pickup, and in the Bridge Position it had one Jazz Bass Pickup, again the best of both. It featured a Rosewood Tri-Laminate Neck (the first Tri-Lam) with the standard Fender Scale Length of 34” and 7¼” Radius.

    I played a Fender Precision bass for 20 years, when I saw this bass I thought, “What is this? It’s not a Jazz or Precision.” As I made the comparisons, I realized it was the ultimate Fender.

    I made several modifications: 1) Took out the frets and filled with wood filler. 2) Removed most of the varnish from the back of the neck, which makes it slipperier and faster. 3) Sanded off the square part of the neck, where it meets the body, so that it is rounded like the rest of the neck permitting you to reach the highest fret. 4) I had to also grind down the back of the saddles so the strings could be lowered, since there were no frets. 5) I hade to deepen the cuts in the nut for the same reason, to lower the strings.

    Jaco Pastorius loved this bass and wanted to buy it, right before he was murdered. He said Victor you’re a genius. He would also call ‘me’ the greatest bass player ever. You can imagine how good he made me feel.

    Selector Switches: One Black 3 Position Pickup (Neck, Both, Bridge) and One Metal 3 Position Circuit

    Controls: 1 Volume (furthest from bridge), 1 Tone, 1 Frequency weep (closest to the bridge)

    Output Jack: Body Side

    The Fender Power Jazz Bass Special features a unique Active Tone Enhancement (ATE) circuit. which can add low end “pop” or high end “brilliance”. The ATE circuit has three modes: Passive (in which the tone control acts like a standard tone control); Low Frequency Boost; and Midrange Boost.

    The Volume control acts just like a regular volume control.

    Some models (like mine) feature Fenders TBX tone control circuit. The TBX Control provides both the conventional Fender sound and unique new sounds. Advancing the knob counter-clockwise, from the detent position gradually filters off high frequencies, moving the sound from bright to more mellow to provide all the Fender tonal characteristics previously available. Until now this has been the primary method of making tonal adjustments on electric guitars, but with the TBX control, you also have the option of adding presence and brightness by actually shifting the frequency response of the pickup. This is done by rotating the knob clockwise from the detent position. With this added capability the TBX provides a whole new range of sounds not previously available.


    Attached Files:

    Jnagol likes this.
  10. A Wine Guy

    A Wine Guy

    Aug 30, 2009
    Photos of my Customized, Fender Power Jazz Bass Special, that Jaco Pastorius wanted.

    I think it is still the sleekest, sexiest looking bass, and looks great under colored lights; but maybe I prejudiced, what do you think?

    Attached Files:

  11. A Wine Guy

    A Wine Guy

    Aug 30, 2009
    You are correct JTE: a layer of graphite fiber under the fingerboard. The graphite layer extended across the headstock so the the fibers were visible under the clear coat. (see photo)

    You can see were I sanded the neck, it did not make it any weaker. (see photo)

    Bassteban mine was pearl white, but after 22 years it looks more ivory.

    I need an E saddle, but there are no replacement parts for this bass. Some say it was reissued as the Duff McKegan bass, or that the bridge was the same, but Fender says no??? ANY HELP?

    Hope my previous post helps kerenn, I downloaded the operators manual from Fenders web site.

    Removing the frets is like taking the training wheels off. But it does make it harder to play, you have got to hit the exact spot on the string, not just between the frets.

    My biggest regret is not having a video of Jaco playing my fretless bass, even a few photos of us with the bass. But I never thought that in two weeks he would be gone.


    Attached Files:

  12. kerenn


    Apr 24, 2008
  13. grygrx

    grygrx Lookout! Here comes the Fuzz! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Dec 24, 2003
    Columbia, MO
    For Sale Discussion Posts deleted
  14. Darkman1


    Sep 20, 2009
    guess not
  15. I have the schematic for that preamp...it's quite simple to construct it uses a single TL072 and a few components.
  16. kerenn


    Apr 24, 2008
    can you please post it (or PM me?) :hyper:
  17. Darkstrike

    Darkstrike Return Of The King!

    Sep 14, 2007
    Any chance you could pm, or e-mail me a copy?
  18. thejrace


    Oct 3, 2008
    i'd be much obliged if you could please share that.
  19. if someone wants to post it for me, send me a PM...

    edit: I received a couple of PM's offering to post for me...however, I did not receive an email that I could attach the schematic to :(
  20. heb9_28


    Jul 1, 2009
    On my way tomorrow morning to pick up my very own Power Jazz Bass from a craigslist find! I can't wait and this thread has been incredibly helpful in my understanding of all this bad boy can do.

    :bassist: <-- me tomorrow on my new MIJ Fender Power Jazz