Fender Jazz Bass MN 1996

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Eskerman, Jun 25, 2020.

  1. Eskerman


    Oct 13, 2019
    Just wondering if I could get some honest opinions about a 1996 Fender Jazz bass Mexican made - I am thinking about buying for my son (18) who plays a Squire J bass

    Thanks in advance

    teh-slb likes this.
  2. cholyoke

    cholyoke Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2016
    Rubber City
    I have a 91 fender MIM precision that I like very much. I think that the MIM bodies from that era are made from poplar which may mean that it is lighter than an alder or ash Jazz bass. The electronics on my P-bass were serviceable for 25 years before I replaced the pots and pickups.

    The 1991-2001 (I think) MIM Jazz bass has two identically sized pickups, both the same length as a normal neck sized Jazz pickup. A normal Jazz bass has a slightly longer bridge pickup. If you want to replace the pickups you need to buy two neck pickups or rout a new pickup cavity for the bridge pickup.

    Some mid 90s MIM Jazz basses have a one piece pickguard/control plate rather than a separate pickguard and control plate.

    I have heard the MIM basses from the 90s can be variable. Go play it!
  3. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I'm a huge fan of Fender's MIM basses. However, I can't say for sure whether a '96 MIM Jazz is a superior instrument to your son's Squier Jazz. There are some very nice Squiers out there.

    I've owned a '00 MIM Standard Jazz for two decades now, and it's one of my favorite basses. To @cholyoke's point, just be aware of the pickup-sizing issue. My '00 has identically-sized pickups, and while I modded a lot of other aspects of the instrument, I've never felt compelled to replace the original pickups. So, should you decide to purchase the '96 for your son and if he later decides to swap pickups, he may have to hunt around for the right-sized set to avoid additional surgery.
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  4. Eskerman


    Oct 13, 2019
    Thanks for your very helpful reply - the bass player in the household is my son and my other son plays drums - so it can get pretty lively here in COVIC times - The person selling the 1996 Fender Jazz bought it new and its been very well cared for - it comes with a Marshall Valvestate Amp .. and guitar case. Going to view it early next week and if all is well -we will purchase --
  5. Eskerman


    Oct 13, 2019
    Thank you for your contribution - I have sent the serial number to Fender in the off chance there maybe a spec sheet for that build - I wont hold my breath.. and the asking price with case and Marshall amp is $600..
  6. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Very cool that the seller is the original owner. I don't know squat about Marshall amps, so unfortunately can't advise on the package price.

    One other thing to be aware of on MIMs of that era is the "skunk stripe" on the back of the neck. Fender chose to rout the truss rod channel from the back of the maple necks rather than the front, and then used a different wood type – rosewood, I believe – to fill the rout. They still use a similar construction today on the modern-day MIM Player series, though the wood may be pao ferro rather than rosewood. But nature being what it is, different woods age differently under different conditions. On my '00, there is a barely-perceptible ridge that can be felt for about 2-3 inches at most on the back of the neck due to very minor "skunk stripe" expansion over the years. If it's present on the '96 – and that's a big "IF" – your son might not even notice it. Just something to be aware of.

    Happy shopping!
  7. Eskerman


    Oct 13, 2019
    Thank you for your very helpful reply and your point bit the skunk stripe .. will put that in the notes when viewing

  8. Bass


    Nov 10, 2003
    I had a '97 MIM Fender Precision and in all honesty and in my opinion it was not quite as good as the product they have today.

    The hardware or at least the bridge seemed to corrode a little bit over time. It was not wired correctly and buzzed horribly till I had it repaired. The body was poplar and the neck strap button popped off. And I didn't like the knobs.

    I was the original owner and by no means was it abused.
  9. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I agree. Best to play it even if it's in great shape since there is variation. But generally they play well. You need a guitar or keys to round out the family band.
  10. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    I agree. Best to play it even if it's in great shape since there is variation. But generally they play well. You need a guitar or keys to round out the family band.
  11. IMO the late 90's MIM Fenders were very hit and miss. Fret dress was good to crap. Hardware was cheap. Electronics were meh. That doesn't mean that there aren't some good ones out there.

    Many here on TB jam the quality of the 70's and early 80's Fenders and I have an 81 P that is absolute gold...
  12. I have a 1995 Mexican jazz and it's a great bass. I suspect it was something of a closet queen because I bought it used a few years ago with barely a nick on it. Current Squiers are very good but I suspect your son will like having "Fender" on the headstock. Best of luck!
    savofenno likes this.
  13. BobKos


    Apr 13, 2007
    If you can, there was a recent thread almost exactly like yours that you may want to search for. IMO MIM basses from that era were mostly dogs with the occasional gem.
    TrustRod and Thegrandwazoo like this.
  14. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    What Squier Jazz Bass is it? I'm asking because some upgrades to one of the nicer Squiers (like, not an Affinity or Standard) are in my opinion a better use of money than most Mexican Fenders. I've personally played VERY few Mexican Fenders that I thought were worth what they cost. Meanwhile, a nicer Squier with some aftermarket electronics and hardware can be a shockingly good instrument for the money.

    I'd personally ignore the Mexican ones and look around for a used Japanese Fender (or a beat-up US Fender) for not much more than a Mexican example would cost, you're paying for precious little more than a name with most Mexican Fenders.

    Definitely try before you buy, '90s Mexican Fenders vary WILDLY in quality.
    123Nil and Funky Phantom like this.
  15. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal

    Nov 1, 2011
    I would not buy any 90's MIM Fender- well, I wouldn't buy one twice. I did buy a fretless Jazz bass for $200 and it had the pickups that were the same size. It was all around a poor instrument at any price. I added some quality parts to it and sold it for less than I paid for it.

    There are much better instruments out there. Fender cut corners in every way on those.

    The Player series is very good, and that's what I replaced the old MIM with.

  16. klejst

    klejst Guest

    Oct 5, 2010
    I have owned and used plenty of MIM basses from the 90's and perhaps I was just lucky but all of them were built very well with no issues at all. For the money if at a reasonable price I'd say they are good basses and sound good too. Years ago I had a stock 1998 P Bass that could I could put up and rival any other Japanese or American made P Bass - no joke. Certainly a step up from a Indonesian made Squier I'd say. Curious though, the '96 bass you're looking at, does it feature a black or silver Fender name decal on the headstock? The black labels are generally of the Squier series Fenders that were released in the 90's but still decent basses. I'd say be sure to not over pay for them though as there are other options out there instead of overpaying for a 90's MIM.
    savofenno likes this.
  17. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    Like others have said, Mexican Fenders can vary a lot and some Squiers are VERY good instruments. It could turn out to be a downgrade.

    Do you know exactly what model/year that Squier is? Some of them really are exceptionally good. But not all...

    And in any case, try the Mexican one before buying. It might be great but personally I've never been a huge fan of Mexican Fenders from those years. It's not necessarily an upgrade on the Squier (but of course, to some it means a lot to have the Fender logo on the headstock so there's that...).
  18. Eskerman


    Oct 13, 2019
    Thank you for your contribution and its strange that you mention the Squire - my son has decided to keep his immaculate Squire J Bass that plays very well - and as he quite rightly said "Dad I can only play one bass at a time" - I guess he will save more money for a Fender Aerodyme J bass which is MIJ made as long as you dont mind finger prints..!
    Runnerman and teh-slb like this.
  19. I have a 2001 MIM Jazz bass and the build quality is good. I modded it with Duncan Bass Lines Vintage Jazz pups, otherwise stock. Except for the tort PG, of course.
  20. I think the pickup size thing is a little overblown--if you want to replace the stock pickups, you can do so with two of the same size with different impedances (bridge vs. neck), or they do sell MIM pickup sets, too.

    You will hear a million stories of people who bought "dogs" until they replaced the pickups and tuners and used certain strings and only through this or that amp...one man's dog is another's gem. Your Ears May Vary.
    TrustRod and digmeout like this.
  21. matty1039


    Oct 26, 2015
    New Orleans
    I own a 97 MIM Jazz. That is a murky period with the Mexican Fenders as they were trying to move things over from Japan. They were making three lines I think: MIM standard, Black Label Classic, and the Black Label Fender Squier Series. The standard series was what would be expected, the classic series had nice bodies and neck but lower quality hardware, and the Squier Series was lower quality all the way around. I believe they all had one piece pick guards with strat knobs. The standard and classic had 3 ply and the Squier had one ply. Easy way to check which you are looking at.

    Mine is a unique beast. I can't replace the pick guard cause the neck pickup is wider than usual and metal control plates never line up right, but is sounds and play good.

    There are a lot of rumors about that period too. Like there was a fire in the US factory so they sent a lot of bodies and necks to Mexico for use.

    As others have said, there is a good possibility that his current bass is just as good as a 90s MIM. You may be better off upgrading what he has got with new pickups, bridge, and tuners.
  22. Larry Mal

    Larry Mal

    Nov 1, 2011

    Well, I'm not disagreeing with this, but when I looked into buying a custom replacement set they were all pretty expensive.

    That's the problem, Jazz bass pickups are made by everyone and you have an endless supply to choose from, at all price points.

    Unless, of course, your Mexican made Fender was so sloppily made that they didn't bother routing it out for the typical pickup configuration.

    And anyway, the reason the pickups are different sized on a typical Jazz bass is so that the strings run directly through the magnets, as I'm sure you know.

    That simply can't happen with using two of the same sized pickups.

    I also shield my guitars, and I was not at all surprised to find that my MIM Jazz bass was completely unshielded, all bare wood. Nothing but a little strip of that aluminum foil on the pick guard there.

    So, I shielded it, but I never did anything about the electronics, where were the worst I've seen in any of the guitars I've ever owned. Probably fine- a capacitor is a capacitor and such. Still, it was easy to see that Fender sourced the absolute cheapest electronics possible for these guitars.

    In the end, I sold it for virtually nothing, rather than rebuild it from the ground up.

    I do not recommend these instruments, there are much better choices out there.