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Why a Jazz bass?

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

  1. BeefPie84


    Mar 29, 2019
    Jazz basses sound awesome for reggae and can have a smooth awesome tone for R&B and Funk, and just as easily you can turn it into a great rock bass, beautiful big manly body style polish off the package for me.
    Stumbo and PWRL like this.
  2. BeefPie84


    Mar 29, 2019
    The jazz bass would rather not have you.
    Stumbo likes this.
  3. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Your point?
    gebass6 likes this.
  4. crankypants


    Aug 12, 2019
    I wanted to play jazz. For reals!

    Factory fretless '80s MIJ. Dropped EMGs into her. Love everything about her except the color (Somekinda white).
    Stumbo, Bassmike62 and knirirr like this.
  5. teh-slb


    Sep 21, 2018
    Because the rule is "at least one P and at least one J".
  6. twinjet

    twinjet The smell of burnt fish excites me Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Been jonesing for one for years, so I had one put together. Greatest $800 I've spent.
    Stumbo, dmt and lowdownthump like this.
  7. I'm an odd case.

    I don't like Jazz basses, yet I've owned more Jazz basses than any other type. At one point I had probably 8 of the things! So you can't say I didn't try!!! :D

    I like their sound, which is why I keep going back to having at least one. Right now I have one. Well two. One at home, in bits, as I'm in the middle of refinishing. It's been in the middle of refinishing for over a year now :p. The other one is at my parents' place. My brother is still with them, he's a musician, so he gets to use my bass and I have a bass when I go visit.

    So yes, I like their sound. The neck pickup can be big and powerful, much like a Precision (yeah, not the same, but it's in the ballpark, roughly speaking), the bridge alone needs a bit of EQ to fatten it up although some pickups work well alone. Combining both pickups you can get a little too mid-scooped which doesn't work well on busy band mixes, but you can find a few sweet spots.

    It's a versatile instrument, there's always a sound that you can get with one which will fit whatever style you play.

    Ok, so why don't I like Jazz basses?

    First, size and weight. The body is big, and because of that it can often be a heavy bass. It's not a deal breaker, but when I can find more comfortable basses elsewhere... why would I insist on a Jazz shape?

    I'm not a fan of the VVT control layout. I like a single master volume so that I can turn down easily. It's not hard to turn down both volumes in one sweeping movement with a tiny bit of practice, but when you've found the sweet spot with the neck rolled off to 80% and the bridge at 90%, you can't just then turn up the volume easily to the same spot.

    I'm not a fan of the slim neck. I prefer something a bit more substantial.

    So that's it really. And the fact that I prefer single pickup basses: Stingray and Precision.

    For two pickup basses, I prefer big humbuckers. Either a double Jazz pickup style, or an MM.

    But I must always have a Jazz with me. Sometimes you just want *that* sound.
    lowdownthump and Oobly like this.
  8. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    I like the neck profile and versatility of a J. It works with any genre I'm asked to play. If I could only have one bass that wasn't a Rickenbacker, it would be a J.
  9. Oobly


    Jun 19, 2008
    Wait, wait wait! Tina Weymouth played a Jazz? Hmm... one of my all-time favourite bands and players, very tasteful and fitting bass parts, some of which really defined the songs. Great rhythm section pair, her and Chris.
    lowdownthump and FishDub like this.
  10. Oobly


    Jun 19, 2008
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! This is EXACTLY the kind of feedback I was looking for. You guys here on Talkbass rock!

    There is definitely more to the Jazz bass equation than I was considering previously.

    The ergonomics and versatility are compelling.. And the "tightness" that the bridge pickup adds to a low B on a 5 string can't be denied.

    I have made the mistake of dismissing great instruments before due to prejudice / not getting first-hand experience and I know there are masses of people who love the J, so there must be good reasons.

    I didn't really think too much about the ergonomics before, the sheer size of the instrument was somehow intimidating / off-putting (it really is physically larger than a P bass, although perhaps doesn't feel like it when played). I tried out a Jaguar yesterday (it has the same rear body shape as the Jazz) and found it remarkably comfortable, the contours made it blend to my body SO well and my hands rested naturally in a good playing position, so I really can see how the shape can feel good to play. Also, the narrower neck.

    I really like the idea of single coil pickups with a large dynamic range / great response that let's you be really expressive and being able to blend between neck and bridge pickups, but I have just never been in love with the overall sound of stock J pickups (except perhaps in a fretless, then they seem to give a very particular character to the instrument which I quite like). I've realised, though, that a lot of my previous tonal preferences are based on studio / recording situations. For live work I'm starting to appreciate more highs / presence / punch in the tone of a bass, so I started look at other basses that I have previously dismissed and realised there may be more to the Jazz in particular than I thought. Hence this thread. And it seems there IS :D

    But I'm still not quite convinced about the sound. Whenever I hear a track with a J bass in it, including all those linked in this thread, the "bass" somehow appears to be... missing... Whereas with a P it's all there. Probably something in the low mids which I feel is the range reserved for the bass in most mixes, so when it's not there I feel the bass isn't doing it's job. Another "prejudice" against Jazz basses for me has come from "flashy" players, doing silly solos and stuff that's just not musical, including most slap players. I like slap when it's done well and really aids the groove, but those tracks are few and far between, IMHO.

    That said, there are definitely mixes where it fits, for example:

    Where the guitarist stays in a higher register and there's space for the bass to fill not just the low mids, but a little higher as well, the tone seems to fit well.

    My next bass is a Jaguar (CV with PJ pickups, which I'll be slapping a Geezer Butler set into), it's on been on pre-order since September and should arrive in January, but I may well be looking for a Jazz after that one. Got to try it at least, can sell if it doesn't work for me, after all.

    Thank you all. Enablers, the bunch of you ;)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
  11. RumbleMan3


    Apr 14, 2018
    Woah... where do I begin? The jazz bass has EVERYTHING going for it!

    Seriously... I have no idea where to start. I’ll have to come back to this thread another time when I’m not so busy
    Stumbo and lowdownthump like this.
  12. I never had any GAS for the Jazz Bass. My two JBs (both non Fender) were bought on specific circunstances. My 1980 Giannini (the one of my avatar) belonged to a great friend of mine who unfortunately passed away and his widow wanted to sell it to me. I couldn't refuse that.

    In 2008 I bought another JB, made by an unknown luthier, because it was cheap and I was looking for some cheap expendable bass for rehearsal and gigs.. It was the cheapest instrument avaiable at the time. Now, since that bass proved its value and I became emotionally attached to it, I need another bass for that role.

    Why a Jazz? I'm the worst person in Earth to answer that question, because honestly I really don't care about them (My heart belongs to unusual basses and nothing bores me more than seeing another bass with the same old designs... Of course, I understand why they're beloved and successfull but their omnipresence make me sick).

    That said, my two Jazz are wonderful basses. I love them and use them a lot. Speaking about the Fender side of the Force, recently I recorded an album and most of its songs were recorded with a MIM Geedy Lee (Long story short, due to logistics it wasn't possible to me to bring any of my basses to that session). That bass sounded great but I have to battle with its ergonomics and weight (My unknown luthier made JB beats the Geedy on that and its weight is lighter than the Geedy too. However, the Geedy sound was better suited for that project).

    The years have passed and I still don't have GAS for Fender Jazz Bass (Except for the Flea Signature one, because of its concentric knobs. Being pink helps too).
  13. FishDub

    FishDub Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2011
    Charlotte, NC
    Yeah I’ve seen several internet photos and videos of her with the Jazz. But then again I’ve seen her with tons of other basses too lol
    Wisebass and lowdownthump like this.
  14. JoshS


    Dec 30, 2018
    Yeah, I know definitely not a Fender PJ, but for lack of other descriptor....
    Point being, except him, all the guys I really look up to are playing Jazzes, and all three sound very, very different from each other.
    alanloomis1980 likes this.
  15. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I disagree that a jazz can approximate a P. Not my experience.
  16. For me, Jazz basses are comfortable to play and look good, but its mostly that sound that gets to me.... I usually have both volumes maxed and the tone at 70-80 %. Gives me a nice round soun with that typical "glassy" sound, but Jazzes are quite versatile and contain more than gone good sound when you start dicking around with the knobs. I also have the series\paralell mod done to the pick-ups, widening even more the sound spectrum.

    I currently have 4 : Squiers VM70s and VM77, Fender Aerodyne and Fender American Special. For home practice, I tend to use the VM70s a little more and keep the 2 Fenders for gigs, the AS being the main girl. I'm obviously a Jazz fan-boy, but have no plans to add another one for now.

    Basses - 4.JPG
  17. It depends on the jazz bass .. vintage-style jazz basses, such as my AO '60s for instance, can do it fairly well although a P-bass is always somehow stronger in the low register ...


    I play my jazz bass with TI flats with the neck pickup volume obviously fully open and various amounts of contribution from the bridge pickup, normally gravitating around one-third of max. volume position (in this case, I noticed that the best approximation of the typical P-bass tone is with the tone control in the mid/two-thirds position)
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2019
  18. Mantis Tobaggan

    Mantis Tobaggan Supporting Member

    Sep 9, 2015
    Tampa, FL
    I agree with you. I used to have a CS 60's Jazz and full volume on the neck pickup and pretty closed tone is really close but that stronger in the low register part is huge to me. It is probably subjective. I love that part of a P though and that is what makes it a P. Okay, I will leave now and let you guys have your thread. ;)
  19. FishDub

    FishDub Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2011
    Charlotte, NC
    Not trying to derail but you are spot-on..
    BeefPie84 and Mantis Tobaggan like this.
  20. 20191122_181530.jpg 20191122_181542.jpg I have a jazz bass. It clearly says "Fender Power Jazz Bass Special". It's a Jazz bass. Really it is a pj bass. I love it . I want a "real" jazz bass with the two jazz bass pickups. So, why do I like it so much? It is my only electric bass. My daughter has a Shecter Omen 4. I liked her bass more than mine before I had the action lowered on my jazz bass. When the jazz bass was set up properly I was like, "Oh, I see why people are all about the jazz bass." It feels good to play it. I like the balance, the way it hangs off my body. I played a friends jazz bass and I really like the sound of the two jazz bass pickups. My jazz bass (it's a jazz bass, it says so right on it) has an active tone knob, a jazz pickup and a p-bass pickup. I can dial in just about any tone I want. I tend to dial in a tone that sounds like a "real" jazz bass. The neck feels good and I like to play it. Clearly, I am not so good at photography, or editing posts on Talkbass. 20191122_181530.jpg 20191122_181530.jpg 20191122_181542.jpg 20191122_181542.jpg
    matthewwithanm, Stumbo and Oobly like this.

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