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Fender Jazz Basses and the Classic Motown Sound

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ksandvik, Dec 29, 2011.

  1. Well, this all started last night when a fellow bass player claimed that James Jamerson's main bass was a Jazz bass and he had even played that instrument..

    So I was curious how much the Fender Jazz was used with classic Motown recordings, or even Stax ones. Did some web searches on this forum and elsewhere but could not find relevant information.

    If someone has more insight, it would be interesting to hear.
  2. Matt R.

    Matt R.

    Jul 18, 2007
    Huntsville AL
    Not true. Jamerson played a Precision as his main axe.
  3. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    James Jamerson, Carol Kaye, and Bob Babbitt all played and recorded with Precisions. Jazz basses seem to be more prevalent in 70s recordings.
  4. Yes I do know and I didn't want to start an argument. But it raised my curiosity of what role the Jazz had with other Motown and Stax session bass players or famous tracks.
  5. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO
    [Your friend is a] Liar Liar, plants perspire.

    Jamerson's Funk Machine(s) were all P basses. I've never seen a picture of him with anything but a P Bass or an Upright. Standing in the Shadows of Motown doesn't mention anything about him having a Jazz bass

  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I believe Wilton Felder used a Jazz on the later 60's Motown stuff he played, like the early Jackson Five stuff.
  7. Bob Babbitt actually started on a Fender Jazz but when he started doing Motown sessions the producer asked him to switch to a P-Bass.
  8. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Michael Henderson had a Jazz, Wilton Felder had a sc Telecaster bass.
    Jamerson and Babbitt had regular Precisions.
  9. Thanks for the info, appreciate it.
  10. BlountEdge

    BlountEdge I play (mostly) jazz basses

    Apr 15, 2004
    Former contributing writer for Bassics Magazine
    Michael Hedges?
  11. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Oops, Henderson. Michael Henderson.
    And According to Michael, Jamerson did borrow his Jazz for a night at a local club. And he said Jamerson still sounded like 'Jamseron'.
  12. california1967


    Dec 12, 2011
    In a 1979 Guitar Player interview with James Jamerson he says he only owns the following basses:

    How many basses do you own?
    "Four. I have an old German upright, a Fender 5-string, a Hagstrom 8-string, and the Precision. I've had two Precisions stolen from me, but my present one I bought new in '63. When I got it I immediately took the Fender strings off and put LaBellas on, and I've had the same strings on it ever since. You don't need to change strings all the time; you'll lose the tone. It's like a new car: the older it gets, the better it rides."

    The full interview can be found at Rick Suchow's great website: Rick Suchow - NYC Bassist & Writer - Bass
  13. mndean


    Mar 20, 2009
    As for Stax, I never saw or heard of Dunn using anything but a Precision at Stax , but Stax farmed out production in the '70s to Muscle Shoals, and I'm not sure what bass David Hood used. Also, some '60s Atlantic sessions were done with other bassists like Tommy Cogbill, Chuck Rainey, and Jerry Jemmott, which some people used to mistake for Stax sessions.
  14. Lichtaffen


    Sep 29, 2008
    Rhode Island
    Jerry Jemmott always used a Jazz back then. He talks about it on his website and his book. I'm certain that Chuck Rainey used a P bass for most of his early career. I think either Cogbill or Hood used a Jazz. Not sure which.
  15. Tommy Cogbill-p bass
    David Hood-j bass

    Worked with both in the studio late 70s.
  16. Handyman


    Sep 4, 2007
    Austin, TX
    David Hood was a Jazz Bass guy, for sure.
  17. lovesbass


    May 16, 2009
  18. jsbarber


    Jun 7, 2005
    San Diego
    Sounds like some misinformation, HOWEVER, Duck did a lot of recordings with a jazz neck:)

    Back in the early-mid seventies the Precisions seemed to me to be the favored bass. It was Jaco on fretless and Marcus slapping that seemed to push things in the jazz direction. People always seemed to prefer the jazz neck though. Even back then people were putting jazz necks on precisions.


  19. willbassyeah


    Oct 9, 2011
    Don't forget mutes and tweeterless tube amp is also made up 70% of the Motown sound
  20. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    David Hood used a Jazz a lot, but he used a single-coil Precision on The Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There". He was had and Alembic he used on a lot of recordings later as well.

    Jemmott of course used a Jazz for just about everything for ages.

    Duck was a confirmed Precision man, and Jamerson was too. The P was THE common session instrument for almost everyone in the '60s and into the early '70s.


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