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Why doesn't Fender make better basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dr. PhunkyPants, Jan 27, 2004.

Recent experience with Fender MIA

Poll closed Feb 10, 2004.
  1. Fender MIA's are fine, I would buy one

    84 vote(s)
  2. I went to buy one, but chose another brand

    19 vote(s)
  3. Fender MIA's aren't fine, I won't buy one

    33 vote(s)
  1. Dr. PhunkyPants

    Dr. PhunkyPants Guest

    Aug 11, 2002
    No, seriously. Look around. Everybody from Lakland to Ken Smith is weighing in with seriously nice versions of the Jazz and Precision basses, at price points that meet or undercut Fender's American series instruments.

    But what's this? KSD and Skyline basses have better fretwork! And that's not all, they offer active electronics, better p-ups, better woods, and an overall level of fit and finish that Fender seems to sorely lack.

    My story. I recently bought a sky blue 2002 Fender P-bass new. Then I got it home and played it for a few weeks. The headstock DOVE, b/c of those heavy "deluxe" tuners, the frets had finish on the ends which my thumb flaked off, exposing large areas of unfinished wood around the tang, and when I turned it over, I noticed a gap in the neck pocket so large I could have fit the Sunday paper in there, much less a business card. Ditched the bass at a loss six months later.

    Anyway, nobody's ever accused Fender of being dull--they've mastered the art of creating multiple prodcut lines based on a central theme. Why can't they get it together and make a higher quality instrument? MIA, it's called--Missing in American?
  2. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Interesting points. For my money, the CIJ Fenders have been significantly better for a few years now when compared to the average American P or J. The Custom Shop still puts out a quality instrument but the only American models I've kept are the Jaco Artists fretted and fretless. I've dumped every American Standard and American Series J or P I've owned for the last 5 years or so. There's always exceptions but the American production basses just haven't cut it for me, mostly for the kinds of reasons you state.
  3. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    They don't have to. People buy 'em anyway...
  4. Ralphdaddy

    Ralphdaddy Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Chicago, Illinois
    I don't know to tell the truth, but I too feel like I got the shaft on an MIA J5 passive. The tuners are absolute crap, they're always going out of tune, day to day whereas my Sterling is set and forget, as was my old Warwick. Plus, the American pups, especially on fives, have been godawful on every American J I've played over the past 3 years. It seems to me they're doing what American cars did during the 80's, using a good name and reputation and putting out a subpar product to try to save money at the expense of their consumers. GM was especially bad at this and they're just now beginning to recover from the total mess they created for themselves. It doesn't seem to hard to build solid products for not a lot of money, the Japanese have done it for years in everything from microwaves to cars to basses, American craftsmanship just seems to not be what it once was and we, as consumers, pay the price, always a big one, for a product which is nowhere as good as it was, should, or ought to be. Just my opinion, but it chaps my hide when I drop somewhere in the vicinity of $1,000 for a bass which sounds like ****, plays decent, nothing special, and won't stay in tune. Luckily there's aftermarket but you really shouldn't HAVE to buy aftermarket pups to make a 1000 dollar bass sound good. I'm pissed at Fender... but I'm still dumb enough to want a P-bass, but I want a Lull or a Lakland, better build, better sound, more consistent quality. I'll pay a little extra to save myself a headache six months down the road.
  5. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    My thoughts exactly...

    As long as we keep buying them, they will keep making them just like they are. Once people stop buying Fender, and start buying other brands, then Fender will either drop their prices or improve their quality....


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
    good topic

    i think fender is in need of an overhall! they have been using the same ideas for what, 50 years??? time for something new! and that new dimension bass just ain't gonna cut it! that thing is hideous! if fender could lower prices a little and come out with more truly innovative products (think Roscoe Beck sig) then i think they would be worth all the praise they get now. but as things stand right now, fender is loosing a lot of fans due to the said copies that are surpassing the fenders in both price and quality...
  7. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    I sold my Stingray to but a jazz bass. I couldnt be happier.

    These ideas are what the company continually sells and its the same ideas that other companies sell a lot of too. Sadowsky took those same designs and made it cost $3k. Hes doing pretty good for himself!

    IMO this is where their failure lies. Fender has tried a lot of new things but they have all been relatively unsuccessful compared to their old designs.
  8. Right you are! Untill people stop buying them, they'll continue to produce average to below average basses IMO. I will say that some MIM's that I have picked up have been a pleasant surprise, but that's because I had low expectations. I would take a Skyline any day over an American Fender J or P bass, but untill those basses cut a serious chunk out of Fender's sales, they're going to keep everything satus quo.
  9. dabshire

    dabshire Supporting Member

    Dec 15, 2002
    McKinney, TX
    Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all Fenders are bad. It just seems like every time I pick one up in a music store, it plays and sounds horrible. Maybe they just send the rejects to GC, or maybe they hang there too long and "go bad", but like someone said earlier, when I dish out $900 to $1000 for a bass, I expect a good quality instrument every time. I would NEVER buy a Fender from Musician's Friend, or any online retailer for that matter. The quality, in my opinion, varies too much to buy one sight unseen.
  10. Eric Moesle

    Eric Moesle Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2001
    Columbus OH
    For years, I've been playing Modulus, Tobias, Musicman, Kubicki, Carvins, etc. etc., and just recently the Jazz Bass has spoken to my soul. The only problem was, fit and finish on all the Fender Jazz's I tried was CRAP compared to what I was used to.

    The Lakland Skyline Joe Osborn absolutely smokes any Jazz Fender makes, MIA or not, and for about the same price. The Lakland American series, Mike Lull, and Sadowsky's are even better.

    Fender pukes out crap compared to its competition. Great designs, poor construction. Musicman makes production level instruments, and does so with total consistency and quality. Fenders are hit and miss, and you have to try a bunch for an "acceptable" one.
  11. DW


    Jun 22, 2000
    Yeah, Fender has some nerve, producing what their buyers want, and making them in the USA! :rolleyes:

    You need to find some other outlet for your anti-Fender jealousy.

    I have nothing at all against Skylines and KSD. But they are not MIA and they will never take a serious chunk out of Fender's MIA business.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL

    so just because they are mia that automatically means they're better? puh-lease! :rolleyes:
  13. metron


    Sep 12, 2003
    I wouldnt call it anti Fender jealousy. There are a lot of companies that make way better basses. I agree that they are hit and miss (even with the higher quality MIAs) so I went out and tried a bunch. I found a jazz and a P that I liked and so I bought them. Together they cost less than half that of a Sadowsky.
  14. exactly
    If you want a fender, you either have to go new(often crap) or vintage(huge $). Most people opt for the new stuff.
    I would definitely take a Sadowsky or Warmoth over a MIA, but it still wouldnt be a fender.
  15. Well...finally people agree with me...Ive been rantin on for years on the poor quality of Fenders and then i decided to get one.. A Marcus Miller model and it is a pile of...poooh...even for an MIJ.

    The nobs are flimsy and lose, the tuners arent very good..they are tight but dont really offer an lil alternations in the tuning just big ones.

    The PUPs and Electronics are pants...IMHO...the picks acutally needed re-seating and the soildering is well below par...and you don't even get a damn case with is...extra £120 for Fender offcial...sod that....

    The MIA ive played felt really cheap and the finish on the necks very uneven....GrrrRr

    I own a GB Spitifire..yes based upon the CLassic Fender Shape but its slimmer and beautifully carved everywhere..the bass doesnt feel like a Fender one bit..and the sound is out of this world as GB electronics and PUP's IMO the best in the bass world...its just high class finish and attention to details..everywhere...

    Yes it cost me £1800 but that isnt fair away from the most expensive Fender...and well there are lotsa quality instruments down the line that blow the Fenders away. think Yamaha, Peavey etc etc...tarnished names maybe but whhyyyyy??.. fantastic bassses...

  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I own two, count 'em, two Fender Roscoe Beck V basses. I play them at least as often as any other bass in my collection, and my collection includes Modulus, Lull, MTD USA, and Warwick (Streamer Stage I). When I gig, I bring one Fender RB5 and one other bass. A couple times lately I've brought both RB5's: one is strung with rounds, and the other with flats. :)

    My RB5's (both acquired pre-owned) have nice tight neck pockets, nice fretwork, excellent tone and playability, and no flaws that I'm aware of aside from normal playing wear and tear. I've been similarly impressed with other MIA Fenders I've auditioned in music stores.

    If I could only keep two basses, one of them would be a Fender RB5. If I was limited to one, it would either be Fender or MTD... glad I don't have to choose. I think this says a lot, because the Fenders are the least expensive basses in my collection.


    Jun 1, 2003
    Orlando, FL
  19. Skerik1


    Sep 21, 2002
    Saint Paul, MN
    The only Fender I would consider buying is their American Deluxe Jazz Bass. Slightly smaller body, a couple more frets and slightly better balance. I played one once at a music store, and thought it was great. My only complaint about it was the $1200+ price tag. I opted for a Spector NS2000 at half the price with equal (if not better) playability.

    Basically what I'm saying is, what I feel is Fender's best, is only mediocre compared to some.

    (I'd still LOVE to get an American Deluxe Jazz someday :). Nothing compares to that Fender jazz snap!)

  20. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I probably would never buy another Fender (used to own a MIM jazz). For the price, itd plain and simple ; you can get better. The only bass id buy is an American P bass and id rather get a Warwick Corvette.

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