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Understanding the P Bass ...

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

  1. bearfoot


    Jan 27, 2005
    schenectady, ny
    No. A good American Fender P-bass can be considered "the standard", but far from "the ultimate". Leo Fender said his G&L instruments were better than his pre-CBS Fenders. Pandora's Box=open.
    Yes, there are many manufacturers of P basses that equal current Fender quality while beating their price point. AFAIK, none of these are American-made however.

    IMO one of the best sweet spots of bang/buck ratio is a deal on a used American Fender or G&L.

    Me, I play a 90's Korean P/J by Vantage.
  2. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    I’ve got a ‘57 (styled) P with a reversed setup and I agree 100% with this post.
    Quadzilla likes this.
  3. wishforbass


    Jun 23, 2016
    Yamaha bb basses ,lakland p basses are very good .
    clockworkcorpse and mattj1stc like this.
  4. edencab


    Aug 14, 2013
    Toronto, On
    my kit built P-bass sounds amazing and when bashing away in the basement with my (way more experienced guitar players), they love the sound....so I am good for now
  5. There are P's....and there are Super P's Super P.
    RedVee, christle, TrentB and 2 others like this.
  6. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
    SpazzTheBassist likes this.
  7. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Leo got it close the second time. The first time was the original P bass, which, while it's cool and all that, it....hums. And, like anything designed by a human, it's not perfect. It also needed to have a couple corners cut (literally) to make it comfortable for a lot of folks.

    But, like a few other things, his second attempt is pretty darn good. Good enough that people, when they talk about someone else making a P bass, will say things like "the bobbins are not correct" - the person designing the other company's take on a P bass has made a different choice for bobbin material, and somehow, because that choice is different there's something "wrong" with it. Seriously?

    If you understand what makes a good bobbin material in a magnetic pickup, you can easily understand what a silly statement that is. Anything not conductive and non magnetic (which includes a LOT of materials) that is sturdy enough to hold the windings where they need to be works just fine - the material that Leo picked was the cheapest thing that he found that worked with 1950's technology. It works OK, but there are other materials that will work just as well, and for various minor reasons, they will work a bit better than the cheesy stuff (at least in retrospect) that Leo chose in the 50's.

    Anyway, this argument applies to a lot of other details about the P bass - there are many places you can make little changes, and make the product a bit better. Lots of companies make great P basses. Fender is just one of them, and they make...OK, good, and great versions. It depends to some extend on your personal tastes, budget, hand size, etc. as to who makes the best P bass for you. The answer is sometimes Fender, but by no means is it always Fender.

    J basses - same issues.
  8. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    You will only think the American Fender is the ultimate until you've played a Lakland USA Bob Glaub.

    That said, there are tons of P-basses that sound great at all levels of cost. The P-bass is a simple equation that is not hard to get right.

    From the lowly Ibanez TMB100 or Squire up to the fanciest Lull/Sad/Lakie there's lots of great P's to be had.
    exidor, SJan3 and mattj1stc like this.
  9. Mike Sorr

    Mike Sorr “...play I some music...” Supporting Member

    Oct 24, 2012
    Brick, NJ
    I'm sure P Bass purists will disagree with me on this, but to me a P Bass sounds like a P Bass no matter who makes it or whether it cost you $200 or $2000. I have owned and played dozens of P Basses in my life. The main differences are in weight, and quality of materials. But the tone varies only slightly. I'm not sure why anyone would spend more than $1000 on a P Bass. The best one I've ever played was a CAR American Special with a maple fretboard, and that was mostly because it weighed about 8 pounds, but it sounded like just about every other P Bass I've ever played.
  10. mattj1stc

    mattj1stc Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 13, 2009
    Dallas, TX USA
    I'm a P bass guy, I've been playing a long time and I've owned many different P basses. The best Fender I ever owned was the American 57 Reissue (if you have to have a Fender, and many people do have to have Fenders, this would be my pick). The best non-Fender with a retro vibe was a Bluesman Vintage (if you like the relic thing, this is a good way to go). However, the best one ever (and still my current champion) is Lakland. The USA models are great but pricy. Personally, I play a Skyline, which is still the best P bass to me.
    SJan3 and J_Bass like this.
  11. Bassamatic

    Bassamatic keepin' the beat since the 60's Supporting Member

    The P-Bass was not a "happy accident". Leo put a LOT of research into itin every respect from scale length to where to put the pickup and the genius design of the P-Bass pickup -essentially a singly coil humbucker. And it all just works for most every need. The pickup is just in the perfect place and there is none of the phase cancellation of multi-pickup basses (along with other harmonics created at the same time).

    My 2008 MIA P with LaBella flats is the one I would be buried with, I think, but my 80's Peavey Fury is really awesome and better in some ways for some harder music and has (IMO) a much better neck. I was never sure why, but had a talk with Hartley Peavey about this once and he told me that they had come up with a unique way to wind the pickups that makes all the difference.
  12. edbass


    Nov 8, 2004
    There is no "P Bass®" that ISN'T a Fender product. There are myriad copies of varying quality, both structurally and tonally, but if it ain't a Fender, it ain't a P Bass®, period.
    I'm thinking that it wasn't an accident that other manufacturers simply knocked off Leo's design rather than developing an original design, kinda sad as some of these copies are very nice instruments indeed. What I find curious is that the owners of these blatant copies still insist on referring to their knockoffs as their "P Bass®".

    I can understand owners of cheap P knockoffs referring to their basses as a P Bass®, using wording like "as good as" or "better", as a Fender product inference would validate their choice/budget restrictions, and make their bass seem more prestigious than it is.
    However in the case of high dollar boutique knockoffs; if they are superior to an actual P Bass®, why would one degrade it's image by referring to it using the "inferior" Fender's nomenclature? While these manufacturers where faithfully pirating Leo's design, I'm pretty sure of then went as far as actually calling it a P Bass®. Why would their fanboys keep continually referring to them as such?

    I'm not really into bikes, but far as I know bikers don't refer to their Indian, Victory or any of the Harley knockoff Asian bikes as their "Harley®" or their "Sportster®". I'm thinking that it's pretty much a "bass" thing, although back in the early 90's I arrived to set up at a bar gig and some idiot had a raggedy high mile Guards Red Porsche 924 in the lot with the Porsche badging removed and cheap Ferrari crest decals stuck on the front fenders.
    I heard his *ss hat wing man chatting up a couple of young ladies at the bar about his buddies "Ferrari" out in the lot. No idea where that ultimately went.

    I think of that incident whenever I see these threads here on TB...
    thebreakman likes this.
  13. I get what you mean and partly agree, but on the other hand that is what is the P’bass sound. Anything else may have a much more even response and sound great (J-bass) but it won’t sound traditional P, and that’s what a lot of people define as ‘the electric bass sound’. Not me though. I like it for some stuff but not everything.
  14. tgriley62


    Jan 25, 2011
    S.E. Mo
    My $75 Peavey Fury with flats is all I need

    edencab and EatS1stBassist like this.
  15. I’ve got the same one and it gets the job done.
    tgriley62 and EatS1stBassist like this.
  16. EatS1stBassist


    Apr 15, 2016
    So cal
    741F56DE-5C76-4C8D-8DE0-D93469F199D1. FF5BF507-0894-482F-AF86-3CAC03E2B95C. I’ve owned more Precisions than I can count. My last one is a 14 year old Squier that was owned by a well known Fender employee. The bass is as new. It sat in his closet with the protective plastic still on it. I gotta say WOW! What a great bass! Paid $150.
  17. Cullen G

    Cullen G

    Feb 14, 2019
    Mendo Redwoods
    I sure am sorry to those who think my question was silly, or funny. Being newer to basses, I had no clue about my questions. To those who tell me to search … no. I can NOT find what I want to know, nearly as well as asking my questions directly to fellow bass players who DO have hands on experience with different P basses... something I do not have. To those who replied, thank you very much! Now I have a TON of great info to make a decision with.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  18. Cullen G

    Cullen G

    Feb 14, 2019
    Mendo Redwoods
    Okay ... Now I see the difficult part, lol. And that is finding them offered in the dark blue sparkle color. So far, only Mooloon seems to offer one. Seems people are asking gold bars for a Steve Harris blue version !!! Wow, did I ever miss out when these were new. I wasn't back into basses yet.
    EatS1stBassist likes this.
  19. onamission

    onamission Supporting Member

    Build your own. Here at TB the classifieds are full of decent deals on some nice necks, bodies and components. P Basses have a dense tone the sits well in a lot of musical situations. Put some flats on for some muddy blues or some rounds for everything else.

    The P's.
    BASSnSAX likes this.
  20. Seconded!

    I've got a mid- to late 90's MIM P-bass that I bought sight-unseen off of eBay. For the longest time, it had one of the best feeling P-bass necks (stock) I had ever played on, and one of the best sounding P-bass pickups (stock), too. I had replaced the bridge with a BadAss II bridge, replaced the neck - after it torsionally twisted - with a Mighty Mite maple neck, threw on an adonized pickguard, and it only wants to play nice with roundwounds. Love this bass.

    So I've got a Squier Classic Vibe 60's Precision (2019, Indonesian-made) on its way to be strung up with flats. Plus, I've always dug a 3-Tone Sunburst Precision with a Tort pickguard.

    The Precision-style bass really was a remarkable design - most recordings with electric bass (before the release of the Jazz bass) were made with P-basses, and even still, most bassists that go to the studio with a few basses will always pack a Precision. The reason? They just sit in the mix soo well. If you can find a reasonably-priced, great sounding & feeling P-Bass, you should buy it.

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