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Understanding the P Bass ...

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

  1. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    Historically, in communication syntax among bass players (and many musicians/industry folks, in general), Precision Bass is a Fender product but P-bass is a format (based on the original Fender Precision), regardless if made by Fender.....Its always been like that, even if Fender trademarked "P-bass".....

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 2:46 PM
    halech54 likes this.
  2. sludgetail

    sludgetail Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2018
    Orange, CA
    Man, for me, I figure go with the original Fender if it's a Fender-based instrument we're talking about... I know that there are a ton of luthiers/private builders who do their own take on the instrument, but if it's a Fender-style, I'll just save to go with Fender themselves.

    Even their new moderately priced Player Series guitars and basses are made well and are a great platform for future mods if desired. As for the question posed, is the USA Fender the way to go, for me, while it's Fender for sure on a Precision style bass, I wouldn't discount the MIJ or MIM models.

    For me, I recently picked up two P-Basses... well, 3 (the 5'er was sold here on TB):

    1. Fender Japan Limited Midnight Black 60's Traditional P (Basswood, but boy does she thump, grabbed some AV Atlas Pickups for her, yet to be installed)

    2. Fender American Elite Precision Bass (albeit with a J in the bridge), she's bad and tons of options

    3. Fender American Professional Precision-V (sold, but sounded amazing when tested, only play a 5 with the band)

    Here's some Bassporn [pics/vids of each]

    MIJ Precision.

    Precision Mesa.
    BassmanM and SpazzTheBassist like this.
  3. edbass


    Nov 8, 2004
    Maybe historically in communication syntax among hobbyist talkbass posters. Walk into a major pro studio for a scale session, or show up to audition for a touring gig with a nationally recognized signed artist and tell them you have a "P Bass", then pull out a Peavey and see what if that qualifies as a "P Bass" to those "industry folks" you reference.
    Of course there's also that pesky registered trademark thing.

    Regardless, I don't see the problem with referring to Fender knockoff basses by whatever it actually is - or using the term "P style", "J style", etc.
  4. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    Ive worked in both minor and major studios over the past three decades (Union and non-Union -- it used to be a huge part of my income in decades past)....its always been this way...... As far as what bass to use where,I bring many - with different string types and pickup configs. Bass selection is usually my choice. I understand that some folks here have worked in studios where the producer (or whoever is paying them) says "Play a Fender" or "Use a P-bass"...Thats never ever happened to me in thirty years... They will ask for something stringy, less stringy, more round, more punchy, use a pick, use your fingers, slap this part, or make it sound like a banana,or whatever...often, they will just say "I want a sound similar to <insert song>" and off I go......

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 3:46 PM
    tpa, christle, Quadzilla and 2 others like this.
  5. Mediocrity Man

    Mediocrity Man Master of Mediocrity

    Apr 11, 2014
    Stillwater, New Jersey
    IMG_3476.JPG I own and have owned a bunch of basses but my Fender MIJ P is just right for any occasion. And the build quality is excellent. The pups and bridge are upgraded but otherwise this thing sings. The most stable neck out of all of them too.
  6. Bulky Bass

    Bulky Bass

    Jan 25, 2008
    Bay Area, Ca.
    I think the appeal of the Precision is that you know what you are getting. Simplicity at its finest. If I ever needed to use another bassist’s bass at a gig for whatever reason and he/she pulled out a P Bass as opposed to an Ibanez or some exotic thing with tons of knobs I would breath a sigh of relief. Not saying other basses are bad, but if you need to dial up a sound quickly, chances are the Precision will make it less of a headache for you.
    mattj1stc, BassmanM and MynameisMe like this.
  7. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    I think I've posted before how I had* a Squier 60s CV Precision (Chromes flats), and a 2000 MIM Fender Precision (Fender 7250M rounds) that were two of my favourite basses ever.
    I tried using the Chromes on the MIM, and rounds on the CV, but the magic wasn't there.
    Switchcraft jacks, CTS pots, Sprague cap were added, but that's all I did other than set them up with a 5/32" action. Both were those basses that 'spoke to me.' Stock pickups weren't 'fine.' They sounded great.
    I've played a lot of P-Basses, and these two were special ones.

    [*Past tense as lost in fire]
    MynameisMe likes this.
  8. FirewalZ


    Aug 14, 2014
    S.E. Michigan
    I’m the same way about amps, as simple and as few knobs as possible. I remember doing a gig and the back line was some old SWR with like 25 knobs....and on a dark stage
    mattj1stc likes this.
  9. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor
    Matters what Fender. I have a Sadowsky p/j and it is amazing. But i still play my avri 63 pbass just as much. They are both fantastic.

    I wouldn't get too focused on what is better than the other. It boils down to what you like.
    exidor likes this.
  10. juggahnaught


    Feb 11, 2018
    It's true. Fundamentally, a P bass is a P bass is a P bass. Seeing people compare them and talk about the differences always reminds me of this scene from American Psycho:

    Last edited: Apr 15, 2019 at 5:57 PM
    exidor, Mike Sorr and J_Bass like this.
  11. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    I was fortunate enough to purchase this bass, in 1975. It really has one sound and that one sound is beautiful.

    exidor, halech54, BassmanM and 3 others like this.
  12. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Richmond , Va
    I own an American P-Bass Deluxe which I currently gig and record with. I also have done a significant amount of the same with a mid 70s Am PB. Are they the end all be all? Not so sure about that, but I will say both record very well (especially with a fresh set of quality strings) producing a very natural predictable result.

    And even today, it’s still considered the definitive electric bass sound. But it’s not the only sound. Keep in mind a bass is a voice, and that voice varies from bass to bass, manufacturer to manufacturer. The key is, you bass should be the right voice for the material you are playing. What would think if Chris Squire played a PB with 20 year old strings? It was a great bass set up for Duck Dunn, right? Let your ears be your guide.
  13. Cullen G

    Cullen G

    Feb 14, 2019
    Mendo Redwoods
    " A P Bass is a P Bass" same as another you say? I found that not to be true for me.
    I have ZERO clue how to describe myself as a bass player. I am NOT a bass player technically. I can play a little bass though. I plan on learning a ton more. But at this time, even though I have owned 7 basses in my life. I have not played enough to be considered a bass player at all. I took a hiatus from bass around 95, and just bought a new one last year. I do NOT know what you guys do. I would not be able to discern all of the differences in basses you guys would at a Guitar Center.
    BUT, I do know there are two reasons I love an American Fender P Bass. This one is really important … when I was only about a year in to playing bass, I went to a big guitar store and tried them all. Not knowing anything about them at all. What I found, was I could play the songs I knew easier on a particular neck, on a particular bass. And it as the MIA P Bass by Fender. I was better on the Fender for some reason.
    It was only then, I found out it was also the bass my idol plays. So I am trying to decide if I could live with anything less than my dream bass. What I have found is, I definitely could do without it being a Fender, IF I could get it in the Fender Royal Blue Sparkle color. AKA, a Steve Harris mimic.
    This is my most important follow up as the OP. I am now just looking for that color. All else has been answered.
    Does anyone know anyone making them in that color, other than Moolon?

    Thanks so much guys. I am learning a lot from your replies.
    RedVee likes this.
  14. Cullen G

    Cullen G

    Feb 14, 2019
    Mendo Redwoods
    I really do not want to make another thread asking this … so, short of buying an actual Steve Harris bass I can not afford at all, what would be my best way of making a clone of this? Does ANYONE paint the blue sparkle I could hire maybe ? If so, many options open up.

  15. 3D printer?
  16. SJan3


    Dec 8, 2010
    That's a honey.
    bikeplate likes this.
  17. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Honestly, the best thing would be to start a new thread now that you’ve honed in on you’re exact question. Lots of people will only read the first page or 3 and maybe the last page before posting. Others will only read the title before posting! Accordingly, most responders are gonna comment without ever having seen your post on page 5 that you’ve now honed your question down to a matter of paint job. Further, a new post with a title specifically about blue sparkle paint will attract those who know about paint but might not have any knowledge of "Understanding the P bass". Meanwhile, the debate on what is and what is not a P will rage on :D
    Marcus Willett and juggahnaught like this.
  18. Cullen G

    Cullen G

    Feb 14, 2019
    Mendo Redwoods
    Thanks for the good advice, dmt. I will do just that.
    RedVee and dmt like this.
  19. Marcus Willett

    Marcus Willett

    Feb 8, 2005
    Palm Bay, FL
    Endorsing Artist: Bag End - Dean Markley - Thunderfunk
    It’s close enough that it doesn’t matter. I’ve heard wider deviations from the “traditional “ P bass sound just between different Fender models or even just different strings. I’ve had engineers tell me my 5 stringers sound like a P with the front pickup soloed and approaching it like a P.

    The difference with the reversed setup isn’t huge, it’s mostly noticeable on the top 2 strings where we (generally) don’t spend too much time, especially on a P.
  20. Darkshine


    Feb 26, 2019
    What's the reason for that? Don't you like knobs?

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