Fender Suhr-era 90's (1996) American Deluxe Basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by The Water, Aug 8, 2021.

  1. The Water

    The Water

    May 13, 2020
    Bristol, UK
    Any Fender Jazz aficionados out there that can tell me a good bit on my bass?

    Had it since I was a teen, was my second bass and will always stay with me - so definitely not for sale! Nowadays I realize how lucky I was that my local music store had this in second-hand! Hard to come by in my neck of the woods.
    At the time I knew I wanted a Jazz and I also wanted 22 frets so this was perfect. Saved up for weeks then managed to get it. All throughout schools and gigs people commented positively on the sound.

    I've been away from it for some time now and soon I will be getting my hands on it again, with a plan to fix it up a bit. The electronics need some sorting as there's a crackle, and several dents on the lower section that I want to fill and respray so will need a perfect colour match. Have been finding more out about it over the years, but there's less info than I'd like, a few forums here and there.

    So can anyone knowledgeable nerd-out about this a bit to me? I know it's from Suhr's time at Fender. People say mixed things online, but more positive than anything really. Would like to know more about the electronics/pickups to start. Will be trying a Gotoh high-mass bridge on it while also brushing up the old one and other metal parts too. Getting a few pickguards as well. The colour I was told was 'Vintage White' but also read other things (maybe read 'vintage blonde' somewhere?). Want to get this right to colour match the spots I'll fix. Also keen to know more about the other colour models they produced in this era, and just more general information and peoples opinions on the sound and their experiences with these basses. IMG_20210806_085843_518.jpg

    Thanks to anyone interested.
    Lujon, geof_, matthewwithanm and 9 others like this.
  2. LadyLoveStingRay5


    Jul 17, 2004
    That’s a beauty!!
  3. Bodeeni

    Bodeeni Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    IMG_0097.jpg I have a USA fretless I love, rewired passive. Also had a fretted and have the usa pickups in another bass. They are some of my favorites and I really like the smaller body and extra fret. I go passive on most of my basses, by choice, so do not have a solid opinion about the preamp. I hear the Mex versions are different, but do not have any experience.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2021
    aus_bass, fhm555 and Peter Torning like this.
  4. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    John Suhr did some really great things at Fender during his stint. I gigged a really nice example for quite a while a few years back.

    Fit and finish was great. Neck was perfection. The vintage Shoreline Gold was amazing.

    I liked the pickups enough that I actually tried to locate a set for my parts bass. Couldn’t track them down, and ended up getting my first set of Delano JMVC’s as a look alike. But, the Delano’s ended up being far superior, and have since become my #1 Jazz Bass pickup.

    The preamp was not great. I replaced it with a Sadowsky preamp, which is a far better preamp for my purposes.

    I initially thought the downsized body would be cool, but ended up deciding I prefer the full size Jazz Bass body from a balance perspective.

    I sold the bass to partially fund my Sadowsky NYC build; which BTW sports those original Delano pickups installed at Roger’s shop. That’s how much I like those pickups.

    FWIW, IME.
    aus_bass, Peter Torning and MattZilla like this.
  5. deluxejusa


    Jan 30, 2012
    Screenshot_20210808-110504_Reverb.jpg Here is the 1997 5 string version. I don't know what Fender called this finish. It's transparent blue/green. 100% stock. I sold it a few years back to fund a Carvin build. I loved the tone, but the B string always sounded dead.
  6. The Water

    The Water

    May 13, 2020
    Bristol, UK
    Ahhh, some real nice ones there, thanks folks. Interesting to see all the different colour productions.

    Yeah the quality of the preamp and these style of pickups seems to be the main point of contention I read about on these basses. If I replace mine I'll follow your suggestions bucephylus.

    Never heard that about the B on the 5 strings, damn shame that. Such a great colour on that one deluxejusa! Saw this review of that model on youtube recently:

    I love the smaller body on them personally. I get the neck dives more as a result (which the new bridge might counter a bit?) but it's worth it for the extra frets and just feel of maneuverability for me. I have a customised squire jazz on me currently and the standard body size just feels too blocky for me now.

    Keep the info coming, want to know all I can on these models!
    Peter Torning and bucephylus like this.
  7. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Inactive

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I owned a beautiful red '97 5 string. Wood grain in the middle fading to solid red on the out edges (much like the blue one above).

    I loved how it looked and played. I could not STAND the baked in scooped tone of the electronics. I tried everything to boost the mids. Nothing worked. I finally sold it because of that.
  8. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 vaxx!

    Oct 31, 2006
    Western Hemisphere
    Some folks are 'ga-ga' over the so-called big slug pickups. Sure they sound great, but are they the cat's pajamas? Maybe. Either way, these are cool basses that represent that era of Fender (post 'boner') quite well.
  9. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    They were to me as a teenager when I played a few basses with them.

    I would still like to find one (preferably in one of the less common colors, but good luck).
  10. Ihaveshingles

    Ihaveshingles Guest

    Dec 24, 2018
    I also had Delanos in a jazz and I absolutely loved them
    bucephylus likes this.
  11. The Water

    The Water

    May 13, 2020
    Bristol, UK
    Big slugs eh? That name had eluded me till now, will use that term more in my searches on em.
    I don't recall lacking mids too much on mine, will have to see - making me more eager to fly home and get my hands on it again for sure now!
    Hard to tell from my photo but it also has the wood grain fade visible centre-body back and front. It's a nice touch.
    The feel of the neck has got to be the thing I miss most. It was just so slim and easy to play, it's ruined other fenders a little for me, the few I've played at least.
    matthewwithanm likes this.
  12. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    I think I bought this from you? Or at least, at some point, this one ended up in my hands. The finish and the "Always dead B string" at least stand out in my memory. Many strings tried, even took the pickups to a friend of mine that winds pickups and nothing seemed wrong. It was just a complete dud. I remember is being a touch heavy-ish (at least going off memory, which could be way wrong, this had to been 10+ years ago now), but the neck was pretty alright feeling.
  13. Wish I still had mine. The first year was built with an ash body and a thin maple veneer top. I don't think that did anything other than make the instrument pretty, but it definitely was pretty. I have no idea why I sold that bass.
  14. Selta


    Feb 6, 2002
    Pacific Northwet
    I lied. Just found photos of mine. The grain is different.
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  15. They are very popular with the gospel bassists. The pickups and preamp are more like a boutique sound (sadowsky, lull, pensa, etc) than the standard fender fare. John suhr is a top fender clone maker aka sadowsky now so it’s essentially his early stuff before he struck out on his own. Great value for the money.
    tindrum likes this.
  16. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    That’s a gorgeous instrument.

    Just thought I would comment on your experience with the B string. String through body bridges are tough on the strings, and I find they particularly kill B strings almost right out of the gate. The cause is metallurgical damage to the hardened steel core resulting from the severe bend at the saddle.

    While on that topic, I have had excellent results with the HipShot Fender-spec bridges. They are just practically perfect, allowing outstanding setups. They have the holes for string through, even though I wouldn’t be caught dead using that. I’ve got one on my Parts Bass 5; and like it very much. Fantastic bridge.
  17. burgerdj


    Dec 4, 2006
    Are all the Suhr era Jazz basses downsized?
  18. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    What time frame was Suhr with Fender? Thanks guys.
  19. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    What are these Delano style pickups comparable to? What makes them sound good? I’ve never tried them, but they look cool.
  20. 80jazz


    Jun 28, 2008
    The American Deluxe basses were.

    I want to say somewhere around 1995-1999, but I would not be surprised if someone here had more accurate information (I seem to remember his pickups being gone by 2001).
    dbsfgyd1 likes this.