Review: Fender Player Plus Active Meteora Bass
26.04.2022

Review: Fender Player Plus Active Meteora Bass

meteora bass review
Words by James Callanan

Fender Australia | RRP: $2,399

In 1958, Fender introduced offset guitars to the world with the release of their ground-breaking Jazzmaster, intended to be the flagship of their line of electric guitars. This range of creatively-shaped guitars was added to with the release of Fender’s offsets of the ’60s, including the Jaguar, Mustang, and Jazz Bass. In the decades since, these guitars and basses have become the weapon of choice for a vast array of musical icons – confirming these instruments as legendary in their own right.

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In 2018, Fender introduced the radical new Meteora – an offset guitar of more extreme proportions that retained the spark and glamour of the iconic Jazzmasters and Jaguars. With the addition of Fender’s new Player Plus Active Meteora Bass, this exciting range now caters to those after a bass with an ergonomic and distinct body shape, paired with the ability to achieve a vast array of tones on the fly. 

Upon the first visual inspection, the sleek and extravagant design of the Meteora appears to draw stylistic inspiration from some of Fender’s classics – imagine an abstract artist’s interpretation of a Jazzmaster body, combined with a distorted Telecaster Deluxe pickguard, and the neck of a Jazz Bass. Yet, despite these mixed influences, the design of the Player Plus Active Meteora Bass works so well, tying these various elements into a cohesive, spectacular design. The more dramatic and angular forearm contour perfectly matches the Meteora’s aesthetics, as do the Knurled chrome control knobs, and the adjustable HiMass bridge. Importantly, the pursuit of visual allure never detracts from the functionality of this bass. In fact – many features that contribute to the bass’ looks improve its playability, such as the elongated offset design which makes the Meteora a well-balanced instrument.

The Active Meteora Bass’s solid Alder body is gloss-finished, and fitted with two Fireball bass humbucker pickups, a set of control knobs to adjust the various parameters of the Meteora’s active and passive electronics, and a HiMass bridge which aims to increase sustain and tuning stability through its solidity. The back of the body contains easy-access battery covers to enable quick replacement of the two 9V batteries that power the 18V active preamp. Overall, the body is relatively light, yet sturdy in construction, making for a comfortable playing experience. 

While the Meteora’s body offers a versatile and eye-catching aspect to the bass guitar, it’s neck truly makes it a pleasure to play. Capped with a fingerboard of the same wood, the Maple neck is finished with satin urethane, producing a smooth, resistance-free playing experience for the fretting hand. Much like a Fender Jazz Bass, the Meteora has a fairly narrow nut width of about 1.5 inches. By producing a gradual increase in the spacing of the strings as they move from the nut to the bridge, playing riffs and walking basslines in the lower register is a breeze, and the fingers of the picking hand have sufficient space to cleanly move across the strings. With a 12” fingerboard radius, rolled edges, and a Modern “C” profile, the Meteora’s neck is idiomatic of Fender’s modern bass necks; ergonomic, and made to be played.

From the get-go, playing the Player Plus Meteora Active Bass is both a comfortable and satisfying experience. The weight distribution of the offset body makes for great balance when standing up, though there is some slight neck dive when played sitting – par for the course for an offset guitar. The 34” scale length provides a nice balance between tension and tonality, and also enables a seamless transition for players moving to the Meteora from a Fender Precision or Jazz Bass. The HiMass bridge provides increased sustain to the sound, and, in conjunction with the Alder body, this bass guitar is nicely resonant – a characteristic that is noticeable to the player, even with the bass unplugged.

Though the Meteora’s striking visual design is probably the first thing that attracts a prospective player, it might be the versatile and high-fidelity electronics that are the standout of this fine bass guitar. The Fireball humbucking bass pickups do a brilliant job of capturing the bass’ organic tone, outputting a sound that is articulate in nature, and balanced across the range of the fretboard and between strings. The neck pickup has a lovely warmth and vocal-like growl to its sound, which can then be kicked into gear by switching to the grunt of the bridge pickup. Additionally, the two pickups in tandem produce a glassy cleanness, resulting in a sound that is natural, yet refrains from being too ‘boomy’. While it is clear that the componentry has been well-matched to the overall design of the bass, the sharp corners of the plastic covers of the Fireball pickups did make playing a little uncomfortable at times when picking the third and fourth strings

The controls area features a toggle switch, enabling the bassist to move between active and passive electronics. The passive sound bears some similarity to the classic Jazz Bass sound, and the active mode enables more precise control of the tonal shape. After passing through the master volume and pickup blend potentiometers, the pickup signal moves through what is effectively a three-band EQ when the toggle switch is engaged in the active position. Featuring separate dials for treble, midrange, and bass frequencies, these controls enable both boosting and cutting at each of the three respective frequency ranges. These various controls ultimately provide significant sonic versatility to the bassist searching for just the right tone in their studio session, and to the gigging musician who needs to make mid-show adjustments to keep up with the dynamic environment of a live performance. 

With eye-catching visuals, quality componentry, and a generous set of controls to enable sonic manipulation, the Fender Player Plus Active Meteora Bass is a highly dependable and versatile instrument. While a new release, the Meteora bass possesses both the construction and sound quality that is typical of Fender basses; and it’s not hard to imagine this model becoming a favourite among the bass community.

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