P-bass Sound v. J-bass Sound?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rickreyn, Feb 18, 2002.

  1. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    I have often heard a bass described as "it gets the P-bass sound" or it gets the J-bass sound." I've played both, and sampled the Fender page, but I wonder sometimes what the classic sounds are when I listen to old stuff that undoubtedly was played on either a P or a J with none of the embellishments of modern amplification, etc. Anyway, perhaps you all could help me with the distinctives. Since words may not cut it, how about some players who best represent the particular sounds?
  2. I found that the best way to figure this out is to go to the music store, ask for a Precision and a Jazz, then lock yourself in the testing room for a few hours and play each one.

    That's the first thing I did and spent over an hour - played the P-bass for a few minutes then switched to the J-bass, switched again, switched again, switched again...
  3. Hey Rick, what's up? This is a very good question, one I have discussed with friends over the years, and this is the conclusion we arrived at.

    Assuming that there are no exteme studio "tricks" done to the bass' signal, the Precision has that round "plunky" kind of tone, while the Jazz usually has the stiffer, more articulate type tone.


    I believe that on older recordings especially, the engineers wanted the bass (whichever model it happened to be) to just blend into the background and just be an unidentifiable bass sound, and put them far enough back in the mix that they became very difficult to identify accurately.

    On the other hand, if the basses were put up front, as I think we all at this forum prefer, you could easily identify not only which model bass it was, but, sometimes the individual bassist.

    Two examples I can think of right now that most here would agree with are:

    Precision: "Pick up the pieces," by the Average White band. I forget the exact year this song came out, or who the bass player was, but, even on a cheap car radio, you can hear that it's a P-bass.

    Jazz: "All right now," by Bad Company. You may have some doubts as to which bass is being played, until towards the end of the song when the bass player does that distinctive bass line - - - Jazz bass.

    I just thought of two more for the Jazz: "Cisco Kid," by War, and "So far away," by Carole King; you know that smooth bass line at the very end of the song when you can hear the Jazz' stiffness.

    Hey, before I go, another one for the Precision: "Don't leave me this way," by Thelma Houston. That's a P-bass in there. I must add that this song ruined me for life; after hearing those octave runs, they're indelibly etched into my playing. ;)

    Good question. Anybody have any other examples?
    I'll probably be back later after I think of a few.

    Mike J.
  4. seamus


    Feb 8, 2001
    Here's a few rock examples that represent these basses well IMO.


    Longview - Green Day
    One of these Days - Pink Floyd
    Any song - Iron Maiden

    Lemon Song - Zeppelin
    Any song from Moving Pictures - Rush

    I'm sure others can weigh in on the R&B or funk side of things where Fenders have played quite a role throughout the 60's and 70's. Some of the best Fender bass sounds were out of Motown. I'm simply not familiar enough with the artists to rattle off a list of songs.
  5. rickreyn

    rickreyn Supporting Member

    Jun 16, 2000
    Lutz, Florida
    Thanks Mike. My main reason for this question is I frequently land on one of three stations playing classic rock. I always wonder, not what kind of bass is he playing on that. For example, I remember Cetera in Chicago played a Ric and mostly a jazz. I agree, most of the early bass sounds were nothing more than controlled feedback.
  6. Justin V

    Justin V

    Dec 27, 2000
    Alameda, CA
    A good example of a Jazz bass is "Money" by Pink Floyd.
    I can't really think of any P-bass songs. If I do I'll post 'em.
  7. jblake


    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    For the p-bass pick up The Police: Outlandos D'Amour. That to me is the definitive p-bass sound. Big round and punchy.

    Wanton Song on Physical Graffiti I thought was a pretty good example of the J-bass.
  8. Link to Bass Sounds on my Site

    This is a link to various MP3 on my site that showcase the various bass tones.

    The spread sheet in my signature has a growing list of tunes for each type of sound. See the TONE tabs.
  9. Alright! Audience participation, I love it. Nice site, Bgavin. Good choices on the songs.

    One more song with an obvious Precision: "Feels so good," by Chuck Mangione.The P-bass' sound is so up front and clear on this one. Right after this album the bass player, Charles "meat man" Meeks changed over to a Stingray.

    Mike J.
  10. I'll grab it and give it a listen.
  11. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    P-bass song: "The Awakening" with the Reddings. Solo bass and drums, lotsa slapping too.
  12. really good jazz bass tone with Weather Report...the Jaco years. ;)

    is it just me, or do P-basses have a more electric/compressed tone???
  13. cobbster


    Sep 11, 2000
    Two CDs w/ all P-bass are anything by the Meters
    or Galactic. Both are great examples of groovin' P-bass.
  14. P bass;

    Iron Maiden- "Wrathchild", "The Clairvoyant"

    The Who- Live at Leeds

    The Stranglers- anything off "La Folie" eg. "Non stop", "ain't nothing to it". the first 4 Stranglers albums feature various distorted P bass tones eg. *Peaches","No more heroes","Nice n' sleazy"

    Psychedelic Furs- "Pretty in pink"(original version), "Mr Jones", "I just wanna sleep with you","President gas"

    The Cure- "Other voices", "The Hanging garden", "A forest"

    Big Country- "Look away"

    Simple Minds- "Glittering prize", "Promised you a miracle", "waterfront"

    Patrice Rushen- "Forget me nots"- slapped P bass (by Freddie Washington)

    J bass;

    The Skids- "Into the valley"- dropped D with a pick
  15. Harpo


    Feb 1, 2001
    Kings Park NY
    Early Black Sabbath
  16. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    Early Black Sab = what (P or J)?
  17. KingOfAmps

    KingOfAmps Inactive

    Early Black Sabbath (read Geezer Butler) = Precision Bass. Also, FWIW I've owned both Fender Jazzes and Precisions. And honestly, I could dial in the same tone on both. (If I wanted to I could make the Jazz sound like the "P".) The Jazz CAN get noticeably brighter than a "P" if you really want it to. To me, the more important difference was the "FEEL". Weight, shape, balance, and especially the neck. I kept the "P" and sold the Jazzes because the "P" feels more like an electric bass TO ME. YOU should choose the one that feels right to you. Both are badass!


    EDIT(JT): i made the picture a link - it was way too big to be posted in the thread. let's not forget our dialup users, m'kay ;)
  18. Seamus:

    Geddy uses the Rick for "Red Barchetta" and "The Camera Eye".

    That Geddy Lee Equipment List page has a few errors, that being one of them.

    If you listen closely to that album, you'll notice the bass has less "bass" on those two tracks, and more growl/clank, thus, the Rick.

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    Primary TB Assistant

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