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This article was originally published in issue #21
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Let's get straight down to the nitty-gritty: Fender's new 'Classic Player' series Cabronita Precision bass is a simple affair that doesn't worry you with big pre-amps and high-line pickups and if that's the sort of bass you like, then I think you're going to like this one!
From the moment I took it out of the box I could tell that the substantial Cabronita was going to be resonant and loud and that's exactly what it was unplugged. It's a classic combination of an alder body with a maple neck so there's no experimental stuff here. Add a set of the new Fender USA Super Bass strings (fitted as standard) and the Cabronita chimed out with a full and piano-like sound from the get-go.
Starting at the headstock end of things, I love the original Precision style. Smooth and curvy! On to that are fixed four vintage style reverse tuning keys - again, I love these. Very cool!
The 34” scale bolt-on neck features 20 medium jumbo frets that were beautifully finished on this review instrument. The neck itself is a real surprise. It's not at all skinny - it's a real 'man's handful' (ha!) of a neck. The C carve actually feels really good and I am sure that the added neck mass is a contributor to the overall tone. Moving on, the alder body bears a spotless, gloss urethane finish available in red, black or two-tone. On to that is placed a single-ply pickguard and the other hardware, which comprises a volume control, passive tone control bridge and pickup. The bridge, referred to as 'modern high-mass' has more than a passing resemblance to a well known third party addition - no matter, I'm pleased to see something more than those single piece plates. Well, usually that is - I mean, there's something that doesn't sit quite right for my eye at least. That's a huge bridge and the 'Fideli'Tron' pickup installed is for me a little bit lost in the middle. What do you think?
The Fideli'tron is Fender's take on a rather famous pickup, the 'Filter-tron' by TV Jones. The TV Jones pickup features large alnico magnets and larger poles to produce a higher inductance. This translates to a higher output and thicker tone than standard 'PAF' units. Fender's pickup in the Cabronita bass, despite looking a little small in comparison to the bridge - sounds pleasing with a full body to it translating the tone of the instrument well. I can't give you a comparison with a real TV Jones pickup, I guess that's another review entirely. The Fender unit seems quite adequate though. Using the tone control you are able to round off the top end for a pleasing mellow bass sound. It actually sounded good just shaving a little top off through our studio rig to give a perceived extra fatness.
I love the acoustic tone of this instrument. It feels lively and resonant with the new strings and has body in the tone. The neck has a mass to it that some may feel a bit on the fat side, but I think this and the bridge design helps improve the tone. I love the styling of the bass but although it sounds great, my eye is still drawn to that lonely pickup in the middle. Maybe it needs a chrome surround to balance it out a bit? Does it offer enough for a bass player out shopping? Well, there's clearly a huge market for simple basses, witness the continued success of the Precision, and what Fender has done is gently tweak the old warhorse, without alarming it. If simplicity is your thing, check it out.