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Which affordable Fender bass for a guitarist? P/J combos?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by De93, Sep 27, 2013.

  1. De93


    May 10, 2010
    I'm a guitarist and I want a Fender bass, preferably Mexican and passive. It will be used mostly for DI recording with a Pod HD to help me in songwriting, the music is mostly alternative rock/punk. I really like the neck and brighter character of a J bass, but it seems like most people suggest a P bass for rock. I've seen some basses that have the P split pickup as well as a bridge J style pickup. Does this retain some of that P bass lowend with the bite of a J bass? If so that may be something I would like. I would like to spend 500-700 at most, and used prices are done although I prefer something new. I think I'd like passive electronics better, and a J bass style neck. What basses fit the bill? Should I get a J bass since I am leaning towards them, or are there any P/J combos in my price range? Are those basses even good options?

    Sorry I'm certain this has been asked a million times.
  2. Shardik


    May 24, 2011
    Halden, Norway
    Have you considered a Squier? If you can try it in a shop before you buy, I think you can get very good value for money. Have you actually tried to play P-basses vs J-basses? I think you'll be surprised to discover that both have a rather slim feel when you come from a 6 string. I also started out on a J-type neck, and have had 3 such basses. The P-pickup has, however, a special sound that is hard to emulate with other types of pickups.

    Now I will get my first P-bass with a PJ pickup set (sold my J-bass). The closest music shop have ordered one of these for me, and I will be able to try it before I decide to buy:


    I tried the previous display sample of this model, and it blew me away for the price. Weight, playability and flexibility in sound was great.

    Bear in mind, though, that sample variations may be an issue with Squier, so ordering online may be a slight gamble.
  3. De93


    May 10, 2010
    Yeah, I've played a handful of P and J basses. I don't really have a problem with P basses, but the J bass looks, neck width, and sound appeals to me more, possibly because it has more presence and that's easy to relate to coming from playing guitar. It didn't seem to get that 'farty' quality when cranking some distortion gain that some P basses had. Squire is a cheap option as long as the stock pickups are regarded well. I've owned a couple Classic Vibe series guitars that played wonderfully, and the stock electronics were surprisingly decent. It's hard playing basses in the store when I don't have much bass experience, I don't really know good from bad tone, so I can only go by feel. Do any Squiers have a P/J bass combination? Ideally, a J bass build with the neck pickup replaced with a split coil would win me over.
  4. De93


    May 10, 2010
    That Classic Vibe J bass looks alright on the website. Maybe a good option would be a Squier, and down the road I could replace the electronics using a split coil for the neck and keep the J style single coil near the bridge?

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    The Classic Vibe basses are terrific for the money. The electronics are fine in them as well. If you are going to be recording mostly I would lean towards the Precision Bass. It has a sound that just sits right in the mix without needing to do much to it.
  6. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Aerodyne used. Slim, PJ, looks good, great build quality. Can't go wrong. There is usually at least one the TB classified section. There are a few for sale within a hundred miles of me. If I knew where you were I could probably find a couple near you (assuming you are in the states).

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    That is also a good suggestion for sure. Slightly more modern take on a traditional PJ.
  8. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    Here is a Squier P/J built on a Precision platform. There is also an Affinity version if you really want to save money. I don't think there are any Squier P/J Jazz basses. The most affordable Jazz with a P pickup is actually a P/P, the Blacktop Jazz. There is the Aerodyne Jazz, a popular P/J choice. Neither of those basses have the P pickup in quite the right place to cop a true Precision tone but from the sounds of things that may not be a concern for you. If that is the case you can also look at several of the Jaguar models which are P/J. There are too many of them to post links for so go to the Fender site and look through Basses/Jaguar. My personal favorite, I own one, P/J is the Reggie Hamilton Standard Jazz. It will do a true Precision tone and it is a great bass in every respect, even if it is the most expensive of the ones I have mentioned. For more money yet there are some American and Custom Shop P/Js but I don't think you want to go there. You shouldn't have any trouble finding a nice Fender/Squier P/J.
  9. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    I have a bunch of Fender Precisions, Jazz Basses and P/Js, new and old -- plus a lot of other basses.

    Since mangling my hand a couple of years ago, I can only do recording now so I'm in the same spot you are, doing recording only these days.

    You're making the right calls so far: Recording direct with passive instruments, which is the right way to do bass (though I'd go direct into the interface and use SVX rather than an outboard modeler).

    The bass? It would never occur to me to use anything but a Precision. Passive, unswitched V/V/T P/Js are generally awful because of several innate electronic problems with the faulty concept (which I've explained many times here) and the tendency of makers to screw up the P and J pickups trying to get them to have relatively balanced outputs, which they were never intended to have in the first place. In truth, you wind up with neither a good P nor a good J, but a mongrel whose controls don't seem to work right.

    For the kind of money you're talking, you should be able to get a good example of a straight Precision. Don't complicate things. ;)

    Good luck!
  10. Shardik


    May 24, 2011
    Halden, Norway
    Do you have some links to those explanations? I do not quite see the problem with V/V/T.
    Will a rewire to V/B/T be better?
  11. ggvicviper

    ggvicviper Yamaha & Grosbeak. I’m Marc!

    Jul 16, 2011
    East Meadow, NY, USA
    I think it has to do with the volume difference between wiring a P in series, then adding a J wired parallel into the equation. I don't really have a problem with this though.
  12. RedLeg

    RedLeg Supporting Member

    Jan 24, 2009
    Kaiserslautern, Germany
    Nov Shmoz Ka Pop?
    just a thought, but a fender bass VI might be a good fit for you. worked for robert smith of the cure.
  13. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    There is no problem unless you are a P bass purist. Does the quote above give you the impression that Bongolation might be a P bass purist? There are several things at work. One is that every different arrangement of pots and tone caps gives a slightly different tone. Another is that for some people any difference they can hear is a HUGE difference. Another is that some are looking for a specific tone associated with historical recordings or particular artists while others listen to each bass' tone and decide if that is something they can use or not. There is no right answer, just the right answer specific to each of us and for many of us that answer changes from day to day. So be aware that P/Js do not automatically give a P bass tone that suits everyone's ears. Many of us are happy with the way all of them sound, right from the factory. Many of us are only happy if the P pickup is in the right spot. Many of us need that plus switches to reduce the pickup loading to the P bass standard.

    If you suspect you are in either of the last two categories then you must buy a P/J with the pickup placed correctly. The electrical differences can be modded out of existence if need be.
  14. divetone


    Jun 25, 2012
    I wouldn't rule out a Jazz bass. Last time I saw Los Lobos their bassist, Conrad Lozano, was throwing down on a Jazz and I sure wasn't thinking "he should be playing a P".
  15. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    So Led Zeppelin isn't Rock?

    Last time I checked, some of their best albums were made with John Paul Jones on a Fender Jazz bass.

    Don't let anyone tell you a Jazz doesn't work for rock. Here is a partial list of players who would disagree.

    Aston Barrett (The Wailers)
    Frank Bello (Anthrax, Helmet)
    Guy Berryman (Coldplay)
    Adam Clayton (U2)
    Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave)
    Barry Cowsill (The Cowsills)
    John Deacon (Queen)
    John Entwistle (The Who)
    Klaus Flouride (Dead Kennedys, Five Year Plan)
    Herbie Flowers (Blue Mink, T. Rex, Sky)
    Nikolai Fraiture (The Strokes)
    Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
    Simon Gallup (The Cure)
    Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Prince, Graham Central Station)
    Colin Greenwood (Radiohead)
    Stuart Hamm (Steve Vai, Frank Gambale, Joe Satriani)
    Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple)
    Darryl Jones (Miles Davis, Mike Stern, Sting, Peter Gabriel, Madonna, The Rolling Stones)
    John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
    Greg Lake (King Crimson, Emerson, Lake & Palmer)
    Geddy Lee (Rush)
    Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Wings)
    Duff McKagan (Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver)
    Martin Mendez (Opeth)
    Marcus Miller (Miles Davis, Luther Vandross, Grover Washington Jr., Roberta Flack, Billy Idol)
    Berry Oakley (The Allman Brothers Band)
    Kenny Passarelli (Hall and Oates, Elton John, Joe Walsh)
    Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
    Mel Schacher (Grand Funk Railroad)
    Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles)
    Paul Simonon (The Clash)
    Sting (The Police)
    Verdine White (Earth, Wind & Fire)
    Cliff Williams (AC/DC)
    Christopher Wolstenholme (Muse)
    D'arcy Wretzky (The Smashing Pumpkins)
  16. Squier Classic Vibe or Vintage Modified. $300 or less. Affordable quality and very gig worthy. I don't have one, but used to. It wasn't as good as my Fender American Std but it was better than I need for any of my live gigs.
  17. George Mann

    George Mann Banned

    May 27, 2012
    The best Fender P/J for a guitarist is a Squier Jaguar SS!
  18. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Search "V/V/T syndrome" here and in Pickups & Electronics. Somewhere in there I posted an EE's explanation of why it's such a trainwreck.

    Lots of discussion, but ultimately comes down to the admission that it's a technically ridiculous concept that will never work predictably and rarely well.

    Not significantly by any known EE standards. Trying to cleanly blend dissimilar passive pickups in a passive circuit is more or less futile. You may get some interesting sounds or the whole exercise may sound like crap and the controls barely even work, but it's always problematic from engineering standpoint and it rarely sounds that good. I've never heard one sound like a good P and a good J, which is presumably the original point.

    People seem to think mixing/blending passive pickups is merely like having water from two tanks going into the same trough through a couple of spigots, but it's not. It's not hydraulics, it's electronics and worse it's AC electronics (yes it is, think about it). The pickups don't blend so much as chaotically interfere with each other and their controls. :(

    It's bad enough on a straight Jazz, where the pickups are not too radically different.

    At its worst, like on the Fender HRPB, (a MIA P/J that went for ~$1600 in 2001 dollars :eek:) it's just amazing. One single good sound (everything dimed) and the volume controls refuse to work. :scowl:

    The way to go P/J is switched/V/T, like on the Tony Franklin -- and using the best pure P and pure J pickups you can get, not screwing them up trying nonstandard winding to get them to work together when they were never intended to.
  19. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I'm gonna throw in with Kutch on almost everything he said. I only say "almost" because the current VM and Affinity PJ's have Precision-width necks, not Jazz necks. So if you're set on a Jazz neck, you may want to avoid them. Squier used to produce a Standard Precision Bass Special, but it was discontinued back in 2008/2009. That one has a Jazz neck and Precision body with a P/J configuration. I have one and love it to pieces, but you'd have to do some serious digging online to find one.

    I may be biased, but I never pass up a chance to give some love for the Aerodyne (my first bass) or Blacktop Jazz (my first brand-new bass). I haven't had a chance to try out a Reggie Hamilton yet, but in the past I've said that if I had to grab one "off the rack" that had everything included that I wanted, it'd be the Hamilton. A Jazz neck, P/J config and Drop-D tuner covers a lot of ground for me. The active/passive switch is an intriguing addition. I can only assume it would add even more versatility, yes?

    On the Aerodyne front, if you're used to playing guitar the lightweight body (mine's 8.5lbs) and tighter, curvier fretboard radius (7.5" instead of the usual 9.5") might suit you well. To fit into your budget, you'd have to find a used one, but they're not too hard to find.

    Ahh, the Blacktop Jazz…it is truly a sonic cannon. Incredibly growly and aggressive. You can get a decent, if not spot-on, Precision tone with the neck pickup soloed, and when you add in the bridge pickup, it takes on a "Jazz on steroids" roar…a 'Roid-Rage Jazz, if you will? Other than that, it's a straight-up, Made In Mexico Jazz bass and would definitely fit your budget.
  20. GK Growl

    GK Growl Banned

    Dec 31, 2011
    Not really serious digging, I found these on guitarcenter.com in about 2 minutes. These are great basses by the way. Don't let the low prices fool you. I bought (2) of these from guitarcenter.com and with a little setup they easily rivaled some MIM standards IMHO.




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