Jazz vs. Precision

elationalways

Member
Messages
86
Hey guys. This may seem silly to some but can you give me a little run down on the key differences between the Fender Precision and the Fender Jazz basses?
 

Bob Pollock

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
5,115
2 biggest differences, the Jazz neck is slimmer and narrower at the nut, and it has 2 blendable pickups vs. the single split coil of the Precision. But I'm just a guitar player.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,357
think of a P-bass like a tele (an esquire, really); a slab of wood with one kick-ass pickup, great for all kinds of stuff.

a Jazz is more like a strat, curvy, sexy, with lots of different sounds, some thinner than others. not quite as powerful as the other one, but a tweak of the amp gain makes up for it.

a jazz set to the neck pickup can almost sound like a P, just like a strat set to the bridge can almost sound like a tele.
 

Jim-Dandy

Member
Messages
61
Also, they sit differently in the mix. The P-bass occupies the low-mid portion of the mix with a very solid fat tone. It may not be overpowing on stage, but in the mix it just sounds right for all kinds of music. The J-bass seems to occupy more the low and higher (depending on note choice) portions of the mix with a thinner sometimes more nasally tone. On stage, I could hear it better, but it sometimes got lost in the mix more easily. The P thumps and the J growls, which is why alot of bass players have one of each!

Ergonomically speaking, they feel nothing like each other. The J is offset and kind of feels like a bigger version of the Jazzmaster, has 2 blendable pickups (that take some time to figure out how to set them for best effect), and a very thin 1.5 inch nut width. The P feels like a big strat and has one pickup with one volume and one tone knob (pretty easy to dial in a good tone), and a bigger neck.

When I was playing bass, I liked both of them but probably played the P more than the J.
 

elationalways

Member
Messages
86
Jim-Dandy said:
Also, they sit differently in the mix. The P-bass occupies the low-mid portion of the mix with a very solid fat tone. It may not be overpowing on stage, but in the mix it just sounds right for all kinds of music. The J-bass seems to occupy more the low and higher (depending on note choice) portions of the mix with a thinner sometimes more nasally tone. On stage, I could hear it better, but it sometimes got lost in the mix more easily. The P thumps and the J growls.
That makes sense. Though it might be nice to get a good tone more easily, I like the sound of a growl more then a thump or a thud.

This really helps.
 

dspellman

Member
Messages
8,311
A LOT of basses these days are PJ -- that is they have both a Precision and a Jazz bass pickup. Tim Bogert may have had something to do with this way back when he was the bass player for Vanilla Fudge (and later an instructor for MI in LA). He was really known for performing massive surgery on his basses. Back in the day he walked us through turning a battered Precision into a combination P plus J plus Gibson EBO pickup monster...over the phone (for in those days, grasshoppa, there was no intertoobs).

Here's a very inexpensive Squier with pirate graphics, with both a Precision and a Jazz bass pickup:

 

TNJ

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
28,703
I think a PJ is the best type of bass to get...as you get the best of both worlds. Lots of those out on the market these days.

S.
j
 

Jim-Dandy

Member
Messages
61
I forgot about PJ basses! PJ basses are a good idea, but the trick is to get a good balance between the pickups. The P pickup has a much greater output than the J pickup, which needs to be taken into consideration and can be hard to manage. You basically need a very hot J pickup to match the P pickup. The Fender Tony Franklin P bass does this very well and may be worth checking out. I had the fretless version and it was one of my favorite basses. It could thump and growl with the best of them!

To the OP, have you tried Rickenbacker basses? They have a smaller neck, a slightly shorter scale, and seem to be more friendly to guitarists who are crossing over to bass. They growl too, different than a J but sound just as good. A Rick 4003 was my other favorite bass.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
18,992
I forgot about PJ basses! PJ basses are a good idea, but the trick is to get a good balance between the pickups. The P pickup has a much greater output than the J pickup, which needs to be taken into consideration and can be hard to manage. You basically need a very hot J pickup to match the P pickup. The Fender Tony Franklin P bass does this very well and may be worth checking out. I had the fretless version and it was one of my favorite basses. It could thump and growl with the best of them!

To the OP, have you tried Rickenbacker basses? They have a smaller neck, a slightly shorter scale, and seem to be more friendly to guitarists who are crossing over to bass. They growl too, different than a J but sound just as good. A Rick 4003 was my other favorite bass.
The Tony Franklin has an underwound P pickup and overwound J pickup to get more of a matched output between the pickups. Inevitably, this changes the overall sound.

I have a few PJ basses. They're all active, so I tend to boost a little bass+mid with the J pickup.
 

Robal

Supporting Member
Messages
1,175
I have a 1969 P bass that someone years ago modified to add a J bass bridge pickup. The concept was good but the pickups did not blend that well together, with the P overpowering the J. I replaced the pickups with a P/J set from Nordstrand that is nicely balanced and blends well together. This makes this probably my favorite bass, and I have a 1965 J that is killer.
 

otaypanky

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,963
I have an American jazz bass that's a few years old it and it has S switching that fattens up the sound, more similar to a P bass
 

FFTT

Member
Messages
28,385
A Jazz Bass is easier to play for people with short fingers like me.

The reach between frets is a bit longer on a P-Bass neck.

I agree, a PJ is a great way to get the best of both.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
18,992
P necks tend to be for guys who want to wrap their entire hand around the neck. I can play either, but prefer a J profile. If a guy hates a J profile, he usually grips the neck like a baseball bat.
 
Messages
8,095
The reach between frets is a bit longer on a P-Bass neck.

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This statement seems to suggest a difference in scale length between Jazz and P-basses. The distance (if this is what was meant by "reach") between frets is exactly the same, with both having a 34" scale length. The only difference is the width of the neck at the nut, and, for a period (70's?), the Precision bass had the same narrow width at the nut as the Jazz.
 

walterw

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
37,357
no, that makes some sense; a lot of guitar players who like big ol' fat necks (like me) tend to wrap the thumb over blues-style, as opposed to proper "thumb on the back" technique.

for bass though, a skinny J neck is really good for that, too.
 




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