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P bass American standard vs special

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sigdawg, Jun 18, 2011.

  1. sigdawg


    Jun 18, 2011
    Atlanta area
    I'm trying to decide between a new American p bass "special" and "standard". Looking for suggestions. Standard has strings through body and graphite reinforced neck. Thoughts?
  2. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    several other differences also ... easiest would be to 'search' and scour everything you can find, there should be a plethora of info on the exact subject ...
  3. bring the noise

    bring the noise

    May 18, 2011
    If you go maple board the American standard has a better finish.
  4. I just bought a new American Special Jazz Bass. I owned an American Standard in 2004. Here are the differences between my Special Jazz and a Standard American Jazz. Tuners, bridge neck and case. My Special has the same graphite reinforcing rods as does the Standard but the neck is a nice low satin sheen on the back and has a thinner/faster neck than the standard. All the electonics are the same. Nice Alnico pickups. It comes with a nice padded Fender gigbag where the American Standard comes with a case (unless you buy it at Guitar Center) where they tend to take the free case and charge you for it. The Fretwork and attention to detail on my Special are really good. The tuners are good on this bass but fully open back vs. the pretty litte partial enclosed back with the Fender logo on it on the Standard. I think this bass is better in tone and feel than the 2004 MIA Jazz I once had. This bass blew all the G&L basses, Fender MIM Standards out of the water. I have NO regrets whatsoever buying the American Special. I got it for $879 at Guitar Works Music Store in Grapevine Texas. The guy took all three of my Squier Classic Vibe basses for $600 trade in. Guitar Center might have given me $400 if lucky. I will say I like the heavier Bridge on the American Standard which was like the ones that came on my Classic Vibes but I will change that out eventually myself. The bridge is quality on this bass but I think a little more mass lends a little more sustain. (just my opinion). I am very happy with this bass and I think you will be too. Here are the spec's on the Jazz Bass Special to give you and Idea of what to expect on the P American Special. My new 2011 American Jazz Special is Olympic White with black pickguard and rosewood neck.

  5. sigdawg


    Jun 18, 2011
    Atlanta area
    Thanks for the reply. I am taking my time with this one. I currently play an active jazz MIM. Just want to add to my already full closet of guitars and basses.
  6. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    Not to confuse you but I did NOT find the American Special so "special" at all. I tried 3 from MF and they were all junk. I sent them all back.
    In contrast, I still have my '04 American P Bass and love it to death!
  7. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    Not to rain on your parade, if your heart is set on an American Standard, but I just bought a Squier 60s Vibe P Bass ($350) and am blown away by the sound, playability and construction. It outranks Fenders in all three categories. Best purchase I've ever made on a guitar or bass, bar none. Just saying that before you pull the trigger on a more expensive Fender, give the Squier
    P bass careful consideration. I'm seriously looking at purchasing one of the '50s Squier P Bass reissues.
  8. christle

    christle Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2002
    Winnipeg, MB
    I get compliments on my American Special Precision all the time and it plays like a dream. Works great for me. Unfortunately I think you experienced some of the "joys" of mass production. I also got to play mine before purchase which helps. Glad you like your '04 though...those can be really nice basses.
  9. I can speak with first hand knowledge concerning the 04 American Standard (Jazz in my case), All 3 Squier Classic Vibes which I had until yesterday when I traded them for my 2011 American Special Jazz.

    The 04 MIA Jazz had a wonderful fit, finish, and feel to the neck but the pickups were a bit lacklustre to me so I upgraded them to Lindy Fralins.
    Now for the Classic Vibes. The CV 60's P and the 60's J are really nice playing and sounding basses. Fit and finish were awesome but the setup needed some care. The 50's P was ok but a little lacking compared to the 51P RI I reluctantly had to sell. The neck a bit chunky in comparison, fret sprout city after I had it for a few weeks (Dallas/Ft. Worth area). The tone just wasn't quite there (I think the Basswood body affected the single coil SCPB pickup more than the standard P and J models). Now, how do they compare with Fender MIM and MIA's, well they hold their own by comparison with the MIM Standards and better than many of them that I have tried over the last 4 years and even on this last Thursday. They even felt better than any of the G&L necks I tried Thursday. I was happy with them over any of the basses until I picked up the 2011 American Special Jazz I now own. This bass Blew the G &L's out of the water in feel and tone. I won't say it blew the 60 CV's out in tone but in feel, fretwork, neck, setup and electronics....yes it did out perform the 60's CV's...Is it worth 2.5 times the CV's? Probably not... but it is better. Do I like the tone better than the 04 with stock pickups? Yes I do! I will say one thing I really like about the 60's CV's and that is the beefier bridge with brass saddles for a bit extra sustain. That will be the only thing I change on my new Jazz (if I even do). The thin satin finish neck coupled with the fact the American Special neck is thinner than the American Standard is a real plus. It is fast, easy and a real joy to play. I will say I liked the rolled edges on the 04 MIA Jazz I had. Not sure why Fender didn't continue that feature. It felt good on my palms.


    For anyone that cares to check out the spec's on the new American Special Jazz here is the link: FENDER AMERICAN SPECIAL JAZZ BASS -
  10. peledog


    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    Is the Greasebucket all that it's hyped up to be? I've heard good and bad. Mainly I've heard that when you turn the tone down, you don't lose the shape of the lower frequencies.

    Been thinking about going and testing out a J Bass Special.
  11. So far I like the Greasebucket tone circuit but having only had this bass since Friday I want to play a while then make a final comment concerning it.
  12. parsons


    Feb 22, 2008
    If you like heavy, glossy glass lacquer finish- The American STD is better. If you want a natural finish that doesnt feel like you are sliding your left hand up and down a sticky glass neck, get the Special.

    What did you find to be junk on them? The one I bought and the two others I played locally were all very nice.

    To the OP-

    The Special has a slimmer neck, the STD is a baseball bat in comparison. The Greasebucket Tone Circuit is pretty cool. I dont roll off the tone alot on mine, but the little I do doesnt affect the low end.
  13. I am with you here. I played 4 Specials and 1 Standard. I only found one Special P with CAR Finish and maple neck that didn't sound like the others but on close inspection I found someone at Guitar Center lowered the low E side of the pickups all the way down while leaving the G Side way up. It was extremely cocked. The Standard is nice as until now most of my basses have had the heavy finish on the neck but after playing the Special I not only like the smooth Satin finish on the back of the neck better. It allows my hands to slide without sticking and the neck is thinner front to back making it fast and a joy to play. I do like the beefy bridge on the standard and the string through the body is a plus on TI Jazz Flats which are a bit on the low tension side. I have used both top load and string through the body and found not a noticeable difference in sound but mainly in Tension. There is absolutely nothing wrong with getting a Standard if that is what you want as it comes with a case, heavier bridge, and Fender (half enclosed) premium tuners. Both models have the graphite reinforcement rods in the neck which add to stability while eliminating dead spots. My position here is not to slam the Standard as it would be a lie but to dispel any errors stated about the Special which is also a very good instrument and quality control has been good on the ones played from different stores.

    ADDED: I can tell you if you used uncoated strings then string through the body is not a problem but with coated strings only the ball at the end of the string touches metal to metal and unless they have changed since my 2004 MIA Jazz the ferrules on the back are not grounded to the bridge. Not grounding the ferrule causes a coated string to "electrically float ungrounded" and acts like an antenna to noise. I removed the ferrules and bridge then inserted a small solid copper bare wire that when the ferrule is pushed back in is sandwiched between the metal ferrule and the wood and lays under the bridge for electrical connection so they are also grounded. The only other choice would be to scrape a little coating off the string where it touches the saddle but while it works may cause the coating to flake at some point. I didn't experience flaking when I did that but thought it worthy of mentioning. What ever you decide to get, play and enjoy that you have purchased a wonderful bass.
  14. Atomicdog, If you get the 50's P (aka 55 P telebass) I recommend the new vintage white (light yellowing) model as it is more true to the original after it has seen 50 years of use. That is probably the one I may get in the near future. BTW: I need to correct a comment I made. The 51P RI sounded really good with a Seymour Duncan SCPB-3 quarter pounder but this bass sounds best with the stock pickup. I had friend from another forum who at 65 years of age has had the real 52 P bass and had to sell it. He just got one of these because it was cheap and he longed for the 52 again. He said he Loves the thing and is no longer a Squier Snob. That is good enough recommendation for me.
  15. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    Agreed. We all know that all Fenders are NOT created equal.:meh:
  16. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    The fit and finish was not good on them, the pickup screws were installed at an angle on one, one had NO tone at all just a dead "thud", one had a bad pickup, the tuners and bridge are flimsy in my opinion, one had "pits" in the neck finish.
    I'm telling you, they all had an issue and for the cost of them, I expect better. At $399 I'd say, "OK" but at close to a GRAND??? JUNK!
    Also, as far as neck profile, THAT IS HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE.
    I prefer a little more "beef" in my necks as I have large hands.
    Finally, I found the Greasebucket circuit to be very one dimensional sounding. It does not offer up the same pallet of tones that the American Standard does.
  17. I agree with you about the neck being subjective. I have smaller hands with short stubby fingers so the neck on the Special Jazz is "heaven" to me. Someone with larger hands, such as you might well have an issue with them. There is no doubt the American Standard is a wonderful bass but the 04 MIA Jazz (compared to my new 2011 MIA Special Jazz) the pickups sounded more modern and dullish in comparison to my ears. I wasn't impressed at all. The Jury is still out on the Grease bucket circuit. I will make a definate comment after I have played it for a few months. As I said I like it so far though. I don't find the tuners on the American Special bad but the ones I had on the 04 MIA Standard were really nice!. I agree about the bridge and it may change in the near future.
    Happy bass playing to all here.
  18. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    Well, thank heavens for different models so that we can all have a shot at an instrument that works for us. Many years of happiness with your new bass!
  19. Try telling that to certain posters here and they will say he's been "drinking the Kool-Aid".