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!
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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)

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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…
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Fender USA American Jazz 4-String Bass Review – about the first of a few I’ve had, but still my FAVORITE

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Originally published October 11, 2006 – my first USA Fender and maple-fretboard Jazz. Wow, if I could go back in time and get this one back. The S1 circuit on this one was a gem, and the play/action/sound was something I’ve not seen just exactly the same – ever since…

Fender American Jazz Bass Review

There are many good and extremely good manufacturers of bass guitars in the world today. We have the luxury to access a huge variety of basses in all price ranges, lots of different styles and sounds, and a mind-boggling set of choices to make when shopping for a bass guitar.

When I set out to purchase a definitive bass for the majority of my bass playing (and recording), I wanted to have a great sound, a sound that fits many styles of music, and in a guitar that doesn’t require a second mortgage to own. I took several months to play lots of different basses from different manufacturers, and in lots of different price ranges. Although a musician like me wants to have lots of tonal/playing options for his guitars, I need a solid cornerstone instrument for my bass sounds: The Fender American Jazz fits the bill in a huge way. Our Fender American Jazz (“Count Bassy”), will be a member of the family – and a treasured heirloom for many years to come.

Quick Opinion: The Fender American Jazz bass is well-rounded, sonically rich, ultimately playable, and a joy in terms of playing comfort. If you need a long-term bass guitar – one that can fit almost any musical style – The American Jazz is just the prescription the doctor ordered.

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Playability: I played about a dozen bass manufacturer brands before settling on an American Jazz. After long days of playing many basses, the American Jazz felt at once comfortable and effortlessly playable. The particular Jazz I purchased felt like playing an old favorite guitar of many years (just shiny, clean, and new).

The neck is the signature for a Jazz bass – a great taper, an effortless profile, and a satin finish that always feels effortless (even when your hands get hot and sweaty). The neck and body profile make for easy access to the entire fretboard range. As a bass player who loves to use the entire fretboard, the Jazz feels right at home. It is obvious that the person who finished my particular Jazz neck paid attention to even the tiniest of details. (However, see my note at the end concerning the fret wire ends.)

The balance of the body and neck is outstanding for a full-scale (34”) bass. Even though my American Jazz is a tiny bit biased weight to the neck, it never becomes an issue for playing long hours in my home studio. The comfortable body contours for your ribcage and pick/thump/pluck hand arm make the guitar fit to the player like a glove.

Playing our Fender American Jazz bass is a comfortable and enjoyable experience. It’s easy to look forward to recording and playing sessions when one has one of these basses to play.

Features: Another place the American Jazz Bass shines is in its feature set. The vast majority of passive basses in this price range give you tone, volume, and some nice cosmetics. The Fender gives you nice cosmetics, and gives you the wonderful S1 switch. The S1 switch gives you additional sound choices, and can add lots of real-world punch to your sound to cut through even a big, loud band.
My only concern with most passive basses is that it is very difficult to get lots of bass frequency (without sending your equipment/recording gear way into the clip-red-range). The balance between signal volume and punch is a difficult thing to achieve, especially for recording. The S1 switch and the wonderful advanced-magnet pickups in the American Jazz make the search for sound MUCH easier to play, hear, and EQ.

The pickguard is a classy three-layer guard. The neck is a fabulous piece of maple (I chose the maple fretboard for its playability, sound, and looks). The tuners are accurate, easy to use, and simple to maintain. The included Fender hardshell case is wonderful for protecting your Jazz baby.

Sound: I could write a short novel about the sound of the Fender American Jazz bass. (Hey Fender, do you want me to write one?) There are lots of styles of music in the world, and there are lots of wonderful-sounding basses out there from a variety of manufacturers (even several different sounds from Fender). By far, the sound of the American Jazz bass fits more styles and sound qualities than any other bass I’ve had the pleasure of playing (followed closely by the Jazz’s cousin the Fender American Precision bass).

The sound is warm when you need it, it’s very vibrant and broad when you tweak it, and there’s not much out there that can growl, sizzle, spank, bite, or punch better than the American Jazz. The Jazz is loud (for a passive bass) without being intrusive, but can take a lead tone in an R&B or rock tune very easily.

The sound of my American Jazz has inspired me to compose and record duets for bass, and has led me to intuitively play melody and counter-melody with the bass.

Value: The Fender American Jazz bass is well worth its cost, if not even a little more. The combination of quality, playability, and signature sound make the purchase of a Fender American Jazz a purchase you will long enjoy.

Wishes: My particular American Jazz plays like a dream – however, the ends of the frets have not been nicely dressed. I’m accustomed to American Fenders having all the little details done without compromise. If you run your hand down the edge of the fretboard against the edge of the fret wires, you can feel sharp, jagged edges. I used some fret polish paper to take a little of the bite off the edges of the wires – but they’re still not as clean as my American Telecaster.

Squier (by Fender) Affinity Jazz (the “J”) Bass Review – getting started with an inexpensive bass that actually plays great

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Squier Affinity J (Jazz) Bass long-term review Originally posted March 2006… A few edits here and there, but mostly the original review for this repost

Every guitar player should try playing bass. It’s a blast, and can really teach you something about fret stretches, silencing adjacent strings, and serious hand-strengthening. In another note, every bass player has to have a place to start. Sometimes getting a low-cost bass doesn’t mean having to get a cheap bass!

Jazz Bass, J Bass… You say Fender, I say Phendre.

Quick Opinion: The Squier Affinity and Standard Jazz Bass guitars are actually somewhat comparable to Fender Mexican-made Standard Jazz Bass guitars. The basic features and appointments are almost identical. It stands to reason that the Chinese-made Squiers are slightly less-nice Alder wood, and the finish paint is thicker and harder on the Squiers. However, the impression of the Squier I bought (and have played for more than a year when this was originally posted) is that it is a solid buy, and an excellent bass. Yes, the Mexican-made Jazz basses have nicer necks to an experienced player – but remember that the point behind the Squier Affinity is low-cost and beginner’s playability. Over time, I found that the Affinity is a good starter bass – consistent in quality and sound. If the player finds that he/she wants to play bass more often and has more budget, the step up to the Mexican-made bass is a good place to go…

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Playability: The neck is solid, and is nicely tapered. It is physically similar to Fenders costing much more… The maple neck and rosewood fretboard feel excellent and are easy to play. The bass is comparatively light and is fairly well balanced. The excellent Fender-designed double-cutaway body allows easy, full access to the entire fretboard. As a long-scale (34”) bass, the Squier Jazz Bass is extremely playable and is a joy to use.The bolt-on maple neck/rosewood fretboard comes surprisingly well finished. Only two or three of our guitar’s fret ends were a little sharp. The fret height is very consistent throughout the neck. Note that the Mexican-made Standard does have a smoother finish to the back of the neck – and that the Chinese Affinity Squier bass necks tend not to be arrow-straight (there are other manufacturer countries for different models these days – some with substantially better quality that rivals the Mexican-made basses)
For folks with small hands or less-than-average arm lengths, a full-scale bass like this might be a little tough to play (especially during quick, challenging passes). If you’re not comfortable with a long, 34” guitar, I recommend trying out the Squier Bronco, Squier Mustang bass, or, if your budget can accommodate, a Fender Mustang bass.

Features: The appointments and features of the Squier Jazz Bass are good for this guitar’s price. The pickguard is a well-made three-ply plastic guard (white-black-white on our Red Metallic bass). The pickups are two “vintage-style” pickups (bridge and mid). The guitar features two larger volume knobs and one smaller tone knob. The two volume knobs allow you to choose the tonal variety by selecting the volume for a specific pickup. The tone applies to the entire sound output (the Squier Jazz Bass guitars are passive, in that they have no equalization or boost electronics or batteries on board). As with pretty much every Jazz Bass guitar, the Affinity’s neck is bolt-on. In the case of the Squier Jazz Bass, the neck truss rods are adjustable via an allen wrench in the headstock (no need to unbolt the neck and unscrew the pickguard). The chrome tuners are the enclosed variety, and are fairly accurate – I do like the “open gear” variety used on the up-scale Jazz basses better, but these do hold pretty well to normal play styles. The Squier Jazz uses a round string tree in the headstock for the two highest strings.
The Squier Affinity Jazz Bass has top-loaded strings (means that the strings are not fed through the body, but are fed through the end of the chrome bridge).

Sound:The Squier Jazz Bass guitar has a consistent, vintage sound. The pickups are pretty noisy – a bit more so than standard Jazz single coils, and the output isn’t very strong. The quality of the sound that does come out is all Fender, though. With the right amplification and EQ-tweaking, you can get the Squier to growl, rumble, and thumb-slap-“splank” without too much trouble. If I was to make this guitar my full-time bass – I might take the time to upgrade the pickups to Fender SCNs, or some type of high-output noiseless.

Value: This is a $299 guitar in value (not ‘retail’, ‘street’). The sound, quality of make, and appointments are good. Many other low-end guitars have badly twisted/warped necks, poor sound, and extremely cheap parts – the Squier Jazz Bass is very much a cut above the average low-end bass (no pun intended!). You would have to buy a much more expensive Fender bass to get better sound.

Wishes: I really wish these were offered with maple fretboards (a matter of personal preference, yes, but still something that would be good to offer). The pickups really should have more output. I wish these had more consistent necks and more consistent fret-finishing. These should all come with open-gear tuners – I don’t think Fender will lose much (if any) money on using nicer tuners.