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Marcus Miller Fender Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by gozan, Oct 19, 2001.


  1. gozan

    gozan

    Sep 17, 2000
    Marcus Miller Fender Jazz Bass SE. What are the pros and cons of this Bass? What is the regular price ? Made in Japan . What about the 3 BOLT NECK ? I HEAR BAD THINGS ABOUT THAT.
     
  2. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    Pro: Funky as a new born's diaper!!!

    Pro: It's got that Marcus Sound if that's your thang.

    Pro: Rather affordable new and used. $799 from Musician's Friend. Usually about $600.00 on the used market, even though when I tried to sell mine, I seldom got offers over $500. So I kept it.

    Pro: The passive/active function. Try it in passive mode first, then switch to active. A real monster in my opinion. I usually play it in pasive during the song but switch to active for a solo or intro portion.

    Con: 60 cycle hum. It wasn't until recently that someone told me that to get rid of the hum, turn both pickups up full.

    Con: no tone control on the bass in passive mode.

    Con: It looks really cool with the pick up cover on, but for me, it gets in the way, so I remove it.

    Con: It doesn't come with a case.

    Con: Folks jive ya because you're playing a Marcus. As though to say, "Oh, you think you're Marcus Miller now?"

    All in all, I think my Con's are cosmetic and personal preference. The performance and sound of the instrument are top notch for Japanese made, under $1000 4 string by Fender. In my opinion, they did a good job of copying Roger Sadowsky's mods to Marcus Miller original Fender, even down to the funny pickguard shape. And the sound, the overall tone, and the tendency to try Marcus Miller licks and get them to sound like it's really Marcus Miller, is sometimes a little hard to resist. I'll never play like MM, but I really enjoy playing my own style with an instrument that sounds a lot like Marcus' bass sounds.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Good stuff in my opinion. Pros would be tone and construction. Like Mario says, this is as good as I've seen a production Fender get in terms of fit and finish; on par with MIA Fenders. Nice binding, inlays and fretwork. Cons would be weight and some noise. Also, the instrument's preamp doesn't turn off automatically when you unplug the 1/4" jack, so you may run out of 9V juice if you're forgetful about switching it off manually. No, the preamp doesn't exactly replicate Marcus' tone, but what does? It's pretty versatile and definitely gives you lowrange booty in addition to the standard midrange growl. I think the aesthetics are cool, but what do I know? I like the Frankenbass look.
     
  4. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    I had no idea the preamp didn't switch off automatically. That's pretty strange.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher

    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Yeah, that's a weird oversight on Fender's part (or maybe Marcus' bass is wired the same way and they were aiming for authenticity). There's a suggested wiring mod over at Harmony Central's review page to correct the "problem".
     
  6. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Hey, a bit OT, but still... I recently read somewhere that the preamp in Marcus' fender isn't a Sadowsky like everyone's been telling me, but some "ordinary" Bartolini. Does anyone know anything about this?
     
  7. Mario Lewis

    Mario Lewis

    Jul 6, 2001
    Clinton, MD
    I just wanted to add that Fender really "got it right" with this one. The instrument has a distinctive look and sound. Another person who posted was right in that the binding on the Neck is a definite benefit, not so much in sound but in appearance and giving the bass a unique presentation. The swamp ash body and all maple neck makes the high end ring and the instrumnt has "snap" and a sharp "bite" if a bass can be said to have those characteristics. It's not a 5, but the E is low and really solid. If set up right with low action, this instrument is a real pleasure to play. For that ultimate Marcus sound, I've always played DR Hi Beams, but I'm getting ready to put some Elixir Nano Webs on. They'll last longer and the Elixirs are pretty bright on my Alembic with Mahogany in the body and Ebony on the fretboard. Boths are supposedly "dark woods", but I've got hight end snap out the yin yang. I'll post my findings witht he Elixirs on the Marcus when I've gotthen on and stretched out.
     
  8. muggsy

    muggsy Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2000
    Alexandria, VA
    I've got one of these, and it's the prettiest bass I own. Mine was modified with a u-retro deluxe preamp before I bought it, and I couldn't be happier. The u-retro deluxe also has a passive tone control, unlike the stock preamp. I've heard the OEM preamp isn't that great, but I've never played one other than mine, so I can't comment on that. I have been having a problem with battery life, though, and I was confused because I always unplug the jack when I'm not playing. If the preamp is wired to draw current in active mode even when unplugged, that could explain it, but I'd never heard that before. I guess I'll have to check Harmony Central for the wiring info. Thanks for the tip!
     
  9. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Yep, it's a Bartolini two band, put in before Roger even had his own preamps. I can't recall a Bart pre that wasn't wired to come on with the input jack.

    There was a Bass Player magazine interview where a note was put in that MM's Jazz had a Sadowsky preamp. Not true.
     
  10. hujo

    hujo

    Apr 18, 2001
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I've always wondered about those kinds of pre-amps... How much do they colour the sound, really? If i were to install one on my bass (ok, perhaps not on my Dano, it seems kind of... useless) and set it flat, would it sound just like my bass does when its' treble roll-off is on full? Are there really big differences between preamps, even if they boost the exact same frequencies?
     
  11. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Yes, there can be differences in preamps. You could cut or boost the same frequency center but have a different Q or width of the frequencies affected by different preamps. It's possible to wire a preamp with a true bypass, where the signal does not pass through the preamp circuitry.

    Just for grins, when I was checking out my Sadowsky outboard, we tried it with a Dano bass. The difference was pretty amazing. The only downside was that the only way of getting it out of the signal path to the amp would be to remove it (either physically or electronically (for sticklers;))).
     
  12. I do not know if the stock preamp in the Fender Miller bass is the same one that Marcus has in his '77 jazz.

    When I was purchasing a J bass I tried the Fender Miller and Sadowsky preamp. The latter was much better: quieter, better definition of bass and treble, greater degree of boost of bass and treble, bypass switch. The Miller I tried was the heaviest bass I had played... perhaps an anomaly.

    If I was in the price range for the Fender Miller I'd consider buying a a maple board' Fender jazz with hum cancelling pickups and send it to Sadowsky and have him install his preamp.
     
  13. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Pretty sure the Fender MM preamp is not a Bart.

    Roger makes nice preamps. Here's another option: another way to go would be to get the bass Jim mentioned and install a J-Retro in it. Tons more tonal and configuration flexibility and it's a lot cheaper... last I heard Roger charges ~$400 installed. J-Retro installed should be well under $300.

    Some of the 70's Ash Jazzes are real bricks as far as weight. It probably is a factor in the sound. I have one and have a nice strap. Another factor is the non-humcancelling stock single coils. Killer bass.
     
  14. muggsy

    muggsy Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2000
    Alexandria, VA
    I do not know if the stock preamp in the Fender Miller bass is the same one that Marcus has in his '77 jazz.

    It's not.

    As for weight, my Marcus bass is pretty light. Not sure of the actual weight, but it's much lighter than the boat anchor ('74 jazz) it replaced.

    I second Brad's recommendation to check out the j-retro preamps. Actually, the designer (John East) makes a preamp specifically designed for the Marcus Miller bass (may be called the MM-retro, but a u-retro deluxe works fine, plus it has the passive tone control). Either one pretty much drops in under the stock pickguard, just drill an extra hole or two. That's what I've got, and it rocks.
     
  15. gozan

    gozan

    Sep 17, 2000
    The Marcus Miller sounds good, but what about down the road. I hear the 3 bolt has a terrible reputation .
     
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    People love to generalize. I have two 3 bolt basses, a 78 Jazz and an 80 G&L L2000E... someone forgot to tell them about their "problem"...they're both rock solid.

    The MM is a nice, solid bass... even with a 3 bolt:D