Bass Number 19 – Fender Fretless Jazz Bass

That big white fur-ball beside me in this picture is my ragdoll cat, Sora.  Just in time for bass photos he decided it was time to play.  What a ham.  (Hey, that’s my job!)

A few weeks ago I decided to try out a Squire Fretless Jazz Bass.  After playing it for a week or so I happened across this Fender version of the same instrument.

Fender produces many of the same products in at least three price points.  For the fretless Jazz Bass there is the Squire version at about $310.00, the Mexican Fender version for just around $625.00 and the American Standard Fender Jazz Bass at about $1100.00.  To justify the price difference there has to be some obvious difference.  I thought the Squire was a decent bass but I wasn’t too sure if I liked the non-wood fretboard and also wasn’t quite sure that I liked the sound of the Duncan Designed pickups.

This bass is the mid-range Mexican Fender Jazz. When I started playing this one in the store I was struck by how much nicer it felt.  And then I plugged it in to one of those all tube Ampegs and I was lost in it.  What a great feel and what a great classic sound.

Lately I’ve been listening to some Jazz bass players and fretless bass players that have classic burpy buzzy fretless Fender sound.  Playing this bass gets you right there.  It’s a beautiful sound.

This bass is what they called “lined” fretless.  When you first look at it, it looks like a fretted instrument.  It’s kind of too bad in a way.  With my Godin people wonder how I know were to play.  They can’t see the markers across the top of the neck.  This one makes it easy to play in right spot, since it has lines were the frets usually are.

This MIM (made-in-Mexico) version of the Jazz Bass comes with flatwound strings, (the Squire had roundwound).  This is more in keeping with the traditional Jazz Bass sound.  Also, since the fretboard is rosewood, the flatwounds won’t be destroying the fretboard over time.

Playing this plugged in, I find it has a lot of tone variation by just turning down either one of the pickup volume controls a quarter turn or by playing over the neck or close to the bridge.  Traditionally I’m a bass-picker.  I’ve always played with a pick.  But playing fretless, you just have to play with thumb and forefinger to get the right sound.  Playing with a pick just doesn’t do it.

Playing this bass in a full band practice situation I found that the sound was right there.  Those largely fundamental notes allowed me to play a bit louder and without getting lost in the mush of keyboards and two guitars.

I think I will be playing this bass a lot over the next while.  Although I though the Squire was okay, this one JUST ROCKS!

Terri

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2 Responses to Bass Number 19 – Fender Fretless Jazz Bass

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