NBD - Nate Mendel P-Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by squish, Sep 14, 2022.

  1. squish

    squish Flying under the radar!

    Dec 6, 2005
    I'm comparing this Fender Nate Mendel p-bass to my Squier Matt Freeman signature p-bass (in the pic - sorry for the offset image. They are the same general size and length) which to many here on TB consider the gold standard of affordable basses. My MF is modded with pickups, Hipshot tuners and a ToneStyler tone capsule, so I will not attempt to compare the tone, but only the feel and playability.
    On paper this bass had a lot going for it. Awesome '70s P-Bass styling, roadworn nitrocellulose lacquer candy apple red finish, dark rosewood board, upgraded pickup, all wrapped up into an unique package...
    I searched for a couple of weeks while I waited for another bass I was selling to sell on Reverb. I wanted a comfortable weight, somewhere around 8 1/2 pounds. The bass I was selling sold quickly and I was impatient so I went with the Nate you see here at 8 3/4 lbs. It was the lightest I could find.

    First impressions:
    The Playability - The bass was delivered with a decent setup from Willcutt Guitars in KY. The neck was comfy and after my full setup (neck relief, understring radius, pickup heights, intonation) it felt wonderful. I didn't care for having to remove the neck (twice) to adjust the trussrod. The neck is a tad narrower at the nut compared to the MF bass - something like 1.62' vs 1.65, but it is thicker off the back and has a rounder fretboard - 7.25" radius vs 9.5" on the MF. So it doesn't feel as thin as it looks, although it plays fast compared to p-basses with a 1.75" nut. Playing a p-bass neck makes me think about my playing differently which is cool. The only thing I kinda wish were different are the tall frets. The MF bass has small vintage frets which contrasts to the feel. You actually touch the fretboard more with less effort on vintage frets making it smoother. But fret height is not a big deal. Just different.

    The Sound - Off the bat, the Fender nickel strings sounded like stainless (very bright). So hopefully they mellow quickly. But the dang Duncan Basslines SPB-3 Quarter Pounder PU was outrageous. So loud and rude! The tone was boomy, full and massive. It is like the big know-it-all at the party who refuses to be ignored. It's pretty wild how the tone knob didn't calm it much. But to its credit, there was no mistaking this tone as ALL P-BASS. Lord, it was like Godzilla's p-bass. I'm going to try installing some old roundwounds or my old flatwounds to tame it. My MF bass wasn't honky enough so I dropped some DiMarzios in and that fixed that. Now I'm suffering the opposite problem. But to me, this is no reason to dismiss this otherwise really cool bass.

    The Looks - The roadworn Candy Apple Red has a bit of sparkle to offset the chips, dings and swirls in the finish. The red is darker than most I've seen which fits the heavy nature of the tones this bass creates. The shape of the body is interesting. I didn't see it at first, but it appears that the face is a touch flatter. The edges have a slight ridge before the body rounds off. The back side of the bass has a deeper belly cut, too. The black three-ply pickguard has matching swirls and keeps the dark theme intact which is cool. The pickup's weathered and dulled pole pieces are doing their job keeping the sinister theme. I love the look of the dark fretboard. I applied conditioner while doing the setup and it seemed to darken it more. And those faded, dark dot markers? Drool. The '70s style, curved "Fender PRECISION BASS" logo couldn't be prouder to state what it is applied to, which I like. The flat barrel V/T knobs and flat-topped tuning spools have a consistency that works with everything else going on with this bass. The outlier in the looks department is the Fender hi-mass bridge. Fender apparently tried applying some light rust colored spray, but the shine and overall modern blockiness and new Fender logo script clashes with everything else going on. If it bothers me enough, I can always find a vintage bridge (with real rust) for not much money.

    To summarize, the Fender Nate Mendel sig P-Bass plays great, feels really good and I love the looks. The tonality may be polarizing to some. To be fair, I have not yet tried this bass in a band setting. It very well may fit perfectly into the mix, which p-basses are the champion at doing. I look forward to hammering this ax in two different bands (British soul originals and a Clash tribute), and quite possibly in a Sunday morning worship band, but only if I can smooth out the tone. If the SPB-3 can't be tamed, I don't mind exploring the possibilities of aftermarket precision pickups.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2022
  2. CletusMarley

    CletusMarley Knuckle Dragger Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2018
    Nice score!
  3. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    I would want the Squier of those two basses, the bass looks better and I would much rather have the Dimarzio pickup.
    And the Squier looks closer to Paul Simonon's bass.
    aus_bass and 4SG like this.
  4. squish

    squish Flying under the radar!

    Dec 6, 2005
    That's precisely why I got that bass in the first place- Clashinista was my band. LOL
    tindrum likes this.
  5. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    Yes, you mentioned a Clash tribute band and I don't see the red one working there.
    I have also felt better necks on some Squiers, all USA Peaveys, most Yamaha BB and Attitude basses, than any Mexi Fender I've ever touched.
    I don't like the Duncan Quarter Pounder pickup, love the Dimarzio Model P.
    squish likes this.
  6. roller

    roller Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    I like the body color of those, especially with the black guard.
    squish likes this.
  7. Doug4321


    May 29, 2017
    Nice….. With the narrow nut and great colors.

    You might try turning the volume knob down on the bass, which basically tones down a hot pickup. Then maybe turn up the amp. For at least some uses.
    waynobass and squish like this.
  8. I bought a Nate Mendell body and built out the bass...

    I love it.

    The flatter arm contour and deep belly cut are super comfy!

    The nitro finish looks great... Like you said, kinda beat up, but it still has that candy red SPARKLE!

    Mine turned out to be pretty hefty (11lbs 6oz) but I don't care...

    In terms of tone, my favorite P-Basses over the years have always been the heavy ones... and I'm not touring anymore, so who cares?!?

    Your bass is sweet, brother! Enjoy it!!!!
    Bajo Clarkko, Pdaddy1978 and squish like this.
  9. Bajo Clarkko

    Bajo Clarkko

    Aug 9, 2015
    My brother has the Nate Mendel P Bass, and it’s pretty much his current go-to.
    He particularly likes the slightly narrower nut width.
    squish likes this.
  10. fjbass78


    Jun 21, 2007
    Nice bass, congrats! Have you tried to maybe lower the pickups to help tame the sound?
    squish likes this.
  11. klejst

    klejst Guest

    Oct 5, 2010
    Nice job, those are some solid basses.
    squish likes this.
  12. Corevalay

    Corevalay Supporting Member

    Sep 10, 2009
    New Jersey
    You could definitely knock some weight off if you wanted to put a Hipshot A bridge on there.
    patzilla83 and squish like this.
  13. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    The Hipshot A Style chrome 4 string bridge weighs 9.2 oz (261 grams). That's heavy.
    Could knock more weight off by putting a simple Wilkinson steel and brass four saddle bridge on it.
    Wilkinson Chrome-plated Steel Bass Bridge Brass Saddles | Reverb
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2022
    jlt5x, squish and patzilla83 like this.
  14. Congrats! These are great basses.

    My main instrument, for almost 10 years now, has been a heavily modified 2012 NM p-bass. I swapped the pickguard for mint, the bridge for a vintage style, and the pickup for an Olinto.
    squish and 58kites like this.
  15. RGerhart

    RGerhart Supporting Member

    Jan 11, 2021
    Portland, OR
    +1 on the Quarter Pounder pups. I had them put in one of my late 90s Squier Ps, and as you said--the tone is just obnoxious. I put in some Lindy Fralins and the thing sounds amazing now. :)

    Congrats on your NBD! That candy apple red finish is super nice!
    patzilla83, 58kites and squish like this.
  16. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member


    yup, it looks great alright --- and i'm glad that it plays well and that it feels good to play it! congratulations on your new instrument! :thumbsup:
    squish likes this.
  17. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Don't tame or smooth it! Make some tonal adjustments at the amp, but don't change the very nature of this beast.
    Also, the gnarliness probably won't be that noticeable in the mix with other instruments.

    P.S. Nice detailed review, thanks.
    squish likes this.
  18. Dbassmon

    Dbassmon Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    Congrats, great bass!

    RE: Brightness
    The bass comes strung with Fender 7250 Nickel Plated Steel. I have come to love these strings on my PBass.

    I have found; that your tone control is very useful in softening these very bright strings. I usually have my tone a 50%, sometimes less, sometimes more, but when the tone is wide open, it's too damn bright and thin. When you roll off the tone, the sound of a pBass emerges; it gets fat and warm. You can go from vintage to bright easily and this tames the ugly.

    The stock pickups sound great, record great.... roll off your tone a bit.
  19. 58kites

    58kites Save a life....adopt a Pitbull Supporting Member

    Oct 21, 2014
    Austin Texas
    It's the Quarter Pounder pickups, they have a particular sound, some like them and many do not.
    Changing to a different pickup immediately changes the bass back to a more normal P Bass no matter what strings or amp settings.
    I think the Duncan vintage P bass pickups sound much better than their QP's.
    EMG GZR P, Dimarzio Model P, Fender '63, Nordstrand, Fralin, Aguilar, Bartolini all sound better IMO.
    rockinrayduke and squish like this.
  20. Yahboy


    May 21, 2008
    Congratulations and nice detail share.

    I have a friend who own the Nate Sig bass along with Mike dint roadworn Sig P. I install him a set of EB group ll flat to tame the QP pup natural scoop vibe on Nate P. Lower pickups height and roll back some amount on both volume and tone knob able bring some smoother tone too.
    Sometime, string swap has surprisingly results( or not ) if you didn't want replace the stock pup.
    squish likes this.