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Why a Jazz bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Oobly, Nov 21, 2019.

  1. Scott Purcell

    Scott Purcell

    Jul 21, 2019
    OK, is there anyone other than me that remembers the TV series My Three Sons? (of course there is) Well one of the sons, Rob played bass in a band. He had a Fender Jazz bass in the traditional sunburst with a turtle shell pick guard. I had always wanted one like that. The first guitar I "built" (put together and painted) was a Jazz Bass. It had a white pearl pick guard. I loved the look, feel and sound. When I switched to 5 string a couple of years ago I found a MIM Fender Jazz Bass 5 string with active electronics and a turtle shell pick guard listed on the internet for a great price and had to have it. I have several really nice 2011-01-08 11.44.53.jpg 2011-01-08 11.44.53.jpg basses that I love, but my favorite is that Jazz Bass.
  2. iagtrplyr


    Apr 1, 2013
    Clinton, IA
    As a teen in the mid-seventies I picked up a poster of The Mighty Zep and it pictured a live shot of the band with JPJ playing a sunburst Jazz and definitely grooving to the music. I loved that poster and it stuck with me right up to the day I bought my first bass.

    Also, it was one of necessity in which, as a lefty, a P-bass in standard form was unavailable. Being those were my two faves and it became an obvious choice.

    Then there’s fate. My current Jazz was bought new sight unseen and fortunately was perfect. But after a couple of years of ownership, I sold it for a shinier object and regretted the decision immediately.

    Fast forward a year later and o found the courage to. All the buyer and ask if he’d like to sell it back, expecting to be told no. Luckily, his wife, a lefty, wasn’t playing it any longer and I bought it back for basically what I sold it for. I promised the bass we’d ever part and I’ve kept that pact.

    She’s not my #1 any longer, but I jammed with her last night and enjoyed the experience as much as the first time I played it. The tone, the neck, the look of John Paul Jones on that poster...

  3. Scott Purcell

    Scott Purcell

    Jul 21, 2019
    Wo! is that thing built backwards? :)
    iagtrplyr likes this.
  4. BasEd


    Jun 27, 2017
    I love the tone of a passive Jazz with both pickups up full. Growly, throaty, scooped, top end sparkle. What’s not to like!
  5. JazzBass1949

    JazzBass1949 I Did That Ya I played There Ya I Did What a Blast

    Sep 21, 2009
    Southern ILLinois
    thumbnail (14).jpg thumbnail (12).jpg My Custom 73' Jazz SD Hotstacks, BA, Modulus Controls, BHef Flame maple Ebony Nec, 28 to 1 Reverse Tuners, this is the Bomb has every sound you could want Love It Killer Tone
    Wisebass, matthewwithanm and Stumbo like this.
  6. Lothian


    Feb 26, 2017
    Hi Oobly,
    I'm afraid my post isn't going to help you AT ALL, because I have loved the Fender Jazz-sound all of my life (and have tried to get used to the idea of playing one, to no avail), but I've always found that other brands did it better. This is purely a matter of personal taste, I have nothing but reverence for the brand (well, that particular model at least). I just can't get myself to fork out the amount of money for a decent Jazz, considering you can get basses that can do so much more - while nailing the traditional Jazz sound - for the same price... Sorry!
  7. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    The Jazz Bass is one of the most versatile basses. You have 3 definite sounds. Neck. Bridge. Neck + Bridge. Then you have blending of the 2 pickups.

    You can get a somewhat P Bass sound. A somewhat Stingray sound. And you can get that wonderful 2 pickup sound that starts sounding somewhat like a Ric. (Ain't that right, Mr. G. Lee?)

    You can drop an active Eq into it with no mods. There's many choices of Eqs.

    It is almost a Swiss Army Bass. Almost.
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  8. Gringo Basso

    Gringo Basso

    Aug 26, 2016
    IMO a working bassist should have a p and a jazz - there's a reason these 2 have been around for so long. I think both are necessary -the right tool for the job, et al. If you own one of each, you'll rarely worry about showing up with the wrong bass. I saw a few posts that bass A is better than bass B, and these posts serve no purpose. The only thing of importance is how an instrument sounds and feels in your hands. The feel of the neck is where people choose between these 2 iconic instruments.
    bassdude51 likes this.


    Jul 25, 2013
    I have these 2 that I really love. The first one is an American Jazz Bass Plus with Silver Lace Sensors, active and all the fun bells and whistles that come with that.....plus, no pickguard. The second one is a Dillion that I put Silver Lace Sensors in, new higher mass bridge, new pickguard, electronics and control plate. It turned out real nice. I like to stay away from the P/J configuration since I've never had one where that setup works well together. Had a couple dozen of them and the J basses (with the correct pickup spacing) are simply cleaner sounding, more defined notes and that extra definition really makes a difference when you have to switch over to some slap stuff. Hope that helps the OP a bit. IMG_2290.JPG IMG_2301.JPG
    BeefPie84, matthewwithanm and gtlover like this.
  10. I fell in love with the J pretty much about the same time I started playing bass guitar. For some reason, there was a flurry of articles in Bass Player around that time (late '91/early '92) talking about J's. Great article about a restoration of a pre-CBS J, an interview with Joe Osborn, a feature about Sting (who was playing a vintage J at the time), and of course I was discovering Jaco and Rush. People kept saying they liked the skinny neck but I fell in love with that look - those curves get me every time.
    My high school jazz band had a Jazz Bass Special, and I too found I liked that neck! Which lead to me buying my first new bass, my MIM Standard. The stock pickups didn't really have a ton of punch or growl, but that kinda helped me develop my own sound (helped by experiments in series wiring and blend/vol/tone controls).
    And I think that the sounds you can get with a J - plus the ergonomics and the look - just add up to a great all around package. You can play practially any style and in any setting and the J can do it. Get a cheap one and mod it. Or go with a boutique model. Yes, there is good reason why the P Bass is the most copied design, but also good reason why the J is right behind it.
    My recommendation is find an affordable used one, do the blend/vol/tone mod and go from there.
    Can't decide on color? Black with white PG and it looks like a tuxedo. Natural with a black PG and it's both a simple statement of elegance and basic rock badassness. Vintage white and tort and it's the reason tort was invented. Sunburst and practically any color PG (or no guard at all, if your name is John Francis Pastorius).
    matthewwithanm likes this.
  11. BeefPie84


    Mar 29, 2019
    Build a jazz with a P neck! I did for the same reasons as you and it was money VERY well spent.

    Also, I put an Audere pre amp in mine, and it is absolute MAGIC for a jazz bass. It eliminates that natural scoop and other behaviors often mentioned with a jazz and get you way more than "3 main tones". A great feature is the "active blend". It's basically a stereo pre that mixes each pickup together. This way, the entire sweep of the blend pot is useful, unlike passive setups where all the difference is heard in the first quarter turn. I highly recommend it - great bit of kit.

    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  12. Bassndrums73


    Mar 13, 2018
    Number one is the sound. Number 2 is the bass player in my band played one and I always liked the way it looks. I was the drummer back then.
  13. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I started on a Gibson EBO, but after a fellow high school student lent me his Jazz Bass for a battle of the bands show, I wanted a Jazz. It was harder to play (the EBO was short scale) and just felt like "the real thing." Also, all electric basses were called "Fender bass" in those days, so I considered it the default instrument. So I bought a brand new '75 Jazz. The guy at the store sealed the deal when he told me that it was more versatile than a Precision. A year later, I sold it (for $200!) and picked up a Precision. :D I put a fretless neck on the P-Bass. It rattled my chest more than the Jazz.
    A year later, Jaco came along, and at a lesson with him, he told me that I "had to" either get a Jazz Bass or add a Jazz bridge pickup to my P-Bass "if you want to keep it." Of course, the Jazz bridge pickup was indispensable to him, and if you were one of the 10,000,000 players trying to sound like him, you did have to have it.
    In 1981, I found a sunburst '68 Jazz Bass (with a P-Bass neck) and traded a Stingray for it. I loved this bass because it was beaten up, and without the pickguard it looked like Jaco's two basses. It had Bartolini pickups and sounded beautiful! Unfortunately, I had to sell it five years later, because I was broke.
    These days, I have an '02 MIM Jazz Bass (alder, sunburst) and a '90 Japanese '62 reissue body (original white, stripped to the natural ash) with an aftermarket neck. The MIM has Chromes and I love how it sounds and plays.

    In summation, I think Jazz Basses are sexy and sleek, and they can sound fantastic, especially on studio recordings. I generally like to play P-Basses more in a live setting-- more muscle. But I've been using the MIM more and more lately in a drummer-less bluegrass/folk-rock band. In another band, I'm using it for jazz. It just sounds smooth and feels responsive. They are, indeed, more versatile than P-Basses, but P-Basses do things they can't!
  14. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    I want to build one of those.... complete with switch in the lower horn
    Hachimitsu Pie likes this.
  15. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    What was my inspiration to have a J bass? When I was a Junior in High school I saw this pic and that did it. The crave had to be satisfied....

  16. Tim Schnautz

    Tim Schnautz

    Jan 30, 2000
    I thought the original name was to call it the "Precision Deluxe" but it got turned into the "Jazz" bass
  17. somebrains

    somebrains Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2017
    High school P soured me on them in the 80's.
    Everything neon painted cool was an active PJ back then.

    I couldn't afford one of those.

    Hanging around San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley I saw lots of punk guys playing J's with picks. They had this gnarly biting tone. The same players started slapping and mutating metal so the J was king for me.

    A buddy of mine during that era went to school in santa Barbara and left me a trace ah350 stack, an SWR Redhead, and a CP Thornton bass.

    None of his solid state stuff was any good back then due to thermal shutdowns, but that Thornton with active old Bart's thru my SVT or Mesa 400 are what I hear in my head to this day.
  18. RodRy


    Jul 1, 2018
    Kalamazoo, MI
    I like the shape, and had heard good sounds from people who played them. At a music store, I got to play a handful of them, and I thought they had a really nice and rich sound when both pickups were dialed in. Left the store with one that day. Put flats on it, and like it even better now.
  19. knirirr


    May 28, 2018
    Oxford, England
    I’ve heard that also, as well as suggestions that the name was to attract jazz players. I don’t know what the truth is.

    They’re great anyway; the name is a bonus. ;-)
    Tim Schnautz likes this.
  20. amper


    Dec 4, 2002
    TBPH, I hate the traditional Jazz Bass, but I absolutely love the 1990-1994 Jazz Bass Plus and 1998-2009 American Deluxe Jazz Bass, because I think the smaller body style is better. *But*, I hate the 4-string Jazz neck, because the nut is too narrow.

    My first bass was a 1992 Jazz Bass Plus V Ash. My next will be a custom 2004-2009 American Deluxe Jazz Bass V—actually, a Warmoth Deluxe 5J, which is the same design.


    Why do I love it? Looks, sound, and comfort. And with Warmoth, I can specify everything to my personal particular whims.

    The Jazz Bass pickup configuration matches to my mind what "Rock Bass" should sound like. I think P Basses and StingRays and Rickys also sound great, but the sound I want from a fretted bass guitar for the rock music I play comes from a Jazz Bass.
    matthewwithanm likes this.

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