Reviewed: Fender Vintera ‘50s Precision Bass and Vintera ‘60s Jazz Bass

Fender Music Australia | fender.com.au | RRP: ‘50s P Bass - $1,899, ‘60s Jazz Bass - $1,999

Fender’s new series of Vintera instruments cover the entire range of the famed manufacturer’s catalogue. They’re faithful reproductions of vintage instruments with modern functionality and build quality. The Vintera Jazz Bass, available in both 60s or 70s variants, is an alder-bodied, full-size gloss polyester finished instrument, with Vintage-Style '60s Single-Coil Jazz Bass pickups in the bridge and neck positions. It features a period correct neck profile and frets, as well as respective ‘60s or 70s style tuning machines.

The Precision, or ‘P’ bass, is equally spec’d out and a true homage to the ‘50s. It’s available in an alder or ash body depending on your preference, but this time with a deluxe maple fretboard. Both basses play well, tip their headstocks to their predecessors, but are masterfully designed basses in their own right. They’re not the same as a ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s bass, because they’re not trying to be. Though similar in specs, feel and tone, they’re a culmination of Fender’s lasting legacy and influence. The P Bass itself has become favoured by bassists spanning multiple genres, while the Jazz is possibly even more widely used.

 

 

The Vintera P Bass is a 34” scale length bass with a Vintage “C” neck profile and 7.25” fingerboard radius. Both the neck itself and fingerboard are maple, and are finished in a gloss urethane. From the 20 vintage sized frets to the Fender American Vintage bass bridge, the specs and hardware are very period correct, while the synthetic bone nut is the perfect example of tying together the old and new. Both the P-bass and Jazz feature bolt-on necks and no neck binding. The Jazz, again, is a 34” bass with 20 vintage style frets and a “C” neck profile, but this time a ‘Mid '60s style “C”. Both basses features the American Vintage Reverse Open-Gear Bass tuning machines, and while the pickups are both designed and built in the modern day, they’re revoiced to be more period correct.

 

Straight out of the included deluxe Fender gig bag, the Vintera Jazz sounds great. The D.I. tone is complete, full and iconic, even without a pre-amp or amplifier head. In saying that, it does respond well to an amp, bringing out character and vibe from the matching Jazz pickups. The electronics are comfortably within reach and the single coil Jazz Bass pickups feature independent volume controls to blend the pickups together or cancel one or the other completely. Even dialled to ten, blending both pickups evenly, the tone is even and balanced, and not too honky as some basses can become. The Jazz is unassuming in both looks and sound, sitting right in the pocket whichever way you look at it. While admittedly a little weighty, the bass still feels balanced when standing and playing. It feels great to really dig in to the tones with a pick, or to groove along with your fingers. The volume remains fairly even regardless of picking attack, but the bass still responds dynamically when need be. Not always a forward tone, but ever present, holding down the band as a bass should.

 

 

The Precision Bass, featuring a '50s style gold pickguard over either a Dakota Red, Seafoam Green or Vintage Blonde gloss polyester finish, features a Vintage-Style '50s split single coil Precision Bass pickup and simple master volume and tone controls, completing the simplicity and precision that makes the P Bass what it is. The sound of the bass itself is an instantly more usable rock tone than the Jazz, noticeably honkier in tone that would sit well amongst slamming drums and distorted guitars. Even unplugged, the maple fingerboard creates a more forward tone, reflecting the attack and pick of the fretted notes. The finished neck feels good, and isn’t grabby like some glossy finishes. Being a single pickup instrument, the tone knob really alters the tone completely, and offers a lot of room to fine tune for the perfect sound within a mix. Despite notably less electronics for fine tuning and half the pickups, the P Bass is equally malleable when searching for the ideal sound for the situation. The P Bass shape is very comfortable, and offers great access to higher frets for a balanced playing experience overall.

 

Like everything else in the Vintera Series, the Vintera Jazz and Precision Basses are not only the culmination of years or progress for Fender, but flagship instruments for Fender’s ability to reimagine modern classics that have been used on countless records the world over. Fender instruments have shaped music into what it is in 2019, in one way or another, and the Vintera Series is a tribute to all of that. Both basses are entirely usable for a wide variety of genres, featuring simple but handy electronics and layouts for a variety of tones, timbres, colours and sounds from either a single P Bass pickup or dual Jazz bass pickups, both revoiced and reinvigorated for a modern take on vintage sounds. With period correct body shapes, neck profiles and tuners coupled with modern build quality, the buck stops with Fender as the continue to produce some of the best instruments they ever have.

Hits and Misses

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Vintage style, modern build quality

Re-imagined and re-voiced specifications to match vintage basses

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Jazz Bass heavier than a P-Bass

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