First Precision Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thiocyclist, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. thiocyclist


    Sep 19, 2012
    When I started playing bass 18 years ago, I began with an imported Spector. Then I got a Stingray. Then a Jazz Bass. Then a Rickenbacker - since then, several more Rickenbackers. All good basses in their own right and I am keeping the Rics around. But in that whole time, never a P Bass. Early on I got the idea that since they were so common and so simple, there couldn't be much to them. Plus they had a street reputation for having chunky necks, so I steered clear.

    Now I recognize that lots of my favorite bass tones have come from a P Bass, and I'd really like to own one. So I am considering to get either an MIM (a "Player") or an MIA (a "Professional"). To the P Bass player community here, I'm wondering if there's any meaningful difference between the two. I'm also wondering what people think about maple vs. rosewood on a P Bass (and in light of CITES, maple seems like a better bet...).
    EatS1stBassist, bdplaid and jd56hawk like this.
  2. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    I have owned only American made Fenders and have been pleased with them. They are usually a better sum of the parts-components over all compared to the Mexican assembled ones and the Asian models. Japan made Fenders have a lot of admirers here too.

    Lotta thread battles here regarding this subject but, YMMV.
    slugger and bobyoung53 like this.
  3. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    Go play a bunch of them, buy the one that "speaks" to you.
    Elusive1, Chitosmon, bbh and 14 others like this.
  4. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I gotta go with this. You've been around the block a few times in your bass career. You know what you like.

    Go play some. At least narrow the field.
  5. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    If you've waited this long, you might want to consider one of these.
    Plenty of neck-width options, fretboard options, color choices, etc.
  6. fretter


    May 24, 2012
    maple or rosewood fretboard?
  7. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass.

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I've been playing since 1971, mostly 60's Thunderbirds. It was about 10 years ago I got my first Precision, now I have a '69, two 70's fretless, two 70's fretted and a couple of other FSO in the collection. I'll never switch from my beloved Thunderbirds but Precisions do have thier uses, there's just something to them. FB_IMG_1557886453925.jpg
    Mingo Sanders, JC Nelson, MCF and 4 others like this.
  8. Meaningful differences, price and quality. The Players I've tried have been really good though. They come with Pau Ferro fretboards rather than rosewood now, so you can discount that concern unless you're buying an older bass.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  9. CallMeAl


    Dec 2, 2016
    Ithaca Ny
    I've been playing about that long, and just got a P bass myself. Changed my life! I put Jazz necks on mine; but if you're playing Rics and Rays you probably wont notice much difference (on modern Ps anyways.)

    I'm over here playing Squiers, and I love them! The MIA vs MIM thing is a whole other can of worms, but in the many threads I've combed over the running theme is "get what you like, get the best you can afford."

    As far as cites:
    CITES - What every bass player should know
    shodan, HardNHeavy, Chitosmon and 2 others like this.
  10. I purchased my 1st P bass in 2015, a Fender MIM. I really like it and find the neck to be very stable requiring few truss rod adjustments. In other words, I believe this is a quality instrument.
    The other day I popped into GC and found a Fender American Elite P Bass on display. I picked it up and there was almost something magical about the way the neck felt and played. It’s not in my budget at the moment however I will say there is a difference between my MIM and that American Elite
    B-Mac and EatS1stBassist like this.
  11. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI
    As said before, play a few and find one you like, regardless of manufacturing origin.
    If you are looking to buy a new one, I believe the USA made basses will hold their value better than others. If looking used, then you already know this.
    Regarding maple/rosewood, if you don’t have a preference as to which feels better when you play (most people do), then again, buy what feels and sounds best to you. Don’t worry about the CITES live in the USA and if you ever do want to sell it, you will have a huge market to sell to w/o having to worry about shipping regulations.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  12. Bent77


    Mar 6, 2013
    Desert, Colorado

    More expensive basses have better necks. That take and keep a set up better, so unless you like 1/2” action, keep this in mind

    Play lots, find the one that speaks to you as was mentioned. And yes G&L basses are great.

    Probably find a good used whatever for your best investment
    instrumentalist likes this.
  13. I strongly prefer the look and feel of the Maple neck. I would also highly recommend trying out a Roadworn or 50's classic series. They are MIM, but tend to be of higher quality than typical MIM. They can be found used from $500 to $650.
    I also avoided P basses when I first started playing because of the chunky necks, but once I tried one I found I actually prefer their necks. YMMV
  14. I'm in the play-a-bunch-of-them camp. That's what worked for me, given all the various permutations of the P bass that are out there.
    EatS1stBassist and MynameisMe like this.
  15. hennessybass

    hennessybass Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2008
    Bayou City
    I like rosewood. Maple has a little different feel, and sounds a little more “snappy” or bright.

    As for the MIA vs MIM, there are great ones and not great ones in both categories. I think in general your odds of getting a great one are better in the MIA category... like for example if you were just going to order online (blind), you have better odds with the MIA.

    However,,, IME, there are a lot of very different feeling necks. Some are wide and flat, some are a little skinny and more chunky. The Basses also can “feel” a little different. And sound a little different.

    I tried two MIA vintage RI 60s P back to back. Same everything (except color), and they came to the shop from the factory at the same time. One had noticeably more upper middle in the sound.

    My advice is have your cash ready, try as many as you can, and when you play the one that’s right for you, you will know it.
    EatS1stBassist and BrotherRay like this.
  16. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    There's a small-but-significant amount of normal variation of quality among basses of the same model.

    Some basses truly are greater than the sum of their parts. It might have to do with the particular piece of wood the body and/or neck are made from, or aspects of workmanship like the frets—who knows. Perhaps over time, one specimen dries out or settles in better than another. I honestly don't know for sure, but I can definitely say that, anecdotally at least, even with mass-produced guitars/basses like Fender, it sometimes comes down to that particular specimen. YMMV, of course. CNC machines equalize things to some extent but far from totally.

    Despite all of that, I have certainly bought instruments sight-unseen or with minimal chance to try them. My most recent Fender bass was such a good deal I knew I was going to buy it almost no matter what its condition or its playability. I handled it for maybe 15 seconds, glanced at it, handed the guy his cash, and off he went. I took a substantial risk but I knew I wanted that particular model. Came with the original case in almost flawless shape. Got it home, played it all afternoon, and loved the lightweight body and comfortable neck. I smiled to myself knowing my gamble had paid off—and both parties were happy.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  17. TemplesOfSyrinx


    Sep 8, 2013
    Great sub $400 P bass right here. If you want an upgrade to this, get this. IMG_20190503_115048.jpg
    Amazing bass right here.

    ROOTSnFIFTHS Low-end Lover since '78!

    Oct 25, 2012
    NJ to Sin City
    I have to agree with the above. At this time, I own an American Standard(Rosewood), a Road Worn (Maple), '51 repro-single coil pickup (maple) and am building a franken-P with a rosewood Jazz neck.

    The American Standard and Roadworn, although 100s of $$ apart in price are of equal quality in sound and build. The Road Worn (and 50s types) have a wider neck than the American Standard. The perfect size neck for me however is that American Standard. --Not too wide with rounded edges. I just love that neck.
    And to agree again with many of the others here, try as many as you can. Yes quality is guaranteed with a higher priced bass but a Mexi made bass could be just as nice.
    *EDIT* Oh and Rosewood or Maple? I hear no difference in sound but like the way Rosewood looks.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  19. If you even have a remote sense of DIY, why not just build one?

    Or at the very least, get the parts to build one, befriend a builder or a knowledgeable friend to do the work for (or better, WITH) you?

    I built my Warmoth/Mighty Mite Franken-P for just over $700 US, and it performs (feel and sonically) just as good as the latest, top end $2K offerings.

    Just my thoughts.

    Peace. Now go PLAY something.
    Charlzm, shodan and EatS1stBassist like this.
  20. AboutSweetSue

    AboutSweetSue Guest

    Sep 29, 2018
    A P Bass is a fairly simple tool in regard to it’s basic premise. The differences between low and high stem from materials and overall build quality, usually. When it comes to MIM vs. can get a bit hazy.

    People telling you to just go play them, find one that fits you is the only advice I can recommend. I assure you, though, your chances of getting a quality instrument are high either way no matter if it says MIM or MIA. Both are solid imo.