Review: Fender Aerodyne Special Precision Bass 

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Review: Fender Aerodyne Special Precision Bass 

Words by James Callanan

Fender Music Australia | Price: $2,199

In 1951, the world of popular music was changed forever with October of that year seeing the first production of the Fender Precision electric bass guitar. With a bolt-on neck, a 34-inch scale length, and a two-horned body shape, Leo Fender had stumbled upon a combination that would continue to dominate the lower-frequencies of the airwaves, seven decades after its initial release. The new Aerodyne Special Precision Bass from Fender offers many of the iconic characteristics of Leo’s original Precision, albeit with a slight twist this time around.

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Renowned for its robusticity and iconic sound, the Fender P-Bass has remained largely unchanged in design since its release, though interesting takes on the classic Fender basses have been released over the years. The Fender Special Jazz bass, made in Japan in the ‘80s is in some ways a precursor to the Fender Aerodyne range, which saw slight adjustments made to the iconic Jazz and Precision bass designs. These bass guitars featured tops without contour cuts, with the edges often bound for a more premium look. The Fender Aerodyne Special Precision Bass is in some ways a combination of a few of these historical designs, offering stylish aesthetics, rich sounds, and high-quality Japanese craftsmanship in an exciting new package.

The Aerodyne Special Precision has a refreshingly simple look that oozes class. Absent of a pickguard, the slightly arched top of the bass’ body offers a more minimalistic appearance than your typical P-Bass, with the electronics accessible via a small, covered cavity on the rear of the instrument. The output jack is flush-mounted on the side of the body, and with no mounting plate, the seamlessly minimalistic appearance is continued here. With a bound top, a colour-matched headstock, and chrome Fender lettering, the small embellishments that this bass guitar boasts are a symptom of the great attention to detail that Fender has employed in the making of the Aerodyne Special Precision. With vintage, clover-style tuners that hold tune very well, and a Babicz bridge, Fender has matched the gorgeous looks with quality componentry. As with any of the Japanese-made Fenders, the fit and finish of the Aerodyne Special Precision is second to none.

With fewer contours than your typical Fender Precision, you would be forgiven to think playing ergonomics are not as seamless in the forearm contact area of the bout. Given the slightly curved shape of the top of the Aerodyne Special Precision, however, an organic forearm “contour” already exists here. Additionally, this bass guitar’s body does have a belly cut, as found on a traditional Precision. Due to the brilliant weight distribution of our review unit’s basswood body, playing the Aerodyne Precision was a highly enjoyable and comfortable experience. Balance was also observed to be optimal when played standing up, with only some minor neck dive when played sitting down. This bass would be an awesome choice to play for those long sets. 

The “C”-shaped maple neck is very comfortable to play in upper and lower positions, offering enough material to really dig in to but without being overly cumbersome. With a satin finish covering the back of the maple neck and the skunk striped, low-friction movement of the fretting hand was possible, enabling seamless traversing of the neck to play faster runs and walking bass lines.

As you’d expect from any variant of the Fender Precision, the Aerodyne Special leaves nothing to be desired from its great sound. Largely thanks to the resonant basswood body and the iconic 34-inch scale length, the sound is warm, articulate, and full-bodied, idiomatic of a Fender P-Bass. The high-quality Babicz Full Contact Hardware bridge also promoted resonance and sustain in the acoustic and electric output of this bass guitar. This bridge performed in a similar fashion to the Fender HiMass bridge found on the Fender Player Plus Active Meteora Bass, which greatly contributed to the bass guitar’s excellent tone. With rounded edges on its saddle pieces and mounting plate, the Babicz bridge is very comfortable to rest your picking hand on and is therefore highly conducive to palm-muting when using a plectrum.

In continuing the theme of great attention-to-detail and quality componentry are the electronics of the Fender Aerodyne Special Precision Bass, which provide detailed sonic output and enable the use of the bass guitar in a vast array of musical applications. The new Aerodyne Special Pickups by Fender designed specifically for this model provide a highly articulate sound, with an even balance in level and tone across each of the four strings. The master volume and tone potentiometers are decently wide-ranging, enabling appropriate tonalities for gentler genres such as smooth jazz, right through to your harder rock and metal situations. The pickups were especially impressive when fingerpicking, as they seemed to pick up every little detail from the picking fingers, as well as for slides and pull-offs on the fretting hand. Encouragingly, these pickups performed equally as well with effects, with a chorus of low rate and high depth nicely complementing the qualities of the Aerodyne Special Precision’s output.

With a stylish, minimal aesthetic, high-quality hardware and electrical componentry, and superb Japanese fit and finish, the Fender Aerodyne Special Precision Bass is a dependable instrument that produces some terrific sounds, thanks in part to the specially designed Aerodyne Special Pickups. This would make an excellent choice for those after a bass with a unique style that boasts the same great sounds and playability as the most iconic electric bass guitar of all time. 

Head to Fender for more information. For local enquiries, reach out to Fender Music Australia.