Fender has completely revamped their American Vintage Series bass line for the first time since they introduced them in 1982. Gone are the ’57 and ’62 Precision Bass and the ’62 and ’75 Jazz Bass. Fender is now offering a ’58 and ’63 Precision and a ’64 and ’74 Jazz Bass.
So the question is….what’s the difference?
’58 Fender Precision Bass
At first glance, this bass looks very much like the old ’57 reissue P-Bass, and in fact, they are only a couple of differences between the ’58 and ’57 Precision. The new ’58 P-Bass offers a three-tone sunburst just like an original 1958 Fender P-Bass. The ’57 reissue had a two-tone sunburst option.
The only other real change is the newer split-coil pickup, which has been specially designed for this model. How this will affect the sound is unclear but I suspect that it will sound very much like the old ’57 reissue P-Bass, fat and warm with lots of mid-range bite.
’63 Fender Precision Bass
This bass effectively replaces the ’62 P-Bass vintage reissue that Fender made since 1982. Once again the difference between the two basses is pretty subtle. The ’63 P-Bass has a round laminated rosewood fingerboard instead of a slab fingerboard that came with the ’62 P-Bass. The other main difference and one I really like is the introduction of the “clay dots”. While this is just an aesthetic change it is period correct and I think it looks much better than the bright white dots used on the earlier ’62 P-Bass.
The sound and feel of the new ’63 P-Bass should be pretty similar to the old ’62, with a nice warm punchy low end and good mid-range growl. Fender does say however that the ’63 P-Bass will have a slightly wider and rounder neck profile that reflects the original 1963 Precision Bass more accurately.
’64 Fender Jazz Bass
Next up is the ’64 Jazz Bass which will basically take the place of the old ’62 reissue J-Bass. The main difference here is the round laminated rosewood board instead of the slab board and the familiar three-knob control layout instead of the two stacked knobs found on the ’62 model. This model also features the “clay dot” markers which look very cool.
Another nice option is the availability again of the Lake Placid Blue finish (with matching headstock!) which Fender had previously discontinued from the Vintage Series a few years ago. The two single-coil pickups are redesigned and if they sound anything like a real 1964 Jazz then you’ll get a warm, focused, sweet tone that’s good for just about any musical situation.
’74 Fender Jazz Bass
This Jazz Bass effectively replaces the ’75 Jazz Bass reissue. The big difference here is the standard four-bolt neck instead of the problematic three-bolt “micro-tilt” neck that was featured on the ’75 J-Bass. Newly designed pickups (in the 70’s position) are offered and this model features an ash body with a natural finish option. All other color options are alder.
This is the only model of the Vintage Series that has a urethane finish rather than a nitrocellulose finish. As with the old ’75 Jazz, the ’74 will offer either a rosewood board with pearl blocks or a maple board with black blocks, both with neck binding. Fender says that the ’74 Jazz has a meatier U-shaped neck that should be more stable than the ’75 Jazz neck and should add more low end to its bright, cutting tone.