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As the 1950s were coming to a close, and after nearly a decade of success with the more utilitarian Precision Bass, Fender decided to create a more upscale, "deluxe" bass model. This new "Jazz Bass" was first introduced to the public in 1960. Initially, despite the name (and similar to the Jazzmaster guitar that preceded it), the Jazz Bass failed to attract significant interest from jazz musicians, but unlike the guitar, the Jazz Bass would eventually become well accepted and frequently used by jazz players. Indeed, it is one of the most well known and most popular bass models ever created, and it has been, and continues to be used by musicians in a wide range of styles.
The shape of the Jazz bass was inspired by the Jazzmaster guitar, but it is also somewhat similar to the Precision Bass; with an offset waist body design like the Jazzmaster, and an extended horn double cutaway design similar to the Precision Bass. However, there are some notable differences between the Jazz Bass and Precision Bass designs. The offset waist gives the body a sleeker look than the P Bass, but the Jazz Bass body is actually slightly larger. Unlike the single humbucking split-pickup design used in the standard P Bass, the standard "J Bass" (as it is often called) uses two single-coil pickups, each with a separate volume control. This not only provides a brighter, snappier sound with punchier mids than the P Bass, but adds tonal versatility, since the neck and bridge position pickups can be used individually or combined at various volume ratios -- a "first" for an electric bass at the time. Unlike the P Bass, the J Bass pickups have two pole pieces per pickup, and much longer coils. The neck design of the Jazz Bass is also different than the one on the P Bass; while both feature a 34" scale length, the J Bass has a trimmer, narrower neck profile at the nut, as well as being thinner from front to back than a P Bass, making it an easier instrument for many musicians to play.
Today Fender offers several different Jazz Bass versions, including four and five string models. Both fretted and fretless basses, as well as versions with different pickup combinations, Deluxe models, vintage reissues and even artist signature models are available. Famous Fender Jazz Bass players include jazz legends Jaco Pastorius, Marcus Miller and Victor Bailey, Rush bassist Geddy Lee, Larry Graham (Sly & The Family Stone), Will Lee (David Letterman Show), Tommy Shannon (Double Trouble), Noel Redding (Jimi Hendrix Experience), John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin) Timothy B. Schmit (Eagles) and studio ace Bob Babbitt.
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