Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass

Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass

Year: 2004

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck & fretboard

Electronics: Fender single-coil J pickups, passive circuit

Controls: Volume, volume, tone

The Geddy Lee Jazz Bass is generally highly regarded and, when offered this one in a trade, I was quite interested to try it out. Indeed, it’s a very nice take on the classic design, the slim neck is particularly noteworthy. As ever with Fender Japan, the build quality was excellent and the whole package works very well. If you were to have only one Jazz bass, then this one would be a sterling candidate for the position.

For me, the ESP is the King of Jazz Mountain and I suspect that the Geddy would be with me for a short time and that’s the way it turned out. It’s a very nice bass but just wasn’t the #1 Jazz so I eased it out the door in another trade a few months later.

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Fender Mustang Bass

Fender Mustang Bass

Year: 2007

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Fender spilt-coil pickup, passive crcuit

Controls: Volume, tone

When the missus expressed an interest in bass playing I picked up this Mustang for her. As ever, you can’t go wrong with Fender Japan and, aside from being very well made, this little thing was surprisingly punchy. The small spilt-coil pickup had a lot of balls, at lot more than I was expecting. It could comfortably hold its own against a full-sized P. Unfortunately, however, her interest in the fine art of the bassist was short lived and the bass was largely unused in its time here. I liked it, but I’m not a short-scale guy so it recently got eased on out the door. Nice bass, all the same.

 

Fender Stratocaster American Standard

Fender Stratocaster American Standard

Year: 2009

Made In: USA

Specs: Alder body, maple neck & fretboard

Electronics: Bacchus SCC-1 single-coil x 3

Controls: Volume, tone x 2, five-way switch

Keeping the run of Fenders going, this is a recent addition I picked up in a trade. I had initially thought it might be useful as trade bait but I’m starting to warm to it.

It came with Lace Sensors – Blue, Gold, Light Blue which I was interested to try out. Each on their own was rather nice, but they didn’t work as a set. The Blue in the bridge was particularly thin sounding in relation to the other pickups. The Light Blue in the neck was very nice, it must be said. I think a better matched set might have stayed in but I had a set of Bacchus SCC-1 sitting around which came out of the G-Player, so they went in after not too long. They really work well in this guitar. It’s absolutely classic Strat tone now in every position.

The neck on this is quite a bit bigger than I remember either of the American Series necks from my old Strat. Perhaps it’s something which came in when they started calling them American Standards, I don’t know. I don’t mind a big neck, so I’m getting along quite well with it. I’m not sure I approve of going back to the bent steel saddles though, it seems something of a backwards step to me. Overall, this is a nicely put together guitar which is getting played more than I thought it would, so it’ll stick around for the time being.

Fender Jazz Bass

Fender Jazz Bass

Year: 1977

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 2 x single coils, passive circuit

Controls: Volume x 2, Tone

When I started playing, 70’s Fenders had a patchy reputation, at best. Time is indeed a healer though and what was once much-maligned is now highly desirable. To be fair, aesthetically they hit upon something good and it’s hard to dislike the look of this one. Although this wasn’t a bad bass per se, the usual foibles of the era were present – sloppy routing, absurdly heavy, etc. It set up ok and played decently enough but tonally it was nothing exciting, entirely unremarkable. I had the opportunity to trade it for a Sadowsky so it got eased on out the door.

Fender 62 Telecaster w/Bigsby

Fender 62 Telecaster w/Bigsby

Year: 2005

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: Fender Custom Shop Texas Special single coils

Controls: Volume, tone & 3-way switch

I picked this up in a trade for a Gibson Flying V, my first Telecaster. The original owner had upgraded the pickups to Custom Shop Texas Specials and, to be fair, it sounded superb. The Bigsby vibrato had a nice vibe to it but the overall bridge design was horrible. If you played too hard or used light strings, they’d pop out of the saddles. The strings made contact with the intonation screws if you set the action even slightly low. The saddles themselves sat on a baseplate which itself sat on two points, freely rocking back and forth with no fixed central point. I believe this bridge is also used on Mustang guitars, with equally poor results.

There are a range of after-market which address the tuning problems but, after having a look, decided to stabilise the baseplate so it remained static and drop it so it lay flat on the body too. This allowed me to raise the saddles enough so the strings cleared the intonation screws and baseplate. The end result meant the strings travelled straight from the Bigsby to the saddles without making any additional contact, meaning the strings wouldn’t pop out. It all made a significant improvement to the tuning stability and made the Bigsby actually usable.

Despite all of this, the tiresome process of changing strings with that tailpiece grew old pretty quickly and I eventually eased it on out the door.

 

Fender Japan JB62-FL 3TS

Fender Japan JB62-FL 3TS

Year: 2004

Made In: Japan

Specs: Alder body, one-piece maple neck, lined fretless rosewood fretboard

Electronics: American Vintage single coils

Controls: Volume x 2, Tone

My first ever purchase from Ishibashi and a great playing and sounding Jazz bass. Fender Japan made some great instruments over the years and the prices were always hard to say no to. This was a no-frills fretless Jazz, really well built and had all the mwah you could wish for from a fretless. I had it for a couple of years before I stupidly got it into my head that I was just going to play five string basses and eased it on out the door. It’s one of the few instruments I genuinely regret moving on, a really nice piece of kit.

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Fender Stratocaster American Series

Year: 2000

Made In: USA

Specs: Ash body, one-piece maple neck, rosewood fretboard

Electronics: 3 x Fender single coil pickups

Controls: Volume, 2 x Tone, 5-way switch

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When you get the urge for a Strat, and you should at some point, it’s worth investing some time in finding the right Strat for you. A Strat, like a puppy, is not just for xmas, but more like a lifelong companion. No matter what the world throws at you, once you’ve got the right Strat with you, everything will be ok. This is the law.

With this in mind, I played a lot of Strats before finding this white-blonde, ash bodied beauty in Dublin in late summer of 2000. More so than any other guitar I tried, this one just spoke to me and I paid an eye-watering sum to secure it.

For several months, the Strat and I lived in a bliss-like state, secure in our mutual admiration and understanding. No matter what I played, the Strat made it sound good. It was the best of times. However, trouble lay in wait and, after about nine months, a sizeable crack in the finish appeared along the edge of the skunk-stripe in the back of the neck. Concerned, but not overly so, I kept playing but had to concede defeat as several more cracks started to appear in the neck finish. Back to the shop we went and the Strat went back to Fender for examination.

A couple of weeks later I received the call and eagerly went back to collect my Strat.

“Eh, it looks like they replaced the neck.” I was told.

In these days of CNC production, a neck change should be a straightforward thing, swapping like for like. Or so I thought. Try as I might and, believe me I tried, I really tried, I could never set it up as I liked with the 2001 neck. It just never felt right. It didn’t sound right either, I had to set the pickups a lot lower than with the first neck as they were interfering with the string vibration, affecting sustain and intonation. I couldn’t believe it. The 2001 neck was a pale shadow of the original 2000 neck. It was probably a perfectly fine guitar in its revised state, indeed friends told me so, but it simply wasn’t comparable to just how good the original guitar had been. A phenomenal instrument which transcended the sum of its parts was gone.

I persisted for a few years but the experience was never the same, much like a girlfriend with a prosthetic leg, and couldn’t bond with what felt like a stranger. Eventually, I eased it on out the door and embarked on another search for a Strat for life.