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Fender P-J Japan Contemporary

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by esquire, Apr 20, 2009.

  1. esquire


    Jan 25, 2009
    Looking to buy my first bass. I am a long time guitar player and have been looking for MIA P bass standard for awhile now. I have a nice 65' Ampeg SB-12 to play it through. I found a local deal on an 85-86 Fender P-J bass MIJ. I think this part of the contemporary series. It is a dark metallic green (looks grey in the pic), all black neck and head stock and all black hardware. Has P/J pup configuration with a selector switch and F logo embossed knobs. I know some of the early MIJ basses are quality and well made. Does this fall into that category? Is the body the same dimensions as a normal P bass? Is the neck a P bass neck? Any idea on what the body is made of, maybe basswood? Serial # is AXXXXXX. I think this is a similar bass to what Duff from GNR use to play. This was not exactly what I was looking for, but the price may be right at $325. All original, in nice condition with some pitting/corrosion on the bridge. What do you all think, should I get it? Can't seem to find much info on them. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


  2. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    It looks like a Fender Jazz Bass Special. I was a Fender dealer from 1977-1988, and we never had any literature on a "P/J Bass", but I have heard in the last few years that they were sold that way.

    The first Jazz Bass Specials we got had a basswood body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, all black hardware, a three-way toggle swithc, V/V/T (actually the tone control is a Fender TBX which was supposed to emulate the sound of having no load on the PUPs at all). The neck on the earliest ones had a black finish on the back of the neck, and all of those necks I've seen have rather large necks like a Precision. Later ones have a clear finish on the back of the neck and headstock, while the face is still black. Those all have more narrow Jazz-bass-style necks.

    Other than the "P/J Bass" decal and the thumbrest (none I ever saw had them, but I've learned never to say "Never" with Fender, especially in the era this bass came from), it looks just like the first Jazz Bass Special my store got. In fact, the hang tag or the case tag did say "P/J" on it if I recall correclty.

    Great feeling basses, but my opinion is that they tend to be midrangey and nasal sounding. You can change PUPs to alleviate some of that, but in my experience it's also a factor of the body wood. My fretless started life as a Jazz Bass Special (Candy Apple Red), but I kept modding it to get rid of that nasal Duff McKagan twang. After different PUPs, electronics, bridges, strings, and even replacing the rosewood board with a chunk of ebony, I finally got a different body...

    What she looks like now.. 2619658556_ce389e7474.

    They were very well made, even if I'm not a fan of the natural sound of these basses- all that early Fender Japan stuff was exceptionally well made compared to the horribly hit-and-miss quality us dealers had become resigned to.

  3. esquire


    Jan 25, 2009

    Thanks for the info. The "P-J" on the headstock is what is throwing me off as well. Jack input is on the side instead of the front. Back of neck looks gloss black. I am on the fence as I was looking for a more traditional P bass standard. I might have to go see it in person to make a better decision on this one and hear how it sounds and plays.
  4. That same bass (in white) has been reissued as the Duff Signature, Needless to say, it runs more than $325. I had the Contemorary P and it was alright. I probably would have kept it if it was the Jazz Special.

  5. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    Yup, Duff played a similar bass.

    I always liked how his bass lines often sounded like guitar riffs.

    I think the Duff Signature is actually pretty cheap isn't it?
  6. IbanezATK


    Feb 24, 2009
    Monroe, LA, USA
    Holy smoke... just looked it up and they are expensive... over a grand.

    The Jazz Bass Special was a pretty cheap bass when Duff actually played one in Guns N Roses!
  7. LCW

    LCW Banned

    Mar 2, 2009
  8. esquire


    Jan 25, 2009
    I knew he had it listed on ebay as well. I think I am going to hold out for a MIA P bass. Thanks for all the great info.

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