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.
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 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.