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Best current Fender Precision Bass series?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassbourne, Mar 21, 2020.

  1. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019

    Another gear related question.

    I'm currently saving up for a precision bass (got a way to go yet, but with this "stay at home" situation I've had some time to research) and was wondering what the best series available is. By series I mean line, so Vintera, Classic 50s, American Original etc etc.

    I am interested in pure Ps rather than PJs and passive rather than active. I'm also mostly looking at new as you don't get much choice in the way of second-hand basses where I live (although I will of course keep an eye out just in case). And finally, I quite like the 50s style chunky maple necks, so those I'd give those a slight edge.

    I only want to spend the extra on an American bass if it's really worth it. If I can get an equally great sounding and durable Mexican P-Bass, I'd gladly save the money.

    I'm considering the following:

    - Vintera 50s
    - Classic 50s
    - Roadworn 50s
    - Player
    - American Original
    - American Professional

    I believe some of those aren't being produced anymore, but there are a few online shops which still sell them here.

    Are the Vintera basses as good as the Classic 50s and Roadworn 50s basses in terms of sound and build? They are easier to come by and slightly cheaper which is a plus.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
    Bootrice and imabuddha like this.
  2. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
  3. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    I have a Player P and it is a great instrument. My only mod was swapping out the tuners for lighter Hipshots. It does not have a chunky neck though. Different P-basses have different nut widths (which may be part of the chunk). Current standard P-basses are 1.625", old school is 1.75", and some variants have 1.5" (often will refer to it as a "J neck").
    MAXSPINRUN and bassbourne like this.
  4. bassbourne


    Nov 20, 2019
    Thanks, I've heard good things about the Player basses. As mentioned before, I do like the chunky necks, but given the price point, the Player basses are a definite option for me.

    I've noticed some basses (such as the American Original 50s) have a 9.5" fretboard radius while others (such as the Vintera 50s) have a 7.25" radius. Does this make much difference in terms of feel and comfortability? I guess it's more of a personal preference thing.
  5. nostatic

    nostatic Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2004
    lost angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: FEA Labs
    I don't find fretboard radius to be much of a factor but totally YMMV. I am very picky about bridge spacing and some guys don't care. I used to be picky about nut width but find I can work around that. I think fretboard radius has a bigger impact if you like to bend strings but depends on your left hand technique.
    Kro and bassbourne like this.
  6. Corto14


    Feb 6, 2019
    I don't think the radius makes a big difference. My AO has a 9.5 and my Yamaha bb 10 or so, but I cannot perceive any difference.
    I think the real differences are between a glossy and a satin neck and their thickness.
    Speaking of P-basses, I bought a few days ago an American Original and I really like how it (or she) sounds.
    It's lightweight but it has a little neck dive due to the heavy tuners I suppose; the neck, although it's thick but I love it.
    Tbh I think that it's a little overpriced but if you need that sound, it could be the best bass Fender has to offer (custom shop asides)
    bassbourne likes this.
  7. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I definitely notice fretboard radius, and have a strong preference for flatter fretboards. The typical 9.5" radius is tolerable for me, but I prefer 12" or flatter. Of course YMMV, etc.

    Quality-wise, the Vintera series seems great, like the Classics were. I don't have lots of experience with them, but they look good and feel solid. I can't comment on the tone, but for that, the American Originals are excellent. I've only tried the 60s Precision, and it nailed that tone. You know it when you hear it. That's probably thanks to the pickup, but hey, it works. It was on sale for a great price, and even though I like different neck specs I was tempted.

    My personal preference would be the American Pro, because I like the slightly narrower nut width and more modern bridge. I had a 2004 from the previous American Series, and it was excellent once it had the right pickup, i.e., a Lindy Fralin. The newer pickups sound more like the Fralin.
    bassbourne and murphy like this.
  8. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    I like the American vintage style Fenders (whatever they are calling them). I don't like the graphite rods in the regular American necks, and I prefer vintage style tuners and bridge. Also, the vintage style pickups always sound great.
  9. finfrocka


    Jul 12, 2005
    St Charles Il
    Current Vintera owner chiming in. Love the bass, and particularly the neck. It has the 1.75 nut width. It’s definitely chunkier than my MiM 2015 standard on both width and total girth but I don’t think it’s full on baseball bat. It is for sure thicker front to back than the standard and I thoroughly enjoy the shape.

    As far as tone goes, it’s more laid back than the standard, not as hot. I think it sounds great and that you will thoroughly enjoy it.

    I think you will likely find that the American versions of 50s Basses will be slightly better quality wise, but probably not hundreds of dollars worth better based on your OP. As far as the Vintera vs the Roadworn I would guess (have not played the RW) the small difference in price is probably due to the nitro finish as opposed to poly on the Vintera.

    It really just depends on what you want. But if you are price conscious and want a 50s style p, you can’t go wrong with the Vintera. It’s an awesome piece.
    Mark Ambler and bassbourne like this.
  10. Out of all the new models I’ve tried, I was surprised to find that the player series was my favorite
  11. SB300


    Apr 4, 2015
    I know that you are not interested in the PJ config, but let me suggest you take a look at the Precision Performer. It is a PJ. If you want a P, just turn down the J volume. But, you have it there if you find you like it. The neck is 1.625 at the nut, which I find to be just right. It has a 9.5 radius with medium jumbo frets and a great satin finish on the neck. Fit and finish are great. Replace the pathetic gig bag with a $200 Fender Deluxe case and you have a fine American made P bass that has a great blend of the best of a P and a J.
    bassbourne likes this.
  12. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Only one I can see myself buying...if I didn't already have an outstanding P bass. fender-vintera-50-s-precision-bass-seafoam-green-5435-p-ekm-600x.jpg
    Especially since I just saw a nice used on for under $700.
    BassmanM, Spidey2112 and bassbourne like this.
  13. I have a 2010 Fender American Vintage 62' Reissue Precision and to me, it is Precision Bass perfection. It's got a wide but flat pancake-like neck which just feels right.

    I did replace the pickup with a Seymour Duncan Antiquity 2 which sounds a bit more balanced than the stock pickup but it's all personal preference. The stock pickup sounds great but it was noisier and the high mids were a little brash.
    Zoobiedood and bassbourne like this.
  14. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky Supporting Member

    This is a bit out of left field, but have you considered a second hand Custom Shop precision?
    Ace Of Bass and bassbourne like this.
  15. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I think AO is essentially custom shop but without buying the relic finish. The only difference from the American Vintage that it replaced is the fret size. The AO has medium tall I think and my AV has vintage small. They have a nice warm tone and a nitro finish.
    bassbourne likes this.
  16. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Throw a good pickup on them, maybe get a better fret dressing for the cheaper ones if you like lower action, and they'll all do just fine. But to me, while I have a quibble with their current pickups (not a fan), I think the American Pro is the best out of those you named. There's just something about them that feels more high end to me. That isn't to say that you couldn't make a cheaper one feel about as good to play, but IMHO it takes more work and may run you into a few bucks if you have to hire the work out. Plus I've found the AmPros are consistently lighter than most, and that's a big plus for me.
    707GK, SJan3, imabuddha and 2 others like this.
  17. bassablyours


    May 16, 2017
    Someone correct me if I'm wrong but when the line was announced, I read somewhere that if vintage small frets matter to you, Vintera is currently the only non Custom Shop option for it.
    bassbourne likes this.
  18. PJ Muzikmansky

    PJ Muzikmansky Supporting Member

    Custom shop has quarter sawn neck. AO is flatsawn.
    bassbourne likes this.
  19. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Indeed, the Vintera '50s P replaced the Classic '50s P. Both have the wider 1.75" nut. Before it was retired, the Classic '50s P was offered in both poly and nitro finishes.

    Several years ago, I played a dozen different Fender and Squier Ps before I ended up choosing my '50s Classic. Were I to repeat the process today, I think I'd likely end up with a Vintera '50s...though I'm not sure that I completely buy the marketing jargon about the Vintera's pickup being "revoiced to be more '50s-accurate." Maybe Fender should issue me a rebate on my '50s Classic because they sold me something that sounds more like an '82? :smug:
    bassbourne likes this.

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