About Fender Jazz Bass Guitars
The Fender Jazz Bass, commonly referred to as the Fender J Bass, is now one of the most well known and most popular bass models ever created. It has been, and continues to be used by bassists in a wide range of styles. What we now know as the Fender Jazz Bass was introduced in 1960 as the upscale, Deluxe Model bass. It was designed as a step up from the popular, albeit utilitarian Fender Precision Bass, and match aesthetically with the Fender Jazzmaster guitar. At first, similar to the Jazzmaster Deluxe Model guitar that preceded it, the Fender Jazz Bass failed to attract significant interest from jazz musicians. But, unlike the guitar, the Fender Jazz Bass would eventually become well accepted and frequently used by jazz players.
The shape of the Fender Jazz bass was inspired by the Jazzmaster guitar, but it is also somewhat similar to the Precision Bass. It features what Fender advertising called the Offset Waist Contour body design, similar to the the Jazzmaster. While its extended horn double cutaway design is similar to the Precision Bass, there notable differences between the two. The offset waist gives the Fender J Bass body a sleeker look than the P Bass, but the Fender Jazz Bass body is actually slightly larger. The original version of the Fender Jazz Bass featured stacked volume and tone knobs for each pickup for a total of four knobs. By the end of 1961, the majority of Fender Jazz Basses were bring built with only three knobs, two for independant volume, one for overall tone. This short period of four-knob Fender Jazz bass manufacture makes those J Bass models both rare and valuable.
Unlike the single humbucking split-pickup design used in the P Bass, the Fender J Bass 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 Fender Jazz Bass is also different than the one on the P Bass. While both feature a 34-in. scale length, the Fender 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. Fender Jazz Basses feature an ash or alder body with a maple neck and either a maple or pau ferro fingerboard.
Today Fender offers several different Jazz Bass versions, including four and five string models. The most popular series include the Fender Player Jazz Basses, which replaced the popular Standard Jazz Bass, also known as the Mexican J Basses. You'll also find the Fender American Professional Jazz Basses and Fender American Elite Jazz Basses. Musician's Friend offers both fretted and fretless J Basses, as well as versions with different pickup combinations, vintage reissues like the Fender American Original Jazz Basses and even artist signature model Fender Jazz Basses. 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.