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What's the great thing about Fenders?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alvaro Martín Gómez A., Dec 31, 2004.

  1. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    Hi everybody.

    Sorry if this topic has been discussed before, but I searched for something like this and nothing satisfied me.

    Well, the title speaks by itself, I think. I've seen in these forums that there are lots of fans of Fender basses (specially the Geddy Lee model), and I've seen also in my town that there's kinda "Fender fever" since many friends have paid high prices for american Fenders recently. Same for guitars: My rock band's guitarist had a great Kramer guitar (80's model, I think) in excellent condition and sold it to buy a Fender Stratocaster. I Still don't understand.

    I'd like to know if there's a real, objective appreciation on these basses (and guitars too), or if there's a high bias because most famous basslines were recorded with Fenders or because Fender is the "father" of all basses.

    Personally, I would love to have a really old american Fender Jazz Bass (more versatile and sexier than Precisions IMO) with all of its original accesories (thumb rests and stuff) in mint condition for me to feel the proud owner of a classic Fender (my double bass master has one. Feel so envy!), but not for having it as my main axe. I don't "associate" myself with a Fender. Budget considerations aside, I can't believe that someone thinks that a Fender is better than a Warwick, for instance. Speaking of modern Fender models, the only one that convinces me is the Stu Hamm Urge II because it's a totally different instrument. It doesn't seem made by Fender. Even has 24 frets!

    Of course, I'm not trying to be disrespectful with Fender fans. I know that those instruments have a distinctive tone, but I think most high-end basses can duplicate it and give even more. The only Fender instrument that really amazes me because I haven't heard another like that is the Fender Jazzmaster guitar. I don't know how those guys got that classic surf tone, but the thing is that the tone is not because of the pickups alone. Acoustically, the Jazzmaster has a tone that I haven't heard re-created in another guitar (well, maybe I have to listen more instruments). As far as I understand, it was discontinued. I don't see why.

    Thank you very much for reading. Waiting for your feedback. :)

    P.S.: Happy New Year for you all! :hyper:
  2. jim primate

    jim primate bass guitarist.

  3. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    Most Fenders are cheaper than high-end basses...

    They can be good basses within their price point. Isn't that all they need to be?
  4. Alvaro Martín Gómez A.

    Alvaro Martín Gómez A. TalkBass' resident Bongo + cowbell player

    That's why I said: "Budget considerations aside". If price difference is the reason, that's OK, but think of instruments in similar price range. As far as I've read, MM instruments have a more consistent quality control than Fenders, for instance. Well, in fact, a MM is kind of an evolved Fender. Isn't it?

    Maybe that's my point, now that you've made me think of it, FireAarro: Fender instruments don't seem to evolve. They seem to live in their glorious past and don't worry about producing better stuff (into their price range). That's why I said that the Urge II doesn't seem made by Fender.

    Maybe a similar thing can be said about Rics? (Again, I don't want to sound unrespectful!)
  5. spyingcracker


    May 27, 2004
    I think the big deal about Fenders is that the design itself is timeless. Just like the Stratocaster, Leo hit the nail on the head early on. The design is what draws people to it, in my opinion. To me, no other bass is as beautiful as a Fender jazz. There's also an image associated with it, as you said. It has been used by many famous artists, and people like that.
  6. I think the Fender styles P and J are very conventional. It is for these reasons I originally resisted them.

    But I have been full circle from high end and back. IMO, you can get such a great sound and great playing instrument sticking to a J or P bass or intepretation thereof. the exotic stuff is beautiful but from an audience percepctive, I would be hard pressed to tell them apart from each other. You can buy a $4,000 exotic bass made from endangered hardwoods and it is still going to, for the most part, sound like a $700 Ibanez.

    On the other hand, a cheap MIM P bass or J bass can have a great, organic, involving, versatile and recognizeable sound. Plus I dig retro looks and simple, form-follow-function designs.

    This is why I like Fenders.
  7. There you go. Classic tone and look. If you find a Fender bass is conventional, maybe it's because everyone has copied it to death.
  8. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    That quote about a "$4,000 bass sounding like a $700 Ibanez"
    really hits the nail on the head. There is a reason why even among boutique or high end basses, there is so much Fender influence. Leo Fender simply got it right. Other designs are valid, but Fender was the first to popularize the instrument and his design with Fender as well as Music Man and G&L are simply classics.
  9. FireAarro


    Aug 8, 2004
    Yeah, I'd take a MM over an American Fender :p. Some people prefer the tone of a Fender though, and some think MM basses are one trick ponies (except the Bongo, and then some hate their looks :p).

    There's not much reason to choose a current production Fender over a Sadowsky or something if price is not an issue, I guess.

    I think Fender sticks in the past because that's mainly what they're good at. I think they did try some wackier stuff in the 80s?
  10. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii

    I prefer Fender to Warwick. My Warwick Thumb is heavy, not as ergonomic, and doesn't have a sound that fits the music I play. It is a great bass, but just doesn't suit my needs as well as my Fender P and Fender Zone. It isn't about what it costs, or what other people play, it is about what does the job for me.
  11. Joe Beets

    Joe Beets Guest

    Nov 21, 2004
    The Fender Bass is part of our American Tradition. Just like the '57 Corvette and the flat-top haircut. I bought my first one in 1964. When I saw Jimi Hendrix perform live Noel Redding was playing one. Every bass player should own at least one Fender Bass even if it was made in Mexico.
  12. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    I've never owned anything but Fender basses. Why? Because they work. I love the tone (I own a Precision and a Jazz) and the feel. If I ever buy a high-end bass, it will likely be a Fender knock-off or at least strongly Fender-inspired. I've recently considered buying a Music Man Sterling, but Leo Fender designed that too. Leo was the man and he got it right.
  13. Ian Perge

    Ian Perge Supporting Member

    May 11, 2001
    Evansville, Indiana
    I was the proverbial kid who grew up on hair metal in the late 80's, and was first exposed to Ibanezes, Hamer Scarabs (thanks to Def Leppard) and on the high-end, Spector and Tobias basses... basically everything fell on the end of the spectrum - pointy or curvy. Everything but a Fender, and even though my first bass was a P-copy, I never fell for it. It was too heavy, too clumsy, and too large a neck for my poor delicate hands! ;) My first "good" bass was an Ibanez, my second beater strung BEAD was a Washburn, and my reintroduction after a dry spell was a high-end Ibanez six-string.

    It wasn't until 2002, over ten years of playing, that I purchased my first Fender, a '92 Jazz Plus V. Simply put, I got it. I understood that most every working bassist should have that classic sound in their toolbox, and while it took me a while to find one that still fit my requirements of a smaller body and neck (I'd love to have a Precision Plus from the same era or a newer Zone/American Precision Deluxe for the same reasons), I'll never regret it or sell that bass. It signifies a tremendous growth in my understanding of my personal role as a bassist.

    And while I'd never make a Fender P or J, or high-quality copy my "main bass" (my personal, "non-sideman" tone is much more of an active, "modern" one) I can't deny their role both in the history of recorded music as well as continued usage by producers, engineers, and pros in the field. If you want any chance of making some money in the music business, you'd better have a P or J when the producer calls for it. ;)
  14. Personally, I hate the sound a Fender makes. Most every live band I hear that runs the usual Fender Precision or Jazz through an Ampeg SVT-(Fill in the blank) and an Ampeg Refridgerator, sounds muddy and lacking. Theres no tone to be had, its just a muddy dull rumble in the background. The prices on some of the older Fenders and the relics/reproduction ones are ridiculous, like the Jaco Price gouger. I'm sure it sounds nice, but I can't justify $3000 for a pre-beat up bass.

    Other designs just seem like they have more to offer. I prefer a soapbar pickup setup over a Precision or Jazz pickup. I also like an active preamp. If price were no object, I'd probably go with Pedulla.
  15. Razor


    Sep 22, 2002
    The more I play different basses...the more I love my Fenders. Give me a standard MIA P bass any day of the week.
  16. Leo got it right, and the sum of his work was much greater than all of the parts. The whole industry was and continues to be influenced by all of the little things that he worked out early on. Of course the bass has evolved since then, but every manufacturer or custom builder pays homage to his designs in one way or another.
  17. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I have played so many basses over the course of my 28 year career as a bass player...both standard and custom, boutique basses.

    I started playing on a '62 Fender Precision. I played it for about three years. Then I got one of Leo's Music Man basses, then a very old Rick 4001. Then I got into a variety of basses, from Alembic to Kramer to...heck, you name it, I probably played it.

    Only last week, because of some physical (read: pain) issues on a longer scale bass, and some money issues, I decided to shop around for another bass.

    I got an MIM Fender Precision. It was of much higher quality than the MIA I played (and I tried about 13 other Fenders over the course of a week).

    When I plugged it in and played it through my amp, it was like, "Whoa! That's it! That's the sound I've been looking for all these years!" Other basses getting that sound? Nope, no way. Only that bass gets that sound. The only way to describe how I felt about getting a Fender after all these years, and all that money spent on other basses is (to quote myself from another thread)...

    I felt like I had been a Prisoner of War in the Battle of Basses for 25 years and I was finally rescued and returned home to the one I love.

    Nothing, and I mean nothing, comes close to the sound of a true Fender Precision. As far as some saying they sound muddy and lacking definition, that's the player's fault, not the bass.

    After all these years of searching for my sound on high priced basses with all these controls, and all the controls on the different amps I've had...it only took this one simply designed bass to give it to me.

    So what's the great thing about Fenders? They're Fenders.
  18. 5stringFanatic


    Mar 3, 2004
    NY, USA
    After reading this thread, ive realized something, that might be true or might not be true.

    My first bass, the one that i learned on, was a used MIA Fender Jazz 4 string. When i first got it, while i was learning the sound didnt really matter to me because i just wanted to learn, and i wasnt in a band or anything so i had all the time in the world to just start out and take my time learning. After playing for a while i started getting into sound, and learning about the bass in general. At some point, i hated my fender jazz, and it sat in the corner and begged to be played but i wouldnt pick it up. But i feel like ive evolved and that Fender represents that evolution.

    To me, Fender is like something that you have to learn to like or respect. When i hated my fender i neglected it and didnt take good care of it as i should have.

    Now after playing different basses and owning 2 more basses (not a whole lot i know, lol) i realized that the fender jazz represents to me on a personal level something that i have to respect. Not just the fact that i learned on this bass, the sound represents a sound that has been through the wars of the world, and has contributed so much to the music that influences me today. To me its a higher way of thinking about things.

    I dont know if im making sense, anyway, i agree with those who say you must own a fender, in order to have that classical sound no matter what, and if my music ever calls for that tone, ill have it, and ill be proud of it.

  19. There are so many things that the classic Fender designs (J and P) do well. The things that they do well are things that they invented. I play a Fender P, and want a J in the future...to me, if you want the Fender sound you buy a Fender. That's all there is to it for alot of players. I don't want a bass that can sound "close" to a P, and do a bunch of other things. I want a bass that does the P thing RIGHT.
  20. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I'm old-school in terms of years: started playing in the mid-70's. Note however that I've always had an open mind: I've owned lots of different non-Fender basses. Music Man basses were my #1 for awhile... yes, these are also Leo designs, but to my ears Stingray and Sabre have very different tones than P and J. I also own or have owned "modern" designs, including Spector, Modulus, Warwick, MTD... and have played a bunch more (Alembic, Steinberger, Ritter, etc).

    Don't get me wrong: I actually *like* the sounds of many modern basses. But to me, the real sound of bass comes from a Fender or Fender-style instrument. Bolt-ons tend to have a certain envelope that sounds right. And just because a tonewood is more expensive than ash or alder, that doesn't make it better... just different. Finally: active systems have better fidelity, but passive pickups, even with an active pre, have a lo-fi warmth that sits beautifully in the mix.

    So, I play my off-the-rack Fender Roscoe Beck 5 as often as my more expensive boutiques. And the newest custom instrument I ordered is a Sadowsky... precisely because it has that Fender vibe. Again, I'll always have a fairly wide variety of basses in my collection, but the Fender-style ones will always be my favorites.