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Fender American Original vs Custom Shop

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Kerem Koseoglu, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. Well, I know that such a comparison is moot in essence; since a particular AO can be better than a particular CS or vice versa. Plus, "better" is also an extremely subjective term since player preferences differ.

    Accepting and passing such points; I'm curious about your laid-back opinions on those lines from Fender.

    I had the chance to compare an AO Jazz and CS 1962 Closet Classic Jazz (VVT) in a music store. The differences I can tell are;
    • AO is cheaper, lighter, gave a better P-ish tone on neck pickup emphasis. Feels a little better to my back (lighter).
    • CS is expensive, heavier, has a little more "body" to its overall sound (for lack of a better term). Quarter sawn neck. Feels a little better to my hand.
    The rest seems to be equal-ish. Considering that I can add more "body" to the AO sound with a decent amp or onboard EQ, I'm curious about your opinions on why the off-the-shelf CS is that expensive and if it's worth it or not.

    A price paid for a CS built to custom peculiar specs is understandable - I'm talking about off-the-shelf CS basses. Instead of buying that, one could buy a main AO jazz + a backup Player Jazz + an amp.

    I must admit that the CS "mojo" is attractive; knowing that you are playing a (so called - by Fender) top-of-line instrument gives a certain confidence. But is that all? Is Fender able to sell off-the-shelf CS basses due to insecurities and ego hunger of some players, or are they really that good and am I missing something?

    Please help me understand the situation.
    Maynard46 and maveriten like this.
  2. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    CS = proper quality control, consistently high quality.

    AO = standard Fender QC, luck of the draw.
    Ace Of Bass and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  3. Mike Vee

    Mike Vee

    Oct 8, 2012
    Los Angeles
    In my opinion American Original is basically the same as NOS Custom Shop without the quartersawn neck and different pickups.
    TonyP- and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  4. Mike Vee

    Mike Vee

    Oct 8, 2012
    Los Angeles
    This is not true, the American Original line is held to a very, very high standard. The one I own now is absolutely flawless.
    Rene Molina, Tbone76, jp8848 and 7 others like this.
  5. JaseOfBase


    Jan 6, 2019
    I played a Fender Custom Shop Time Machine 1960 Jazz Bass (Journeyman Relic) up against a Fender American Original 60's Jazz Bass and I eventually landed on the AO Jazz.

    The only thing that stood out for me on the CS was the neck but I am planning on lightly sanding my AO neck to give it the same feel.

    With the money I saved I am planning on scooping an AO Precision as well...I am just waiting for the Black Friday / Holiday sales to start rolling out.

    These AO basses are no joke. I have played a few now and ALL of them feel great...unlike many of the Professional Series instruments I have tried out...those are so hit or miss it seems.

    I'm so happy with my decision. I just finished up in the studio and everything sounded so good with the AO Jazz. I seriously couldn't be any happier.
    JB1962, Spupilup and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  6. Spupilup


    Jan 11, 2019
    New England
    I own an AO ‘50’s Tele and every time I pick it up to play I am bowled over by just how good it is. I haven’t played a ton of high quality guitars but I’ve put my Tele into the hands of people who have and the reaction I get from them is consistent. Typically comments run along the lines of what you’ve been saying in your comparison to the CS bass.

    When I first got my AO, all I read was the negativity that was posted to TDPRI essentially taking to task how the AO was just a Fender marketing ploy. Complaints abounded, mainly from AVRI owners who had never even touched an AO. The neck was wrong, the frets were weak, the finish was too orange, the maple neck was too light. I always prefaced my posts about my guitar as “the Tele most Tele lovers love to hate.”

    In the end, I say, let the haters hate. Most never even touched an AO let alone had the opportunity to put one through its paces. The AO is an awesome series. I came so close to picking up a 50’s Precision but ultimately got a G&L CLF L1000 (nostalgia got the better of me as I bought an L1000 in 1980, sold it a couple of years later and always regretted it). I recently played an AO ‘60’s P bass and it clicked all the right boxes especially in LPB. Uh oh, I can feel the GAS building as I’m typing this!!!
    Sparuto and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  7. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    I tried a few AO vs CS(p and j).I would take the AO even if they were priced about the same.
    I couldnt see a gap in quality,so paying extra for CS decal doesnt sit well with me.
    Bassist30 and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  8. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    This is not very, very high standard and would NEVER happen with a CS:

    New Fender AO Precision Truss Rod slightly off center

    That's not a problem with one bass but an entire batch of AOs, if not more.

    My AO60 P had other issues too but I've already mentioned those in other threads. My impression of the American Original series is that QC is about the same as other MIA Fenders at the moment: Very, very poor. (My AmPro P also had issues that suggest shockingly poor QC).

    Of course, if you get a good one the AOs are great basses!
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
    Kerem Koseoglu likes this.
  9. Mike Vee

    Mike Vee

    Oct 8, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Hhaha, wow mine does have a SLIGHTLY off-center truss rod. Now as bad as those pics though. Maybe 1mm.

    My rosewood is the best I've ever seen. It's such a beautiful super dark fretboard.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Oct 31, 2019
    Kerem Koseoglu likes this.
  10. Tuna Can Dan

    Tuna Can Dan Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2017
    I have a American Original 50s model pbass. When I spoke to a fender representative what was explained to me about the American originals is that these models are made the way they were back in those times. In the american vintage series those instruments were made like they were for the specific year vs the American original they took an entire decade and picked the best specs and made a “super” instrument. The fender rep also told me in the custom shop models are usually 1 or 2 piece bodies and they get first pick in wood selection. I’ve seen actual 50s, 60s, 70s etc Basses that are 1,2 and 3 piece bodies. I personally feel the American original is closer to the real instruments of those times while the custom shop/master built are made to specs of specific years with the builders twist. You can tell certain builders tend to have a style in how they do things especially when it comes to picking wood patterns. I consider the American original a mass produced custom level instrument much like the Gibson Les Paul custom. The Les Paul custom is a custom shop guitar but it’s not really a custom shop guitar. Either way the American originals and custom shops are like anything else some will be the best some will be horrible and most will be awesome! Remember what someone considers amazing another might not think so.
    Tbone76 likes this.
  11. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    I Picked Up a American Original Jazz here on TB and I am totally happy with it. I think they are made well and worth every penny. Mine on a pretty accurate Bathroom Scale is 8.6 pounds. Like most basses the neck will need adjustment when changing strings and season changes, unlike my pro P bass which does not move and feel these are a exceptional P bass models. But again I am totally happy with the AO Jazz and if you are looking for a great reasonably priced vintage style fender without the modern flair (active, etc.) I suggest checking one out. It made me really enjoy the 4 string again.
  12. Quarter-sawn neck of the CS is superior to the regular AO neck, in my opinion - in terms of stability and durability. That's something that the AO can't easily be upgraded to. Other than that; put CS pickups into the AO (if you like) and you get an almost-CS instrument.
    Tbone76 and Tuna Can Dan like this.
  13. Tuna Can Dan

    Tuna Can Dan Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2017
    You are 100% right! I just feel the price difference isn’t worth it. Well not to me at least.
    Tbone76 and Kerem Koseoglu like this.
  14. The Deep

    The Deep

    Jul 21, 2017
    I’m my experience most Fenders - regardless of the badging - are very hit and miss.

    IMHO the most consistent quality Fenders are the MIJ models.
  15. Adam Wright

    Adam Wright Supporting Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Mike Lull Basses, Roscoe Basses, 64 Audio IEM, SIT Strings
    No, Custom Shop has just as many mediocre ones as the normal lines. I’ve only had 2 out of maybe 10 that didn’t need a fret dressing in the upper register. Played one new in the shop earlier in the year. Same issue. Seriously abyssmal fretwork. Tonally great, feels great, but i think the fretwork is probably done with as much care as it was “back in the day”.
    Tuna Can Dan likes this.
  16. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    But the neck is accurate to the 63. Quarter sawn is generally slightly stronger depending on the quality of the wood. But most companies use the wood that is given, as true quarter sawn is hard to get. You can get a very good quality of wood that isn't quarter sawn and come to be stronger. I am not sure the CS will use True Quarter Sawn as good wood is good wood and in both cases may not make a difference. I am not sure with Fender CS as I have witnessed people who love them and others who feel they got ripped off. But all in all The Fender AO 60 jazz that I have feels and plays great. Because I adjust the neck after string and season changes is common to both quarter sawn and plain sawn.
    Tuna Can Dan likes this.
  17. Change of seasons is not the only reason for the neck to move. Some other factors are;
    • ... touring - where the guitar passes through various temperatures
    • ... open-air gigs - where the temperature changes from soundcheck to end of gig
    However; I agree that quarter sawn necks aren't tanks either. They are simply generally believed / accepted to be more stable than flat sawn necks; and like all generalizations, this will have many exceptions. The real stability will change from neck to neck, regardless of how they were sawn.

    That being said; I remember a video where a guy jumps on a quarter sawn neck and can't break it, but can't find the URL at this time.

    One might need a carbon fiber neck for maximum stability; which obviously sounds very different from wooden necks.
    Tuna Can Dan likes this.
  18. cacio


    Apr 24, 2005
    I own several am.vi p and i played the ao.
    The big difference with the cs is all in the neck,and yet i still play non cs bass,it’s difficult to come back to a regular bass as my main axe
    Tuna Can Dan likes this.
  19. It’s interesting to reflect over the fact that some of the vintage pre-cbs Fender basses that the CS are trying to emulate where the basic line and that they had all kinds of different flaws and differences in the production. Still, as years go by, those small things are nothing that seems to bother players, almost the opposite, it’s part of the road-worn vintage charm so sough after.
    But if a new series presents something different and new it’s a lot of times seen as something bad and it gets bashed upon. So time will tell. I think a lot of great instruments are being built by Fender and other companies nowadays but the level of nerdiness and all the options we have makes it so much harder to valuate all the parameters.
    in the 50-60s the limited amount of choices in a way made everything easier:)
    Kerem Koseoglu likes this.
  20. Maynard46

    Maynard46 Inactive

    Jul 13, 2020
    I been thinking about a 59 CS P Bass with the CS 62 pickups. But I have an AO 60s P Bass with the pure vintage 63 pickups. This bass is awesome. It got me to thinking, what is the point of the CS model? It would be the same specs as the AO 60s with a CS 62 pup, Quartersawn neck and a color of my choice. So the real question I said to myself was, if the CS 62 is so much better than the PV 63, why not use the 62 in the AO 60s P Bass? Not to mention the 59 CS uses the same 60s C shaped neck that the AO 60s uses.

    Yes I would love a CS 59 with the color and pickguard i want and the Quartersawn neck, but is that really worth the extra 1500 or so dollars? idk maybe if they throw in a guitar strap.
    Tuna Can Dan likes this.
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    May 6, 2021

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