Fender Jaco Pastorius Jazz Bass Opinions Wanted

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by scowboy, Jan 4, 2009.

  1. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I got to play Relic'd Fender Custom Shop Jaco Pastorius Jazz Bass the other day and to put it mildly it was the most amazing 4 string bass I have ever played. It was also almost $3600. My praise is primarily a statement of its tone. The tone was just awesome and it did feel great.

    My question is can anybody shed any light on the Custom Shop Relic vs. the un-relic'd signature model at $1600 or whatever they cost?

    I am currently trying to figure out if I can live without that bass (the relic) and of course how to pay for it as it is more than double what I have ever paid for an instrument.

    I'd be curious to hear from anybody who has played both. The Relic factor means nothing to me and I'd almost rather have a shinny new looking instrument. But not at the cost of the tone.
  2. timmbass

    timmbass Guest

    Oct 4, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
  3. black.rose1402


    Jan 10, 2007
    the "normal" signature version is great, I won't compare it to the relic because I've never tried it, my opinion is that the normal one has a great tone, if you want a sound clip, pm me so I can send it to you.
  4. LanEvo


    Mar 10, 2008
    FWIW, you can build a top-quality Jazz Bass using Warmoth parts for under $1000. What exactly is so special about this Custom Shop version to justify the $3600 price tag? Not a flame ... just wondering.

    There are many other Jazz-style basses I would buy before considering a CS Fender. Off the top of my head, Mike Lull, Roger Sadowsky, John Suhr, and Rudy Pensa all offer phenomenal basses at that price point.

    I just bought a Pedulla Buzz 4-string fretless with Bartolini J-J pickups for under $1000 on ebay. It nails the Jaco tone, has the best playability of any fretless I've ever laid my hands on, and is quite unique/beautiful to look at. I can't imagine paying 3x the price for a Fender.

    I should mention that I own an original 1972 Jazz (swamp ash body with blonde finish; bound & blocked maple neck) and I adore it. So I'm not some kind of Fender basher. I love Fenders ... but not at that price!
  5. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    Another alternative is a Fender Japan '62 RI fretless (CIJ). Looks very much like the MIA Jaco bass (non relic one) and is about half the cost. They sport USA pickups too. I have one, and I think it is every bit as good in sound as the MIA version and maybe better in build quality. I've gotten many great comments from other bassists on the sound of that bass. Here are some photos of mine (note, I changed the knobs from the standard jazz to the chrome ones).

  6. pringlw

    pringlw Guest

    Nov 22, 2008
    Seattle Area
    My understanding is that the non-relic Jaco Fender Jazz is the exact same bass (in functional terms) as the relic bass. It's just half the cost. So if you love the one you played, I'd just save the money and get the "mint" version of the same bass.

    Which brings me to a point that I feel I have to make. Now I'm not a huge fan of reliced instruments in general - but my attitude is, to each his or her own.

    In the case of the Jaco "Bass of Doom" I feel a little differently. Jaco dragged that thing around, often without a case. It's the reason the thing looked so bad. It's also true that Jaco had some pretty serious problems. Most believe he had bi-polar disorder and he he seemed to have issues with booze and drugs - particularly towards the end of his life.

    Those problems, and the outbursts that they sometimes caused - ultimately contributed to his death. As most know his act of provoking a bouncer (after being kicked out of a Santana concert) was the last act of his life. He was beaten to death.

    So when I see the "Bass of Doom" I see a bit of a tragedy. The guy had problems - problems that got him killed. The bass kind of shows those problems in that his issues affected how he treated it. Now Fender's got a "reliced" version of it.

    Doesn't seem right. Seems exploitive to me.

    Off soapbox.
  7. timmbass

    timmbass Guest

    Oct 4, 2006
    Atlanta, GA
    I agree with going Sadowsky before dropping 3000 plus on a Fender, but if a guy is looking at a Fender Jaco or Roscoe Beck or Getty Lee or Marcus Miller, there are things about those basses that if they are what you are looking for, they are worth 1000 plus to some people. If you like the look and feel and sound, you can't just go out and put that together with parts.
  8. I kinda borrowed many ideas from the Pedulla Buzz with my CB Ball 4. I still have a maple neck and maple FB, although I only got maple for the FB because it was polyester coated. Ordinarily maple isn't a suitable fingerboard for durability. Furthermore, the polyester IS the tone and the wood underneath really doesn't matter a whole lot. I changed the scale length to 35", which is just a personal pref. Bartolini Classic PJ pickups and Bart's current 3 band.

    Long story short: my bridge pickup absolutely NAILS the Jaco tone. Mine is less than the Relic, but more than the standard model. Built really well and plays effortly with amazing harmonics and sustain while being extremely light. Being an unlined player, I'd assume I'd pay through the nose if I wanted an unlined Jaco bass.
  9. superfunk47


    Sep 9, 2007
    +1, although the Fender relic doesn't simulate the wear the thing had by the end of Jaco's life. All of the ones I've seen are closer to its condition around '82-'84, before his mental problems were getting him in trouble. Nevertheless, it is still incredibly tragic and touches me very deeply.

    But to the OP: a bass that sounds and feels that good doesn't come along all too often, so bear in mind that you may not be able to find another that feels and sounds that good to you again. Just something to bear in mind, but whatever you end up buying, I'd be sure to try out fairly extensively first.
  10. unclejane

    unclejane Guest

    Jul 23, 2008
    Damn GAS - my eyes/ears perked right up when I read the description of the JP bass on fender's site where it says the fingerboard has a polyester finish:


    I dislike lined fretless basses only because of the possibility that the inserts can eventually come out - a finish would prevent that and a plastic coating can give a really neat mwahh......

    As for the relic'ed one or not, I agree - why buy an already beat up version for twice the cost? Get the "new" one for half price and beat it up yourself. Then it's your bass and not someone else's....

  11. fenderphil


    Sep 1, 2006
    Houston, TX
    i played one in a GC... it was the lightest jazz bass i've ever played and it sounded pristine.

    I've been chasing that weight and tone in a jazz ever since...
  12. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    hell you could get a (used) Vintage burst MIM 4 string bass and yank out the frets and slam it with epoxy and have a nice fretless Fender. I say this because I knew a couple of players who did just that and tha bass sounded great and I like you will not spend $3600.00 dollars on any bass much less a Fender and I own several.
  13. Dennis Kong

    Dennis Kong Supporting Member

    Sep 1, 2004
    San Mateo CA
    It's nice. I tried both at GC and the Relic does sound & feel better to me. and very easy to play.

    The action & fingerboard angles, bridges were set up correctly.
    the woods came pretty close.

    The "other one" took more work to play and I had really
    work to get sound out of it.

    but at $$$???? too pricey for me.:meh:

    I also tried one of Jaco's basses when I lent him my rig for a gig in the '86.
    It was a stock '62 -not the famous one- but
    it played like butter- I could move on the F note on E string
    to 13th fret on E string at ease !

    It still comes down to the player- I could not get that sound
    he got --on his bass. at that time. :eyebrow:

    and it 's strange feeling playing Jaco's bass with him at the
    bar watching you...
    and I realizing I could not play Jaco' licks on Jaco's bass.

    Nowdays It's lot easier. and use a F bass 6 fretless for similar sound for me.

    The relic I tried -did come close to the set up & sound of Jaco's bass I tried. It brought back memories.

    One of GC salesman at San Jose Ca Store is also Jaco nut and
    knows most of his tunes and can play them almost note per note. and compared the two also agreed that relic was great instrument !
  14. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    I'm not surprised. The fretless Pedullas feature the coated fretboards, which are a vital element in nailing the Jaco tone, IMO. The Fender Jaco sig bass also features a polyester coated finish on the neck. Not the same as the boat epoxy that he applied to his, but the results can be similar.

    I agree that the cheapest alternative to plunking down over $3Gs for these basses is to get a fretless MIM or MIJ with a rosewood board and coat the fretboard, and maybe upgrade the PUPs. I was considering sending my fretless Wal neck out to this guy for treatment:

  15. Very much so. A bridge J, coated fingerboard, rounds, and low action is really all ya need. I'm quite happy with that particular bass. The P pickup adds a nice vintage range of tones, too.
  16. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    I have seen this video and read a similar interview. Not that I ever consider a endorsers opinion... I did agree that whatever he was talking about was consistent with my impression of the instrument. It is very special in some way not just because it is a Jaco copy but there is something unique about its tone and the feel was great.
  17. scowboy

    scowboy Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2006
    Sacramento area
    Overall I am way into Jazz Basses. I have never played a Sadowsky or a Mike Lull etc. as I have never thought about spending more than $1500 for anything of the sort. I played the bass on a whim and was just blown away with it. Thanks everybody for your input. I'd like to try the non-relic'd version to see if it has "it" like the CS Relic.
  18. BellBottomBlues


    Feb 21, 2007
    New York
    Endorser:Fender User:Rotosound, LaBella, Ashdown, Lindy Fralin
    I've played the CS Jaco and the regular Jaco. Both are fine instruments, but the CS is a better instrument. If its worth the extra coin to you than go for it, for many its not.

    My main bass is a CS Fender, and its neck is to die for. Indeed, I think the necks from the CS are the most comfortable ones I've ever played. I could care less for relicing, and while you do pay for the relic look, you also pay for superior build quality as well.

    For those suggesting that he should drop the equivalent amount on another maker of bass (Sadowsky, Lull, etc) need to realize that he fell in love with a Fender. I own a Sadowsky Jazz, and while its a very fine bass, it doesn't have the Fender tone. Similar yes, Fender no. It has the Sadowsky tone, the same way a Mike Lull bass sounds like a Lull. If the OP is looking for the Fender tone, well then he should most likely buy a Fender.
    babaseen and trothwell like this.
  19. sps500

    sps500 In Memoriam

    May 19, 2008
    Have tried both ..the CS Jaco and the regular Jaco Jazz.... honestly.....i would go for the regular because except maybe for the woods..which I cant confirm is of better quality everything else is the same..almost!

    But more importantly which one sets your heart on fire? Does the money saved make a big deal for you? Finally if you are buying to keep whats a couple of grand over 30 yrs? :)
  20. I think a Fender endorsement and suggesting Fender pretty much speaks for itself. As far as a non-Fender getting the Jaco sound, I don't think there's any secret to the Jaco tone and other users like me have been able to nail it on basses that may look nothing like a Fender. Again, being an unlined person.....Fender hasn't exactly been favorable to us.