Troy Sanders Fender Precision Bass | Fender Music Australia | RRP: $2,849.00
When it comes to heavy metal, there aren’t many bands as universally acclaimed as Mastodon. With a fanbase as eclectic as their unique blend of sounds, Mastodon have been successfully traversing genre boundaries and transcending labels for 23 years. This is largely due to the incredibly innovative and technical work of bassist Troy Sanders, whose high powered sound is a crucial component of the band’s immense sonic presence.
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Having previously released a signature Fender Jaguar Bass model, Sanders has now put his name to a Precision Bass that reflects his versatile playing and modern approach. Striking a beautiful balance between the old school appointments that have made this instrument a classic and some stellar contemporary innovations, the Troy Sanders Precision Bass is a powerful tool suitable for any bass player.
Featuring a stunning Silverburst finish, this model is immediately eye-catching. From its glossy glow to its shiny chromed hardware, it has an understated flare that is adventurous yet refined. The Rosewood fretboard is adorned with beautiful white pearloid block inlays, with a custom Mastodon inlay on the 12th fret that will thrill any super fans out there. Other delightful details include a matching Silverburst headstock with a 70s style Fender logo, a Troy Sanders decal on the back of the headstock and a custom Mastodon neck plate to tie it all together.
Troy Sanders worked with Fender on a custom neck shape for this model, and it feels fantastic. Very sleek and most definitely on the thinner side, it is undoubtedly built for speed, however its comfortable C shape remains very ergonomic even up past the 12th fret. The Rosewood fretboard, I was pleased to find, is a slab board as opposed to the more modern veneer style, a vintage throwback that Fender nerds will appreciate.
Known for its low end thump, but perhaps not so much for its versatility, the classic P Bass design is about as beloved as a one trick pony can get. Revered for its sonic symbiosis with the frequencies of a kick drum, the Precision Bass sits perfectly in a band mix with a distinct bump around 100hz. It is, however, somewhat lacking in flexibility.
Sanders, being an incredibly dynamic and versatile player, was looking for a slightly more flexible setup for this Precision model. With Fender’s help, he settled on a PJ pickup configuration for some added flexibility. A P Bass pickup in the neck position, accompanied by a Jazz Bass pickup in the bridge gives this model the best of both worlds.
The addition of a Jazz Bass pickup opens up a world of tonal possibilities, adding some serious zing to what would otherwise be the fairly subdued top end. In the bridge position, it brings the grinding mids and stringy highs of a Jazz bass to the party, whilst the traditional neck pickup provides the meaty bottom end and solid thump of a P Bass. When combined, these pickups create a unique and beautifully balanced tone that has all sorts of interesting applications.
As you would expect, these pickups also happen to be active. Active pickups are a heavy metal tradition, and Troy Sanders proudly is no exception. A long time advocate for the increased clarity and power that active pickups supply, Sanders has scarcely stepped onto a stage equipped with anything else. His home collection, however, features several traditional Fender models that feature passive pickups, which Sanders has seemingly begun to warm up to over the years. When it came time to make the choice for his signature model, it turned out he could have his cake and eat it too, and now so can you.
When Fender suggested an active/passive switch for this model, Sanders was intrigued. With the flick of a toggle switch, players can now alternate between the warm, woody vintage tonality of a passive pickup and the increased clarity and powerful modern sound of an active pickup. This makes the PJ configuration in this model even more versatile, creating a myriad of sonic possibilities that are seemingly endless and tons of fun. With the addition of a treble boost/cut and a bass boost/cut circuit, there really is nothing this configuration cant do.
If the one historical criticism of the Precision bass is that it lacks tonal variety, this may in fact be the perfect iteration to convert any naysayer. Mastodon fans and non-fans alike will im sure be as impressed as I was with its huge, ultra-malleable sound. Personally, I could not be further apart from the aesthetic or highly technical approach of Mastodon, and yet I found myself thoroughly enjoying the spectrum of sounds at my disposal with this bass, as well as its exhilaratingly fast neck. Another admission that anyone would have to make about this model is that despite belonging to a band known for their long beards and face tattoos, it has a classy timeless appeal.
Like Mastodon themselves, who have defied genre conventions with their imaginative and boundlessly expansive music, this bass is built for heavy metal, but it can do so much more. A sleek, tasteful and powerful tool, the Troy Sanders Precision bass is a mean heavy metal machine, wrapped in a classically elegant design.
Mastodon may be metal heads, but they are Grammy winners after all, and you wear your tux to the Grammys.
For more information, head to Fender Music Australia.