Is the Fender Bass Still the Standard?

When Leo Fender invented the first Precision Bass back in 1951 he probably had no idea that he was basically creating the standard for all electric basses for years to come.

No other bass in history has been copied more than than the Precision and Jazz Bass and virtually every bass built since has been compared to one of these classic axes.

The question is….is the Fender Bass still the standard by which all other basses are judged?

In the 1960s the Fender Bass was so dominant in the music industry that any musician who played an electric bass was called a Fender bassist. Even the Los Angeles Musician’s Union listed all bass guitar players as Fender bassists.

Of course, times have changed and there are tons of different basses to choose from, including five, six, and seven string basses with active electronics, fancy quilted woodwork, and fretboard LEDs. But even now with all these “modern” basses and boutique designs you still hear many people say that “it sounds like a Jazz Bass”, or “it has that P-Bass thump”. It seems as though that the Fender Bass is so ingrained in our minds and in our history that they will always be used as the standard markers to describe other basses.

The more things change…

Even today the original Fender models still sell very well. Go see any young band today and there’s a good chance the bassist is wielding a Fender. And even if they’re not playing a Fender Bass it’s very likely that they’re grooving on a bass inspired by or copied from a Fender.

As much as the Fender Bass is loved and revered by many there will always be those that dislike the Fender Bass for exactly those same reasons. For some, seeing Fenders and Fender copies everywhere can get a bit old and playing a non-Fender bass that doesn’t look or sound anything like a Fender Bass is important to them. But that just shows how dominant the Fender Bass has become in the bass world.

My personal feeling is that the Fender Bass is still the industry standard even if it’s not quite on the same level that it once was. It continues to draw comparisons and debate and is still looked at by most as the definitive electric bass. Whether you love it or react against it, there’s no denying that the Fender Bass has a major effect on all bass players and will probably continue to do so for many more years.

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