The mood in the Fender factory in the year 1951 must’ve been absolutely electric. With the popularity of Leo and co.’s builds skyrocketing and one of the most profound shifts in popular culture blossoming all around them, I can only imagine what it was like for the people on the tools that gave rise to such mythic instruments as those that we now know to be the gold standard in four and six string design. If ever the question, ‘What does a bass guitar sound like?’ is asked, more likely than not the beast that springs to mind is that year’s deadliest weapon, the Precision Bass. 60 years and countless technological advancements later and still nothing quite compares to that tough, solid monolith of low-end.
Fender’s latest line of top tier builds is the American Professional range. Ever proud of their immense history, as well they should be, these builds take the time honored reliability of several benchmark years for the company and tweak the designs ever so slightly in order to cater for the hardest working players in the industry. This latest iteration of the revered P Bass is as close as you’ll ever get to an actual ’51 without going back in time. The polished satin finish of the neck counters its hefty 9.5” radius balancing smooth playability with brick and mortar might. A rosewood fingerboard ices the maple neck’s cake nicely, anchoring the design to the classic body shape we all know and love. It’s heavier than the previous model and has a fair amount hotter output than the American Standard, but it feels every bit the step up that you expect from an update on a stalwart of music history.
By far the most marked adjustment to the overall design is the complex web of magnets in the split coil pick-ups. By default, P Bass’ systems are more streamlined than their brother in funk the Jazz Bass. The single, double-sided housing is loaded with a blend of several alnico weights, which, like a good whiskey blend, weaves together seamlessly. It’s an interesting choice but ultimately one that enhances the simplicity of the tonal fingerprint as opposed to muddying it up with layers of colour. The last thing that Fender should ever do is mess with such a distinctive sound but they’ve managed to pull off this more than moderate update without kicking the hornets’ nest that gave rise to so many musical styles that define generations.
The P Bass is, was and always will be the standard bearer for low down definition; punk and hardcore kids love the fistfuls of energy it wrestles from your fingers, funk guys love the classic punch and clarity when slapping and popping and even feather-weight players sitting in the back of folk bands are addicted to the warmth and sustain that comes from rolling off the tone pot even a pinch. All of the above are bound to agree that Fender has made a step in the right direction with the American Professional Precision Bass. Its delicate balance of modern flourishes that remain true to the historical significance of the design is very much on point and reflective of a company with a clear and earnest understanding of the reason people continue to love them all these years later.
Hits and Misses
True to history reasoning behind pinches of modernity
Smooth and sensitive feel with familiar toughness
Limited finishes available for the more aesthetically minded