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Yay, NBD! :-( And not bashing Fender here...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jon McBass, Jan 10, 2019.


  1. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    I've been needing a new 5-string bass due to issues my trusty 26 year old Carvin LB75 has increasingly been suffering. I love that axe, and it's been a rock, but it's with the luthier and I guess needs to be babied now. So today, after doing a lot of research online including here on TalkBass, I finally decided to pull the trigger and purchase a new bass.

    I had narrowed the choices down to a Fender American Elite Jazz V and a few Ibanez 5-strings. I was leaning toward the Ibanezes both because the Fenders seem pricey by comparison for what you get and because I had recently played a friend's Ibanez SRMS805 with the fanned frets and Bartolini BH2 dual coils and thought it played and sounded surprisingly nice.

    So I went to the local Guitar Center and told the helpful young man what I was thinking, and was told that just today through Sunday they had this super deal that amounts to 20% off as long as you spend the 20% savings with GC during a specific calendar week at the end of February.

    So I bit on the one Fender American Elite Jazz V they had in the store after testing/playing it for more than a half hour through a Rumble 500 combo (they didn't have any of the Ibanezes I'd settled on trying, just the cheap ones). The Elite is beautifully built, flawless fit and finish, super neck, plays wonderfully and wow, what a range of great tones you can get among all the active and passive EQ possibilities. Power to spare. Loved it.

    Then I got it home and was appalled at the noise of the "Noiseless" pickups (I don't know why I didn't hear this in the store, except there was ambient noise around me...). It sounds like a high-frequency cricket that never stops. Unbearable. Turning the treble all the way down reduced it to a less maddening but still noticeable level. But blending the 2 pickups 50%-50%, which I thought would cancel the noise, was seriously as loud or louder than either of the pickups played solo! Huh?

    Now, like I said before, I have read extensively on TalkBass and elsewhere and know that this issue with the "noiseless" pickups has been discussed quite a bit. I know the two suggested causes are 1.) lack of shielding and 2.) bad ground. But I had naively thought that since this has been a known issue for so freaking long it should have been addressed by now. And barring that, how bad could it possibly be?? Answer: horrendous.

    To cover all the bases (so to speak) I tested the new Elite with 3 different amps in 2 different buildings, one of them my home, in which I know there are no grounding issues, fluorescent lighting, etc., the normal culprits. Places my other basses don't have noise problems. The Elite produced the same loud noise everywhere. I also did the same tests with my two other single coil "J" basses (see photo), a really sweet MIJ 4-string fretless Fender Jazz and a 4-string G&L SB-2 that I've had since the mid '80s. The MIJ Jazz makes a little noise, but perhaps 1/5 that of the new "noiseless" Elite, and when both pickups are maxed (the only way I play it because of the noise) the noise is almost imperceptible. The G&L is very quiet; I've recorded with it and played probably ~500 gigs. Soloing one pickup or the other you can hear a faint bit of noise, but with both pickups together nothing perceptible. It's been great for recording.

    Needless to say, I'm very disappointed--I REALLY wanted this specific new Jazz--but not overly surprised. Only surprised that for the very high price this is still an issue, and Fender *still* advertises the pickups as "noiseless." I guess I feel like a bit of a rube, like I've been punked or am in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

    So it's going back to GC tomorrow. If they want to try installing some shielding or mess with the grounding I'll give it a chance (I did buy the 2-year protection deal--the guy actually said in response to my joke about what if I do a "Pete Townsend" on it, "just tell them you dropped it..."). But I'm not sure I want to give my money to Fender, just on principle. Given that even the > 30 year old beat-up G&L is practically silent, one might conclude that even the newest IMG_2207. IMG_2208. Fenders are still badly flawed in this regard. A shame for an otherwise gorgeous, high-end, beautiful-sounding product. Some might say that's not a fair conclusion based on the small sample size, but enough people have written about it that this is clearly not an isolated case.

    Anyway, I have always loved Fender and am not trying to bash here, and I'm not complaining about some quirky nitty gritty detail I don't like, just reporting impartially, having gone into this with an open mind, what I've experienced as an observation and a caution to anyone else considering making this investment.

    Attaching pictures because I know without them the basses don't really exist... ;-)
     
  2. Ryan L.

    Ryan L. Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2000
    West Fargo, ND
    There’s obviously an issue with that particular bass. I’ve owned two American Elite Jazz V’s, currently still have one. Both were/are dead quiet, no matter what environment I use them in.
     
  3. jd56hawk

    jd56hawk

    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    I like Fender just fine, but never liked their noiseless pickups...other than the Super 55s.
     
    Jamvan likes this.
  4. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    Thank you for your feedback, Ryan, that’s very reassuring. There are more than a few accounts by others who have had this noise problem but given your experience perhaps these are just rare exceptions that slip through Fender Quality Control. Based on this, I’m inclined to just ask GC to order another one vs. trying to fix this one. Will follow up to report how this gets resolved.
     
  5. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    Why do people say they aren't going to do something right before they do that exact thing. If the bass has an issue, get it replaced or repaired under warranty.
     
    wesonbass, MattZilla, Mili and 2 others like this.
  6. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    I have also read that some folks don’t like the Noiseless pickups because they don’t have the traditional “Jazz” sound, which is understandable. I don’t expect the Noiseless to sound like my other Jazzes, because my understanding is that they are “stacked” single coils, i.e., essentially a form of humbucker. The “Jazz” configuration Carvin I have played for many years has this type of pickips and they produce awesome tone, bright but thick, just not like a real Jazz.

    Having said that, I was surprised that with this new Elite the pickups are way TOO bright, intensely so, even just set flat. So to get a comfortable tone that didn’t have a ridiculous amount of string and fret noise I was rolling the treble off considerably and boosting the bass and mids. If/when I get a replacement without the noise I guess I’ll see if this extremely trebly characteristic is also an anomaly...
     
    jd56hawk likes this.
  7. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    There's a Guitar Center in South Carolina?????





    I'm not bashing your state. Being just to your North, I'm surprised there is one (maybe two?) in North Carolina.
     
    BlueShox likes this.
  8. joebar

    joebar

    Jan 10, 2010
    Yeah mine isn’t like that.
    A little in the wrong environment, but quiet in the right one.
    I wouldn’t call these PU’s overly bright so return the bass
     
  9. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    Please help me understand your comment, buldog. I’m just trying to figure out what to do, and asking for advice from people who know something about these basses. My initial thought was to see if GC wants to try repairing it by adding shielding and checking the grounding, but based on Ryan’s feedback I thought maybe it’s just a flawed exception and I should go for a replacement. I appreciate your advice that either repair or replacement is what you would do.
     
  10. mmbongo

    mmbongo Dilly Dilly! Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Carolinas
    There are three in SC.

    Greenville, Spartanburg, Columbia.
     
    wesonbass, pjbassist and two fingers like this.
  11. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    Hah! No bashing taken! Yes, we have a GC here in the Columbia area; I believe it’s their only SC location. There’s not very much of anything else here, though. To find an Apple store you need to go all the way to Charelston...

    I see you are in Eastern NC. My daughter and her family used to live in Beaufort so my wife and I would spend considerable time there. Actually kept our little sailboat up there. Hope you and your instruments made it through all the flooding OK...
     
  12. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    mmbongo, didn’t realize there were two GCs in the upstate, so I stand corrected.

    See, South Cackalacky isn’t all that backward!
     
    mmbongo likes this.
  13. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    Thank you, joebar. That’s good to know. Based on your experience and Ryan’s I’m going to return it this morning and see if they will just order me another one in exchange.
     
    joebar likes this.
  14. Geri O

    Geri O Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    Yeah I'd return that Elite and see how another acts in your hands. They really are great basses.

    I wrote about the noise and ground stuff on the Elite Jazz I had, but with mine, it wasn't a constant high-pitched whine, nor was it constant. I just felt the need to improve on the (meager) shielding that was there. I don't at all discount Ryan's and others' experience (who the hell would tell someone "No, you are wrong, you DO have a problem!" How assinine is that!) and I know I was in some environments where cheap LED light fixtures were the culprit. I had NO problems with those same environments once I applied some extra shielding. It's true I should not have had to do the extra shielding, but being a tinkerer, I didn't mind the process at all. And I didn't think the N4 pups were at all overly bright.

    I hope you have better luck with the next Elite. They are wonderful basses, some of the best-playing basses I've ever played.

    "Why do people say they aren't going to do something right before they do that exact thing. If the bass has an issue, get it replaced or repaired under warranty."

    Yeah. Say WHAT?
     
  15. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I'm near Greenville. We had some sort of force field around us. Thirty miles in every direction got pummeled, but we fared well.

    I have family in Beaufort. My neighbor's family lives in Marshallberg just up the street. Harker's Island (just in front of Marshallberg and Beaufort) got torn to bits. The storm literally changed the landscape there. I've done quite a bit of boating and kayaking the area. Carrot Island (right in front of Beaufort) is a favorite of my girls. They love to paddle over there and "hunt" for wild horses. They have a great deal of fun doing so..... right up until they find one. Then they haul booty back to the dock. :roflmao: The idea of a "wild horse" is somewhat romantic, right up until you encounter one that doesn't seem to appreciate your visit to its grove of short live oaks. :cool:

    I lived in Newport and Havelock for a while (in the 90s). I've played a million shows on the island (Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle).

    Sorry for the derail. Hope the bass thing works out.
     
  16. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    Thank you, Geri O, this reinforces the idea of exchanging this one for another one. Based on your comments and others', this bass is clearly not typical of the product line, both with the high-pitched noise and the overly harsh pickups. Other than that, the bass really is thrilling. Will let you know how things end up with this.
     
  17. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    No worries, two fingers! I know the area pretty well. I'd say you were extremely lucky to be spared by the flooding.

    Maybe I'll send you a message off line for the sake of those who may not want to hear about our Eastern NC experiences...
     
    pjbassist and two fingers like this.
  18. buldog5151bass

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

    Oct 22, 2003
    Connecticut
    From what I know, and without being able to check your bass, I would guess you have a defect. Bring it in and get it checked - like any other product under warranty. If you are not happy, return it. But the gratuitous "Fender is supposed to be so good, but it sucked" doesn't help.
     
  19. BlueShox

    BlueShox Registered Turtle Supporting Member

    Jul 14, 2007
    West Columbia, SC
    The Greenville store is far superior to Columbia's as far as bass selection. As I'm sure you know, in Columbia's you either buy a $300 bass or a $2,000 bass; there's not a lot in the middle.
     
  20. Jon McBass

    Jon McBass Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2017
    South Carolina
    I apologize if my post came across like that. I tried to stay respectful and make it clear I wasn't bashing Fender and just wanted to figure out how to resolve the specific issue, which seems like an isolated occurrence but I wasn't sure. Again, I have always loved Fender--starting with my first band in the Boston area in 1968 when I played through a Bassman. My favorite guitars are Fenders, and I love my fretless Jazz. So please don't lump me in with the Fender whiners.

    Given my experience and respect of Fender products I was just rattled and it was a let down that I happened to get what appeared to be a defective bass. Given the cost--a lot, to me--I had taken a leap of faith and the outcome was discouraging. I wanted to hear from others in order to understand the situation and resolve it. So yes, I'm returning it today.
     

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