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A little help and clarification please


I've been playing guitar for quite a while now and now my girlfriend wants me to teach her to play the bass so she can play with me and quite possibly start another band including her this time. She's good with music so no worries about buying her a bass and her not learning. I do have a question though about the different kinds of basses and how they sound. The two biggest basses I'm looking at buying her are either a Fender Jazz or P bass. If yall could guide me and direct me about the features and how they sound I'd greatly appreciate it.

The Golden Boy

Senior Member
Body wise- the Jazz has a physically larger body- it can look really huge if you're not 6' tall. It also has 2 SC pickups- when used together they're humbucking. The nut width (From E-G) is 1.5"

The P has a physically smaller body- one humbucking pickup in the same position as the "neck" pickup of the J. The nut width gets as big as 1.75"

The P will give you more "thump." The J (with both pickups on) will sound more "middy." A J can do a passable P impression- but a P always sounds like a P.

I find the J neck more playable- as the 1.5" nut width works best for me.


J has more of a "bright" sound to it. Think Geddy Lee in Rush...he plays a J almost exclusively. And of course, every bassist knows who Jaco was.

P has more "thud" to it. Best example I can think of offhand is from Billy Sheehan.

In my opinion, you can do a lot more with a J-style bass, including "faking" a P sound. It's also generally got a smaller neck so for someone with smaller hands it might be better.


I usually describe the Jazz as a "smile sound", and the P as a "frown" sound. (think of an EQ)

Jazz has deep bass, but a zing on top, the P is more midrange thud. Less zing.


<donning fire-retardant suit> Just a thought... If your GF is petite, or intimidated by a large bass guitar, you might consider a short scale bass. I'm a guy, and I prefer short scales - my hands are just not big enough for the longer scale, and wider necks.

A really nice short-scale that is currently out there is the Gibson SG reissue which has two pickups, and a small body. There are plenty others.

Most people will tell you that only an idiot or the Anti-Christ would play a short scale, but there are many bass players who did pretty well with them: Cream (Jack Bruce), Govt Mule, etc, etc.

Just my 2 cents - YMMV


Gold Supporting Member
Definitely go for something with at LEAST a J-size neck.

There are P-bass specials that have a P body, J neck, and a P/J pickup combo.

Other alternatives if she's not 6 foot tall (haha) are brands like carvin, etc... the carvins almost play like a guitar, the necks are so thin, and they are lighter weight...


To me P Basses sound better than Jazz's and record better, but I like the Jazz necks better..



The "Jazz" neck is also called the "A" neck, and is often found on P-basses as well... of all the Precisions I've owned over the years, I think more had A-necks than not.

I'd stay away from a short scale only because she may as well learn to play on the same instrument, at least size-wise, as she'll play when more accomplished.

Choose something light, something with a narrow nut, and string it with light or extra-light strings... string weight, overall guitar weight, and nut width/neck profile are going to be the "biggies."

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