Monday, January 23, 2012

1990 Fender Jazz Bass Plus Review


A few days ago we took a look at a Fender Precision Plus Bass, and today I am writing about a gnarly 5-string Fender Jazz Plus (that also happens to be coming up for sale). To provide a little history, from 1989 to 1993 Fender sold upgraded American Precision and Jazz basses, with “Plus” added to their marketing names. Most of these were four string Jazz basses, with a few Jazz 5-strings and Precision basses thrown into the mix.

The body on this one is finished in the very rare Silverburst poly, which is exactly the opposite of a Gibson Silverburst ; this one starts with the silver on the outside. It has a pseudo- traditional Jazz Bass profile and shape and is nicely balanced. It appears to be made out of alder, but then again I am not a carpenter or tree surgeon, so I cannot say for sure. These models did not come with a pickguard or the traditional chrome control cavity cover, and I think it looks awesome.

The neck is pretty good. It has a very narrow nut (1.75”) and tight string spacing. This one took a top and crown of the frets and lighter-tension strings to get a low action with no buzzing. It was worth the trouble, because it plays very nicely now.

The spec hardware is classic Japanese stuff, which means that it is very good -- 5 Gotoh GB-7 compact sealed tuners and a Gotoh high-mass bridge. The crummy plastic Grabber strap button that the factory used for a string tree is long gone, having been replaced by a solid-mass tree that gives nice string tension over the nut.

This Jazz Plus has its original electronics, which consist of silver Fender Lace Sensor pickups and a Kubicki 9 volt active pre-amp. There are stacked master volume and pan knobs, stacked treble and bass boost/cut knobs, and a 4-way selector that works as follows: passive/active/active with boost and standby (off). They are not noisy and sound great. 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.

Overall, this one is in fair condition, with quite a few dings and wear spots, and some heavier about midway down the back of the neck (not in the money).

But looks aside it is a great player, and not too heavy (around 9 pounds). After it had a pro set-up, it plays easily and is as smooth as silk. With its narrow neck it would be a good transition instrument for a 4-string player that want to get into a 5-string.

Check one out if you get a chance, or better yet, buy this one from me!



  1. Thanks, guys! It could be Pau Ferro on that fretboard. It is a bit reddish...

  2. is the MusicMan Silhouette Bass still for sale?

    if so, please reply to interested in it.


  3. I had one of those in natural with a swamp ash body. Didn't care much for the sterile sound of the electronics. And, yes, the fretboard is Pau Ferro. The B-string never really had much character until I had a 2TEK bridge installed. After that the tone was tight & focused. I chose the swamp ash as it was very light in weight and I'm a sucker for natural finishes - oiled being my preferred choice - [no need for any poly vs nitro debate there]. With the 2TEK the added weight was noticeable but the pay-off was that neck dive was eliminated and you could really dig into this thing and it just asked for more. I haven't seen it since '97 but still miss it from time to time.

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  5. I have the four string version of this, same color too. It's been my principle bass for the last 20 years, plays and sounds great. I've latley been noticing though, that the pickups are picking up outside signal noise and acting almost piezo-like. If my right fingers even lightly touch the bridge pickup, it can be heard through the amp, and now if I tap the wood or jiggle the strap locks, that too is picked up. Thinking about swapping the pups out, but hate to change my baby!

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