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How to choose a good sounding Jazz Bass ?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by superlead, Jun 10, 2012.


  1. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    Jazz Basses are great basses , so i'd like to get a very good one for my recording studio ( pro ) , as i already have several nice guitars but only one bass.
    I'm not bassist originaly but guitarist, although i've begun to learn to play bass a few years ago, enough to be able to play the bass on my music / compos / demos.
    The bass i have bought then was a used (like new) Japanese JB with USA pu's from 2004-2006 era for about 700 euros after i had bought a little yamaha bass for 300 euros / 2000 francs about 15 years ago but it was really unpleasant to play so i never used it !
    As soon as i got that JP JB, i really started to learn as the neck was much better and the sound as well !

    So, as i'm setting up a recording studio , a long time project for which i buy gears little by little for many years and i now have everything needed to setup this studio ( still looking for a new place to rent though, to install it as it has got bigger these last years ) but i'm wondering about buying a very good vintage JB from the 60's , to have at least one very good bass here (it would be an investment as well) .

    I know how to choose guitars as i have several nice ones i selected through years ( mostly 60's and 90's ones ) but i'm not totaly sure of what i have to look for , to select a very good sounding 60's jazz bass ( mid to late 60's ) !
    I know more or less what i have to look for ( apart from the originality of the bass parts and finish) , for playability ( although opinions and advices are always welcome) but i'm not sure what i have to look for to be sure i will buy a very good sounding JB for 70's type of rock / hard rock or actual rock , funk, blues, pop ... etc

    I have learnt that weight matters in term of tone , on guitars and usualy, light ones can be bass/ low end light while heavy ones with dense wood can be very bright in the upper mids.
    Some very heavy can lack resonance, as for some very light ones, so i often try to get a guitar with an average weight in the middle of what can be found for the type of guitar i buy ( although there are always exceptions ) .

    In another hand ,i suppose light basses are quite nice to carry on live situations.
    But does it have to resonate much or not , i know there are two opposite theories for guitars that might work for bass as well, some saying the instrument has to resonate much while some other say it doesn't have to ( for an electric instrument) , as it gets in conflict with the string vibrations .
    Does it have to have much low end or more to have a balanced tone through the frequency spectrum (from low to high) without a lot of low end but enough mids to cut through a band or a mix ( with regular strings ) ?
    I noticed when i record the JP JB (62) i have , i have had hard time to place that bass in a dense mix sometimes ,recorded generaly through a VT737SP DI although i bought recently a RED DI and millenia TD1) .
    Last, what are the prices in Europe for a mid 60's JB in excellent condition (although i prefer one in good condition and playing and sounding very good better than one mint but sounding average ) ?
     
  2. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Most of what you say is nonsense.

    In a studio setting, getting a great sound from a jazz bass is not a challenge. In fact, a Mexican Jazz will be very difficult to tell from a more expensive USA model when tucked into a track. Chances are if you have a "pro" studio, then you will get pro players coming in and they will use their own axes.

    A great sound comes from a great player.
     
  3. Wannaflea

    Wannaflea

    Jun 7, 2011
    Jersey, CI
    1) Get a Classic Vibe Jazz
    2) Shield and ground it, eliminating all hum
    3) ????
    4) Profit
     
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    Weight has nothing to with tone.... my Dingwall and my Carvin are both made out of swamp ash and they thunder... the Dingwall is so light you'd think it is a guitar...

    Go hit a music store and find one you like
     
  5. SlingBass4

    SlingBass4

    Feb 28, 2009
    Kansas City
    From the FWIW Dept.: A new or near new Fender Highway One Jazz should appeal for it's price point and flexibility. Because of the nitro finish, relatively light weight, and the modern fingerboard radius...you'll find it a just contender. Want a more vintage sound? trade out the BadAss bridge and grease bucket tone control for older spec'd parts. I find them (having had several - like 4) comfy and not bad out of the box. That said: my main player has a Warmoth neck with lollipop Hip Shot tuners (all of mine have), Fender Pro-Shop pups, and reworked orange drop (forget which one) capped tone control - BUT, the original neck, pups, and grease bucket aren't bad. Long story short: Good price, modern sound/features/playability/stability, and easily true vintage modded for (again) a fair price compared to a 60's bass ;)
     
  6. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    In my experience, the light ones are usually the better ones( not forgetting taste ,of course)
    I'd try an FGN Neo Classic jazz-the ones I tried were very good for the money-MUCH better than US fenders at the Same price point anyways.
     
  7. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    Thanks for your answer.
    As a guitarist, i'm ready to invest (as i did) in some expensive 60's guitars , that i think, sound better than some actual ones.
    Old instrument don't always sound better than new ones but there are some , like for stratocasters (among others ) that i think sound better than new ones (and for some at least very different as well, like the gretsch duo jet double cut 1962 reissue and the firebird original for example, as they are built differently , with different vibrato and pu's !) .
    I have had quite a few AVRI's, american series vintage style signatures (mark knopfler, eric johson ...) custom shop time machine ( or american standard and one or two mex) ones and there is only one time machine i kept a 66 strat rosewood board) whereas i love most of the 60's ones i heard or played .
    Same for Gibson pu's , i have bought thousand dollars of actual gibson pu's , SD seth lover ones and PAF boutique / clone repros , to come back to original PAF or 60's ones in all my reissue Gibson ( or original opnes) as i think they sound better !
    So i was wondering if for basses, it is the same or if a good japan 62 JB ri with USA pu's (as mine) , will sound as good most of the time , as a 60's one costing 10 times the price ?
    Maybe the difference between vintage and actual vintage reissue jazz basses , is not as much as the difference between a good sounding strat and a reissue (even good, they sound different but all new ones sound similar whereas all the old ones were really different one from the other from what i experienced !).

    The only way to be able to answer this question i suppose, is to have played quite a few original 60's jazz basses , as well as a few american vintage reissues, japan ri's with USA pu's and custom shop time machine , to be able to compare .
     
  8. cnltb

    cnltb

    May 28, 2005
    VERY true.
     
  9. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    Is there much difference between the AVRI pu's and the ones used in japanese 62 JB RI (the same pu's ? ) , compared to some original ones from the mid 60's ?
    I suppose they must change from one to another in this era but there must be an average opinion about that , like for PAF pu's where many people tend to think low output PAF sound better than high output ones and better than the reissues !
     
  10. jasonbraatz

    jasonbraatz

    Oct 18, 2000
    Oakland, CA
    On the other hand, if you're running a pro studio there would be some marketing appeal if you had a nice vintage jazz.

    It wouldn't necessarily sound better than a brand new one, but sometimes the vibe of it gets a different performance out of a bassist.
     
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    1) Play Jazz basses until you find one you like.
    2) Buy it.
     
  12. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    I wish people would stop thinking old is automatically better than new.

    There has never been a better selection of instruments painstakingly hand crafted by skilled and experienced artisans than there are right now, built to the absolute highest standards with the absolute best quality hardware. Stop looking at the past with rose coloured glasses and your search for a great bass might be shorter (and easier on your wallet).
     
  13. Dwight

    Dwight

    Apr 9, 2012
    I got a '62 US vintage RI (AVRI) because of the nitro finish. It is everything I expected and a bargain at that price.
     
  14. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    Right but that's not the main aspect why i'd like to buy a vintage bass .
    When i buy a guitar or a bass as now, what i look for at first is a great tone , then i want it to be playable ( not a pain in the ass to play as some are ...) or even if possible , really nice to play ; with great neck profile adapted to what i look for .
    I'm ready to pay much money for a very good guitar , when i think they are very very good sounding and playing guitars ( in correct shape but i'm not looking after mint ones ) !
    So, i can buy a refin strat in good shape if the tone and price are good .
    So, i'm ready to invest in an expensive vintage bass , only if there is a real tone difference (playability seems to be the same ) but i won't pay 10 times the price of my used JP 62 JB RI , if the sound is the same , even if it's a good marketing + for the studio ! lol
     
  15. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    I began buying actual guitars ( from the late 80's until nowdays ) but as i was not always finding what i was looking for in term of tone , even after swapping several pu's and / or hardware , i started looking towards vintage ones !
    As a matter of fact , i had already bought about maybe 15 different strats (and re-sold most) and still had not found what i was looking for !
    They were all ultra bright sounding or lifeless !
    Since the late 80's, i had 4 american standard ( including a 2004 anniversary with limited edition CS54 pu's for the 50th anniv and a late 80's a mid 90's and late 90's one) , one or two vintage reissue 60's mex, 2 or 3 AVRI 62' , 1 mark knopfler & one Eric Johnson signature , some custom shop 60 , a custom shop 66 , partcasters i mounted with original USA vintage style Fender parts ... etc and tried a few other ones .
    i swapped several different pu's in several of them without good result .
    the only one i really liked and kept is the 2006 CS66 time machine with original specifications (not the new ones with 9 radius ... etc) but a friend of mine came one day with 3 vintage early / mid 60's ones i tried ( i had never tried a vintage guitar) and really felt they sounded different from the new ones ( through the amps and speakers, i'm used to . my original JTM45's and jmp50's plexi's with original greebnback g12h30 ) !
    They didn't have these emphacized high mids like many actual ones , the tone was much creamier and even the ones with quite some high end were not as shrill / harsh sounding as new ones !
    I played several ones ( and bought a 64 refin, a 66, a 67 oversprayed and a 69')
    But it's not only the pu's ( some actual CS pu's in some CS guitars sound good but are not always wound enough) , the wood plays a much bigger role !
    So, i would tend to say i prefer original 50's -60's strats over the ones made after that !
    I wouldn't necesseraly say so for SG's for example, as long as you put the right pu's inside (i don't like 490/498, 496/500T, classic 57 , burstbuckers as in the les paul standard USA serie at one stage , nor the Angus young pu ... etc) as the actual ones are better made than the 60's ones but some 60's ones really have that magic tone that is hard to find in a new one stock ( especialy due to those muddy classic 57' pu's !) .

    So as i wrote above , vintage opnes are not always better than new ones but the ones that really sound good, tend to sound better than most actual ones ; smoother i'd say !
     
  16. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    The control quality is certainly better on high end actual ones than it was in the 60's , with more consistence in the production from one to another but i think they could aim an even better tone / quality by better wood selection or caring about some aspects , better than looking for marketing technics like Reliced guitars !
    Like some stupid details, as the wrongly reissued Gibson lyre vibrola, with an arm that impeach you to close the case for example , unlike the original one .
     
  17. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    Get a MIA Jazz and it will sound great no matter what year (95% of the time, that is).

    Or, get an '80s Jazz Bass Special for around $500 and save some dough. Sounds and plays just as good.
     
  18. superlead

    superlead

    Jun 10, 2012
    I notice the 66 jazz bass i was lent is having quite a lower output level than my 2004-2006 JP JB 62 RI with USA pu's but the output level from one string to another is more balanced (with good attack ) on the vintage one ( the pu's are setup more or less the same, anyway they seem difficult to setup differently ) than on the RI ( where the low string is strong but the 3 others are weaker) .
    I also noticed the string tension on the Vintage one, is not as strong as the reissue and the bass seems to have a smoother less constricted (by lack of other words) tone but still punchy attack !
     
  19. I hope I got you right, at least halfway. So here is my attempt to answer your question.
    Since you have already chosen the kind of Jazz Bass you want: Vintage mid 60´s, very pricy...

    What I found that helps spotting a good sounding Jazz Bass is: Play it both with the neck or the bridge PU full on and the other respectively muted. There are two very distinctive tones you should hear. Bridge PU should sound growly with a good portion of mids and somewhat compressed spectrum (think Jaco Pastorius). Neck PU should have even lows with scooped mids and clear high end (somewhat like and upright...well). Ideally both volume levels are as close to each other as those totally different acoustic patterns allow.

    If this is given, chances are good, that you have a great sounding Jazz Bass in your hands...

    Hope this helps, still I may have totally misunderstood your request.
     
  20. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    No, I'm talking about brands other than Fender. If I was looking for a high quality J bass, they'd be quite a few places down the list.
     

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