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NBD: Fender Pawn Shop Reverse Jaguar (review)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by evenintheshower, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. evenintheshower

    evenintheshower Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2010
    Northern Illinois
    I'm ashamed of myself! For the first time, I bought a bass with my eyes instead of my fingers and ears. Forgive me this sin, fellow TBers. I tried to find it in stores, but due to the fact that it was only recently released, nobody had it in stock. The wife (boss) gave me the okay and I got it. I ordered it through Musician's Friend.

    Anyway, all's well that ends well, and this one ended well.

    This is a phenomenal bass for the money, but it requires a special owner to appreciate it. Now I don't mean special in a derogatory short bus sort of way. I mean special as in patient and willing to try something a little different. Why? Because this bass is quirky, but not necessarily in a bad way.

    Some of the quirks include:

    • 32" scale length
    • Upside down neck
    • Reverse body shape (hence the name)
    • Unusual strap button placement
    • Gibson ergonomics

    First quirky aspect is the scale length: 32". There aren't tons of 32" scale Fender basses that are readily available. This is one. Hands down, this is one of the nicest necks I have encountered on any bass, at any price. The frets were finished perfectly and it has a fantastically fast, comfortable feel to it. The "C" shaped neck has the same width as a P bass at the nut, but it is thinner, back of neck to fretboard, than my Am. Std. P. This is my first bass with a maple fretboard and it really looks superb. The 32" scale is terrific for me because I like the shorter scale. Overall, the neck is smooth and fast.

    Next quirky aspect is the "upside down" neck. My guitar player in one of my bands asked me if I had restrung a bass upside down. The tuners are on the bottom of the headstock and therefore the E string travels the longest distance from bridge to tuner, rather than the G string.

    Another quirk is the reverse body (hence the name). It tends to hang differently on one's body than the typical J, P, or even regular Jaguar shape. It seems to hang a little more to the left (for a right handed player) than any other Fender bass I have played, if that makes any sense. Another issue for some is the impeded upper fret access present on the bass. This does not really impact me a whole lot for most of the stuff I do, but it could be a deal breaker for anyone playing the E string above say the 14th fret. Anytime I need to access those frets (like a slide up to that area of the fretboard, I pull my hand off the neck and press down harder with my fingers to get where I need to go. If you are a soloist, then this may not be your cup of tea, but for many players it's not a big deal.

    Most players will want to use a thin vintage strap with this bass. The way the strap button is positioned behind the neck makes it nearly impossible to use a wide, thick, modern strap. In fact, what I do is turn my Levy's leather strap upside down and use the thin end at the front and the thick end on the back. This works great and does not cause any shoulder discomfort because mine is a light weight bass. I haven't weighed it, but I am confident that it is less than nine pounds.

    Final quirk: Have you ever wanted to play a Fender bass that feels a little more like a Gibson than a Fender? If so, this is THE bass for you. It feels a little like a Gibson SG bass or even a Thunderbird. It just has this feeling that everything is "shifted to the left" more than a regular Fender offering. I guess I don't know how better to articulate it. If somebody were to place this bass on my shoulder while blindfolded without being able to touch the headstock and asked me to name the brand, I would say Gibson. Sounds silly, but there you have it.

    As far as the sound goes, it has quite a bit of variety and it sounds excellent. I think this is a bass that really wants to do Pop, Rock, Classic Rock, Country, and so on. It might not be my first choice for something like smooth jazz, but I think it could cover that area, too. I will probably use it for pit work at some point, depending on the show.

    Overall, this bass has a strong voice. It has sort of a stringy or "zingy" character to it, especially with the bridge pickup soloed. Just as a point of comparison, I heard Blue Oyster Cult's "Burning for You" this morning on XM. With the bridge pickup soloed, the Reverse Jaguar sounds just like the bass in this song. The voice gets more "muscular" with the neck pickup engaged, as one would expect. The E string feels more "alive" than on other basses I have played, but again, I know this is such a highly subjective thing to say, so be gentle with me. I took it to a rehearsal a couple of nights ago and everybody (to a person) loved the sound. They also loved the look, too.

    The hardware is all excellent. The tuners look exactly like the ones on my 1978 Musicmaster Bass and they are solid. The high mass bridge is a nice upgrade/update to a traditional Fender bridge. The switches, knobs, strap buttons, and everything else are all high quality and should stand the test of time, provided the player cares for the bass properly. In short, I could find no cheese on this bass.

    Also, the setup out of the box was superb. Nice low action, with no buzzing. Relief was set properly. The strings were properly wound on the tuning posts. I only needed to adjust the intonation. The bass arrived on my doorstep via Brown Santa in its original Fender shipping box. I could tell, based on the exterior paperwork, staples, and taping, that it had not been opened by Musicians Friend, so I was the first person to handle it after it left the factory.

    Now for a couple of minor quibbles with it:

    • No case
    • Could have better shielding
    • G string intonation screw head is already a bit stripped out
    • Slightly neck heavy

    I like cases. Finding one for this bass may be a chore. The Fender deluxe gig bag is very nice though, but a case would be better for my purposes.

    Has a tiny bit of buzz from electrical interference every so often, but nothing that gets in the way of the overall sound. I have had other basses that had the same problem that were much more expensive. It does not cause any problems and any buzz that gets through is so minimal as to not matter. I am just being picky here and trying to remain as objective as possible.

    As I was adjusting the intonation, I found that the Phillips head screw on the G string was already a bit stripped. I had to push the screwdriver down hard and carefully turn so as not to strip out the head completely. I probably won't need to replace it, but as a brand new bass, the adjustment screws shouldn't have this problem.

    You will want to use a leather strap with this bass. It does want to dive a little bit. My Levy's leather strap eliminates this completely. Please trust me when I say that it is nothing compared to some basses I have played like a Gibson Nikki Sixx Signature Blackbird that felt as though it had lead weights in the headstock. The dive is very minimal and I am quite sensitive to neck dive. Again, don't wear a slippery strap and you're in business.

    Overall, this is a fantastic bass for the money. Honestly, it is sort of a Willy Wonka kind of bass, but it works for me. Again, it requires an owner who feels comfortable with its quirks. I am quite pleased with it and I applaud Fender for doing something different!

    Attached Files:

    MarkJC8 likes this.
  2. Wannaflea


    Jun 7, 2011
    Jersey, CI
    Whoa, not sure how this one was missed!

    More pics? Any clips of this thing? :bassist: Looks SWEET
  3. BulbofPassion


    Mar 25, 2012
    Savage, MD
    Nice review. I've been eyeing one of these. Even put it on my GAS List. I've been sold on the sound but I'm not sure about the feel. I've owned an SG Bass before and have used a Thunderbird a few times so I know what you mean. Not a huge fan but I could deal. I mainly remember hating the neck on the Gibsons rather than the body. Not a big fan of maple appearance wise. It probably really adds to that tone though. Very "zingy" indeed.
  4. BulbofPassion


    Mar 25, 2012
    Savage, MD
  5. Gord_oh

    Gord_oh Midtown Guitars: Ulyate Pickups & StringJoy Supporting Member

    Oct 4, 2008
    saw that on Fender's site and thought it was kinda ugly, honestly though the fit and finish looks pretty good with your pics. Cosmetics aside, the power house is there. I bet it plays like a champ.
  6. redstrand

    redstrand Supporting Member

    May 18, 2007
    Saint Louis, MO
    Fool For Four Strings
    Just played a red one at GC. Dug it. It's different...the neck is GREAT! Lot of different sounds. With the right strap it doesn't neck dive...I'm diggin it.
  7. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    that's totally a "fender T-bird"!

    the 32" scale puts me off a little, but i suspect a full 34" scale would have made it so neck-heavy as to be unplayable.
  8. redstrand

    redstrand Supporting Member

    May 18, 2007
    Saint Louis, MO
    Fool For Four Strings
    Played it again with my wonderful GF in tow...she indulges me much too often. This is a bass that doesn't sound like the other basses. I A,B,C,D'd against some other basses I like...only other one I liked the sound of was the Modern Player Jazz...but I realized the MP sounded like my other basses with a slightly different twist. The PS Jag is it's own beast...good or bad. I dig it, it's on my GAS list.

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