the importance of the jazz bass

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irvinz
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the importance of the jazz bass

Post by irvinz » Fri Jul 03, 2009 12:38 am

how important is it to your rig? to your collection? setup?

i always considered myself to be a jazz bass person till i just got tired of finding the perfect fender jazz(without even going into the G&L range so dont mention sadowsky and what not), and im pretty satisfied with my precision plus (which has a jazz bridge too that i barely use). i've got a G&L L2000 custom ordered to my specs coming which im saving up for, hence a few pedals are out the door!

and i've been hooked onto a 5 string spector for the past few days too. (it might be a fling, but i had my eyes and hands all over this particular bass before multiple times) emghz, and active circuits. beautiful feel, beautiful build and beautiful finish. the only issue i had was it was a 5 stringer and some of the details on the inlays. it does cop the sound i was looking for on a jazz bass quite well too!.

spring onto something else? or grab an 'essential' traditional jazz bass.

why do you need multiple basses anyway! pish
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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by definite » Fri Jul 03, 2009 8:31 pm

Ive worked out that all gear is way less important than the music and the feel and attitude of the way I play!

Ive owned heaps of gear over the last 15 years and as far as Im concerned none of it is actually precious - of course I had to buy and sell a shitload of it to work that out LOL

I guess I look at gear purely as a tool now - a tool to make music - after all, a builder is not gonna be judged by the flash tool belt hes wearing hes gonna get rated on the quality of the house hes just built! :D

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by model.citizen » Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:48 pm

i just want gear that gives the tone that inspires me to play and create.
i like rickenbackers. and fridges.

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by irvinz » Sat Jul 04, 2009 8:20 am

definite wrote:Ive worked out that all gear is way less important than the music and the feel and attitude of the way I play!

Ive owned heaps of gear over the last 15 years and as far as Im concerned none of it is actually precious - of course I had to buy and sell a shitload of it to work that out LOL

I guess I look at gear purely as a tool now - a tool to make music - after all, a builder is not gonna be judged by the flash tool belt hes wearing hes gonna get rated on the quality of the house hes just built! :D
i agree with the first part. btu im coming from a pov where a builder still needs straight nails, and also nails that are not oversized, or too small for the job
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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by Crazykiwi » Sat Jul 04, 2009 4:38 pm

I agree with the bit about the instruments being tools and with the basses I own, have shaped the collection mostly to reflect that. There's a tool for each musical situation I anticipate encountering. Whether I get to actually use all those tools or not is another matter entirely though. :?

There's nothing quite like having a tool that inspires you to use it though.
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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by john » Sat Jul 04, 2009 6:31 pm

Crazykiwi wrote:I agree with the bit about the instruments being tools and with the basses I own, have shaped the collection mostly to reflect that. There's a tool for each musical situation I anticipate encountering. Whether I get to actually use all those tools or not is another matter entirely though. :?

There's nothing quite like having a tool that inspires you to use it though.
I agree too
Whether I get to actually use all those tools or not is another matter entirely though. :?
This made me laugh :lol: Doesn't hurt to be prepared

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by foal30 » Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm

is the Jazz Bass an identifiable sound?

if so then yeah.
I like my Jazz Bases, plus they are comfortable for monster sessions/gigs

but they are not a Precision

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by ryla » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:04 pm

a good tool should be versatile - adjustable spanner etc - i go for tonal versatility - but it has to feel right too, thats important, id only play a bass that felt awkward if i was desperate.

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by mjwhit » Sun Jul 05, 2009 10:59 pm

Crazykiwi wrote: There's nothing quite like having a tool that inspires you to use it though.
This I think is the most important part of buying anything. Instruments, cars, sports equipment...

An instrument/rig that inspires you to play WILL make a difference, especially for learners. Its how I got hooked into bass.

I played a fair bit on an old beat up samick, but it wasn't untll I dropped a significant amount of money on a brand new bass that I started playing for several hours a day. I think I was actually addicted to practicing for about a year and a half. Then i wasted an entire year hardly even playing.

I often leave basses out in stands, out for display. But its me they are on display for, not others. Everytime I see it I just wanna pick it up and play.


Back to the OP, I do not consider a jazz bass essential to my collection/setup. My main bass is a jazz, but only until I find something I like more.

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by Crazykiwi » Mon Jul 06, 2009 10:14 am

ryla wrote:a good tool should be versatile - adjustable spanner etc - i go for tonal versatility - but it has to feel right too, thats important, id only play a bass that felt awkward if i was desperate.
Leo was a superb industrial designer, he got the ergonomics of the jazz bass spot on. Plus it was a very versatile instrument tonally compared to the competition at the time.

Lets not also lose sight of the fact that Fender was VERY much a manufacturer rather than a luthier. This tends to get forgotten when waves of nostaligia kick in. Fender were (and still are) very aggressive and market-savvy. They geared up for mass production from the start and pretty much swamped the market with products. It was very easy for them to achieve market dominance using this strategy.
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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by foal30 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 11:32 am

er, I'm not so sure in absolutist terms Steve.

What Leo got right does include sound and playability. You can only mass-produce this after the fact I would suggest. Because if the Precision was crap in a sound or playing sense Lionel Hampton would not of wanted it in his band or the Production crew at Motown or Willie Kent wouldn't have done the blues bass thing.

No question marketing, taste, fashion, tradition and economic interest play a part in what is cool or our choice...but both the Precision and Jazz Bass remain "Grand Designs" on any scale in any field one cares to think of I imagine.


of course, along with Steinberger :D

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by jazz1234 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 1:42 pm

My Jazz is not necessarily my favourite or most inspiring bass (that would be my 76 Ricky) but if you held a gun to my head and said I could only keep ONE bass then it probably would be the Jazz. Tonal versatility and playability, as foal said. It covers all bases.

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by Crazykiwi » Mon Jul 13, 2009 4:35 pm

foal30 wrote: What Leo got right does include sound and playability. You can only mass-produce this after the fact I would suggest. Because if the Precision was crap in a sound or playing sense Lionel Hampton would not of wanted it in his band or the Production crew at Motown or Willie Kent wouldn't have done the blues bass thing.
I'd suggest he was the first to design a bass guitar as a bassists instrument and not as a long scale guitar with fewer strings which is what Gibson essentially did during those early days. Also by achieving a level of market saturation it became an industry standard. Engineers learned how to get the instruments sounding good because thats what they encountered most often and had to adapt to. Then when they couldn't be bothered fiddling around with other instruments, producers and engineers began specifying 'The Fender Bass' because it became convenient to eq.

Same thing happened between VHS and Betamax BTW. VHS was inferior but by achieving dominance in the market, it shut the door on Betamax.
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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by foal30 » Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:20 pm

In a historical context I see no market saturation by the "Fender Bass" to get it's head up.
this is after it "found a sound" most probably driven by Players liking it, Bandleaders affording it, and producers hearing it.

I understand the VHS comparison but this is consumer option not workers livelihood... if you see my drift. the consumers option was "decided" for them by business practice, not household's books balanced solely by the success of VHS or Beta

the first VHS I see had a cabled remote and you couldn't use pause cause it would break the tape :D
and I reckon they were $1799 when they came out which for say 1982-3 was serious bread.

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Re: the importance of the jazz bass

Post by Crazykiwi » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:27 am

foal30 wrote:In a historical context I see no market saturation by the "Fender Bass" to get it's head up.
this is after it "found a sound" most probably driven by Players liking it, Bandleaders affording it, and producers hearing it.
But thats just it, in a historical context they DID saturate the market and this is what led to them being used on so many recordings. It was a very early example of brand awareness being established by market dominance that lead in turn to the brand being accepted as an industry standard because it was expedient. How many older recordings have you seen with 'on Fender bass' being used in the credits? I've seen quite a few. Engineers knew that if a player bought a Fender bass, then it could be eq'd on the desk in a certain way without even needing to plug the instrument in.

Also take a look at Fender's production line management. It was all geared up around mass production and getting product out there as quickly as possible from the first moment. The approach they took to finishing didn't prioritise tone, or sound as a consideration. They used car paint! :) Custom coloured instruments often were finished over a rejected sunburst because it was expedient. There was no consideration about whether double thickness finish would impede the tone or not. Leo didn't select swamp ash, maple and alder because it was the best sounding tone wood, there was no such thing known at that time. He selected those woods because they were the cheapest and most readily available material. Leo selected a bolt on neck joint instead of a through body neck not because he felt it was sonically superior, it was because when the frets wore out, the idea was the player could stick on another neck and avoid the need for a refret. Any conclusions that have been drawn about the benefits of alder, maple and ash, alnico magnets, low mass bridges, bolt on necks or whatever has happened since the 80's. Players didn't give a toss before then.

In fact, I'd suggest that nostalgia also has a funny way of warping peoples' interpretations of history. The reason why preCBS Fenders started taking off in the early 80's was because there were a load of semi pro but otherwise comfortably well off baby-boomers who couldn't afford Fenders (the market leader) in the 60's who wanted to recapture the sounds of their youth. Therein started a cycle of hype on the part of retailers who were finding that they could pretty much charge through the nose if they were clever about how they justified their hefty prices. The demand though was primarily driven by nostalgia, not the quality of the instruments themselves.

For a while I'd say there was a romance with old Fenders, certainly while the main market was baby boomers, but now we've got players yearning for preCBS instruments who weren't even born in the 70's. On Talkbass, players can get so worked up and over excited about preCBS Fenders that it reminds me of that scene out of Monty Python's Life of Brian. You know, where the crowd are determined to believe that Brian is the Messiah and are clutching at all sorts of artifacts as proof even though he's telling them himself that he isn't. The design and manufacturing of preCBS Fenders PROVES they're not magical. But some people choose to ignore the evidence in front of their own eyes and see something else instead. I think that increasing awareness of ageing being good for instruments happened through interest in old Fenders and this has become inextricably intermingled with the nostalgia for old Fenders. However take the same argument used to justify Fenders and apply it to other instruments that were arguably better made, like Alembics or Rickenbackers.

Some might say that its a magical combination of all aspects of the design of Fenders, well fair enough I guess. But those same people are also often the ones who are claiming that Leo was a genius and that the excitement over old Fenders was predestined which is just plain stupid IMO. The main problem I have is that the claims made in the marketing hype and post rationalisation from as far back as the 80s has also now gradually been accepted as fact by people who don't really know any better! I like old Fenders, so very nearly bought a '65 jazz in March. Hell, I like beaten up basses but, as good as the old preCBS Fenders are, there's definitely an element of Emperors New Clothes about them. I didn't buy the 65 because, as good as it was, it wasn't £3000 better than my Celinder J Update.

But if someone is prepared to believe that it IS worth £3000 more, that plays right into Fender Music Corps hands when they can sell players an MIA assembled in the US from Chinese made parts for an outrageous mark up (albeit still much cheaper than a preCBS) just because players are prepared to believe that by owning such an instrument they're recapturing the old 60's right there.

The dream is often what sells the instruments.

Truth is, there isn't an awful lot of difference between the approach Cort, SX or Samick take to making their instruments today and how Fender approached it in the 50's and 60's. There's just more CNC machining involved (and I'd argue better quality as a result). The biggest deciding factor has been market cunning, discovering the effects of aging (which has played right into Fender's hands thanks to its early market dominance), and the attempts by the baby boomer generation to recapture their youth.

Leo Fender wasn't a genius or the Messiah. He wasn't even a musician! He was JUST a very good industrial designer. Of course if someone wants to believe the religious fervour around old Fenders then who am I to tell them otherwise? It's their money.
foal30 wrote: I understand the VHS comparison but this is consumer option not workers livelihood... if you see my drift. the consumers option was "decided" for them by business practice, not household's books balanced solely by the success of VHS or Beta.
I agree over your interpretation of the VHS/Betamax format war, the issue has been well documented as a case study. But mass production helped establish VHS as the dominant format, it wasn't technological superiority. Same thing has happened with BluRay and HD DVD although in that instance, the outcome wasn't decided by technological superiority or mass production, it was decided by shifting business alliances. Again, the consumer didn't have much of a part to play and it was the same case when Fender first started making instruments in the 50's and 60's.

Take a Celinder J Update, give it 20 years and I'll bet you it'll wipe the floor with any Fender of the same age. :) It was nostalgia for the sound that made Fenders popular since the 80's but before that time, it was just mass production and market dominance.
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