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The difference in P basses...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Deynn, Nov 9, 2000.

  1. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    The prices for Fender's 3 main models of P basses are....

    Okay...I KNOW there are differences...AND what they are, but my question is....
    how MUCH of a difference...do the "differences" make? It looks to me, like a Squier would actually be a good way, for a lot of players to go. Although I would probably opt for the MIM.

  2. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    There is a quantum leap in build quality as you move up price wise.
    The squeirs are o.k. but suffer from variable quality.
    For instance I have seen some that look like the sratchplates and nut have been cut by hand....with a hacksaw.The rest of the hardware is not too hot either.
    Usually the bodies are made of some kind of "Unspecified hardwood" (Probably basswood)
    Having said that I've seen a few that are really very good...so shop around.
    The mexicans are quite good,much better hardware than on the squeirs.
    The American standard have the quality of finish expected of
    fenders.They have a strung thru body,much better bridge (heftier),better p/ups,graphite reinforced necks,better wood (Maple,Alder,Ash)much better shielding and hold their price well.
    Sound wise - No comparison,the squeirs and mexes sound a little "Thin" compared to the U.S. models.

  3. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Thanks Paul....that's exactly the kind of information I was hoping to get....from that...I might lean toward the American Series. The "feel" of a bass is VERY important to me. It HAS to have the right feel.
    It still seems like quite a leap though, from the MIM...to the MIA. Is it really "3" times as good?
    Also....is the thin sound on the lower models, due mainly to the pickup used?
  4. Paul A

    Paul A

    Dec 13, 1999
    Hertfordshire U.K!
    I think the differences are mainly in the materials used.
    With the U.S. you get the graphite reinforcement,which makes a REAL difference (No more dead notes!),the frets are finished much better,and you get a real nice edge contour on the latest necks.The body strung thru bridge helps greatly with sustain.
    I wouldn't say they sound 3 times better than the Mex.
    But...they Feel 3 times better in terms of playability.
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The more you pay the less you get for your dollar. The $125 or so extra for a MIM over a Squier is worth every penny but the $600 extra to go MIA while worth it is not as good a bargain :)

    The way to go on a budget is used. In the past two years I scored a MIA P-bass for only $200 because the stock pickups and bridge had been swapped out (funny, the upgrades made it worth less!!!) and a Vintage Reissue Jazz for $500 (both came with cases, too). OK, so I didn't get to pick out the color and both had a lot of finish wear (i.e. someone had definitely been playing these babies) but I could live with that.

    Right now while the prices on 70s Fenders are rising, 80s and 90s MIA models are going for $4-500, which makes them great deals.
  6. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    It looks like the best "value" would be to buy a used MIA.

    I find it rather amusing that....one could upgrade a bass..and it's "worth" would actually go down...:) I guess that is one result of the vintage market.
  7. bertbassplayer

    bertbassplayer Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    DFW, TX
    I think the Squier is made out of Poplar... but don't quote me on that.
  8. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    Oh, I'm sorry. You said, to NOT quote you on that...:)
  9. Squiers are made of plywood, I believe. The bridges aren't as good, you can't string it through the body, and the pickups aren't up to American quality.
    MIM's are good, and made of poplar wood. They feature fairly good electronics and are a lot better than people say they are.
    Americans are made of either alder or ash wood and have mucho uprgraded electronics. They also have a graphite reinforced neck. Since Fender has released the new Americans, the standards can be bought new for $599 and includes a case. I bought a 90's used for $300 with a new set of strings and a molded hardshell case, with only a few dings. I think the MIA's are the best, but a MIM with Bassline or Bartolini pickups could be one bad ass bass.
  10. Don't forget to check out the G&L SB-1 (or SB-2 for added flexibility). The SB series basses are Leo Fender's own refinements of his original designs and anybody seriously looking for the ultimate passive Fender would be a fool not have a good look at one. They certainly have a better neck, better bridge and better electronics than the standard Fender designs from '57 which is what a US Standard has been until recently. You'll also be able to find a used G&L for a pretty low price if you're lucky and the new ones are now officially cheaper then a US Fender.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure it's anything to do with the vintage market, but is really a matter of common sense on the part of buyers. You have no guarantees about how well any upgrades have been carried out. A botched job could easily affect the sound or the overall balance of the bass and if you get an "untouched" bass you can always put the upgrades you want rather than anybody else and you can get them done by a professional.

    What I do find amusing is that it's generally agreed on most dicussion forums I've read, that Fender made some pretty poor basses in the 70s and 80s - cost cutting measures like 3 bolt necks, which are invariably loose - and only got back to the quality of the 60s in the late 90s. BUT - you still see these "cost-cutter" basses advertised as "vintage"!! :rolleyes:
  12. Deynn

    Deynn Moderator Emeritus

    Aug 9, 2000
    I have never played a Fender with a 3 bolt neck, but I HAVE wondered about them. Was it merely a cost-cutting effort by Fender? I really can see no other reason for it.
  13. The three bolt necks have what Fender calls the Micro Tilt Adjustment. You could eliminate the need to remove a neck to shim it. By just slightly loosening the neck bolts and adjusting the tilt of the neck using an allen key inserted in the back of the neck plate you could accomplish the same thing. Once adjusted you'd just tighten up the neck bolts and you were good to go.
  14. RAM


    May 10, 2000
    Chicago, IL
    If these "cost-cutter" basses from the 1970's are, in fact, lower quality (I've not seen one up close, so I don't know), yet people are spending a couple thousand dollars on them, it seems that the market is going to either drop out from underneath them or we'll see more overpriced basses really soon!

    Who's responsible for inflating these prices? Would an experienced, knowledgeable bass guitarist or serious collector pay that? Are they worth it?

    It seems to me, that the answer is a simple "no"...
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    This has come up a few times on the Fender Discussion board and the answer has been a resounding YES. When Fender was sold on to CBS etc. the company looked for ways to make more money at the expense of quality. I have seen 3 bolt Fender Js over here and there is no shim facility or any other advantage - it's just a crap bass!

    I think the main blame for the vintage market is the vast number of Jaco wannabees, who think that if they play an old Fender Jazz they will sound just like him. Yeah, but Jaco didn't play a 3-bolt bass! :rolleyes:

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