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Are Fender basses essential ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JayAmel, Feb 2, 2005.

  1. JayAmel

    JayAmel Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2002
    Carcassonne, France

    No meaning to make a bashing thread against Fender (I myself am a Fender player), no purpose to start a troll or any kind of polemics either, but I was wondering something... Actually this may be a debate rather than a Q/A thread...

    When I was a young musician, back in the mid-70's, there was a commercial ad that was published every month in all French musical magazines. This ad was speaking of the sound of bass in pop/rock music, and the ad ended by : "... and nine times out of ten, the bass is a Fender". Well, that was approximately true.

    Years have gone by, and many new manufacturers appeared. Yes, we all know their numerous names. But still, at least in Europe (and I believe, also in the other parts of the world), the most seen basses, live or on videos or TV, are still Fenders. Yes, there are companies specialized in "product placement", and this probably helps, at least on TV and videos, but it actually seems many well-known bass players have at least one Fender, and apparently use them frequently.

    So do you think that Fender basses, 50 years after their first release, are still the most played ones ?

    Thanks in advance for your inputs in this debate.

  2. i don't think they are essential, but i also think they aren't a bad bass to have in collection, and i think they are essential for that old school sound, because usually that "old school" sound was a fender bass!
  3. rockdoc11


    Sep 2, 2000
    I suspect Fender is still the most widely used bass.

    But because there are SO many more bass options today, rather than a 90% share of the market, Fender may be down to a 60% share or whatever.

    I don't know who would be in second place. Maybe Music Man?
  4. Classic but not essential - although I have a P and a J.
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I don't own a Fender bass anymore, but have owned a couple in the past. I think everybody owes it to themselves to at least try a Fender bass at some point in there career as a bassist. Essential? I wouldn't think so.
  6. Deano Destructo

    Deano Destructo Precision/Upton addict. Hasn't slept since 1979. Supporting Member

    Dec 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA.
    Locally I see more more musicians of all ages playing either Fender J's, P's or MM Stingray's in that order. Ibanez IMO would probably be the most commonly encountered non-designed Leo model's around. None of that so much matters to me since I pay a Jazz bass cause it has the sound I'm looking for and I like the way it feels. My favorite bass manufacturers all tend to be basses upon Leo's designs however :meh: . Essential to me - yes, because its what I like. I wouldn't call it essential to all players though.
  7. I agree/concur/can relate to all of the above. Interestingly(or not) my main & current favorite is a neck-through custom 6 that bears little resemblance to any of Leo's designs- but I asked the builder to make it sound very 'Fender-ish'(!)
  8. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    I think they might be more "essential" now than they were ten or twenty years ago, in view of the ever-expanding vintage market and the general love of retro equipment that seems predominant among musicians, producers and engineers today.

    I personally wouldn't feel comfortable without at least one Fender bass in the arsenal.
  9. jive1

    jive1 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jan 16, 2003
    Owner/Retailer: Jive Sound
    I don't consider a Fender bass to be essential, as much as a Fender style bass. For example, a P bass is great to have in your arsenal, but it doesn't have to be made by Fender.
  10. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    IMO its all about sentimentalism, maybe the fenders arent essential, but Leo did get some nice desings and tones with all of his basses, or dont you apreciate each p, j, mm and G&L sound?
  11. It's only essential dependent on your vocation or tastes...

    If you love the tone or the feel, yup. But it can be copped elsewhere.

    As far as vocation, if you're a studio / jingle player for hire, you had better have a Fender or Fender clone option in your arsenal, as many producers expect them and are biased to them as they are easy to track, saving money wasted on finding "useable tones" for their ears.

    No, that is not a slag on producers, but it is true.
  12. MichaelScott


    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    I've played a few fenders. They sound good but from the one's I have played I just can't justify the price just for the name.
  13. BigRed


    Apr 1, 2004
    Palestine, TX
    I've never owned a Fender (played a few though) and I probably never will. :eek:

    I do, however, own a G&L LB100 and a '70s Aria "Fender Copy" Fretless Jazz...whatareyougoingtodo? :scowl:
  14. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Yes I do. :)

    I have basses that are, IMO, better than Fender basses but I still always seem to have one Fender bass in my collection.
  15. WildBill


    Jul 7, 2002
    I think every that plays rock related music needs a good p bass in their collection.
    The first bass I bought with my own money was a MIM Jazz and its still solid to this day.
  16. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I think that for sidemen or studio players, Fenders or Fender style basses are the essential instruments. If a player is a bandleader or a band member, or a solo act, personal taste is their only guide.
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Are Fenders essential? Essential to what, is the real question.

    They are essential from an historic perspective. They are essential for a true vintage look, feel and sound. There are imitators that come close to that...but close is great for a game of horseshoes. I've had or played a multitude of basses that came close, but none that made you think you actually had a Fender in your hands.

    Are they essential for every musician? No. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes. A P-Bass has an unmistakable, distinct sound...and some do not like that sound. Fair enough.

    True, some studio guys wants that sound, or close to it and most studios don't care if it takes longer to get the right tone...if the bassist in question is paying for the studio time. But if a bassist is getting paid by the studio and the studio wants that sound, then yes, it's essential.

    There is no denying Fender's place in the history of music, or even it's continuing popularity today. Quality issues aside, Fender makes some great basses. There isn't one single designer out there that wouldn't have the same quality issues if they produced their basses in the same quantities that Fender does. It's just the law of averages. If you make only ten or twenty basses a year, you can afford to have more control over quality. Let these modern designers make as many as Fender does and get back to me with their quality issues.

    Some don't care for Fenders, for whatever reason they have (and since it's an opinion, it's a legitimate reason), but it does not take away from what is truly a great American icon.

    It became an icon because it was essential at one time...and in many instances, still is.
  18. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    Excellent post but I've played SOOO many different Fender Precision basses and Fender Jazz basses, (MIA, MIJ, CIJ, MIM, MIC, MII, etc. Standard, Deluxe Custom, etc) I don't know what a Fender should feel like. :)
  19. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    A fender style bass yes.
    Jazz or percision
    It can be a Fender, Sadowski, Lakland, Lull, or one of Nino's.
    What ever you like.
    You should have one?
  20. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    From what I can gather...and this is just my opinion based on my experience and nothing more, some Fenders are purposely not built to be like the originals.

    As one example...MIM's do not use any kind of reinforcement in the necks, similar to original Fenders. Newer MIA's do. The Deluxe P-Bass models aren't using a simple single split humbucker like the originals. There are a lot of variants on the original...even those produced by Fender itself.

    I owned a '62 P-Bass (the real thing, not a reissue) and the '02-'03 MIM P-Bass I own now comes as close to that feel and tone that I could find. I played a bunch of MIA's and P-Bass wannabes that for whatever reason just didn't cut it for me.

    I wasn't looking for a Fender copy with updated hardware. I wanted to get that old Fender P-Bass vibe I used to have and I played a ton of them before I found this cheapo MIM that just "had" it. And what was it that it had?

    Hard to describe...I guess you could say it had that essential Fender P-Bass feel and tone.