NBD :) (Fender Big Block Precision Bass)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Marcus, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. A short while back I purchased a Fender Big Block Precision from a local shop that was blowing it out for a pretty crazy price. Since I'm going to be traveling out of the country for a while and did not want to bring any of my other basses with me, I figured what the hell and bought the Big Block.

    At the store, I was impressed by the weight, aesthetic, and most importantly, the sound. It does not sound like a Precision, Jazz, Music Man, or any other bass for that matter. The double Jazz bass humbucking pickup is located fairly close to a larger-than-standard bridge, and the controls are volume and stacked treble/bass with a mini-toggle coil selector. At the store, the coil switch was quite usable and pretty much changed the tone from bright, to dark. After bringing the bass home, it was only then that I noticed that the bass was susceptible to noise.

    To say that it hums would be an understatement. Checking the control cavity, it was painted over with shielding paint, but the grounding was poorly done. Since I do not have the tools for the job and am traveling shortly, I will just have to deal with the humming until I can arrange a proper solution. For the time being however, the first mini-toggle position (towards the neck) produces an intolerable amount of humming. Back towards the bridge however, it is far more usable.

    The treble and bass controls on the instrument are quite interesting, with the bass boost providing a ton of low-end without muffling the tone. It is very usable for the price and quality of the instrument, which surprised me. The treble however, coupled with the hum, produces too much hiss when turned more than a quarter. After proper shielding, I'm sure I would be inclined to dial in more highs.

    Through my amp and cabinet, the Big Block sounds huge – this bass really has a pronounced low-end. Again, it does not sound like any other bass, which may have turned off many folks and ultimately contributed to the Big Block's discontinuation, but the tone for me is great for finger and pick playing. IMO this is not the most slapper friendly of basses. While it is possible to dial in a “usable” slap tone, IMO it just cannot stand up to the familiarity and cutting power of the P/J/MM tones.

    For reference, I have included three audio files. These were recorded through Audacity with no effects added. The strings are a brand-new set of Sadowsky Black Label light gauge nickles. The hum was quite audible during the recording process, but the general tone is there. Because of the degree of hum, I did not record the bass in the first mini-toggle position.

    Links to audio clips -




    I will add pics a bit later, but if you've seen any pictures of the Big Block, you know that it's a very simple looking instrument. The finish is a glossy black with a matching headstock, rosewood board with pearl blocks, '51 P style control plate, and a “convertible” bridge. The bridge allows for thru-body stringing, but oddly enough, the bass was not routed for that. In any event, I find the look appealing, which is always nice.

    Overall, apart from the hum, I actually like the Big Block Precision because it cops a tone that my other basses can't. While I'll miss my other basses dearly while I travel, I'm sure that the Big Block will serve me well.

    I hope this thread helps out someone who may want info on this relatively obscure Fender.

    Anyone else own or play one of these?
  2. newbold


    Sep 21, 2008
    That bass would look awesome with a '51 style bridge cover.
  3. Pics

  4. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx
    Sweet man!
  5. I have to say I really like the fingerstyle sample - it's like a P-bass with actual b*lls! ("Infidel!", the crowd roared, "Infidel!" ;) )

    That's absolutely a bass I would pick uf for overseas travel, or just to have a quasi-Precision in the "toolbox". For the price of a set of Ferrules, are you going to drill out the body for the option of a string-thru-body setup?
  6. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Congrats. Those are interesting basses, and unlike anything else Fender makes. I have a G&L L-1500, which has the same general configuration, and it also has a unique tone that can have elements of P, J, and 'Ray. When I tried a Big Block, I thought it sounded like a slightly less aggressive L-1500, and I liked the tone.
  7. experimental bassist

    experimental bassist

    Mar 15, 2009
    Beautiful bass, enjoy! :bassist:
  8. thanks for the kind words, all.

    Ned, you're right in comparing it to the G&L L-1500. To an extent, I think the influence is apparent, but like you said, it's certainly not as aggressive as the G&L. Just for fun, I'm going to upload maybe another clip or two using the onboard bass EQ for finger-style. I find it adds really nice lows.
  9. mrtn400


    Dec 6, 2008
    The tone from a single pickup near the bridge isn't my slice of tea, but I do think it sounds pretty good when you were slapping.
  10. I agree the slap tone is not the best but everything else sounds great. Such a cool-looking bass!
  11. Sorry, I missed that last part before. I do not plan on adding string ferrules. I have never played a bass that was string-thru-body that I really liked. I know it's mostly psychological, but I really just prefer the simplicity of top-loading the strings, especially in a quick release bridge! Too bad this one does not allow that :bag:

    The slap tone on this bass is nice in position 1 with no EQ needed, but because of the grounding and noise issue, it just sound bad through my amp. In position 2, the tone is a lot fatter and darker, but the highs can be dialed in. If Fender would have marketed this one better and perhaps coughed up a bit more scratch for better shielding/wiring/grounding, this bass would have done much, much better. It's a shame they kill off interesting basses like this one and the American Zone bass. That is the first American Fender that I played and absolutely loved.
  12. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Yeah, it is a shame. Unfortunately, Fender is "type cast" into the P and J molds, so anything that strays too far from those isn't likely to succeed. The Roscoe Beck is a notable exception, but even it has a setting designed to replicate a 1960's Jazz tone. I also liked the American Zone, which I preferred to the Lakland Skyline 44-02.
  13. I played what I think was a walnut-top American Zone and the tone really was astounding. That's even in comparison to some crazy boutiques that I have had the privilege to own/play. It absolutely nailed the requisite Jazz tones while really providing it's own extremely clean, modern vibe. The neck too... so smooth! I wish I would've jumped on it. Coincidentally, it was at the same place I got the deal on the Big Block. IIRC, it was tagged at $1100.00. How I wish I had the money then! :bawl:

    Fender really ought to give the other models a chance.. even if they are released as LE models to specific dealers.
  14. thejrace


    Oct 3, 2008
    You have quiet a gorgeous bass there sir. The block inlays would have lured me in, but that soundm which is phenominal, would have sold me.
  15. Holy War

    Holy War

    Sep 18, 2008
    VA Beach
    very cool
  16. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Thanks for the well-written review. But now I want a Fender Big Black Bass. :smug:
  17. Thanks, all :)

    I hope it serves me well for a while