The Awesome Right Honorable Squier by Fender Jazzmaster Vintage Modified Special Review!

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Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special Offset Body Goodness Electric Guitar Review
Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the basic quality and variety of the Fender Squier brand’s offerings. They’re generally well made, generally sound great for the cash, and are always coming up with something interesting.
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The Vintage Modified Squier series has a breathtakingly broad set of guitars and basses that are actually lots of fun to play and VERY affordable for beginners and pros alike. I love my Fender USA instruments more than I can say: and I really enjoy kicking back with my Asian-made Squier instruments, too.

The subject of this review, the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special, is a superb instrument with surprisingly big sound and nice build qualities. I found it to be a real bargain; and it is truly well worth the money, and more.

Quick Opinion:
Honestly, when I unboxed my brand new Squier Jazzmaster Special, I was really very pleased with the feel, the sound, and the quality. For the price, you get a real bluesy and rockin’ guitar with Seymour Duncan-designed Jazzmaster single coils and a nice easy-to-play neck. I didn’t find much, if anything, that I didn’t like right from the beginning.
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It’s a blast to play, a scream to play the blues or rock through a big ol’ tube amp, and a joy on the shoulder. Overall, I like it!

Buy it! You’ll be glad you did!
There are customer reviews and more specs for the Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster offset body guitar with Rosewood fretboard available here at zZounds.

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Features:
The Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special is an excellent blend of simplicity and features:
* Alder body
* Polyester smooth gloss finish
* Jazzmaster shaped body
* Polyester-finished C-shape maple neck and fretboard
* 25.5″ scale length
* 9.5″ fingerboard radius
* 21 medium-jumbo (I think) frets
* 1.65″ nut width
* Three-way pickup selector toggle switch:
** Neck
** Neck and Bridge
** Bridge
* Stacked concentric volume/tone knobs, one for each pickup
* Duncan Designed JM-101B Jazzmaster AlNiCo V bridge pickup
* Duncan Designed JM-101N Jazzmaster AlNiCo V neck pickup
* Top-loaded fixed non-trem bridge with saddle adjustments
* Vintage style tuning machines

This guitar (as of this writing) comes in two colors: butterscotch goodness like an old 50s or 40s Tele, and that tried-and-true brown sunburst – both with a maple neck/maple fretboard.

I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”
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Playability
The Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special is an easy-to-play instrument. For beginners, it feels like a stop-tail Stratocaster in many ways, from the feel of the neck to the way the body smoothly cradles the picking arm and the ribcage. Its offset design is reminiscent of a Firebird and a Stratocaster combined – but with out the edginess feeling of a Firebird. Overall, the guitar is easy to play, and is a pleasure to hold.

I find my Jazzmaster to be fairly well balanced, with a tiny bit of weight bias to the body. Interestingly enough, this guitar is like a blender guitar:
Take one blender and add:
* The switch location and feel of a Les Paul
* The offset-ness of a Firebird sort of married to a Stratocaster
* The general neck feel and look of a Stratocaster
* A fixed bridge that feels something like nowhere else
* The tuners of a Vintage Strat or Tele
* The control knobs of an old Fender bass
* And the jack of a Stratocaster

Mix thoroughly, put in a dash of Jazzmaster pickups, and you’ve got this unique and very satisfying Jazzmaster Special.
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This particular Jazzmaster lacks the array of fiddly switches found on its more expensive cousins. Although the lack of these switches does limit the sound shaping of this Jazzmaster Special, it does make it simpler and easier for the beginner or everyday player. Besides, it is a “special” after all.
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

Sound
Sound is a VERY strong suit for the Fender Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special. The Asian-made Duncan Designed pickups really do sound awesome. They aren’t quite par with Fender USA Jazzmasters or Seymour Duncan USA Jazzmasters, but they are darn good. At this price range (Less than $299 US, street), one wouldn’t expect pickups to be hugely wonderful – and yet they are.

I like the sound of my Jazzmaster. The simple front-to-back three-way toggle switch feels and sounds solid, the volume controls are smooth and do an OK job (as with most guitars in this price range, the volume drops off with a huge curve with very little turning of the knob – the pots are “you get what you pay for” in this price range). Tone knob wise, these guitars have that old vintage-y clickety concentric tone thing going on. You spin the tone ring (the black ring under the chrome dome volume knob) and it clicks audibly and forcefully as you turn the tone up and down.

If you were to close your eyes and hear this guitar played by a great guitar player through a great tube amp, you’d have a serious amount of trouble telling that this is a sub-$300US guitar. It sounds great for its price range – and even for above its price range.
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When compared to a US-made Jazzmaster, there is actually a real tone difference, to be sure. The US model sounds like heaven – and the Squier is standing in line at the pearly gates on its way there.
There is a whole range of Fender Squier Vintage Modified guitars and basses at zZounds.

Fit and Finish
Other than the crazy-to-remove plastic pickguard plastic covering, my Jazzmaster is absolutely superbly made – more so than many MUCH more expensive guitars made by so many other brands.
* The neck sits in the pocket quite nicely.
* The finish on the neck is great. I can easily like gloss or satin necks: and this gloss neck feels like old school stuff right off the bat.
* The pickups sound fantastic and are just fine like they are. Although some would still take them out and replace them, I’ve found them to have a great sound that kicks very consistently.
* The paint finish is very nice. The sunburst-ing is nicely done, the coloring is good, and the finish is nice and even.
* I think the soldering is reasonable for this price range instrument. The components are as expected for an Asian-made guitar, and attention to detail for soldering, placement, and wire lengths are just fine: again, far better than many guitars costing a great deal more. Fender understands this part really well and does a great job of it!
* I am a major fan of the Vintage style tuners used on many Fender and Squier necks. The tuners used on my Squier Jazzmaster are similar to, if not identical to, those on my Jimmie Vaughan Strat – they’re smooth and easy.
* The nut is nicely cut and the strings are in good shape.
* I think a little bit more time could have been spent on string height and intonation at the bridge: it wasn’t grossly set up, but it could have been just a little better – such that our beginner guitar friends would get much more playing enjoyment out of the box.

The newest Squier 2014 models are now in stock at zZounds!

Wishes and Wants
As odd as this might seem for me to complain or remark, it was nearly impossible to get all the pickguard protective plastic removed. The material under the bridge and between the bridge and the bridge pickup is still there in little noisy crinkly shards. When I play the guitar I can hear and feel the little bits of plastic all under where the bridge and bridge pickup are. It makes me cringe to hear crackling while I’m playing, so I’m likely going to remove the strings, pop off the bridge, and maybe even pop up the pickguard just to get rid of the rest of the stuff… I’m very appreciative of getting to be the first person to scratch up (what my British friends would call) the scratchplate… But gosh – this is a real pain.

I like the “coolness” of the clickety tone rings on my Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster Special, but it really gets irritating after a while. I’m not a purist, so I would not have missed the clickies at all if Fender had put in smooth-dialing concentric pots ;-).

Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the wonderful Squier Vintage Modified Jazzmaster – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass Review – Sleek, Slender, Seductive, Sonorous!

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The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass Review – Sleek, Slender, Seductive, Sonorous!
Fender Jazz Basses were proposed by the founders of Fender Musical Instruments as the “deluxe bass.” The wonderful P/Precision bass was making the scene for electric bass applications all over the world – and Fender wanted to wow the world again with a new design: a new way of thumpin’ the house!

The Jazz bass was introduced, with its slinky offset body, simpler and (on some models) slenderer neck at the nut, and its two powerful single coil pickups. Where the original P bass gave us thunder and thump, the Jazz gave us something new: GROWL with the thump and the boom!

The Aerodyne bass was introduced a few years back as an alternative, more comfortable, and even a little more versatile Jazz bass – made by the master craftspeople of Fender Japan. It got sexy flatter smoother edges, body binding, a color-matched headstock, and a pair of pickups: one Jazz, one Precision.

I love the Fender Aerodyne. I’m getting ready to buy my third – I’ve missed the ones I’ve sold in the past and it is time to put that sound back in my recordings!
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Quick Opinion:
If you’ve played Jazz basses before, you’ll remember the wonderful offset feel of that big body and monster scale neck (but with the easy slim-width neck at the nut). It’s nice to have that big monster thumpin’ out the sound. But when you pick up an Aerodyne for the first time, you think: Wow, that’s comfortable! And, you get that nice P/J pickup combination that suits even more playing styles – thunder, thump, growl, or all three!

I love this bass. As I go through instruments for my recordings, one thing I always find myself looking forward to is the chance to play an Aerodyne again. I like the simple basic Jazz, whether it’s standard, American, Special, Deluxe, or even Squier J: but the Aerodyne has a special place in my heart.

When my mom’s dad died many years back, a little extra cash came my way as a gift from him: This funded my very first Aerodyne Jazz. It was named “Charlie” (granddad’s name), and it served me well! I would love to still have that particular Aerodyne. It was the bomb.

Looking for a versatile full-scale bass that really sounds great and is probably the most comfortable bass in the business? The Aerodyne might just be for you!
The Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is rockin’ at zZounds! My Sponsor and favorite Vendor!

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Features:
Compared with the Fender Standard Jazz Bass, the Aerodyne is a “deluxe” when it comes to features. It has the general feel and appearance of a typical Jazz, but the sleek and slender body is a real plus: and the alternative pickup combination is a really nice change-up from the everyday Jazz.

At the risk of being a bit simplistic: This bass is a REAL sleeper in the Fender backline!

The CIJ Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass is interesting and different in many ways from its other Fender cousins:
* The US issues have black bodies with a matching black headstock (Japan and possibly other countries also have a nice wine color and possibly others)
* Basswood body for somewhat lighter shoulder-hanging
* Urethane black paint with cream/antique color binding on the body
* Maple neck with a satin urethane finish
* A rosewood fretboard that’s stained darker to match the overall black appearance of the bass
* A 7.25″ fingerboard radius
* 1.5″ nut width
* Smokey dark chrome metal appointments
* A four-saddle bridge
* A Fender Standard Jazz single coil pickup in the bridge position
* A Fender Standard Precision single/split coil pickup in the middle position
* A front-of-the body Strat-style input jack and plate
* No pickguard and no fretboard markers (there are dots on the top side of the neck)

I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”
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Playability
As a guitar player and a bass player, I love the way it feels to pick up different instruments and enjoy the differences between the character of each instrument. Some artists love an instrument to be the same all the time, others like variety. I’m in the second camp. With that said, the Fender Deluxe Aerodyne Jazz Bass is a REAL treat to play, even for those who like to play one instrument and stick with it. They’re a real bargain and a real value – one that’s so playable it makes you forget that your fingers are dancing over a huge long piece of wood with telephone pole wires (how a guitar teacher once described “playing bass”) strung on the front.
I do like the Fender Jazz Bass in general: zZounds has a way you can buy your gear and fall in love with it – with a money-back guarantee…

The Aerodyne Jazz is easy to play. It has that “Stratty” feel to the body shape, yet its slenderness helps you forget that the Jazz is much larger than a Stratocaster in every way. The neck is divine, the body feels good against the skin, and the satin-ish finish of the back of the neck is easy on the fretting paw when you’re sweating up a storm on stage (or even in a studio).
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Sound
Here’s a great thing (among many) about the Fender Aerodyne Bass: The sound is fantastic and is pretty flexible.

There’s one master tone knob that controls tone output to the jack, and one volume knob each for the two pickup assemblies. You use the two volume knobs as a blender mechanism – thus no need of a pickup selector switch. Want more growl and highs? Turn up the bridge Jazz Bass pickup. Want less highs and more warm thump? Turn down the bridge a good bit and turn up the Precision pickup set all the way. Want both? Just turn them both to 11!

If you purchase a new Fender at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.
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Fit and Finish
Seriously? The Fender Aerodyne Jazz is one of the best made Jazz basses on the market and easily one of the best basses I’ve played of any brand. I am very peculiar about the sensory experience of my bass guitars (sound, smell, look, AND feel). The Aerodyne never disappoints! The neck finish is just right: not too slick and not too grabby.

The neck fits great, the wiring is simple and well-done, the overall finish of the bass is clean and simple, and the Aerodynes I’ve played have all been made with consistency that is enviable in the manufacturing world. The finish of my most recent Aerodyne had no orange peel, no spray knots near the neck pocket, and was hard as a rock and slick as new glass. Very nice!

A killer combination: A Fender Aerodyne Jazz playing through a genuine Fender amplifier is a lifetime of great tone and sound – bringing up the Backline for ages to ages in the future!

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Wishes and Wants
I love the Aerodyne as it is. The only thing I’d love to see is Olympic white and a great metallic candy apple red version here in the US…
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the Wonderful Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)

The Gloriously Insanely Wonderful Fender Classic Player Baja Guitar Review

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The Gloriously Insanely Wonderful Fender Classic Player Baja Guitar Review
I have had a few Telecasters in my life, from Chinese Squiers to American Deluxes to almost everything in between (including baritones and even a few oddball parts-o-Teles). I’ve always loved them, and I always seem to be able to come out with a great tune every time I sit down and play Tele time.

I discovered the Baja Tele while shopping for a mid-priced Tele at my local big-box guitar store. I was blown away and even more surprised when I looked at the specs vs. the price: Ash, custom shop pickups and wiring, V neck, smooth tuners, great finishes, and that wonderful Telecaster sound and playability. Wow!
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Quick Opinion:
Looking for a mid-priced Telecaster (or even just a mid-priced single cutaway electric)? Shop no further. Proceed forth to your favorite purveyor of guitars and buy one before they stop making these!

Just do it. They’re wonderful!

The Fender Classic Player Baja is not currently available at zZounds, but they do have a great selection of Telecasters!

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Features:
Telecasters are (in general) quite simple. As I’ve said in previous reviews of Telecasters, I’d call them “simple genius.” They sound great, they’re possibly the easiest-to-play guitar available, and they have a sound that can go country, blues, praise, punk, rock, and even new age (with some pedals thrown in). Throw the switch, play the strings, and BOOM – classic sound. From Buck Owens to Bruce Springsteen to Brad Paisley to Jonny Lang and a host of others: The Telecaster has been the axe of the ages.

As Telecasters go, the Fender Classic Player’s Baja Telecaster is quite feature-rich. The features of this guitar, along with its awesome build quality, are easily one of its strongest areas.

A short list of my favorite parts of the Baja Telecaster:
* Solid ash body (my FAVORITE Fender guitar body wood!)
* Vintage-style 3-saddle Strings-Thru-Body Tele Bridge (one either loves the three-saddle or dislikes them. I’m neutral)
* Maple neck and fingerboard with soft “V” shape and satin polyester finish (one of the nicest Tele necks ever made!)
* Custom Shop Designed” neck plate
* 21 Medium Jumbo Frets
* Custom Shop “Twisted” Tele Single-Coil (Neck)
* Custom Shop Broadcaster Single-Coil (Bridge)
* Pickup Switching: 4-Position Blade Switch and 2-Position Push/Push S-1:
* Vintage Style 3-Saddle Strings-Thru-Body Tele Bridge
* Vintage Style Tuning Machines – these are smoother and often easier than the new-school Ping tuners, in my opinion…
* 9.5″ Fingerboard radius
* Scale Length – 25.5″
* Width at Nut – 1.625″

For the money, these are FEATURE PACKED and one the nicest-playing Telecasters made (next to my 2006 American Deluxe Tele).
I am not only an affiliate of zZounds, I’m a major fan and customer. I really like their zZounds Guarantee “30 days to try out your dream guitar.”

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Playability
I love the soft V neck. It’s awesome. The honey neck finish is superb on the hands, whether your hands are sweaty and hot or dry and cool – the neck is a true JOY to play and experience.

If you play the Baja Telecaster and really give the neck a shot, you’ll be hooked. Telecasters with much more expensive necks often don’t feel as good as these. Like the Fender Jimmie Vaughan Stratocaster, these are some of the best “sleeper” products in the Fender line. You’ll come for the sound and stay for the playability!

The body: it’s a rounded-edge Telecaster. They feel like they feel, they play like they play. In my opinion, the medium-weight, balanced ash body and maple neck are just fine.
I do like the Telecaster in general: zZounds has a way you can buy your gear and fall in love with it – with a money-back guarantee…
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Sound
The pickups are diverse, the switching options are awesome, and the quality of the electronics is outstanding. There’s so very much to these simple pickups and wiring – much more than meets the eye. I’ve been able to over-drive the pickups of my Baja and get some of the nastiest dirtiest blues imaginable, then change amps or models and get sweet twangy single-jangly-coily-ness in just a few seconds. The Baja Telecaster is VERY versatile and truly meets and exceeds expectations in the sound department.

Even if you’re not looking for that “spanky” Tele sound, set up some tubes or an amp model that gets to rockin’ and you’ll love the way it sounds!

The nice density of the ash body is a great alternative to the everyday Fender alder body – and it makes a nice difference if you’re looking for a more “singing” sound… I love ash woods, even on other brands of guitars – and the Fender Baja Telecaster is no exception.

The Fender Classic Player Baja Telecaster offers wonderful electronics flexibility. Tons of different sounds from just two “custom shop” pickups!
* S-1 Switch Up:
** Position 1. Bridge Pickup
** Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups (In Parallel)
** Position 3. Neck Pickup (Standard Tele)
** Position 4. Neck and Bridge Pickups (In Series) (Fatter Tone Than Position 2. and More Output Than Position 1., 2., or 3.)
* S-1 Switch Down:
** Position 1. Bridge Pickup
** Position 2. Bridge and Neck Pickups (In Parallel)-Out of Phase
** Position 3. Neck Pickup (Standard Tele)
** Position 4. Neck and Bridge Pickups (In Series) Out of Phase
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If you purchase a new Fender at zZounds, qualified buyers can even play as they play with the 12 month select brands (new guitars only) payment plan.

Fit and Finish
I’ve had two (soon to be three) Bajas over the years since there introduction. Without doubt, the quality is a 10 out of 10. The build, the fit and finish, the quality of the electronics, the neck pocket fit, and the feel and finish of the neck are all just awesome. I’ve not picked up a single Baja that had a glaring issue (even those hanging out at guitar stores for long periods of time).

I could write a volume or two about how well built my Bajas have been, but really, they would just say, “These things are built by real craftspeople who obviously love their instruments and the way they make their instruments.” They’re great. I have never had a complaint about a single one.
Talk about legendary tone! A Fender Baja Telecaster playing through a genuine Fender amplifier is a lifetime of great tone and sound!

Wishes and Wants
I do wish this was offered in both of the blondes (the butterscotch and the sand). Not much of a gripe, or even a complaint. I just love the old school butterscotch blonde look on a Tele with a black pickguard and a maple neck. Thank you, Leo!

I do wish these could come with an optional six-saddle bridge for those of us who are really critical about our tuning. If that’s the worst of it though, that’s not bad! Besides, the tone on the three-saddle bridge actually makes up for the intonation thing!
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the Wonderful Fender Telecaster – click here! (Visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! It makes a difference when you visit my sponsor and grab some great gear.)
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The Fender Fretless Standard Jazz Bass – A Review of a Timeless Sound in the Hands

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The Fender Standard Fretless Jazz Bass Review – Warm Bassy Goodness. Can you say “MWAH?”

Into each bass player’s life a little fretless should come. For many of us, when we lay our hands on it for the first time, we never stop thinking about which tunes would sound great with the ultra-warm mwah of a fretless bass with great googly-moogly flatwound strings (tape, metal, whatever sounds best to you). I went on a journey of discovery in 2006 after playing a fretless Fender Jazz for the first time (I had been tinkering with bass playing on and off since I was a teenager.) I felt strongly enough about the importance of a fretless in my sound library that I went to great lengths to order a special one from Fender. My Fender was special in that it was a 2006 diamond anniversary edition, and that they put together one with the color I liked (none of the online dealers offered Oly white at the time – although Olympic white has been offered off-and-on over the years prior and since). I received my new, freshly-assembled Jazz pretty quickly and took it home to play.

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What followed was nothing short of revolutionary and enlightening.

My Fender Fretless MIM Jazz came with a lovely buffed and polished flat rosewood fretboard, a slick and (really) perfect Olympic white poly candy shell, great basic MIM electronics, and those heavenly Fender flatwound Jazz strings. zZounds offers the Fender Fretless Jazz at a competitive price. Read here for more details and specs. Shameless plug alert… The gig bag was thin and light, but it got the bass to my house in the factory box OK. If you’re not worried about the finish of your Jazz, the gig bag makes an excellent strong carry bag. NOTE: Some current models may not come with a Fender gig bag. I was happy enough with my Jazz that I went out and bought a Fender plastic hard shell case for it. The setup was pretty impressive, the intonation was decent and the string height was about where I’ve kept it in the years since.

The Fender Fretless Jazz bass is a bargain, an excellent player, and a permanent fixture in my sonic library. Here’s why:

Quick Opinion: The Fender Fretless Jazz bass is an extremely well-made instrument with a great sound for everyday playing and recording. The body is that excellent rounded-corner easy-on-the-body-and-arm shape, with a standard long-scale reach and traditional old-school Jazz controls. It plays effortlessly, sounds great, and is a bargain in the grander scheme of basses.
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There aren’t a lot of low-to-mid cost fretless basses out there in the new-instrument market… so the market is a bit limited for profitability’s sake. With that said, I think it is important that quality instruments remain in the retail stream with an on-going view into the market. Bass players will often (at least) try fretless basses during the maturation of their skills. With some, fretless guitars and basses are a curiosity, with others, there is a need to get that “upright bass fiddle” sound in some situations. Still, with others, a fretless is the only way to go! (Jaco Pastorius, anyone?) I am glad Fender continues to produce MIM- and USA-made Fretless Jazz basses. I know I will be holding on to “Polar” as long as I have hands to hold it.

Here’s a quick breakdown of this particular guitar’s features:
* Rosewood fretboard
* Thin light-colored strips in the fret locations for those of us who still have to look at the fretboard (;-))
* Everyday Jazz MIM electronics and pickups
* Poly paint offered in several opaque colors (varies from year to year)
* Reliable open-gear butterbean large-button tuners
* Factory-issued Fender Flatwound strings

zZounds has satisfaction guarantees – I have received excellent sales and service from them for my own guitars. I’ve bought a lot of my gear from them. Shameless plug to help me keep the site going: if you buy stuff from them, it helps me write more reviews!

FenderFretlessJazzBassBodyFrontByJimPearson

Sound: Part of the Fender Fretless Jazz sound is its strings and fretless-ness, part of the sound is the guitar’s materials and workmanship. You can put cheap round-wound strings on your fretless and get cheap sounds with an ability to play glissandos and scoops – and the guitar will do its best to sound like a traditional Fender jazz. You can put high-end tape-based flatwounds on the fretless and it will sound like a million bucks. The pickups are “vintage” strength and sound as they should, if a little quiet for low-powered solid-state amps and DI applications.
On the whole, the Fender Fretless Jazz sounds great. Here is more detail…

Here are some of the components of the Fretless Jazz sound:
1) Pickups/electronics
2) Tone woods, neck woods
3) Strings and fretboard/fingerboard

Pickups and Electronics: Opening the Fretless Jazz’s cavity shows a pair of ceramic-magnet single-coil Fender Jazz pickups, standard CTS-type potentiometers, a basic burgundy-colored chicklet tone capacitor, and a Switchcraft jack. The pickups are wired in parallel, and each has its own volume control. There is a master tone control on the circuit.

The pickups are low-output vintage-sounding pickups. The Jazz allows you to blend the sound of the pickups by turning one and/or the other down/up with its individual volume control. There is no pickup-selector switch – the volume control gives you flexibility and dial-in sound. I played my Fretless Jazz with wiring as-is for the first 5 years I owned it. I’ve used it for countless recordings and small gigs, so I can attest that it really sounds like a nice traditional Jazz sound. I have found that great 15″ speaker cabinet(s) and a tube pre-amp REALLY bring this bass to life. If you’d like to record with it, I recommend finding a nice tube pre-amp to put in between your bass and the DI or computer recording interface. My recordings are so much warmer with tubes in-line.

As a side note, after 5 years, I did decide to do a little upgrading… I wired in a series/parallel switch and installed a factory pair of genuine Fender “Original Jazz Bass” Alnico pickups. The factory sound of my Jazz was awesome. My re-worked Jazz is now a real tour-de-force for rock, funk, jazz, classical, and new age.

FenderFretlessJazzBassHeadstockBackByJimPearson

Tone and Neck woods: Here’s a bit of something that most bass players might find interesting: Fender doesn’t list the body tonewood for its MIM Jazz basses in its on-site specs any more. I am not an authority on this, but I suspect that this gives Fender the flexibility to use the tonewoods it chooses (without having to update specs or guarantee content). Most Jazzes I’ve seen with materials listed were either alder or basswood. (Note that many special edition or FSR Jazz basses will state explicitly that they have ash bodies – my favorite.)

For the Fender Fretless Jazz bass, I think that either the alder or basswood body types sound great. I don’t actually know what wood my Oly White Fretless Jazz has as its body. I just know that I like the sound of it. I have known and heard of Fretless Jazz players who buy a bass with the neck they like and search out a specific body wood and color, then put the two together in a sort of a FrankenJazz (JazzenStein?). I can understand doing this… but know that if you “just want to have a great sounding bass that’s fretless”, the factory Fender Jazz bass is awesome.

The neck: The neck is a nice hard maple one-piece chunk of wood with that awesome narrow Jazz nut width. It feels great, it transfers string sound great, and is a pleasure to play. Fender takes care to create a great 9.5″ radius rosewood fretboard for the player. The surface is buffed to an almost shiny extent on most of these I’ve played. Mine looks as though it has been coated (although it hasn’t). It feels awesome, is pleasing to the touch, and is a real joy to play.

Strings and Fretboard/Fingerboard Most (not ALL) manufacturers ship their fretless basses with flatwound stainless or nickel strings – Fender is no exception. There are two primary reasons for using flatwounds (or tape-wounds) on a fretless.
1) The sound: the sound is the reason for the season, the color of the sky, the raison d’ etre. Flatwounds lend themselves to bass sounds in general, but really make the sound of a fretless Jazz.
2) Fingerboard life: On fretted basses, round-wound strings are pretty rough on the steel/nickel frets. Active bass players who use round-wounds on their basses will always see divots in their fret wires after a time – it is a fact of life in the life of most basses. Fret metal is pretty tough stuff: imagine what it would do to the much softer wood of a fingerboard. Using round-wounds on a fretless bass might give you a sound you are after, but doing so will definitely carve grooves in your fretboard. If you choose to go with cheap round-wounds to save money, you will end up with a chewed-up fingerboard.

The rosewood fingerboard offers a rich feel and sound experience that most players find enjoyable. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned professional, the excellent fingerboard is an integral part of the experience and sound.

Fender Fretless Jazz Headstock frontby Jim Pearson

Playability I’ve played many different manufacturers’ fretless basses, both acoustic and electric. I must say that my experience with my Jazz is the most enjoyable and memorable. It’s predictable, easy-to play for anyone that can reach a 34″ scale bass neck, and even works with those with small hands. The neck is just right. The body is just right. The fretboard is invisible to my hands – I just let the music flow from my soul to my ears through this bass.

For those of us (like me) who still feel insecure when we play a fretless – and want to nail the intonation of a note from the finger attack, the lines for the fret markers are awesome. They take the crazy out of “where is C#?”. On one hand, the lines are a crutch – I encourage you to learn to play the neck without looking at it – on the other hand, the lines are comforting. I’d rather have them there than not – but if I played every day for a living, I’d learn the fretboard without my eyes. Let the music flow from your mind and soul and build up muscle and music memory…

zZounds has a good selection of fretless Jazz basses, including the Standard (MIM) Fretless Jazz.

Quality: My Fender Jazz Fretless Bass was made extremely well. The neck pocket is pretty decent, the finish of all the items is flawless, the components feel and sound good. What’s not to like?

I have found the tuners to be reliable and solid. The finish on the neck and body are both excellent. The fretboard is awesome. The wiring was clean and well-done. The bridge placement was nearly spot-on. The pickups sounded just as they should. Over all, I have not found an issue with my bass in 6 years.
FenderFretlessJazzBassPickupBridgeDetailByJimPearson

Value: Fender’s Fretless Standard MIM Jazz bass is underpriced. The street price of the Fender Fretless Standard Jazz is less than East-Asian-made fretted basses from a variety of manufacturers. The quality, however, is well above those same basses. The MIM Standard Jazz Fretless is comparable to something that would be like an American Special in overall quality – but at a price that is actually pretty low. Whether you buy a new Fender fretless or buy one on the used market, they are a bargain. Really.

If I were blind-pricing Fender’s Standard Jazz Fretless compared to $799 Chinese basses from some of the popular mass-market makers, I’d say this bass should street-price at the same level or a little more.

Fender Fretless Jazz Fretboard by Jim Pearson

Wishes: I wish there was a maple fretboard version – I have no idea if it would sound different, but when I see Fender, I think maple fretboard. It would be nice to continue to offer traditional colors such as Olympic White, Black, and Wine.