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Looking at new "Jazz" basses - I am not impressed...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AlexanderB, Dec 29, 2012.

  1. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    I am looking for a new Jazz bass but I can not find any good instruments. What I want is a traditional four string, two passive single coils, no preamp, narrow and thin neck.
    It does not have to be a Fender but I started by playing as many of their models as possible.

    Then I widened my search and looked at Sandberg, Ibanez, Yamaha etc.

    There was not ONE bass I wanted. Not one. And the problem is the same for all of them. They all sound "dead" - no resonanse, no "life" to the tone, many with pronounced dead spot issues to boot.

    I spent at least a couple of hours and tried the lot; American Standard Jazz, Geddy Lee, Aerodyne, Roadworn, Mexican Standard, -75VRI (ash) + the Yamaha RB..., BB and RBX4 A2 etc etc. I played through the same amp/speaker setup I use at home. (LMII + Ampeg SVT-410HLF.) I adjusted string height to my preferences on the basses I hade some interest in, BTW.

    The Fender basses I already own (Squier JV -82 Precision, Fender Jazz bass Plus V -94) are so much better it is not even funny, especially the Squier. It really sings in every position on the fretboard, has lots of sustain and almost no dead spot. Those of you that have played good vintage basses know exactly what it is like!
    I had brought my JV to the shop for reference and the sales guy tried it and could only agree - he had nothing to match its quality and tone. And no, he could not buy it... ;)

    Where should I go next? Suggestions?
    Price wise I do not really want to go higher than the Swedish price of the American Standard, about €1500.
    Should I forget about new instruments and look for a vintage one? Or will a current, dead-ish Jazz develop into a more resonant instrument by use and time?
  2. Tried Lakland? The Skyline series would fall within your budget, they do a couple of different Jazz type models and they sound and play great
  3. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Thanks for the tip. :) They are very rare over here (I have never seen one in a shop) but I will see if there is any used ones for sale.
  4. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003

    Find a Fender "Roadworn" Jazz.
    You won't be disappointed.
  5. seang15


    Aug 28, 2008
    Cary NC
    While I agree, the Fenders haven't blown me away lately, I believe much of the issue lies with proper setup. Not just string height. Truss rod, intonation, maybe nut adjustment are in order. Not to mention, pickup height, which would fall right into your biggest gripe: tone. Pup height has a HUGE effect on volume and tone. And of course, perhaps different strings. Ymmv, etc.
  6. Bardolphus

    Bardolphus Put some stank on it... Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2007
    Austin, Texas
    While I like the roadworns, OP said he did try one and apparently it wasn't what he was looking for. With Fender (and others) though, I've found that the differences from bass to bass can be quite substantial. Might take some shopping to find the one that speaks to you.

    Other than that the only other passive I can come up with in your range might be a used Mike Lull.
  7. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    How old were the strings on the basses you tried?
  8. The other thing is if you're trying them in a shop, that the strings may be half or mostly dead. It's kind of hard to judge an instrument properly until you can get some new strings on them and even better if they're the brand and gauge you usually use.

    EDIT: Beat me by seconds, Munji. :)
  9. seang15


    Aug 28, 2008
    Cary NC
    And I beat him by three :)
  10. FunkHead

    FunkHead Supporting Member

    Mar 10, 2007
    Phillipsburg, NJ
    It's a good argument to keep what you got.
  11. You mentioned so many things that my brain couldn't take it all in. :D
  12. R&B

    R&B Both kinds of music: Rhythm AND Blues! Supporting Member

    I would humbly suggest getting your hands on a MIM FSR Natural Ash J Bass from GC or MF, or any MIJ Fender jazz. Could be challenging from Europe to get MIM product, so perhaps MIJ is easier?

    My little super-inexpensive MIM FSR natural ash Jazz really sings even with the stock Fender strings. Sustain is incredibly long. Ditto my MIJ '70s Jazz with La Bella rounds.

    Don't give up! "The One" is out there...and finding her is half the fun. Though it does distract from practicing. :meh:

  13. AlexanderB


    Feb 25, 2007
    Strings were all OK (not dead or twisted) and many of the basses were almost "fresh out of the box". Since I had brought a couple of screwdriver kts I adjusted intonation, string height, PUI height etc if a bass passed the first minute of playing. I also had the sales guy adjust the relief on the AVRI -75.

    It does not matter - these basses were FAR from what I am used to. By tha way, the EBS Titanium Nickel strings on my JV have been a couple of years on that bass and it still sounds more responsive and clear.

    Pickups is not the issue - basic wood quality and craftmanship is missing.
  14. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
    It's too bad Fender can't make a good bass anymore... (/sarcasm)
  15. First thing I change out is the factory strings. IME, some sets of Fender strings have dead spots. I won't even bother with them anymore. Don't know about the other manufacturers, but it makes sense they throw on some bulk strings to save costs.

    Strings and setup make the biggest difference by far.
  16. Betrayer_Bass

    Betrayer_Bass Profanity Fish. Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    Oslo, Norway
    Endorsing: Spector basses, Winspear Picks, Spector Formula 603 strings
    Spector Coda. Done deal :)
  17. I'll second the suggestion that you need to try and find a Lakland. I know they may be hard to find but, from what I'm reading about what you want, it sounds to me that you'll find it in a Lakland.
  18. jlepre

    jlepre Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    I know it's not passive, but how about a Sterling HS or HH?
  19. meatwad


    Apr 9, 2008
    Smallville, USA
    I wish more people understood this, rather than hating on an entire brand, or line, because of a few poorly setup off-the-rack examples.
  20. IronLung1986


    May 19, 2010
    Exeter, NH
    Fender stock nickel-plated steels are probably my favorite bass strings lol. That's all I ever use on my p bass.