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Fender Jazz Bass

Updated on December 6, 2011

Players of electric bass quite often choose between two staples among bass guitars, the Precision or “P” Bass and the ever-popular Jazz Bass.

The Fender Jazz Bass was introduced to the music world nearly half a century ago. From 1960 through about 1981, Fender made technical changes and minor alterations to both the “P” Bass and the Jazz Bass. Eventually, the company settled on the Fender Standard Jazz Bass as the foundation for the jazz line.

As most experienced users of Fender basses know, there are some fundamental differences between these examples of bass guitar. A jazz bass player may use both types, in special situations, but crossover between different models of vintage bass guitar is not common.

The Jazz Bass had two bass pickups of rectangular shape, from the first time the model came off the workroom floor. In addition to this key factor about the Jazz Bass pickups, the slightly-different Jazz Bass had individual string mutes. Throw in the initial use of a rosewood fingerboard and you have some identifying factors to tell you if you are looking at a vintage Jazz Bass.

Fender Jazz Bass

Fender Jazz Bass Reissue Models

What about the Jazz reissue models? Well, Fender has accommodated those who want quality replicas of some classic early models, such as the 60s Relic Jazz or the ’62 Jazz.

Aside from the sweet sound of the Jazz Bass pickup and the neat look/shape of the Jazz Bass pickguard, many players choose Fender Jazz because of playability.

Some choose the maple neck, while others want only the rosewood fingerboard (often of the slab design).

Fender American Deluxe Jazz Bass prices fall somewhere between the Deluxe Active and the Vintage ’75.

For about $1,400 or $1,500, the player can get a beautiful instrument with specially selected alder body and a variation of the Jazz Bass bridge, the deluxe chrome-plated bridge that allows either string-thru or top-loading. This model also has two, dual-coil Samarium Cobalt Noiseless Jazz pickups.

Some other variations on the theme are the fretless, with a price in the $1,100 range; the Squier Jazz Bass for under $300; and the Marcus Miller Jazz Bass, with specially designed pickups and a rather different pickguard shape.

Recommended Reading about the Fender Jazz Bass

Fender Jazz Bass vs Precision Bass

Remember that, when looking for a Fender bass, it is important to differentiate between the Precision and the Jazz, of course. There are some slight differences in sound and feel. But within those larger categories, there are many styles and colors to satisfy the discerning bassist.

Remember to look at the details. It’s important to know these things, because a mint 1961 Jazz Bass, not a reissue, can carry a $7,000 price tag. A similar bass, from the years when CBS was the parent corporation, will be worth percentage of that lofty figure.

Fender Bass Prices

If the bass player is looking for a new bass, suppose a favorite music retailer offers a Fender Deluxe Active Jazz Bass for about $650. That is about the right price for this particular model.

But go to the American Vintage ’75 Jazz Bass and you will find a price tag in the $1,700 to $1,800 range.

This special model has bound fingerboard, block inlays, solid ash body, three-play black pickguard, vintage style single-coil pickups and other features not found on the less-costly models.

Who plays (or played) the Fender Jazz Bass?

Who plays (or played) the Fender Jazz Bass? Well, it’s known that the virtuoso John Entwistle of The Who used one for a brief time, though he moved to custom basses for the most part.

Members of The Beatles used a Bass VI, a six-string bass that looks something like the Jazz Bass.

The great Jaco Pastorius flew around a Jazz Bass on some of his great recordings, as do Geddy Lee (Rush) and Adam Clayton (U2).

What makes the Fender Jazz Bass special? There are several opinions on that subject. But nearly everyone who has played one of these fine basses agrees that it is a great experience.


Fender Jazz Bass Headstock

(c) Paul Klein
(c) Paul Klein

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    • profile image

      Vintage bass guitar 

      8 years ago

      I am a bass player myself and IMHO the Fender Jazz Bass is the best instrument to play. Nice hub about the legendary Fender Bass guitars.

    • profile image


      8 years ago


    • Julie-Ann Amos profile imageAUTHOR

      Julie-Ann Amos 

      9 years ago from Gloucestershire, UK

      Glad you enjoyed it I have a lot of hubs on guitars coming

    • foxility profile image


      9 years ago

      Very informative article. I have a few friends that play, so it's nice to get some info.


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