Tried and trusted, Fender’s Jazz Bass is a living classic. From the outset its brighter tone, richer midrange and more prominent treble made it a much-loved point of difference to the Precision Bass, and an embraced constant in the ever-changing Fender range. It’s a bass guitar with style, with pizzazz, with oomph and versatility thanks to a couple of well-refined single coil pickups, added controls and a sleek offset body. Like any proven formula, it’s something that you don’t want to mess with too drastically, otherwise risk muddying the sonic personality and the aesthetic appeal of the instrument. With every new iteration of the bass model, it always begs the question: what can Fender do that hasn’t been done before? And after that, what is the impact of these changes and/or additions? With the release of the new American Professional Jazz Bass accompanied by a bunch of new features, it’s time to once again answer these pertinent questions.
The American Pro Jazz Bass is an instrument to be admired. A curved, slightly offset double cutaway alder body – streamlined with a glancing pocket on the back – meets a lush, rosewood fingerboard that’s just as slender. The deep shades of the 3-colour sunburst finish exude confidence and sophistication. Like any of the household Fender models, the Jazz Bass is steeped in a rich history of craftsmanship and manufacturing excellence. So when you do get your hands on the latest model, and of American make, it’s important to savour the moment.
As expected, the Pro Jazz Bass offers exceptional playability with the longstanding Modern 'C' neck profile. Unlike the rest of the Professional Series range, which moved to a Deep 'C' neck profile, the Jazz Bass thankfully stays true to what has held it in good stead in the past. What has changed though is the fret shape, which was previously medium jumbo, and is now tall narrow. This acts to sharpen and tighten the precision of each note ever so slightly with increased intonation accuracy. The playing experience is one characterised by smooth and uninhibited runs, great traction and total control. While my hands are on the small side, I can comfortably reach around the entire neck with ease – a source of confidence for all bassists. Construction-wise, the neck is reinforced with a set of Posiflex graphite rods to ensure it stays straight, with greater strength and stability – a nice addition, and one we have seen from Fender in the past.
The Pro Jazz Bass has a HiMass vintage-style bridge, which works in conjunction with the bone nut to enhance sustain and deliver pronounced articulation. This is then complemented by the newly introduced fluted tuner design, made to provide greater string tension with a prime break angle over the nut; all of which act to provide tuning accuracy and stability.
This bass is fitted with a pair of V-Mod single-coil Jazz Bass pickups. With the use of various alnico magnets it leans fairly close to its tonal roots, with versatility provided by your standard two-volume, one-tone knob setup.
In order to dial in on a mean growl that is circular, booming and resonant, lean on the neck pick up while rolling back on both the bridge pickup and on the tone knob. With both volume knobs at three quarters full, and the tone at half full, you are met with a tight response well suited to indie rock basslines that require a sharp, clear and direct tone. Then with less neck pickup, and increased treble and bridge volume, the bass dials on a lively, dynamic, funk-like tone that pops and sizzles with hammer ons and pull offs – perfect for groovy runs and pronounced solos.
It’s a stretch to say that this is a new Jazz Bass model. In truth, it’s an upgrade of sorts, a subtly refined instrument that was already the complete package. What’s undeniable, however, is the quality of this bass guitar – uncompromising and utterly rewarding.
Hits and Misses
V-Mod single-coil pickups uphold the tonal quality and versatility of previous models
The slim neck profile and narrow tall frets are a joy to play
Quality construction and hardware, through and through
Shares many similarities with the previous Standard model