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Tested out some Fenders today, just passing along some thoughts

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by momo, Apr 19, 2006.

  1. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Played come GC fenders today


    Just thought I'd let you all know some of my reviews. I used an ampeg b100r, and I was looking for a good vintage growl in some fender basses, but I wanted to see if they could be played with some modern tones too.

    The show stealer of this bunch was an American Vintage 62 Jazz RI. The neck was great, the small frets didn't bother me a bit, and the sound was HUGE. WAY more growl than my GL, and wonderful sustain. But it had a deathnail. One of the worst dead spots on G7 that I have ever heard. I thought I had played basses with dead spots before, and I didn't know what people were complaining about, wow, what a shame. I would love to play a few more of this model and find a gem.

    MIM jazz w/ash body. This was a cool bass, but I couldn't dig on the stock sound. Some upgrade PU's really would make a world of difference on these basses. MIA with ash body, A great feeling bass, but I can't seem to nail what just seems so uninspiring about these basses. Almost every AM standard I have played just leaves me feeling like it is missing some key ingreadant, Mojo perhaps.

    Aerodine MIJ p/j. This would have been a cool bass as well, but the neck seemed to have a huge radius. Not a thick or hard to play neck, just a real round fingerboard. The problem is that the bridge PU had no staggared pole pieces, so it was impossible to get an even balance with both PUs on.

    Just passing some reviews and opinions along.
  2. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    It's weird, but those dead spots are really unpredictable on the Fenders; and when you get one, AFAIK, they are a lost cause.

    You got it right that you have to play before you buy.

    What does that say about eBay?
  3. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Too bad about the 62RI. Generally, the AVRI series are some of the best MIA Fenders out there, but even they have a weakness once in a while.

    The MIM Ash J - or any MIM Fender, IMO - could definitely benefit from some better pups. I put a set of Fralins in my MIM J and it made a big difference in tone quality and clarity. They just sound more articulate than the stock pups.

    Like all Fenders, it's a crapshoot. Sometimes you find a gem, though, and all is right with the world.
  4. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I have to say, they all felt pretty damn sweet, it is just a shame how fender (or maybe GC for that matter) can let quality stuff like this come out with small aspects that make the basses suck.

    I have some serious US RI GAS right now.

    I will be making a big purchase in the not too distant future, and these are right up there.
  5. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006
    Over the past few months I have purchased 5 Fender Jazz basses in an attempt to find one that made me completely happy. My budget was $700. Here's what I found:

    1. I frst bought a MIM Fender Active Deluxe from MF. I buy everything online simply because I hate going to GC so much. The bass was ok. It had decent tone and the neck felt good. But it had a horrible deadspot on the G string, 5th fret. One of the worst I've heard. So sent the bass back.

    2. I got a different MIM Fender Active Deluxe, hoping the deadspot was not common to all models. Exact same problem. Horrible deadspot. Sent the bass back.

    3. Bought a 2002 MIM Fender Classic 60's Jazz from a guy on eBay. I didn't mind the rounder radius on the fretboard, and this bass had a minimal deadspot. However, the E string had a funky problem. The higher you played up the neck, the notes would sound out of tune. Even completely isolated (no other strings ringing at all). If you played anything beyond the 9th fret you would hear 2 pitches, each slightly out of tune with the other. I tried moving the saddle everywhere on the bridge. Didn't help. I'm sure a luthier could have fixed it but I don't want a bass that needs repair like that. Just like I don't want a new girlfriend that needs a psychiatrist.

    4. Finally broke down and went to GC. Tried a new MIM Fender Classic 60's Jazz. It seemed good at the store. No issues. Then I get it home. And in the quiet of my living room I realize it has the SAME problem. ***? Not nearly as bad as the last bass, but it was still unacceptable. Returned the bass, much to the dismay of the GC salesman.

    5. Found a CIJ Jazz Bass body and neck on eBay. Some guy was selling a bunch of bodies and necks for a lutheir friend of his. All unused in new condition. These parts were from 2000. So I dropped $500 total and got a bass. Overall I love this thing. It feels awesome, looks better than any other Jazz I tried, and has great tone (especially after installing Bartolinis). The pic is below. The only problem: DEADSPOT again. Almost as bad as the first two basses. Oh well, screw it. I'm tired of searching. I guess it's impossible to find a Fender without some type of imperfection.
  6. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006

    Here's Jazz #5.
  7. jz0h4d


    Apr 26, 2005
    For the hundreth time the made in america Fender basses have carbon fiber rods in the neck that fix the dead spots once and for all.

    Ernie ball makes a clamp called a Fatfinger that does a good job fixing dead spots.
  8. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    The rods don't always fix the problem. I had a 1999 Am. Deluxe Precision, which had a harsh, brutal dead spot at the 10th fret on the G string. My 2003 Am. Ser. Jazz has it in the usual place, 6th fret on the G. I didn't notice it for a while, but it's there. My 2004 Am. Ser. Precision is basically free of dead spots, so maybe the graphite rods help. But they don't eliminate the problem in all cases.
  9. zachbass02

    zachbass02 One Hairy....squatch.

    Jan 3, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    The best jazz for my money has been a Highway 1. Swapped out the pickguard, threw a neck pup cover on it, dropped in a set of Duncan Quarter Pounds and I'm getting to relic a bass that looks like a '62 Ri and sounds like the best J I've ever heard. It has become my benchmark to measure other basses in playabiltiy and sound. But I think it was a rare find from the normal Fender line because I haven't had one tweak me like this one did ever again.

    I think the problem with GC is that they aren't afraid to put crap out on the floor. You have a bunch of under-qualified guys walking the floor trying to make a sale, IMO. I was in the local one and they had a used Lakland 55-02 on the wall tagged as a used 55-01 but at the price of new 55-02. I called the salesman on it and his response was "what's the difference in the two?" :scowl: They have quality stuff in there, but no one takes the time needed to set it up properly. I typically avoid GC unless I want to a good laugh at their poorly setup stuff and their high priced junk :spit:
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Even the vintage re-issues? I don't think so.
  11. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006
    I don't want to spend an extra $500 to get a Fender without a dead spot. It isn't that much of a crisis for me. I figure my next bass will be a neck-through to completely avoid the problem.

    And I've tried the FatFinger. It didn't do me any good. It simply moved the deadspot down to the 4th fret.
  12. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I have a (lefty) Squier Standard P-Bass Special and didn't notice any dead spots. How come? Am I just lucky or am I too dumb to notice them?
  13. GC is a huge chain,big box retailer.It is not a pro shop.As long as you keep that in mind,you CAN do all right there.Especially if your careful and like to set up your own stuff.Yes they're heavily stocked with "lemons". But,like I said, it's not a pro shop.Its a chain store. Bigger definitly does not mean better.
  14. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    I noticed in the recent Bass Payer magazine review of the Fender Jaguar, the reviewer claimed that the neck was free of dead spots. Is the Jaguar the same "thin C" neck as the Geddy Lee? (I think it is - they are both listed as "thin C") I am no expert, but I can not find a dead spot on my Geddy Lee Jazz. I noticed that the OP was playing a Geddy Lee before going on a quest for a new Jazz only to find they all had dead spots. Momo - Did / does your Geddy Lee have a dead spot too, or is it free of dead spots? I'm wondering if there is maybe something about this thin C neck that eliminates the dead spot or moves it to where you'll never find it. Anybody have any thoughts on that?
  15. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Maybe it is just me, but the Fenders that I have put hands on over the years, spanning from '62 to present, have mostly not had dead spots. The only killer dead spot I encountered was on a 22 fret position fretless MIA deluxe with the graphite inlays. I am completely surprised by some of the earlier posts as to prevalence of dead spots. Were this actually the case, I seriously doubt even intermediate players would be willing to weed the wheat from the chaff and play any of Fender's gear. So, this doesn't really line up for me. Yes, I agree some of these exist. No, I don't think they are the general rule, IME.

    Also, some of the posts deal with what are clearly set up issues. Fenders are not hard to set up. But, if a player doesn't want to learn to set up the instrument, shops can do this. No, they generally don't come off the racks in the shops correctly set up. That is normal in terms of things you have to deal with. You just have to deal with it.
  16. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I don't think dead spots are all that common or all that bad, I have a MIJ Geddy that has no dead spot issues, and like I said, I was begining to think dead spots were up there with "the best sounding batteries," or other "tone myths." Supposedly, reinforced necks are less likely to have dead spots, and they are less likely to be in noticable places, but the vintage RIs dont have reinforcements.
  17. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006
    I'm not a luthier by any means, but I understand how to setup a bass. I know how to adjust neck tension, how to set intonation, how to set correct pickup height, etc. I did all of these things to these basses.

    As I said, I encountered 2 problems. The funky "out of tune" E string on the MIM 60's Jazz was very odd. I have never seen anything like it, and I have owned at least 20 basses. It was probably a fluke that I encountered two models with the same problem. A professional luthier MIGHT have been able to fix it, but it would cost me. When I buy a bass I shouldn't be required to take it to a repair guy the first day. Agree?

    The second problem is the deadspots. No luthier can fix those. If you do some research you will find that nearly ALL bolt-on neck basses have a deadspot somewhere. But sometimes the deadspot occurs outside of concert tuning. In other words, between say C# and D. So you never notice it.

    If your bass has a deadspot you can add mass to the headstock (using something like the FatFinger) but that isn't guaranteed to work. For my newest bass, the FatFinger caused the deadspot to move to a new location on the neck.
  18. jwl


    Jan 25, 2005
    +1 on the set up comments. if you're buying a mia for example, plan on 100$-150$ for a pro set up. as you said this is just the way it is. some of the players that slam fenders for having bad set ups out of the box have no clue how awesome these basses can play and sound (yes set up affects tone)when set up correctly. i read an article on marcus miller where he said something to the effect of his famous jazz having a weak 16th fret. i guess his bass had too many other positive attributes that allowed him to overlook a weakness. his bass sounds pretty good to me. peace, jeff
  19. mulepods

    mulepods Guest

    Feb 20, 2006
    Here is a good explanation of deadspots I found online:

    What is a deadspot?

    A deadspot is where the bass itself actually resonates at the same frequency as the note itself, effectively reducing the sustain and many major harmonic characteristics of the note. This is heard as a duller sounding, and less sustaining note. The place that this occurs is usually from the 4th to the 10th fret on the G string (Not all of them, but one or god forbid 2 notes will yield this if you have a deadspot). When buying a bass, be very critical of this, and be sure to check this out, along with fret eveness (fret buzz), and all other aspects of the instrument. Fender basses are notorious for deadspots around the C, C# and D notes on the G string (the 5, 6, or 7th frets). SOMETIMES, string gauge can mitigate this, but usually, if there is a deadspot, you should just a) get used to it or b) sell your instrument and get a new one.
  20. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    Thanks. I'm pretty aware of what you are describing. I hate it when that happens.

    The only other thing that is good to learn with Fenders is how to get the neck shimmed correctly. This is a little awkward, but not all that hard. You can pretty much use 3x5 index card pieces as shims. It takes a little experience learning which way to shift the tilt on a given neck, but makes an enormous difference in the playability and resonance. It is also complexed with the saddle height adjustment; so, there can be a bunch of back and forth until you get the hang of it. BTW, the saddle height also affects a bunch of other things like the break angle for the strings, which in turn has sonic effects.

    Regarding out of tune E strings, are you saying the string was intonated properly at the 12th fret and out of tune at other frets (while the A string was not)? That certainly is perplexing. There are inherent intonation issues due to the finite diameter of the strings that you can hear if you are listening carefully, especially in the lower positions. This is what the Buzz Feiten tempering system goes a long way towards addressing. Mainly, in a practical mix, no one notices.

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