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Fender Bass Guitar Guide

Fender Bass Guitar Buying Guide

Amplified electric guitars first started overpowering rhythm sections in the 1930s and '40s -- and the volume of upright double basses needed a boost. Answering the demands of upright bassists, Leo Fender developed an electric instrument that could not only be amplified to keep up with the volume of the guitars, but was also much more portable than its predecessor. The result was the first Fender bass guitar -- the Fender Precision Bass, which would change the sound of popular music (and many other genres) forever.

Explore the timeless Fender bass designs of the past and the innovative developments of the present -- and find your perfect instrument for creating the music of the future. Get the lowdown on Fender Precision, Jazz, specialty, and signature basses in this guide.

Hear the Fender American Standard Precision, Jazz and Jaguar bass guitars in action:
Fender Precision Bass
The Fender Precision bass, named for its ability to achieve precise intonation from the fretted fingerboard, was originally designed to complement Fender's venerable Telecaster. The P Bass featured a straight single-coil pickup mounted on top of a slab body with the smaller Tele headstock design. After a few redesigns, the Precision Bass was more or less fully formed by 1957, complete with a split single-coil pickup with the dual coils wired in reverse polarity like a humbucker, comfortable body contours, and a full-size Stratocaster-esque headstock.

A longtime favorite of artists playing anything from soul to rock, the P Bass outputs a meaty bottom end with a powerful midrange that cuts through the mix with reckless abandon. It's no wonder some call it the "Perfect Bass."

Fender Jazz Bass
The Fender Jazz Bass was introduced in 1960 as the comany's second bass guitar model. Like its guitar counterpart, the Fender Jazzmaster, the new J Bass was designed as a "deluxe model" with an offset body shape. Despite minor spec changes, such as discontinuing the concentric volume/tone pots and the metal bridge and pickup covers, the modern Jazz Bass is nearly identical to the original.

Tonally unique from the Precision Bass, the J Bass features two separate single-coil pickups that emphasize a growling midrange and sparkling high end that allows it to excel in most genres of music.

Specialty Basses
For many bassists, the status quo just isn't as exciting as picking up a unique instrument and coaxing out wonderful and fantastic tones. While these unusual Fender basses may not get as much attention as their P and J Bass relatives, they are no less enticing to play.
Artist Signature Basses
As any pro bassist will tell you, customizing your instrument only adds to its sound quality and playability. By the time you've climbed the ladder of professional success to the top, chances are you have quite a particular idea of how you like your bass to feel and sound. Endorsed by the bassists who rock them on stage and in the studio, Fender's Artist Signature basses echo the modifications made to your favorite players' instruments, delivering professional performance and a customized flair.