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Fender Precision Special or Elite?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by PolkaHero, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002
    I've been considering purchasing either of these two models from the early 1980s. I actually tried out a 1983 Elite (the one with the 2 P pickups) and really wasn't impressed with the sound. I thought it sounded pretty thin considering its active preamp and extra pickup. I haven't tried out a Precision Special yet and would like to hear some comments on the sound of these basses. I know they have a passive/active selector switch which sounds very appealing (the Elite is active only). It looks like these two models are selling for about the same price in the used market.
  2. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    I got an Elite II last year and liked it so much I got another one. Yes, they are bright sounding, but with the tone rolled back they get a really nice low-mid bump. (I believe the Tone is not active - use the Treble side with care, it can get very sizzly). That coupled with a bit of bass boost at the amp provides for a very focused yet fat tone that holds up very well in the mix. The 2 Volumes and assignable Tone provide for a pretty good tonal pallette, but it won't sound like a passive P - it wasn't meant to. I don't have any experience with the P Specials, but I'm sold on the Elites.
  3. AGCurry


    Jun 29, 2005
    Kansas City
    Nice, bassclef! I don't think I've seen a natural-ash Elite before.

    I've had two Elite IIs and still have one. Back in 1981, I played a Precision Special for a while.

    PolkaHero, If you like the "Precision sound", the Special is the one for you. In active mode it still sounds like a Precision, but with more oomph. I've never gotten a true Precision sound from an Elite II.

    Be aware that the Specials are known for weighing a lot...
  4. dgce


    Jun 17, 2001
    Massachusetts, USA
    This may be silly and really immature, but I think P-Elites just look frigg'n cool!

  5. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I'am a big fan of the Elite,
    Great bass Looking for a fretless Elite.
  6. PolkaHero

    PolkaHero Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2002

    Yeah, I am a fan of the Precision. I was just really disappointed with the bridge pickup on the Elite. I figured it would definitely have more "balls" to the sound, instead it sounded really thin and twangy.

    I've also been considering purchasing an early 70s P-bass, but the prices on these are starting to get ridiculous. I'm thinking that if I save some money on an early 80s Precision, they might be worth what the 70s models are going for in about 5-10 years. Especially a rarer model such as the two I've mentioned in this thread.
  7. God I love the look of the Elites. I really want to try/buy one but I don't think they are common in AUstralia.
  8. sb69coupe


    Aug 9, 2004
    Raleigh NC
    I don't think it's a huge surprise that the bridge pickup sounds "thin" on this bass. Look how close it is to the bridge itself. Especially on the D and G strings. Even the E and A side seems to be closer to the bridge than a Jazz pickup, and you know how middy and aggressive a Jazz can be when the bridge pickup is solo'ed.

    But those sure are some awesome looking basses.

  9. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2003
    New York City, NY
    You have to keep in mind that the Elites were a departure from the standard passive Fenders. The pickups are encased passive P's running through an active pre. Yes, the bass is very bright on it's own (flat amp EQ). The bridge pickup with the Treble turned up will sizzle. But the inherent brightness of the bass lends itself very well to low mid and bass boost - it doesn't get boomy but focused. I have one strung with flats and one with rounds and they both sound awesome with the tone knob rolled back and the neck/bridge pickups set around 10/7. There's an nice low mid bump at this setting and with some bass boost it not only holds down the bottom but is clear - every note defined. It'll get gritty if you want it too!

    Like I said - if you want passive P dub, this won't do it. But, it will give you a great active tone, fat and focused. Plus the build quality on these is first rate. You can still find them relatively cheap on ebay (~$600) if you're diligent and quick on the trigger. There are still a lot of places/people that don't know what they have.