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P-Bass or Jazz Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by scubahood427, Aug 9, 2000.

  1. scubahood427


    Apr 13, 2000
    I'm looking ionto buying a new bass, and ive been playing a bass that a borrowed from a friend(just to learn how to play) what are the differences between a p-bass and a jazz bass?
  2. A P-bass only has a precision pickup and a jazz bass ans 2 j pickups.. hehe that's as far as my brain goes right now =) Hope I helped ya lil lol Later!

  3. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    Well to take it a little further the P pickup is a split coil humbucker whereas the two J pickups are single coil. Tonally the P is a little darker and fatter with a bigger, heavier bottom.The J is a cleaner and somewhat thinner in tone. If you're a guitar player think of it as a low frequency version of the difference between a single coil Telecaster and a humbucker Les Paul.

    The necks are the other huge difference. The J has a much narrower/thinner neck compared to the somewhat chunky P neck. The difference is only about a quarter inch at the nut but it makes a huge difference in playability.The J isn't always better though. I have both and some lines I play are easier on the P because of the extra space between strings. So sometimes what you think you lose in playability on your fret hand you actually gain by more ease in the fingerpick hand. If you're a plectrum player then it makes no difference on your picking hand.

    The bodies are different too. The P is more "Strat-like" while the J is offset at the bottom.

    Which is better?.....toss a coin. I love 'em both.But if you're a new convert from guitar the Jazz will be a little easier to start with. After awhile it won't matter though.

    Hope this helps.
  4. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    If you have the money go for a P/J p/u combination like a P-Bass Special. The sounds are different as the people before me have stated. Try them both & buy the one that feels right & sounds right to your ear. & have fun
    jd56hawk likes this.
  5. gmstudio99


    Mar 11, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    DaveB summarized it pretty well...they're both excellent basses and you can't go wrong either way. (And, as you progress in the world of bassdom, you'll end up wanting one of each anyway! :))

    Try them both and see which one "feels" better to you. Pretty much all basses can be used for all styles, so don't let stylistic influences affect your decision.

    If they were peanut butter, the J would be creamy and the P would be chunky.

    Have fun!

  6. I was faced with this same dilemna and picked the Mexican Jazz. I love it.

  7. And of course to make things more interesting,the feel and tone of both P and J basses have changed a bit over the years. A vintage Jazz bass is quite different from the Mexican Standard Jazz and even the American Standard Jazz, they are different weights, use different pickup and have different necks and body contours. I think you will find the Jazz to have generally a thinner neck that a Precision.

    What I think is so wonderful about Fenders is that in many ways each instrument is unique allowing you to have a personal sound a style. As is often said, play as many as you can, old $2000 jazz basses and new $300 ones and everyone inbetween. It seems like used/vintage P-basses are a bit more affordable than then more popular jazz bass.

    I have an American Standard and a MIM Standard Jazz bass and love them both.
  8. nhaerdtner


    Jul 5, 2000
    You can also try a Hot Rod P-bass. It´s a P-bass with a thinner neck and an aditional J Pickup in the bridge position. Look for one in sunset orange. This looks really hot.
  9. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    It depends on what you want.. here are some things I personally know about the two

    P-Bass: Have a thicker neck (1 5/8" @nut I think), P-Style Pickups, where two pickups are together, which makes a more solid, one type of sound.

    J-Bass: Thinner Neck (1 1/2" @nut I think), J-Pickups, where its 2 Single Coil pickups thats spread like about 5" apart, there is also 2 extra knobs for each pickups so you could have a more variety type of sound, Jazz Bass has more Punchy sound and there are lots of variety in Sound

    the P-Bass special is cool cuz it has a Single coil and PBass Pickups so you could have a j or P style of sound :) I would go for the p-bass special or the hotrod p-bass. I personally like Soapbars alot better than J-Style since J-Style tends to hum when you change the volume on one of the pickups..

    I hope that helped you out. but #1 thing, try it out first. Some people actually like the solid 1 type of sound :)

  10. h0bbes73

    h0bbes73 Banned

    Jul 6, 2011
    is learning the jazz bass and the precision bass exactly the same?
  11. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    this thread is 11 years old... and a j bass can be used to play metal so why would it be any different you can play whatever you want on any bass.
  12. Basically, yes. The differences between the two are actually relatively subtle, and don't really affect learning. The differences only really come into play after you've been playing a good while, and you are fine-tuning your technique.
  13. Nick901


    Feb 18, 2011
    Toronto, Canada
    GTA dealer for Acoustic USA
    I gave in and bought both. Which one I use depends on the sound I'm looking for ; what style/type of music I'm playing.
    Jason fryer likes this.
  14. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Me too... My P is fretted, my J is fretless. Love em both.
  15. Sam Dingle

    Sam Dingle Supporting Member

    Aug 16, 2011
    New Orleans
    i got a question for you guys. what are some different jazz basses. like i know fender jazz basses (and have one) but what else? i know sadowsky but any others?
  16. ha ha - my Jazz is fretted, my (main) P is fretless, a '78. Love them both too.

    I also have a '51 reissue P. Didn't like the pickup, had this put in and it sounds great now:


    Back to the OP's question - to me the Jazz is both easier to play and more "musical," in the sense that all the overtones are clearly heard and there is less of a thump. The P has a chunkier neck and more of a thump, which is often what you want. Many many TBers love Ps and won't hear of a Jazz.

    And my '78 fretless P just does its own thing - people call it smooth, having an upright tone, etc. I don't think it has an upright tone but it sits very well in the mix for jazz. (Ironic how the names work, or don't.)
  17. colcifer

    colcifer Esteemed Nitpicker Supporting Member

    Feb 10, 2010
    A Galaxy Far, Far Away
  18. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    A Jazz bass is more likely to fall over when you lean it against your amp .
  19. Honestly in todays market,one can get both for very little coin
  20. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    And just when you think you have all the Precision vs Jazz stuff figured out - Fender throws a wrench in the works with the new Blacktop series.
    So if you buy a Blacktop Jazz it doesn't have Jazz pickups at all, it has precision pickups - two sets no less. And if you buy the Blacktop Precision it doesn't have precision pickups at all, it has dual coil (I assume) humbuckers. About the only thing that seems to be holding true on the two basses is the body shape, even the neck widths change between the two on some models.
    So I guess the only blanket statement that can be made for Fender Jazz and P basses is the Jazz has an offset body and the P doesn't.
    BTW - anyone try one of the blacktops yet? I haven't seen one in a store to try yet but I have the blacktop strat and love it.

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