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Why such fanatical love for the Precision bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BK bassist, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. BK bassist

    BK bassist "Apollo's Ghost" Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 20, 2017
    Brooklyn, NY
    Hey TB fam,

    Over the years I've amassed a respectable collection of J basses as I LOVE the way they sound and play. I always went for a J if I was looking to add to the Fender collection .... I was never interested in a P bass before but after recently joining Talkbass and spending hours in the forums... it seems there is an overwhelming amount of love for the Precision.

    I've never played a P bass for more then a minute or two grabbing one at a Guitar Center or a Sam Ash .... but I've never spent any decent amount of time really diving into different styles of playing with one.

    What is it that makes the P bass so different from a J? .... I will probably end up buying a second hand one just to see for myself but in the meantime, can I get some of you P bass fanatics to tell me what it is you love so much about them?

  2. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    That famous Precision mid-range growl.

    Sometimes aggressive, sometimes subtle, but always there, always unmistakable.

    Some like it, some don't.

    You can get a bazillion opinions and descriptions on why folks like the Precision (and knowing this place, I'm quite sure you'll get exactly that), but nothing will equal actually getting yer hands on one and seeing for yerself if you like it or not.
    alesreaper9, djaxup, Rickter and 17 others like this.
  3. BobaFret


    Jan 22, 2008
    They sound totally different is probably the biggest difference. The single P pickup gives a certain vibe.
    REMBO, SakuBass and BK bassist like this.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY Supporting Member

    Oomph. It's got oomph.

    [oo mf]
    noun Informal.
    1. energy; vitality; enthusiasm.
  5. eldorado2001


    Oct 14, 2010
    Juno Probe
    The neck is a little roomier and I especially like the simplicity of 1 pickup and 2 knobs. But the sound was what hooked me more than anything else, it has more oomph than a Jazz. It's perfect for my needs, with flats or rounds.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    Ah - here we go again.

    1. Ps have a certain tone - cuts though the mix fantastically. It may not sound as good soloed in your bedroom, but it always works in a band setting. Trying out through an amp in a music store won't do it.
    2. One pickup, simple to get the tone you want.
    3. It has a sound and look that is recognized.
    4. Thicker neck generally - some like it, some don't.

    It's a plug and play option that always works, in any genre, with both flats and round wound strings.
  7. Simplicity. When I play an active bass at a gig, I'm constantly adding a bit of this or taking out a bit of that. It's maddening. When I play my P, Volume wide open, roll tone all the way up for aggressive, all the way off for smooth. Done.
  8. Simple...they sit better in a band mix then most other basses! Try one live and you also will know the truth!
  9. Most recorded bass in history.
  10. tpaul

    tpaul Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2011
    It's the tort.
  11. smeet

    smeet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 27, 2006
    Woodland Hills, CA
    Part myth, part romanticism, part tone. The tone is very interesting, and it is in the mids. People think of the P as having huge low end, but is the mids (hi, lo, and in between) that define the sound and give it the ability to be heard in the mix. Oh, and the "clank". Ugly soloed, great in the mix.
  12. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Maybe you should take some time with one and answer the question for yourself. For me, the P bass doesn't really do much for me until I play it with a band. It just sits on the mix really nicely, but you won't really get that from reading posts on the internet, you need to experience it for yourself.
  13. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Something about the whole vibe just speaks to me... I have six of them, all different aesthetics, tones, strings. It's just a classic bass to me.
    BillMason, Rickter, REMBO and 2 others like this.
  14. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Oy. Threads uncounted on this topic... Really? Again?
    gebass6, P-oddz, Uncle Hanky and 3 others like this.
  15. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    I prefer the P sound to the J sound, but that is subjective. To me, Js sound thin and nasal.
    I own 5 Ps and 2 Js.
    My first bass was a Dano. After that, it has been mostly Ps. I've owned some of almost everything, but I always come back to Ps.
  16. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    And you replied...again.
  17. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    The P generates that familiar tone we've all heard on rock records throughout our lives.

    That recognizable sound is like mama's cookin'.
    Gravedigger Dav, djaxup, dmt and 17 others like this.
  18. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    I must agree that I've never really liked the way a P sounded solo. I've also always preferred the look of a J. Until I picked up a a cheapo SX PJ with a jazz body, then I "got" what a split coil P is about. I also recently grabbed a used Squier P and am toying around with that.

    But, for me, no bass is a bad bass.
  19. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    That's a very fundamental question with a thousand answers that have already been covered ad nauseam. That answer is already out there, and I'm not going to add to that hay stack.

    I'm not a P fanatic, but I see where you are coming from. Talkbass is a strange little bubble where certain ideas are amplified far beyond the normal proportions one finds out in the wild. With that in mind, take what you read here, and in response to this question, even from me, with a grain of salt. Talkbass isn't reality.
    Part of cult like mentality that surrounds specifically Fender's implementation of the "Precision Bass" has to do with demographics. The general reader and poster of TB is slightly older and tend to be either hobbyists or in cover bands\backing bands. They are very, for the lack of a more polite word, focused on music from the 60s and 70s, generally earlier rock and Motown where the P bass was very common. As the P was really the first mass produced electric bass of note, these more chronologically advanced players are understandably comfortable with something they are more familiar with.
    Beyond simple nostalgia, there is also a solid recording reason for the popularity of the split single coil pickup sound. In simple arrangements with light mixes the mid focused tone sits in a very nice place. Since old standards are simple with light mix, a P works well. Unfortunately, this alligator of the bass world, while suited enough to survive, is very unevolved. On its own it sounds like a grunting pig, and it isn't very dynamic. A P is a P is a P; you get one sound that works well below the 9th fret and that's about it. As long as you don't need more than the basics, a P is fine.
    Another aspect is simplicity. For whatever reason, some TB players seem to be befuddled by knobs. If there are more than 3, or any kind of switch, their brains seize up. If you are a novice or easily distracted by shiny objects, the Volume\Tone setup of a P bass is easy to work with.

    All this said, I own three PJ basses, albeit none of them fenders, and generally use them in the P position. The one I use the most is a Peavey because the neck is slim; I generally can't stand the huge necks common to most P basses. I also have two jazz, one double humbucker, and one Jazz + Musicman. I'm not 100% happy with any of them, and probably will never be without a lot more money. Regardless, instruments are tools with which we make music. Some tools are carefully engineered for specific tasks, and you can't use anything else. Then you have a hammer. P basses are a hammer; simple and blunt, but when you need one, you need one.
    gebass6, baTassi, Turtle71 and 26 others like this.
  20. StatesideRambler


    Jul 1, 2015
    Being the first of the breed (in the 1950s) that was widely used and worked, it established our expectations for electric bass. It became the benchmark upon its introduction and remains the benchmark six decades on. You can compare and contrast any bass vs. the Precision Bass and players will understand. Whether they like or dislike it, they'll understand.