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P/J Showdown : Just Played a Music Man Caprice & Fender Elite - My Impressions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AngelCrusher, Dec 29, 2016.


  1. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    I hit the local guitar mart because I needed a few cables and I figured I'd look around and see if they had anything worth checking out while I was there. I'm not in the market for a bass, but I thought I would post impressions in case anyone is interested.

    The two basses that looked worth spending some time on were the Fender Elite P/J and the Caprice.

    My thoughts on the Elite - Neck pickup is good but not as crisp and clear as my 63 AVRI. Seems more focused on the low end. Dialing in the neck pickup for clarity was nice, but it still was a little too low end focused compared to my Pbasses. the Jazz bridge offered some nice bite, and I preferred it dialed in a little rather than off. Soloed, it was too thin of a sound for me.

    In active mode, the bass sounded more modern, but it did not really grab me. The treble control was loose, so after the detent it just kind of floated until about 9'oclock and then I could feel it grab and set in again. Not very impressive for a bass right under 2k. Lot of knobs, which I don't like on a Fender bass. I believe in simplicity for these types of basses and don't need that many options. The tone just didn't speak to me very much and the playability was just OK. I much prefer my Classic 50's P and AVRI 63.


    Caprice - First thing I noticed was the Sunburst/Tort combo looked great. I do not like this look at all normally, but this one had a different tint to it and I really loved it. If I was to buy one, it would probably the burst model - they just did a great job with it. Additionally the neck has that aged yellow look that compliments it well. This bass was extremely impressive to me. The tone was absolutely stand out. Extremely, big and warm is the best way to describe it. It was impossible to dial up a weak sound on this bass. I tried every combo and basically every single tone I dialed in was really gooey and warm while being very defined. The highs were perfect. Never too harsh. I also liked the bridge pickup a lot. Soloed, it was usable, which is not always the case with a P/J. But this one had enough girth to work on it's own. The neck pickup sounded like a P, but it has it's own thing going on. The best way I can describe the Caprice tone is that it reminds me of the tone of an old Ampeg amp - just very pronounced and yet never brittle or harsh. This bass is also insanely light, for people that need that. It felt like a feather in my hands. I really enjoyed playing it and even at the highest registers ,every note had significant weight and clarity to it. This came in real handy for if you rolled the tone off. The notes were still very easy to hear and defined. The tone knob on this bass is more subtle and doesn't go from super bright to almost muffled like a Fender, and as a result you can get some really usable tones with it dimed or totally off.

    Considering the Caprice is $100 less, it is almost funny how much better it is than the Elite to me. In fact, this to me is an incredibly viable Pro's bass. The tone of it is unique enough to separate it from being a simple Fender clone, but it's a tone that almost sounds like it will mix itself. It's just that nice. Add in the ultra light weight and I believe that this is an offering that is in the same working class as a P bass or J bass. It simply is just not going to sound like a Fender, but the sound it provides can be used on about any record or mix due to it's incredible warmth and richness.

    I am not planning on buying a bass anytime soon, but if I do, the Caprice is the most obvious contender. It simply is much more than a Fender clone, and easily the best P/J bass I have ever played. I never once had any desire for an active switch either. Go out and play one and see what you think!
     
  2. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    You sound like me talking about how nice the Caprice is. Aside from it being spendy by my standards, I know I tend to favor fives. If it weren't for those two things, would trying to figure out how to buy a Caprice right this minute.
     
  3. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Yeah, I think I would wait for the price to drop a little. For example, I got my AVRI 63 for under $1,300 just because it was an opened and returned item. Essentially brand new. I am thinking a used Caprice could go for around $1,100. To me that is a great deal.

    As for 5's, I have really been preferring 4s more and more for whatever reason. But I still have a 5 and always will. I write and record with both.
     
    lowdownthump and Dr. Cheese like this.
  4. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    NYC
    Thanks for the review. It's funny because when the Caprice came out I was quite skeptical about the whole thing. Then I picked one up and I thought "wow this thing feels fantastic." Unfortunately, I never got to play it so that is as far as I got. But folks seem to say great things about them.

    I will say that Music Man makes a great instrument, so whether or not you like the bass itself (and lets face it, after years of steadfastly sticking to their knitting, this is MM getting into Fender territory, likely in retaliation to Fender rolling out the Dimension series), you can bet on it being a quality build. Their production process is quite impressive. If you have 20 minutes this is well worth the time spent watching:

     
  5. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    Sterling Ball is an impressive CEO, and the factory is awesome.
     
    Axstar, ctpunk and rogerbmiller like this.
  6. rogerbmiller

    rogerbmiller Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 16, 2003
    NYC
    Yeah he really is. Innovative (game changer, numerous production techniques as shown in this video), progressive (he voluntarily raised the base wage at his factories to a living age because it was "the right thing to do") and a real emissary to the music community (his artist deals are done on a handshake, or so he says). He is also interesting in that he is the new school but was there working with and for Leo Fender at day one of Music Man so he understands the old school.

    I love the company and always root for them. They are also really great when I call for parts, technical info etc.

    Great folks and a true family business.

    Oh, and their basses are AWESOME!
     
    petch, Axstar, ColdEye and 3 others like this.
  7. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Yeah, I read DrCheese's post again on the Caprice and it is pretty in line with mine. I do think the humbucking neck pickup makes a big difference and is a huge tonal advantage. I also agree that some kid could buy this and have it for 30 years. It is that kind of instrument.
     
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I truly think the humbucking bridge pickup is the difference maker. Angelcrusher, you noted the bridge pickup is much more versatile than a typical J pickup. Roll of the tone pot, and it actually has a pretty thick tone.
     
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2016
    Inara, lowdownthump and AngelCrusher like this.
  9. I was quite impressed with the Caprice I played a while back. I love EBMM, even though I don't currently one. I hope to again.
     
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  10. rocu

    rocu

    Jan 28, 2015
    Missoula, MT
    Hey Angelcrusher, what amp did you play them through?
     
    eadg98005 and wintremute like this.
  11. bwoodman

    bwoodman Supporting Member

    If they do a Caprice 5, I will buy it - had a P5 with an added J pup & didn't like it. I do like smaller bodies like the Sterlings & the Caprice is similar. Maybe the 5 will be at NAMM next month - wishful thinking!
     
    R Upsomegrub, fender68 and Dr. Cheese like this.
  12. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    There was a fender rumble combo amp 115 there that i used. Very nice little amp. The caprice really matched up well with it.
     
    lowdownthump likes this.
  13. I had never played an EBMM I really liked until this last summer. I'm not sure of the model but it was just fantastic feeling and sounding and not too heavy. IIRC it was a new model they came out with recently. Was there another new model? If not maybe it WAS this one. I will have to check out the new Caprice when I get a chance to be sure, I've never owned a MM or EBMM yet but I'll never say never.
     
  14. drummer5359

    drummer5359 Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 10, 2011
    Pittsburgh PA USA
    I really don't need another bass, but the Caprice really does have my attention.
     
  15. Lowness

    Lowness Banned

    Mar 13, 2015
    Healdsburg, CA
    People go for the Caprice just to be cool.
     
  16. Fxpmusic

    Fxpmusic

    Jul 5, 2013
    This post goes to show how everybody should try out an instrument and make their own opinion based on that. I agree with the OP on everything about the Caprice tone and craftsmanship wise. Yet, I've tried two now and really wanted to like them yet my hands are not compatible with them :(. I thought it was a setup thing but the second one was setup pretty well even. How's that for GAS control?
     
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  17. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    I would never complain about not wanting a $1,700+ bass.:D
     
  18. Mockyngbyrd

    Mockyngbyrd

    May 1, 2013
    N.NJ
    The Caprice looks like the winner on every count. Loose knob on a 2k instrument is not good.

    "The customer is not quality control or set-up". Imagine that! Maybe a lot of other businesses need to study EBMM. How many CEO's can actually use their finished product well? Thank you rogerbmiller for the vid.
     
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  19. Fxpmusic

    Fxpmusic

    Jul 5, 2013
    Right? I actually had just bought a P-Bass when I saw the press release for the Caprice. Followed by your video trying one out and got really mad. Then a sight of relieve when it wasn't for me. Went back home and snuggled my Fender.
     
    Dr. Cheese likes this.
  20. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Yeppers, it is something i would have been very reluctant to commit to simply for the number of variables that would need to be controled to get a consistently crisp line between binding and wood. Any minor imperfection in the route would fill with liquid and kill that perfect joint, liquid too hot would shrink too much as it cooled, and on and on and on. My hats off for the innovative idea, the will to see it through, but mostly the dedication required to get it right every time. I'm sure there are occasional oh poopie days, but i'd bet they are few and far between.

    Definately an innovative hight tech approach backed by a solid old school stubborn dedication to delivering the absolute best quality day in and day out.
     
    Jeff Scott likes this.

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