J vs P Neck Taper; Does It Really Make A Difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by osciphex, Dec 7, 2002.

  1. osciphex


    Jun 1, 2001
    I own a J bass, and it's the only bass I've ever owned, so I thought it was weird when I was looking through tech specs and saw that P bass necks were slightly wider than my J neck.

    Anyone know the original reason for this? They both have identical scale lengths, and essentially identical necks down by the heel, but they're each tapered different up at the nut.

    The mm stingray 4 is still at the top of my wishlist for the future, but I noticed that its neck width is closer to that of the P bass. What kinds of differences really exist out there between playing a P or J neck?
  2. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    It's all just a matter of comfort. Some people prefer the taper of a J bass, and the narrowness at the nut. Some prefer the less tapered, but wider neck of a P bass.

    Only you can decide which works for you. Go to a shop and play a few Jazz basses, and see what you think.
  3. Just go to a music store and try P and J basses. That will answer your question for you.
  4. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I've owned both P and Jazz basses. I like both necks.

    Books on Fender say that the P bass was designed first, in the 50s I think. It was meant to be the electric bass for upright players to "cross over" to. Fender started producing Jazz basses a few years later, and it was meant to be higher priced model with more tonal possibilities (two pick ups) and an faster/easier to play neck. so the story goes...

    Another unconfirmed angle on this was... in the late '50s & early '60s, it was noticed that a number of studio and live band "bass gigs" were being performed by guitar players who would pick up a P bass and play it with a pick. They'd complain that the neck was too chunky and hard to play compared to their guitar necks. Fender may have taken this into account when they designed the Jazz with its narrow neck and the Mustang with its short scale.

    I may be wrong on these items, but I think I read this, or heard about this, somewhere along the line.
  5. pmkelly


    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I have also heard this exact same reasoning behind the differences...

    I have jazzes and p basses... I like both widths, probably because I play each bass differently.... But give 'em both a shot, see what grabs you!

  6. In the 70's the P bass was available with the Jazz narrow neck option, "A" I believe was the designation for that option.

    I know because my '78 P bass has the maple neck with the narrow option. But you can also look it up in the Bass Book.
  7. I'm pretty sure each neck is inter-changable. You can easily modify either an put the other neck on.
  8. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY

    Most high end Fender knock off makers prefer the jazz bass in general when making their product. Sadowsky, Pensa, Celinder, etc go for the offset body and the 1.5 inch width at the nut. It's easier to play and the 2 single coil pickup setup gives more tone variations. I prefer not to play a Pbass with bass. It's just what I'm used to. There is no right or wrong, only personal preference

  9. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    My 78 P has a much narrower neck than my 98 P.
  10. Phat Ham

    Phat Ham

    Feb 13, 2000
    I believe all Fender basses in general from the 70's have narrower necks than today's basses. My friend has a '74 jazz that has the thinnest neck I've ever played.
  11. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    There is a difference to most players, and there is a reason why (as mentioned above) that virtually everyone who makes Fender-style basses uses the 1 1/2" nut width. The same goes for why those who make P-basses often offer them with a Jazz bass neck option (1 1/2") but do not offer a 1 3/4" option for Jazz basses. For active fingerstyle players, slappers, and those who generally prefer the ability to play faster, the jazz neck facilitates this better. For players who are more pocket/groove oriented and are content with relatively basic (but not necessarily boreing bass lines...think Duck Dunn), the P-bass neck gives you a bit more room to dig in. James Jamerson is probably the major exception to this rule, but players like John Paul Jones, Jacco, Geddy Lee, etc. would probably not be able to bounce around with as much speed and accuracy as they do on their jazz necks if they played P-basses. That extra 1/4" makes a lot of difference for a lot of people.
  12. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    I've owned both types of bass, & I'll say that the Jazz necks feel slimmer at the nut. I like both types of necks though.
  13. JPJ generally has it. Jazz basses are usually more comfortable because the 1.5" neck is smaller and usually faster. However there are people who prefer wider necks, and some like me who believe that it's a pleasant change after playing a Jazz for so long. BTW JPJ, Jaco swapped the necks on some of his Jazzes in favor of P necks!
  14. sal paradise

    sal paradise

    Aug 12, 2004
    I have big hands and wish there were more basses with a p-neck...
  15. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    i think a lot of it has to do with what style bas you "grew up with"
    i started on a rick 4001 which has a narrow nut so i like the j-bass feel better
    one of the things i like about the music man sterlings is that they also have a more j like necks than their stingray brothers
    i can play either no prob, the j just feels right
  16. I have extremely short fingers and love to play bass. My first bass was a Vox Clubman (short scale like a Mustang), very thin neck.

    Next was a pre-CBS Precision with a factory-installed Jazz neck. In the days of the British Invasion most of our playing was 7th fret or below and the thinner neck in this lower area was helpful.

    Today I play a modern version of my Fender hybrid, a Squier Precison Bass Special with the Jazz-profile neck. I like the lighter Precision body, plus it has P and J pickups.
  17. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Yup, my Precision bass has a P-neck, and my Jazz bass has a P-neck. Both are 1-5/8" of pure bliss.
  18. RE:PEAT


    Jun 24, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Just curious...what is the tonal difference when putting a P-bass neck on a J-body compared to J-neck on J-body? I'm under the impression that the neck/fretboard and pups have more influence over tone than the body. I would think the P/J neck/body combo would result in a deeper tone (?).
  19. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Nothing that I can tell. It's just a matter of preference feel-wise, my hands cramp up on a J-neck a lot quicker than a P-neck, but they're getting better on both. Tonally, I don't hear much of a difference, and the weight difference is also quite small.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    "Easier" is just personal preference. The J neck is too cramped for me. On four-strings, I've always found it easier to play P-bass necks: either the standard 1-5/8" nut or vintage 1-3/4".