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What do you look/feel/listen for in a P-bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by meursault42, Jun 12, 2012.

  1. meursault42


    Jun 21, 2006
    So there are myriad P-bass or P-styled basses out there. I want to limit this question to actual Fender Ps and the current crop of P-bass clones (think Nash, Bluesman Vintage, Moollon...I'm sure there are a ton more that I'm not aware of) and only those with the standard split-coil PUP config.

    What are the top 5 things that you are listening/feeling for when you pick one up for the first time? Obviously tone is huge. Do you try convince the shop owners to let you do a setup? How much does weight play a factor? What kind of 'flaws' do you lookout for?
  2. Tendril


    Sep 28, 2004
    Cleveland, Ohio
    I see how the neck feels first. Second, I listen for dead spots. (By putting my ear on the upper horn so I can hear it acoustically. Ewww, gross!!!)Third is weight. Fourth, I look at neck relief to see how much can be dialed out. Only then will I plug it in.
  3. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Neck feel, string height (although can be adjusted), and how the notes ring out when plucked.
  4. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    The neck, then weight
  5. phillybass101


    Jan 12, 2011
    Artist, Trickfish Amplification Bartolini Emerging Artist, MTD Kingston Emerging Artist. Artist, Tsunami Cables
    Freddie washington...the song forget me nots
    Timmy Allen..the group called change, song called Mutual Attraction.

    two best slap performances on a precision IMO.

    Louis Johnson, get the funk otta my face is close also.
  6. Feel good? OK. Feel any less than good? Pass. I have not detected enough variation in tone to really pay much attention. Good old bad ears. :)
  7. pj-mike


    Nov 22, 2005
    Bridgewater, MA
    Balance. Make sure its not neck heavy.
  8. msb


    Jul 3, 2002
    Halifax,N,S. Canada
    I like to toss them in the air and catch them a couple of times . Drives the salespeople nuts ...
  9. meursault42


    Jun 21, 2006
    haha, love this :bassist:
  10. Just buy a Lakland 44-64 USA, you have the perfect P neck, light weight, huge tone, good bridge unlike Fenders, you'll just have to pick a color :D
  11. Glad I'm not the only one who takes some unplugged time first.
  12. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    LMAO! I can think of no better way to test the weight and balance. This also allows one to check the relief or bow depending on its rotation midair..
  13. maxbass


    May 22, 2002
    Milano Italy
    Finish + pickguard + fingerboard wood.
    And Fender logo on headstock.
    And when all listed above is appealing I drool over, because I love P basses
  14. FenderBassist


    Oct 28, 2005
    When I have the chance to try the bass out in person prior:

    Neck (feel, relief)
    Frets (edges, seating)
    Body ("acoustic" resonance, weight)
    Bridge (saddles, alignment with neck)
    Pickups (do the strings pass in between the poles?, are they positioned well?)
  15. meursault42


    Jun 21, 2006
    So generally speaking, lighter is considered better, correct? Is it just for physical/ergonomic reasons, or do we think this makes a difference in tone as well?
  16. OK, good timing. I've been looking at a 1992 MIM P bass at a local pawn shop. I like the feel of the neck and it is readily playable but has a distinct curve. No twist though, the curve is even on both sides.

    I ended up buying a much nicer bass but am still looking at it because a sale just dropped the price from $160 to $120 and it comes with a wood case; my new Ocean TB70 doesn't have a case. Now I'm I'm thinking this can be my learning to adj truss rod etc. experimental bass. Plus it would be the perfect complement to the smooth active electronics of the Ocean if I get it set up correctly.

    How concerned should I be about the curve in the neck and can I do something to assess its condition better.
  17. FenderBassist


    Oct 28, 2005
    Weight/mass can influence the tone, in either direction (heavy or light)...much of it depends on the materials and the quality of construction.

    For me, around 8 lbs is generally good because I gigged with very heavy basses for years and my shoulder can't take it any more.

    I look at (or research) the kind of wood being used as well as the type of finish AND how resonant the bass is before plugging it into an amp. I also look at how well the neck is fitted to the body.

    My "thing" is classic Fender tones. I usually stick with alder or ash bodies, though I recently got a Classic Vibe P bass which is basswood and it sounds good.
  18. FenderBassist


    Oct 28, 2005
    If the neck curve is even and the truss rod is still adjustable (nut isn't stripped or rusted, or rod isn't broken), then you can change the amount of relief (the curve) in the neck to your liking.

    Have a bass buddy come with you, if you can. Otherwise play it for a while and see if you really like it. I had a 92 MIM P bass, my particular one I got through a trade deal and it was "ok"...I didn't like the polyester resin finish or the amount of resonance on my specific one but other people did.
  19. meursault42


    Jun 21, 2006
    Dude...I would've never guessed...

    Thx for the input :)
  20. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx
    1) Sustain- A pbass without a ton of a sustain isn't a pbass at all
    2) Strong mids- should feel like a kick in the pants
    3) Big ol neck
    4) Maple fretboard- bright pbasses are the... well they're the best

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