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There’s been a resurgence of the offset body shape in the last few years, guitar-wise. Basses with P and J style pickups, again nothing new. But melding the classic offset shape to the P&J pickup configuration is, and if any manufacturer can do it with style and sound, it’s Fender.
Their new Player Series Jag Bass covers a lot of traditional Fender bass categories in design and specs, with a P-bass headstock with open back tuning machines, a synthetic nut, 20 medium jumbo frets and black dot markers. The neck’s modern C shape and is plenty comfortable, with a sale length of 34”. Our test model’s neck was finished with a smooth satin, and the maple fingerboard was glossy and smooth. Sound familiar? Yep, classic Fender all over.
The alder body is finished in a blue metallic-ish color is called “tidepool.” With the top loading bridge, there are less bends on the string vs. a through the body method. It’s an update on the usual Fender bass bridge, and combined with the chrome plating, it’s reminiscent of early 1960s Detroit muscle cars. This color only comes with a maple fingerboard, btw. The bottom line, price is an easy-to-swallow $649. The Sage Green and Sonic Red versions come with a Pau Ferro fingerboard, and a slightly higher price: $679.
The neck pickup is a P style, and the bridge position is sporting a split J bass style. Control wise it’s quite simple, with just a volume for each pickup. The master tone control has a slightly smaller knob at the end of the chrome control plate.
Sound-wise it’s the best of both worlds; the P style pickup is big and full. Add in the punch of the J style pickup in the bridge, and it balances things out nicely. Put them up full (as most players will more than likely do) and it’s big without sacrificing articulation. Players can explore their own preferences easily, by lowering the individual volumes on the pickups to find their own individual tone. The master tone control is also quite flexible; it doesn’t get muddy when rolled off, and interacts really well with both pickups.
While some may dismiss this as a vintage throwback, it’s not. There is a slightly aggressive edge to it, with a very nice attack, more than likely due to the maple neck/fingerboard. Players who want that P bass sound, without the big-ish traditional P bass neck will love how this neck sits in the hand. Fans of maple-necked J bass tones (cough Geddy Lee cough) will like the tight grind the J style pickup brings to the game. The offset Jaguar body is very comfortable and balanced and has a great overall look that wouldn’t look odd in most musical outfits.
Overall, it’s kind of like a resto-mod of a bass — classic updated looks and tones with modern feel. Any player in a situation that needs that classic P&J combo, one of these will certainly stand out. If someone is going to re-invent a classic, it may as well be the people that literally invented the original.
Classic sounds, modern feel, great sonic balance
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