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This article was originally published in issue #30
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As its name suggests, this is a short scale instrument. It's pretty conventional in just about every other respect, with a maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard, but it has just 18 frets. Why? Because that is all that will fit on this shortened (30” down from the usual 34”) “C-carve” neck!
Does this seem a curious thing to have done to the industry standard long scale Fender Jazz Bass? Well, maybe. Read on!
As you'd expect, the Fender's alder body proportions have been downsized on this model too and it's amazing what a difference a few inches makes. This bass really feels tiny, especially after playing the likes of my fan fret 37” scale Dingwall! I don't mind admitting that I did struggle a little bit, but still had oodles of fun, despite a few musical errrm 'excursions in pitch'. (Hopefully GI's amazing editing team have made those video hiccups disappear!).
Curiously, despite the Fender's small size, I was disappointed to find that it was actually a bit on the heavy side. This seems a shame as otherwise it might have been an instrument you could recommend to a younger player or someone with a small frame. Sadly, that weight rules it out and it does seem curious as the bass is definitely smaller!
The passive circuitry is pretty conventional but a little different from that of a standard Jazz bass. There are two pickups in P/J configuration, wired to a harness featuring two volume controls (one for each pickup) and a master tone control that will keep the top end in check should you need.
The Modern Player series basses are generally pretty good value for money and this example features good quality hardware. I liked the balance of the two (P and J) pickups; I find that on some instruments, certainly a number of budget instruments, the J pickup in a P/J configuration lacks somewhat. I like that Fender has attempted to address this and has offered up a 'hot' version of the bridge unit. The idea I feel is to add some extra volume to balance it against the Precision style pickup that, being in the middle position, has way more bottom end and punch. The two work well together although I did reach for the studio amp EQ controls to find a tonal sweet spot for the room. You will hear the bass direct, no miking though.
For those who maybe feel a smaller bass would suit, for whatever reason, then I think this bass is worth checking out. It's one of the fairly rare short scale basses that can deliver a decent (almost) full size sound. Then again, you can't help wondering why Fender felt this was a necessary addition to its already huge range. Does it really add much?