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Fender PJ -- What are My Options?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WretchedExcess, Sep 1, 2013.

  1. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I'd like to have a passive PJ, and I'm trying to avoid the route of cutting up a P-bass to install the J pickup. I'm looking at the passive stock offerings from Fender and they seem to be at the opposite ends of the price spectrum:

    American Deluxe Precision: MSRP $2400

    Indonesian? Squier VM Precision / PJ: MSRP $500

    There's also an active-only bass that falls into the middle price range, though I'm not really looking for an active-only bass and the color options of this model don't thrill me.

    Mexican? Deluxe Active P-Bass Special: MSRP $950

    I'd like to ask if anyone has gone down the road of buying one of the less expensive PJ basses and modifying it (or modifying your own P into a PJ), and what kind of things you had to do to make it a keeper. I'm not a fan of the black pickguards on the Squiers, and my first change would be to add something like this:


    But I'm worried that there might be problems with the pickguards not being interchangeable across the 3 lines. What's different about them? Screw hole location isn't a big deal, but if the body shapes aren't identical, if the neck pockets are in different locations, if the pickups aren't in the exact same place, those could be huge problems.

    I'd be interested in hearing what sort of mods you had to do to any of these basses to make them everything you wanted, and how much money you ended up sinking into the project to make it happen.


    edit: There's also the Fender Aerodyne Jazz: (not sure where it's made)

    Fender Aerodyne Jazz: MSRP $1150
  2. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Is there a reason you're set on Fender? There are a lot of good PJ options out there if you are willing to look outside Fender.
  3. RSNG


    Sep 6, 2010
    I love my Fender Aerodyne Jazz. It has an offset body like a Jazz, and a PJ pickup configuration. No mods needed for me. It sounds good, and has been rock solid and stable.
  4. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I'm willing to listen if you've got recommendations. :)
  5. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    Didn't notice that the Aerodyne had a PJ setup. Thanks for telling me.
  6. 4StringsEnough


    Mar 9, 2008
    The best Fender PJ is the Schecter Model T (by some margin). Failing that, the next best Fender PJ is the Yamaha BB (424/1024/2024). You need to take those Fender blinkers off! :p
  7. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    Thanks for the tip. I'm not limited to fender-only, but Tele-style basses just don't do it for me. I really prefer a P or J type body.
  8. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    I've had several PJ config basses.

    I had an NYC Sadowsky with the "reversed" P position. It was one of my all-time favs but honestly the reverse config robs a lot of the P bass vibe, IMO.

    I had a Sadowsky Metro PJ. It was super nice as well. I imagine I'll be hiring down anther of those soon.

    I've owned two American deluxe P basses. They were very comparable to the Sadowskys in terms of playability.'they just sounded different.
  9. lakefx

    lakefx Supporting Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    G&L SB2 would be a great option. The Tribute series is also great quality and if you like a P body shape, it has it. To be fair, I haven't played an SB2, but just recently got an SB1 (P only) and it blows away the Fenders I have owned and just about everything else except the L2K I used to have. I also have a Tribute JB-2 and the build quality is better than most Mexican Fenders and on par with many US Fenders, although the fret work is not quite as good.

    Another option, depending on the neck profile you like, could be an old SGC Nanyo Bass Collection. I had a fretless one and it was very well made and super light. I only got rid of it because the string spacing was a bit tight for my fat fingers.

    The Yamaha suggestion is also good, although they generally have tight string spacing too.

    I had a 5 string Godin PJ for a little while and the build quality was excellent. I don't like 5 strings, but I suspect a 4 string version would be a great bargain. It would even leave plenty of money for a pickup swap if you wanted.
  10. troy mcclure

    troy mcclure Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2007
    Central Florida
    I have 2 Special Deluxes they are MIM and can be found for $350 used... grab one and replace the pickups and elctronics ... I have played the Schecter T and liked it but if I recall the body was no contoured.
  11. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Actually the best Fender PJ is the custom shop Reggie Hamilton. The second best Fender PJ is the Reggie Hamilton Standard Jazz and it isn't far behind the CS. Rumor is that if you can wait the MIM RHSJ will be available as a five string, the CS already is. There are also some PJ Jaguars to be had and an Affinity PJ. Come to think of it the Tony Franklins are almost as good as the CS Reggie Hamilton. Why would you consider anything but a Fender if you want a PJ?
  12. bkbirge


    Jun 25, 2000
    Houston, TX
    Endorsing Artist: Steak n Shake
    Look for a used 90's Fender Cowpoke (officially called the Precision special), they come up occasionally. PJ, nice tones, active only but for the price they go for used you could take it to a shop for a passive mod and still have a budget bass. Here's a track I just did with mine, I think they sound and feel great...
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 16, 2014
  13. 4StringsEnough


    Mar 9, 2008
    There speaks the mind of intelligence... Probably still dragging your knuckles on the ground and bringing food back to the cave. Maybe, just maybe, there's better out there? I give up!
  14. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I guess I should have said that I'm looking for a 4 string, not a fiver, that I'm looking for classic bass tone rather than modern bass tone, and that I prefer the classic look of a vintage bass. that's what I like.

    if someone thinks that makes me less intelligent, or a cro-magnon, then you really need to lay off with the harrassment and belittling and get your mind right. you aren't being helpful.

    Looking at the BB Yamahas they seem to have the same extreme price points -- it looks like they're only available at a $500 and a $2500 street price with nothing in between. If that's correct, then the Yam lineup has the same problem that the Fender lineup has -- good options are available at the two price extremes without much in the middle. Am I missing something in the Yamaha lineup?

    Thanks for the G&L recommendation. The only thing that's stopping me from a G&L is that none of my local stores carry them while Fenders are in abundant supply. I like to walk into a store and buy what's available. I prefer not to blindly order something sight unseen.

    One bit of an impediment that I have with the G&L is that I'd feel compelled to reshape the headstock. I just can't stand that aberrant nubbin -- the headstock reminds me of a giant bottle opener.

    I do appreciate the feedback on the Mexi Fenders. Maybe that's an option to pursue.

    Thanks to everyone for their suggestions. Keep 'em coming!
  15. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    The SB2 is a great bass, but if I ever got another one, I would definitely shave off that uvula.
  16. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Actually I am intelligent, my mother had me tested!

    I was pulling your leg a little bit, I did not expect it to come off. On the other hand there are some excellent Fender PJ options at a wide variety of price points. One would be foolish to not consider them. Ultimately I don't care what you or the OP play. I am happy with what I play and I hope you are all too. I would certainly consider both Schecter and Yamaha to be in the same league as Fender. Neither one of them makes a Fender PJ however. Those can only be made by Fender, everything else is a lookalike no matter how much you may prefer another brand.
  17. jim777

    jim777 Tarantula Lobbyist

    Aug 7, 2006
    South Jersey
    Carvin makes one, worth checking out
  18. mpdd

    mpdd neoconceptualist

    Mar 24, 2010
    you can get an american sb-2 used pretty easily for between 6 and 700 on talkbass, and if you don't like it you can sell it to somebody else on tb, they are pretty well liked here, my sb-2 is the only reason i never shelled out big bucks for an american fender p or an mij reissue p
  19. SpruceGoose54


    May 21, 2013
    If you can find a used tony franklin fretted you should hop on it. I got one for 1100 a couple years ago. Just search them and you'll see the great reviews. They really feel like custom shop level and other owners have agreed. The three tones it produces with the selector switch are balanced and sound great. It's the only bass I use now and haven't coveted another since.

    There's also a hot rodded precision bass that you can get cheap used. Comes in more colors like black, white, blonde, and sunset orange. Most have a rosewood neck, red tortoise pickguard, and a precision bass sized neck that's a bit slimmer than usual. If you look up that you'll see polar opinions on its sound due to wiring. Some complain the V/V/T wiring causes some issue with the hot pickups and creates a unique sound that isn't really a precision and jazz blended. Some people love it and its uniqueness. The P bass pickup on its own sounds like a precision and the jazz bass pickup on its own sounds great as well. I have both and I favor the simplicity and tones of the tony franklin fretted.

    Don't know if that helps. Just more options to consider.