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Understanding the P Bass ...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cullen G, Apr 14, 2019.

  1. Marc DLarosa

    Marc DLarosa Supporting Member

    May 29, 2017
    Now THIS... is a funny thread...
    Whippet, Groove Doctor and murphy like this.
  2. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    To me, my birdsong is the ultimate p bass, yet its smaller. lighter & easier to play!
  3. rashrader


    Mar 4, 2004
    Baltimore, MD
    I have had a Fender P-Bass sitting under my bed doing nothing for about 10 years.... I’ll play it again. Maybe? Who knows. It’s just a Bass.
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Ultimate tone?
    Definitely not. There isn't one "ultimate tonr."
    Ultimate playability?
    No. Some people find them hard to play, depending on the year of the bass.
    Are there any less expensive ones?
    Yes. A MIJ and MIM Fender among them. MIA basses are over rated, with their being little difference between an assembly line one made in the US and an assembly line one made over seas.
    My US BC Rich ST III bass with Dimarzio pickups has earned more votes in a listening challenge I did than a Fender MIM P or US Peavey Forum.
    Nashrakh likes this.
  5. 9Thumbs


    Jul 3, 2013
    Near Boston
    I don't play my Jazz Bass because it has too many knobs. So my only choice is to play a P Bass. Right now, my favorite is a Squier 54 style. all3.
  6. lbbc

    lbbc Supporting Member

    Sep 25, 2007
    Seaford , DE
    I avoided playing Pbasses for 43 years because "everyone else did" and I wanted to be different. Then I got this and everything changed.
  7. QFT


    Find one that YOU think Sounds good, feels good, & looks good.

    Sure is. It’s like asking “who makes the best wheelbarrow?”
    J_Bass likes this.
  8. Robert B

    Robert B Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2000
    Hampton, Va USA
    My alder Lakland U.S. Glaub pbass is definitely better to play than any Fender I've ever played. The neck is to die for.
    Does it sound better? Not to me. It sounds different - smooth and refined. And I like its sound. But I also like the raw, guttural, savage sound of my ash bodied Fender American Standard pbass. I'd be hard pressed to part with either of them!
    SJan3 and mattj1stc like this.
  9. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    We have this thing called a "search" feature ...

    It's a good place to start. ;)
  10. Chrome Dome

    Chrome Dome Chrome Dome Supporting Member

    Sep 17, 2013
    Piqua,Ohio 45356
    Remembered my first Fender Precision,back in 1975,bought new. I wanted to learn to play bass back then,and someone told me to get a Fender Precision. So I got the Mocha brown,with rosewood fret board. Then after about couple years,went with the Fender Jazz,new one,of course. After 43 years of playing decided to put this somewhat resemblance of my first Precison together. It has a solid one piece walnut body,with a 2012 MIM Precison neck,and I am really liking. DSC_0073.JPG DSC_0087.JPG IMG_1146.JPG IMG_1148.JPG
  11. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    The tone of a P-bass is mainly determined by the pickup placement, the pickup design, and the wood the instrument is made of. Probably in that order. It's not determined by the brand, other than that maybe a builder could favor a certain pickup that would lend a tone characteristic. But in my experience P pickups sound more similar than different no matter what.

    The wood is alder or ash for the body, maple for the neck, maple or rosewood for the fretboard. There are many other woods available but using any of them will provide a maybe cool but different tone than a straightforward P-bass. Again, none of this is brand-specific.

    Weight is a thing. You can get them down to the 7-pounds-and-change range and I've seen 'em as heavy as 12. You probably get a lighter one the more more you spend, because of more carefully chosen wood specimens and lighter hardware. Again though, this is more about price point and less about brand.

    So, like everyone says, you can sort of play the field on brand names you like or don't like, and can get a great one from any number of sources.

    Personally I think every player needs 2. One should be a dark, mellow-sounding thing with flatwounds (probably a sunburst with a rosewood board and a tort guard in my mind). The other should have roundwounds and should be bright, aggressive, and vaguely punk rock sounding (black, maple board, black guard in my mind).


    I just got this one. It was somebody's build, sort of a frankenbass. It has an alder body which I think is a USA but not sure it matters, one of those interesting Babicz bridges that work different than all other bridges, Hipshot Ultralite tuners, and a Fender Custom Shop '62 pickup. That is a brand new American Professional Jazz neck I just put on it, a bit of an indulgence but it was totally plug-and-play and has the graphite rods to keep it stable here in the changing Colorado weather. About 8 pounds. Kind of a Roger Waters thing. Sounds killer.


    I took it out on Friday night. I'm actually not a P-bass guy and this is the first "normal" P I've ever owned, since the mid 80s. It sure did sound good with my horn funk band though. It's in the rotation now fo sho.

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 12:20 PM
    Darkshine, Robert B, segina and 6 others like this.
  12. BassmanM


    Feb 17, 2011
    Hamburg, Germany
    So who makes it?
  13. I have a '78 Precision, MIM P's, Squire Classic Vibe (Matt Freeman), 2 Vintage Modified P's. I play them all. A lot. Once these basses are set up to perfection, Loaded with pickups of my choice, they all sound and play wonderfully. They are interchangeable. The world is littered with parts for these. They are easiest to buy or sell. Only my American P is all original. I see little or no correlation between cost and performance, once these puppies are tweaked.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 10:11 AM
    lostpoet2 likes this.
  14. lostpoet2


    May 20, 2008
    Like most of Leo's classic designs, it is the design of the P-bass that is great. Same way with the telecaster, the stratocaster, and the jazz bass. The ultimate one is the one that you like the best, as each of Fender's designs can have a thousand variations and customizations based on a simple recipe.
  15. I have a Peavey Fury. No way is it better. It’s a good bass, but the construction is a little cheap.
  16. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    google "bass body" and it mostly fenders, or copies, same with necks.......the stuff is just everywhere
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    for a P bass? i doubt it. of all of the split coil, single pickup axes i've played: i would generally rate the fender P in the middle of the pack. but they're big...and expensive, so there's that.
    Herrick likes this.
  18. Quadzilla

    Quadzilla Supporting Member

    I've said this before, but I personally feel that Leo (Fender) got one aspect of the design wrong. While the pickup design may have worked well with older designs of amps, flatwound strings, etc, it doesn't work quite as well in modern environments. To my ears, on modern amps with rounds (strings), the E&A are a bit boomy and undefined and the D&G sounding a bit thin.

    If you reverse the pickup configuration (E&A closer to the bridge and D&G closer to the neck), the E&A get tightened--up and cut better with less woof and boom (mud) on bottom. The D&G get a bit more girth behind them (sound fuller and sit in the mix better)

    To my ears, it balances the strings quite nicely and nothing gets lost in the mix. So many times have I seen guys gigging P basses where the notes on the E&A were too muddy and the notes on the D&G get lost a bit in the mix.

    Just MHO......YMMV! ;)
  19. I sold my Fender Am P and kept my Fender MIM P. Played better, sounded better and of course, was half the price
    JRA likes this.
  20. Leonid Nidis

    Leonid Nidis

    Jan 1, 2018
    Its just so happens lately I heard and played a 100$ silverhead P that sounded just as good as an american standart fender(tested side by side).
    Also heard a greco p bass copy from the 70s that sounded better than any fender I heard all together!
    juggahnaught likes this.

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