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Fender J - Amer. Std. vs. Japan models?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jsonnenblick, Mar 28, 2001.

  1. Hi. I own a 1996 American Standard J with a rosewood board, which is a great bass with a mellow, deep tone.

    But sometimes you just want some treble intensity!

    So I'm trying to decide whether I should sell the American Standard, and buy a used Japanese artist model or reissue. Candidates include the 1975 reissue, the Geddy Lee, and (if I save up a bit) the Marcus Miller.

    For those of you out there who've owned one of these Japanese-made models, would I be unhappy in terms of build or sound quality going from a USA Fender to a Japanese one?

    The only big difference I can see offhand is the lack of graphite reinforcement in the Japan models. I have a deadly hatred of dead spots!
  2. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    I have both (see profile if you like). IMHO, the neck factor is one of the the main differences, but the tuners on my MIJ are not the quality of the MIA, neither is the bridge (I replaced it with the Schaller). The electronics are noisier on th MIJ as well. I don't know if this means anything to you or not, but the MIJ bodies are a mixed bag depending on the model (usually basswood), while the MIA are alder (painted finishes) or ash (natural finishes). I can tell a HUGE difference in sustain between my two. That said, I bought my MIJ before I could afford the MIA, and it was a big improvement over my previous Yamaha BB, so I don't imply it is not a good bass. I just don't think it is as nice as the MIA version. If you are looking at the ones from Mexico, don't even bother. Almost every thread you will see here has guys singing their praises AFTER they have replaced bridge, pickups, hardware, etc. If you are looking at the MIJ, it already sounds pretty darn good without all the retrofits. Again, my opinon, YMMV.
    Hope this helps.
  3. JohnL


    Sep 20, 2000
    Grayson, GA
    Maybe I should also include the info I meant to put in the first post!!! (sorry) You may want to look at the various on-board preamps now available. I would hate to see you lose a MIA Jazz for lack of highs, I have never found it lacking them. But there are several "drop in" circuits available now that do not require any routing. Check the BassPlayer site for the reviews. That may add the highs you need and let you keep your baby at the same time.
  4. Thanks for the advice. I know my American J is made of alder (it's a solid finish). My understanding is that the 1975 and the Geddy should both be ash -- so right there (all else being equal), they should be brighter, right?

    Plus the Geddy has a massive Badass bridge. . .
  5. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    If you can get your hands on a Geddy,try it.Personally,I didnt like mine.Tuners,imo were junk and I didnt care for the pickups.Had a muddy sound.Rather than change all that,I sold it and got a MIA Jazz.Nice Bass imo.
  6. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    J-Retro, from what i've heard they are the mircale cure for jazz basses-i want one. :D
  7. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    I believe the body on the Geddy is alder, at least I hope it is. Doesn't sound like ash to me, unless they changed the specs.

    I have one of these. I love everything about it except:

    1) The tuners have some play in them, though I have no problems with it staying in tune. It's just a tad more temperamental than my other basses when I put new strings on it, but that's about it.

    2) The strap button holes are drilled too large, I had to make a fix for the rear one.


    1) J-Retro (no routing required)
    2) White moto pearl p/g
    3) Schaller buttons (I think it's supposed to come with them, but this one did not)

    Plays (and looks) fantastic, definitely the lowest and sweetest action in my lineup. The neck is slightly unique to this bass as it is modeled after Ged's '72 Jazz(per his specifications to Fender). It can rock, swing, slap...does it all.

    Stock electronics were ok, but the preamp added solid thump, useful EQ's, and fat bottom. My first bass was a used 70's Fender Jazz, so I am already accustomed to the BAII bridge on this bass. I see no reason to replace the pups.

    The finish is very well done, though I've seen construction vary from bass to bass on this model(and all Fenders for that matter). Since I already mentioned the buttons and tuners, the most important thing to inspect will be the neck pocket. Make sure there is a tight fit, no glaring spaces to dampen your sustain and overall response.

    Other than that, my GL is a total keeper and it almost plays itself. Hell, the tuners can always be upgraded and the strap button fix is simple. This bass is currently my #1, I just rarely talk about it in here...

    FWIW, I consider most new MIA's to be overpriced.
  8. Jake15


    Jan 17, 2001
    USA, PA
    Can you get the standard american fenders with 22 frets insread of 20?
  9. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Here's another vote for the J-Retro On board PreAmp. It should cure your ill, but still giving you the warm passive tone when you want it.

  10. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    'fraid not. You can get the American Deluxes with 22 though...
  11. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    oh! by the way...

    Besides checking out the neck pocket and minor issues I mentioned. Make sure you also check out the neck on *any* Fender you look at.

    I don't mean to pick on them, but they do have more than their share of twisted necks...even new ones on the wall in some cases. I am a Fender fan despite their shortcomings, so all you Fender fanatics can save it for someone else, this isn't a knock against them. I already said my Ged is my #1 honey. :)

    I do however recall close inspection of a Geddy Lee model in one store in which I found both a sloppy neck pocket *and* a slight twist in the neck. As with all basses produced in mass quantitites at a time, be on the lookout for flaws. For example, the last shipment of these basses from Japan to Fender for distribution was ~75 basses or so.

    Just a heads up...

    If everything looks ok though and it feels and sounds good to you, I recommend this model. If you find something wrong, I suggest looking elsewhere for one in perfect shape.
  12. Tuomas


    Mar 14, 2000
    Helsinki, Finland
    Funny. Yesterday I went to the main fender dealer in this city and to my surprise, they had a Marcus Miller signature there which is something that hasn't happened before. I tried it and pretty much all the other fenders too. And to be honest, it was way better than any MIA standard there. Actually I was more surprised by the poor quality of the MIA's than the good quality of the MM signature. But because yours can be truly great i'd go out and try it against the MM signature or Geddy Lee and see which one you like better. That should solve the problem. I won't be trading away my '78 ash Jazz, but I will get one of those Millers one day.
  13. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Yes, I have played the MM and I agree those are pretty nice too.

    Now if I could only slap like Marcus! :)

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