Saturday, May 15, 2010

Fender Japan E-series 1975 Re-issue Jazz Bass

I have already made it known that I love Japanese guitars, particularly those that are produced by Fender of Japan. Today I am looking at a gorgeous original Japanese series 1975 re-issue Fender Jazz Bass, model JB 75-80. This is a very early example with an E prefix serial number, probably from 1986.

This model was never intended to be exported into the United States, and my friend Bruce in Tokyo found it for me.

The original 3-tone sunburst finish pops really nicely. It is in good condition with just a few light dings and chips. It is honest wear, and has not been abused. At one point it had a bridge cover installed, so there are two extra holes on the front. Overall, this thing is pretty clean.

The bound neck and frets are in great shape. These are the original frets, and 24 years into their life they are still level, and show surprisingly little wear. You can feel the edges of the walnut stringer on the back of the neck, which is not terribly unusual, as it did not shrink as much as maple did over the years. That is a little annoying, but I am willing to live with it.

The fit and finish on Fender Japan instruments is indeed better than any US-made ones of the same vintage. The fretwork, neck pocket tightness, and every other detail are executed with pinpoint precision. It has the larger vintage-style tuners, not the ones with smaller plates that Fender Japan sometimes used. This bass features a very classic, vintage look.

This particular bass has the normal 1975 Fender Jazz Bass pickup configuration, unlike some that have a 60s-type bridge pickup placement. It appears to be all original. It has not been modified or repaired in any way, as far as I can tell. These early ones came with the Stratocaster-style volume and tone knobs, which look a little out of place. As I have said before, When Fender Japan re-issues a guitar model there is always one or two things they do not get right. Maybe they do it on purpose.

It plays absolutely killer, and sounds incredible. It far outshines any of the Geddy Lee Artist Model basses I have seen and played. My tech recently set it up with DR Hi Beams.

The only gripe I have with these basses are their weight. I have yet to see one that weighs less than 10 pounds, and this example weighs in at an astonishing 11 ½ pounds. There must have a lot of quality jammed in there…


  1. I have a 75 RI MIJ 94/95 in natural with maple board and white block inlays. It weighs about 10.3 pounds its a great player just not sure I should keep it as I'm more of a P bass guy.

  2. Hi there!

    Looks like you are at the low range of the weights for these basses. I would say hang on to it. Japanese P basses are pretty resonably priced, and maybe you can have one of each.



  3. Hi Rex,

    Many thanks for your advice, you've convinced me to hang on to it. I'm thinking of upgrading the pick ups. Can you make any suggestions? I was thinking of maybe a set of Fender custom shops.



  4. Hi Alan. I am a big fan of Jason Lollar's pickups, but the Fender Custom Shop offerings are VERY good too. You will not go wrong with them. Thanks!


  5. I just bought a bass exactly like this, almost to a T. E serial number MIJ. Probably 86 or 87. 10lbs 12 1/2 ounces (beefy). Incredibly well put together bass. Plays and sounds phenomenal. Easily at least as good as my 2002 CIJ Geddy (probably better).

    I think you might be wrong about the pickup spacing. Mine definitely has 60s spacing despite being a 70s RI. I actually kind of like that, makes it unique. Yours also appears to have 60's spacing, if not the bridge pup would be almost exactly in line with the tone control, but it's not. It is somewhere between the tone control and the volume control for the rear pup -and that's 60s spacing.