Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fender Jazz Bass Plus V


So far, my blog post on Philip Kubicki Factor basses has more page views than any other I have written. Philip Kubicki is a great guy, and he worked with Fender for many years. One of his most famous guitars was the rosewood Telecaster that was made for George Harrison.

Beside his famed Factor basses, he also had a part in designing the Fender Jazz Bass Plus, one of which we are looking at today.

The 4-string Jazz Bass Plus was introduced in 1989, and the 5-string version came out a year later. They were made in the USA, and have notable differences from the American Standard Jazz Bass of the era. Maybe that is why they called them “Plus”. The Jazz Bass Plus was discontinued in 1994 when the USA Deluxe Series Jazz Bass was introduced.

Visually, the biggest changes is that these basses do not have a pickguard or the traditional Jazz Bass chrome control cavity cover, and I think they look awesome. The logo on the headstock is a little more modern, which I do not think looks very awesome.

The hardware is a bit different too. Fender used high-quality open-gear Hipshot tuners on the 4-string basses and Gotoh tuners on the 5-string basses. They all got a really beefy bridge (Schaller for the 4-string and Gotoh for the 5-string) for excellent sustain. The knobs are the same as the ones that the Fender Custom Shop used on the Kubicki Factor basses they built around the same era.

The color palette for the Jazz Bass plus had the conventional black and sunburst, and some horrifying pastels and disastrous reverse fade finishes. Both maple and rosewood fretboards were available.

But the biggest difference was in the electronics package they loaded into these basses. These got a pair of silver Fender Lace Sensor Jazz Bass pickups and a Philip Kubicki 9 volt active pre-amp. Controls were stacked volume and tone knobs, and a 4-way selector that works as follows: passive/active/active with boost and standby (off).

The bass in the photos is a very nice 1992 5-string Jazz Bass Plus that I owned about 5 years ago. It was in great original condition with its original 3-tone sunburst.

The body had the traditional Jazz Bass profile (not a boner bass) was nicely balanced. It appeared to be made out of alder, but then again I am not a carpenter, so I cannot say for sure.

The build quality was fine, and I never had any issues with it. I loved the tones from the Kubicki pre-amp, and the standby mode on the knob was a handy feature. A really nice bonus was that it weighed in under 9 pounds, which is hard to find on a quality 5-string bass.

Of course I sold this bass because I remembered that I do not play 5-string basses (and because I sell everything eventually).

If you decide to go looking for a Jazz Bass Plus, be careful when you look at them, as many I have seen in recent year no longer have the original pickups and pre-amplifier. Choose wisely.

If you hold out, you can still these for sale in the $600 to $800 range on Talkbass or eBay. Ignore the ones that are in the $1000+ range – those guys are smoking crack.



  1. Just found this post. I have owned one of these bass guitars since the early 90's. The tone, the weight, and yes, the standby switch are the reasons why my Music Man 5, at 3X the cost, stays in the case. I have bought another one recently and would buy ANY one in good condition with the original electronics. I am obsessed.

    1. Hi Laurie, jut found your post. I am switching to MusicMan and sell my JB Plus 1992 (4 strings). Would you still be interested?

  2. laurie - please don't. I had one and sold it. I want to reverse the error. One quetion about the above - It says fingerboards were rosewood. At least some were pao ferro, I have read elsewhere. Trying to figure out if they were all pau ferro - some have come up for sale and it's hard to tell from pics and owners don't know....

  3. hi

    just bought a v lus.
    anyone know where to get a manual to it ?


  4. sorry I ment Vplus jazz bass,,


  5. I have an '89 JB Plus, maple neck and the body is a deep wine red color, that I've owned since I bought brand new back in '89\'90. I took the preamp out of it a couple years ago and tried the Lace sensors in a purely passive setup for a while, it's not nearly as versatile as it was with the Kubicki preamp in the chain, I believe I'm going to put it back to it's orig config and just be happy with it the way it is. The stacked knobs were really hard to get used to, especially since the pots they used on the preamp didn't have a flat spot on the shaft, which meant that you had to tighten them down all the time and I found that I would lose the Allen wrench which made it more annoying... Other than that, it is a beautiful bass, plays very well, and has taken all my abuse over the past 25+ years.


  6. A 1992 Jazz Bass Plus V Ash was my first bass, and my main bass for 20 years. I was forced to sell her in 2012, because I needed money, and of all my instruments, she was the least difficult to replace. The Plus series got a lot of criticism for not sounding like a traditional passive Jazz Bass, so despite the Plus V Ash being the top of the Fender line, these basses do not command high prices in the secondary market.

    I very much prefer the smaller body size of the Plus V/AmDlx V up through 2009 to the traditional Jazz Bass body. I think it is the most attractive bass guitar body design Fender has ever produced, and I hope they bring it back someday.