When I started playing bass I had no desire for a Fender bass as I didn't really want to be the same
as everyone else. To me at the time Fender basses were the Ford Mondeo or Vauxhall Vectras of the
bass world everyone's got them why on earth would I want one there's plenty of options without
buying the exact same as your mate has only in a different colour.
I was at a sound check before a gig and the other bands bassist had just bought a new Fender bass
after we'd set up he offered me a play on it. Unfortunately for me and my pocket much as I wanted to hate the bass when I played the Fender something fell into place for me and suddenly I had to admit
I'd probably just found my ideal bass and finally I understood why the Fenders are so popular.
The other reason I did not want a Fender was the fact that despite being one of if not the biggest
brands in the guitar world Fender have had a bit of a reputation for quality control issues. With a
brand like Fender and the price of their guitars quality control should not be an issue and although
most of the complaints were on the lower ranges made in Mexico there were also many complaints
about the high end American guitars and basses. The Japanese Fenders are fantastic and I've yet to
play a bad one but they were never officially imported so they are hard to get hold of and hold their
prices well so can easily cost as much as an American Fender.
Over the last few years I've owned several basses including 6 Fenders most of which have
bought 2nd hand then sold on when I fancy a change the bonus of buying 2nd hand is
you're unlikely to lose any money if you do decide to sell it on. I currently own an American
Standard Jazz, a Japanese Precision and the Mexican 50's Classic which is one of only 2 Fenders
I have owned from new.
The Classic 50's P bass is one of the recent additions to the lower cost made in Mexico range
of Fender basses. The 50's Classic was built to replicate the sound look and vibe of the original
Fender basses built in the 50's but without the sky high price tag of buying an original. The
50's bass was introduced to the Fender range around 2008 and is still a current model. The bass
has vintage style tuners, an American vintage 4 saddle bridge and comes in 4 colours honey blonde,
fiesta red,sunburst and black which all come with maple necks and gold pickguards. Unlike the USA
models which come with a hard case as standard the Mexican models come with a Fender gig bag
which although it looks good it is pretty basic and doesn't offer too much protection.
I bought the black 50's P bass 2 years ago after playing a friends one I loved the sound of it so
when I saw this one for £410 I couldn't resist. Thankfully Fender seems to have got it's finger out
in the last few years and done something about the quality control issues this is especially
noticeable on the lower priced Mexican ranges which were renowned for being a bit hit or miss.
I've been really impressed with the build quality on the Fender basses I've tried lately and the build
quality on this 50's P bass is excellent. The finish on my bass is perfect with no flaws anywhere,
the neck fits perfectly and the fretwork is excellent with no dodgy frets or rough edges.
The bass was well set up although I'm not sure if this is how it came from Fender or if the shop had
done a quick set up on it before I collected it. When I got this home it played perfectly with a nice mid
to low action with no flat spots and no fret buzz. The stock Fender strings were okay but I felt the
combination of round wound strings and maple neck made the sound a bit too bright although as
always this is personal choice rather than a problem. I have always preferred to play with flat wound strings and when I put some TI Flats on this the sound was amazing and the old Mowtown sound I
was looking for was completed by adding a piece of foam under the string against the bridge to
slightly mute the strings for the perfect warm precision thump.
The bass looks fantastic the black alder body against the maple neck and chrome hardware looks
great but although plenty of people love the look of the gold anodized pickguard I wasn't too keen
on it and swapped it for a black pickguard which I think looks better on this than the original.
The maple neck looks and plays great mine has some nice grain in the maple on the headstock which
adds to the looks. The neck is a C shape but it is very chunky at 44.45mm wide at the nut compared
to a standard Fender P bass at 41.3mm so it does take a bit of getting used to and anyone who
prefers the slimmer 38.1mm jazz bass necks would probably be better looking elsewhere. Once you
get used to the neck width I find the bass is very nice to play with the vintage frets being slimmer
than the medium jumbo frets on my other basses it makes for a fast playing neck despite the width.
The 50's P bass has a single coil split pick up which is apparently the same as the one in the USA
model. As with most P basses what you hear is what you get there's not much to play with tone
wise on the bass there's a tone and volume control and that's it but in reality it's all you need.I've
had other basses with a huge array of different sounds available through active electronics and
various pick up combinations but you spend longer messing about looking for the perfect tone
than actually playing it with this I just plug in and play and it sounds great.
I've used this bass to play everything from rock and punk through to blues and funk and had a lot of
good feedback about the sound of this from other band members and people who've watched us play.
The classic P sound seems to sit well in the mix no matter what band I'm playing with and I'm
happy with the sound I get from it and it stays in tune well. The only downside of this bass for me personally was I found the bridge a bit awkward to adjust when I changed the strings but given
the fact I play with flats and hardly ever change them it's not enough of an issue to make me
change the bridge.
Fenders prices seem to have rocketed in the last couple of years a quick search online shows
the Fender Classic 50's Precision now has a RRP of around £800 with the actual shop price
varying from £601 - £755. While I do love this bass and it's worth every penny of the £410 I paid
there's no way I would pay £600+ for it when I could buy a decent 2nd hand Japanese or USA Fender
for £400 - £600 or a 2nd hand one of these for around £350.
For anyone looking for a great sounding and playing bass with the classic P bass sound this is
an excellent choice but after seeing the above prices I would advise looking for a 2nd hand one.