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Are you more of a P Bass or J Bass person?


Jay See Double You

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I know, this is highly subjective, but I'm not approaching it objectively, or at least, I'm not trying to.

 

Sticking just to fender's own versions and not the host of impersonators (some better and some worse) out there, do you prefer the P or the J? Do you prize that simply awesome and immediately recognizable singing of the higher output P-Bass, or do you favor the versitility of a Jazz, from the hollow and bright attack of the bridge pickup, to the sweet sludge of the neck, or the meaty chop of the two set to full blast? Do you favor the wider, less fumble prone P Neck, or do you like the fast easy action of the J? Do you like the slightly smaller and more symetrical P Body with the bigger pickguard, or do you like the sexy curves and big chrome control panel of a J? Those who use both, which do you use more often, and what kind of music do you play?

 

This is a very interesting question in my mind, and one that's hot on it too, cause I just recently sat down and did a several hour long side by side comparison in the hopes of arriving at a conclusion. And I did. And now that I have my conclusion, I'm eager to hear yours.

 

Happy Polling!

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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I tested several basses (all MIM Fender) I tested a standard P and a standard J. I tested a deluxe active J, and a deluxe P Special, I tested a J Fretless IV, I tested a standard J 5, and lastly a deluxe active J 5. For the deluxe P Special (which has a J neck and a P body, with a P pickup at the neck and a J pickup at the bridge) you could choose maple or rosewood fretboard. Since everything else was rosewood (or pao ferro), I used maple. So I also compared the bridge pickup in the deluxe P special to the bridge pickup in the deluxe active J in order to see how much of a difference the maple made and whether it was a difference for the better or the worse.(I already knew what kind of difference it made, but was surprised by how much difference it made.)

 

So, here were my findings: The P was bolder, and louder at full blast than the J was. You can't deny the sound of the P pickup, and it sounded far better in my opinion than either of the J's if you isolated one or the other.

 

However, when you bring both pickups into play, I thought the J sounded better. With both at full, it sounded richer than the P, with a certain warmth and a certain unique character in the trebble that I prefered over the P.

 

It certainly wasn't as bold, or as resonant as the P (and surprising to me was how the J with two pickups at full blast on the same amp, was not as loud as the P Bass at full at the same volume on the same amp).

 

As far as the feel of the body, I don't really have a preference. There's not much difference between the two, on the side that rests against your body.

 

As far as looks of the body, I prefer the artsy J to the more clean cut P, and I definitely prefered the faster neck on the J to the wider neck of the P. Call me preconditioned, but I found my playing to be sloppier on the P neck than on the J neck.

 

-So, if we were talking just standard, no frills basses, then I prefer the Jazz Bass. I love the P-Bass, and certainly wouldn't object to one, but the winner in my mind is pretty clear. The Jazz Bass.-

 

Now, if we're talking deluxe actives, I prefer the hybrid of the P and J to just the J. As I said, I prefer the combination of the two pickups on the J to the single pickup in the P, yet, I preferred the single P to either of the single J's isolated by themselves. So, replacing one of the J's with the P, and leaving the other J is really the best of both worlds tonewise.

 

Also, the P/J Hybrid had the maple fretboard which I ended up prefering hands down to the rosewood. There were a couple things that I thought sounded better on the rosewood, but not many.

 

-The winner is the Maple fretboard, P/J Hybrid Deluxe P Bass Special.-

 

Now, we move to active vs. passive. For this test, I used the two 5 string Jazz Basses, one active, one passive. When the active was set to EQ flat, and to equal blend of the strings, I couldn't tell any real difference in sound to the passive set to both pickups up full blast and tone knob set to full.

 

There are some that say passive and actives have distinct tone characteristics to them, well, when set to true nuetral, I couldn't here any such differences. They sounded identical.

 

But when I started messing with the EQ (I usually leave mid at flat, and then turn the bass and trebble all the way up) Then the difference was resounding and in favor of the active.

 

-Winner: Active.-

 

In a comparison between the standard J and the fretless IV, there were no surprises. The flatwound strings were warmer and richer, and did a good job of resembling the sound of a bass violin, but they were also muddier and lacked any real trebble to them.

 

Plus, it goes without saying that a fretless is a lot less forgiving of even the slightest misplacement of a finger than a fretted, but it also offers nearly infinite pitches, rather than the rigid half step system of fretting.

 

Miles Davis' "So What" sounded way better on the fretless, yet Freddy Hubbard's "Red Clay" sounded better on the fretted.

 

-The winner: dependant on context.-

 

I'm pretty much a straight forward Fender man when it comes to basses (I have a 1984 electra-westone X700JB Futura Bass, but other than that, it's fender)I have a Deluxe P-Bass Special (MIM, I just got it less than a month ago, which is why it doesn't appear in my signature line yet)and a MIM J-Bass Fretless IV. Next stop (Lord willing) a MIM deluxe active Jazz V.

 

After that, I will have everything I need in electric basses. I will have fretless, I will have 5 string, I will have maple, I will have rosewood, I will have pao ferro, I will have flatwound, and I will have round wound. I will have passive and I will have active,I will have P and I will have J.

 

I won't need to buy another electric bass any time soon if ever. And that feels real good.

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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Well, though I said J-bass for everything, my main bass is a P. Sort of. It's a fretless P/J and it looks and feels as close to a J as a P can get. Why didn't I buy a J? Because this is even better than a J. I'll take a J over a standard P, but this is better than both (I'm still experimenting though. Open mind, as always).

"My two Fender Basses, I just call them "Lesbos" because of the time they spend together in the closet."-Durockrolly

 

This has been a Maisie production. (Directed in part by Spiderman)

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Bass247, agreed. A straight J is better than a straight P, but a combination of the two is better yet. Like I said, the Deluxe P Bass Special is just simply awesome! :-)

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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As far as the usage goes: Lord willing, I will be getting that active Jazz 5 string here before too long. And then my goal will be to use all four of my basses about equally in the studio.

 

Probably 1/4 to maaayybe 1/3 of the time, I'll be using the fretless. The Deluxe P and the Active deluxe J 5 will both be used for "normal" or "nominal" bass parts, but since I prefer the P/J combo to the J/J setup and since I prefer the maple to the rosewood, I think the deluxe P special will get more use than the active deluxe Jazz 5, at least in the studio. The DP will be the one I use for any slap bass, and I will make what use I can of the 5th string on the J5. The elctra westone will be used for overdriven stuff.

 

The electra westone is actually an interesting story: Played clean, it sounds like absolute crap. It's one great big sloppy rubbery wall of mud. The fenders sound way way better. -But- (and this is where it gets interesting) that same electra westone when put through a distortion pedal sounds absolutely wicked! That wall of mud suddenly turns into a wall of power that the cleaner sounding fenders can't match. Plus, it has a really sinister look to it that fits an overdrive only bass to a T. If you do google image search for an electra westone XJ700B Futura Bass, you'll see what I mean.

 

Live, it'll be tougher. Since it's tough to switch basses back and forth in the middle of a song, I'll have to make compromises. If 50% of the song requires an overdriven bass, and half a clean bass, then rather than using the muddy EW, I'd probably use the J5. If part of it is fretless and part of it is not, I'd use the fretless. If there's slap bass, and overdrive, I'd use the DP, and if there's slap and 5 or slap and fretless, well, those are obvious. The DP/J5 ratio that would favor the DP in the studio would probably favor the J5 live. (better overdrive sound, adaquate slap, and an extra string...ergo, more versatile)

 

But in the studio, with cakewalk, and multitracking and loops, I will have the ability to use each bass specifically for their own special purpose. It's the perfect setup. Since the electra westone has P "style" pickups, and I'm roughly planning on using all four basses 25% of the time each, then I guess I would say that my P/J use ratio would be about 50/50.

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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I like a P-Bass and didn't like J's at all until I tried a MIA Deluxe Jazz and it was incredible, thunderous tone and versatile too. However, the P has classic tones that can't be gotten from a Jazz and the neck is like a nice fat laz-e-boy that you can just stretch out on and relax.

 

My solution? One MIA Deluxe Jazz and a MIA Precision. :thu:

 

Newf :D

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I play a MIA P, but I got a MIM (?) Geddy Lee Jazz off the wall at a local guitar shop the other day. I was highly impressed. I wouldn't object to having it as a second bass (are you listening Santa?)

 

But I would still prefer my good ol' PBass. "Just like a familiar old lover........"

Do not be deceived by, nor take lightly, this particular bit of musicianship one simply describes as "bass". - Lowell George

 

"The music moves me, it just moves me ugly." William H. Macy in "Wild Hogs"

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Precision, definitely, that's what I've used for almost 20 years now. For me it's the ultimate plug-and-play bass because it's so simple and functional. And I do love the chunky necks of P-basses, though they don't play as fast as modern basses: with a P you have to fight and wrestle with the bass a bit, but I don't mind. I'd like to own a good J, though, just for variety.
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Originally posted by dcr:

Bi-curious: I'm a J Bass person, but I find myself having thoughts about P Basses quite frequently.

Same here.

 

In my opinion, they are different animals. They have different feels, tonal characteristics, etc...

 

For the newbies: Here is what Ed Friedland had to say on the matter. It's one of my favorite LowDown posts.

 

Ed Friedland:

To my way of thinking, the difference between a P and J bass goes way beyond the physical. Yes, P bass - fatter neck (usually), split pickup, chunkier tone, less highs. J bass - slimmer neck, easier to play, dual pickups, more note definition, more high frequency.

 

But... I think P or J bass is a lifestyle choice as well. Committing to the P means taking on a set of preferences, and inherent parameters. You can't or at least shouldn't try to play a P bass like a Jazz. That would be missing the point. The P bass is a fat, chunky-butt animal that likes to take up space. It demands a high level of attention to what you play, because every note hurts - or helps. There ain't no takin' it back with a P bass. You better mean it, or be very good at making it work. You can play fast on a P, but it's not nimble like a Jackrabbit, more like a Grizzly doing 60mph to catch something to eat. Slap on a P? Sure, it's chunkfunk, think Boz Scaggs "Lowdown". The pop on a P is not as sharp as a J. It's like getting sliced with a serrated steak knife. Ouch! Use only when you gots to cut through some tough meat. Classic P guys... Jamerson, Rainey, Rocco, Bob Glaub.

 

The J is a sleeker machine. Being a Jazz guy means having a little more wiggle room. It takes up less space in the mix, so you can get more active without squashing people. With great power comes great responsibility. Just because you CAN move around, does that mean you should? And if so - how to, how much, and why? The J is a bit skinnier, so you have to learn how to use that texture to fill it up, and how to play it fat when it needs to be fat. Soloing? Sure. Slap? You bet. Passive it cuts like a well honed Buck knife. Active with a good pre amp, more like a barbers razor. Classic J guys... Jerry Jemmot, Larry Graham, Jaco, Marcus...

 

Some people make a choice early on and stick with it. Their entire style is built around that early decision, whether it was conscious or not. You may know some of these people. Players that would no sooner pick up the other axe than they would deliberately eat rotten food. There's honor in this I think, it certainly makes your life simpler when it's Friday night and you're trying to decide which bass to put in the bag.

 

I think it behooves (love that word) a professional bassist to have both and spend time cultivating the characteristics of each instrument. You need to make each one speak it's native language. There are some gigs that just naturally call for one or another. Not to say you couldn't switch around. You learn alot about the nature of the P and J when you try to make one do what the other does naturally.

 

Personally, I'm more fascinated with the P because I've always been a J guy by first nature. The J thing is in my DNA, but the P has gotten into my blood. I love chunkin out some fat ass P bass. It feels like I'm on vacation. The J still feels like home even though I've spent years getting used to the 5 string. I am definitely a confirmed 24 fret guy now. I always wished Fender would come out with a killer 24 fret J bass. I know.. the Urge bass.... Like I said.....

 

On most of my gigs these days, there is the expectation that I'm going to solo. If I wasn't so damned attached to what happens between frets 21 and 24, I'd bring a J, but.... Luckily I've found something with 24 that does it for me. But I still miss the opportunity to play my Fenders. I actually go out of my way to cultivate Fender gigs. No solos please!

 

My whole trick is to keep the tune well out in front. If I play Tchaikovsky, I play his melodies and skip his spiritual struggle. ~Liberace
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IMHO The "Basic" difference between the P and J bass is the difference in the tone When the Jazz bass is fully on the neck pup, with the bridge pup "off" This may be over simplification. If we say there is no tone difference then the actual difference must be cosmetic.

OK, you can all attack me now.

:D

Rocky

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to eat for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb, contesting the vote."

Benjamin Franklin

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Originally posted by Jay See Double You:

Bass247, agreed. A straight J is better than a straight P, but a combination of the two is better yet. Like I said, the Deluxe P Bass Special is just simply awesome! :-)

This is the bass I purchased a couple of weeks ago. It is my first bass, and I really love it. It plays and sounds great and having the P and J pickups really gives it a variety of sounds. Having the 3 band eq and the ability to mix between the pickups makes it a very versatile bass. It is a keeper!
Thanks, Vic
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Some concensus here with other posts. I agree that Ed's post is a classic. I have both but play mostly Jazz. But for recording both should be on hand. The P does record and cut through extremely well. The P-J combination is a great compromise, for my way of thinking, as I do not particularly like the neck PU on the Jazz.

 

Davo

"We will make you bob your head whether you want to or not". - David Sisk
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The only preference I personally have is in the feel department. I prefer the P-bass because of the bigger neck, but in all other catagories I have absolutely no preference. I could not complete the pole because I could not decide which I prefer in terms of looks and sound.

 

I own a mid 80's MIJ P-bass with an active EMG and a 2001 MIM Deluxe Jazz Bass V (Active). My P is great for supportive rootsy type playing but when I want to do more melodic or articulate playing, the jazz really cuts through and shines. Right now I'm preferring my J because I just got it a week ago but after the newness wears off it will all depend on a combination of the gig and what mood I'm in that day.

 

I'll complete the pole if you add a no preference option to those questions.

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Don't kill me, but I have yet to play a P-bass that I like. Part sound, mostly feel. I have a fretless '71 Jazz that I love, though the neck feels like a pencil after playing my 5ers. The Lakland Darryl Jones 5 is basicaly a souped up J bass, and quite nice (though I still haven't made it my go-to bass). The Spector Legend that I bought the other month- surprise surprise- I mostly use the P pickup on it. Partly because the J pickup isn't balanced in volume with it; but mostly because it just sounds good on its own.

 

But my bottom line: P vs J? I'll take a Les Paul, thanks!

"Am I enough of a freak to be worth paying to see?"- Separated Out (Marillion)

NEW band Old band

 

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i like J tones well enough, but i'd rather have a sterling than a J. it's pretty hard to deny the J, but if i had to choose, i'd choose a P all the way.

 

however, right now my perfect fender is the blue aerodyne P i posted in my own thread. it's a PJ bass with a P body and J neck. and it's beautiful. i'd love it even more with a maple fingerboard, but rosewood is fine.

 

robb.

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Difficult...

 

As a main bass I prefer the Jazz neck, no question. But as an alternative instrument that I play differently then the big fat Precision neck helps me change my approach.

 

I like the look of both, though they seem rather big bodied, short necked and lacking in frets compared to my bass.

 

I like the big fat loud sound of the Precision pickup. I like the growly farty aggressive sound of the Jazz bridge pickup. I like the slinkier sound of two pickups and their handy 'sit in the mix' phase differences. I haven't done enough experimenting to come to a definitive conclusion on the 'best' two pickup sound.

 

If I'd been playing in the '60s or '70s I imagine a Jazz would have been my main bass. As it is, I prefer the even more versatile, clear and responsive sound of my '87 Warwick. So I doubt I'll ever need to own a J-bass. On the other hand I would really like a P-bass with big old flatwounds and high action, for greasing it up and laying it down like they did back in the day. Maybe one day I'll get one - but a RIM Custom will come first...

 

Alex

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I've played both. I think the J fits my overall style of play better. Maybe like Ed says, it's a lifestyle. Also, as he says, soloing with only 21 frets on a 4-string kinda sucks. Bending that Eb up to an E slows you down and gets old after a while. I was rather interested to hear that Fender started making 24 fret basses.

 

Playing a P can be fun, too. Find one with a finger rest and flats and do some thumpy thumb-plucking! :thu:

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I love my J (MIJ '75 reissue, about 5 yrs old) - my first bass was a Fender Precision Lyte which was fantastic for years (now de-fretted), and the Jazz is my first Fender since, and now my main instrument (my 5-string Warwick Streamer weeps in the corner).

 

About a year ago i was doing some recording and my J had an awful buzz, which i've never had before or since. Lurking in the studio was an old P-bass, maple neck, very beat up, ancient strings, probably 80s/early 90s.

 

It sounded great, i really enjoyed playing it, and yeah, my style and note choices changed by playing it. Not for better or worse, just different and pleasing.

 

So now, the question is for my next bass do I go P and stick flatwounds on it ('cos i want a flatwound bass for my blues/country/soul gigs) or get another re-issue J and stick flatwounds on it (I really really like my Jazz).

 

This will keep me occupied for at least 6 months.

The bass player's job is to make the drummer sound good - Jack Bruce
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I currently own a Squier P and have never played another bass (except a yamaha thing, body was too small) and if I get another bass it would almost definatley be a standard P or J.

Just can't decide.

I am liking the erm, sounds of a J bass I am hearing on record, kind of warm, I guess.

And I would also like to experiment with new tones and instruments.

Another thing is I have big hands. May not suit a J neck but never know till I try one.

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When it comes to Fender so far, before this month, I´ve only owned a Musicmaster -68. I started playing the bass 1972, but did have a very long break on the way. Today I own a Fender Jazz Bass. My short fingers prefere the slim neck. That should cover it.
What ever...
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Originally posted by vcs700s:

Originally posted by Jay See Double You:

Bass247, agreed. A straight J is better than a straight P, but a combination of the two is better yet. Like I said, the Deluxe P Bass Special is just simply awesome! :-)

This is the bass I purchased a couple of weeks ago. It is my first bass, and I really love it. It plays and sounds great and having the P and J pickups really gives it a variety of sounds. Having the 3 band eq and the ability to mix between the pickups makes it a very versatile bass. It is a keeper!
Yeah. I'm loving it! And I'm glad to hear you are too!

 

Did you go for maple or rosewood fretboard on yours? What color did you get? And what do you usually keep your settings set to?

 

Me, I got mine in black, though I wish I had got it in the satin navy blue.

 

As I said above, I got mine with the maple fretboard, and after comparing maple to rosewood in a fair comparison (active J bridge to active J bridge) I am solid in my belief that the maple is better.

 

I keep my EQ set to trebble and bass at max, and mid at normal (flat)but as far as pickup combination, while I alternate a lot between straight P, straight J, and neutral combo, I would say I spend most of my time at neutral combo.

 

If you've had yours for just a couple weeks, then we've had ours for about the same time. I've had mine for about a month, certainly less than 2 months.

 

Welcome to the P/J combo club! :-)

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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Originally posted by Jay See Double You:

Originally posted by vcs700s:

Originally posted by Jay See Double You:

Bass247, agreed. A straight J is better than a straight P, but a combination of the two is better yet. Like I said, the Deluxe P Bass Special is just simply awesome! :-)

This is the bass I purchased a couple of weeks ago. It is my first bass, and I really love it. It plays and sounds great and having the P and J pickups really gives it a variety of sounds. Having the 3 band eq and the ability to mix between the pickups makes it a very versatile bass. It is a keeper!
Yeah. I'm loving it! And I'm glad to hear you are too!

 

Did you go for maple or rosewood fretboard on yours? What color did you get? And what do you usually keep your settings set to?

 

Me, I got mine in black, though I wish I had got it in the satin navy blue.

 

As I said above, I got mine with the maple fretboard, and after comparing maple to rosewood in a fair comparison (active J bridge to active J bridge) I am solid in my belief that the maple is better.

 

I keep my EQ set to trebble and bass at max, and mid at normal (flat)but as far as pickup combination, while I alternate a lot between straight P, straight J, and neutral combo, I would say I spend most of my time at neutral combo.

 

If you've had yours for just a couple weeks, then we've had ours for about the same time. I've had mine for about a month, certainly less than 2 months.

 

Welcome to the P/J combo club! :-)

Blizzard pearl with rosewood fingerboard. I am still playing with the mix between the pickups and the eq. It depends what I am looking for sound wise. I am a new player but love playing this thing. I play on the worship team at church right now. The sound guy says the bass sounds great through the system. As I progress I will keep you up to date on the settings etc. It is a great guitar, isn't it?
Thanks, Vic
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JCW - I appreciate your thorough analysis of the factors that make a bass good for you. I love doing that type of testing and checking back (I did something like that when I bought my 5). Interesting reading.

 

As to the question at hand, I can't answer too well. I'm tempted to say I'm a Jazz guy, because I prefer a smaller neck. Yet I've played some fine Ps that have felt and sounded nice in my hands. I suspect I could go both ways, or do the P/J thing. I tried the Aero J and liked it, but I'm not sure it's really close to a P sound.

 

And that brings me to my next point. It appears you checked out a nice cross section of basses, but there are lots of alternate models that push the envelope. Some of these are very different (Stu Hamm Urge, Roscoe Beck, etc.). In fact, bass247 doesn't technically have a P/J - it's a Tony Franklin. Lots more for you to try.

 

Why am I not sure about my J-ness or P-ness? Because I don't own a Fender and never have. My confabulated mind comes from playing a Gibson EB3 for 30+ years.

 

Welcome to the board !!

 

Tom

www.stoneflyrocks.com

Acoustic Color

 

Be practical as well as generous in your ideals. Keep your eyes on the stars and keep your feet on the ground. - Theodore Roosevelt

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My '75 Precision was my only instrument for many years and though she had been modified into a PJ configuration when I got her I added a miniswitch in the curcuit and played with the P pickup soloed 99% of the time. Though the '75 is the one against which I compare all others, I have to say that I am very in love with my '62 RI Jazz. There is just something about this bass that is so "right" both in terms of tone and feel that has me totally enamoured with it.

 

Firstly it has the thinnest neck of any Fender bass I have ever played, even the "Geddy Lee" and it's tone, especially at performance volume is phenomenal!

 

My Squire fretless is a PJ configuration as is the 8 string I am currently working up (based on a Squire P-bass Special body).

 

Interestingly enough the absolute best traditional P'bass sounding bass I have is my Yamaha BB400. Strung with TI Jazz flats, the combination of alder and rosewood give it such a rich, woody tone that it's what I automatically reach for when I need that "loamy,home-grown root tone" :cool::D

Nothing is as it seems but everything is exactly what it is - B. Banzai

 

Life is what happens while you are busy playing in bands.

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Big Daddy,

 

Check out BottomGottem's post about halfway down the thread. He quotes Ed Freidland's article. It is a fantastic read, and I can't add anything to it. In fact, it made me ponder if VCS700s and I aren't missing out on some of the P experience with our P/J combos since they have the J neck. My conclusion: The joy of having a P neck is not worth the $420 price tag if you have the P/J combo especially when you prefer the J neck.

John 14:6 Psalms 139:13-16

 

Gear:

 

07 MIM Fender Active Jazz 5

06 MIM Fender Active P/J Combo

01 MIM Fender Fretless J

07 Epi Dot Archtop (ES 335)

00 MIM Fender Strat

 

And a few others :)

 

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