Sunday, November 25, 2012

Changes to the Fender Artist Series Marcus Miller and Geddy Lee Jazz Basses


It was a stroke of genius when Fender Musical Instruments Corporation decided in 1998 to use Fender Japan to produce its Marcus Miller and Geddy Lee artist series Jazz Basses. Their Japanese affiliate has consistently produced high-quality instruments for a fraction of the cost of their domestically built products. I have owned and reviewed both of these basses, and they are very good players and are pretty smart-looking too. But it seems that all good things eventually come to an end.

This past summer I was looking at one of the 3-tone sunburst Geddy Lee basses, and right on the heel of the neck where the serial number is, the serial had an MX prefix with a note that it was made in Mexico. Gasp! Then I checked a Marcus Miller bass and it said the same thing. Double gasp!

I don’t really have anything against the Mexican-built basses as they are also good instruments, but it was still quite a shock. But I should not be too surprised, as the margins on these guitars must be getting very low for Fender. When these models came out the exchange rate was around 130 Yen to the dollar, and now it is around 80 Yen to the dollar. That is a lot less Yen for each guitar that gets sold, and customers really screamed like spoiled little children when the prices were raised a few years ago, so there is not a lot of wiggle room for Fender in this situation.

There are some visible differences to the basses, most notably that the Marcus Miller battery compartment is now in a different location and the Geddy neck seems a little thicker, but they both still seem to play well.

But, the main reason I bring this up now Is that Guitar Center is clearing out their older stock of these basses for stupid cheap money. The one by my house had Japanese Geddy Lee Basses priced at $699 and $799, which is the best bargain I have ever seen on these. If you really want one that was built in Japan, now is the time to buy because they are not going to get any easier to find, and they certainly are not going to get any cheaper.



  1. I agree that I have nothing against the Mexican made fenders but I refuse to own one.japan quality is superior
    to mexico.the resale of a Mexican made model is terrible.the attention to detail in mexico is nowhere as good as japan.let us not forget the real reason fender went to japan.they were reproducing American made
    models to the tune of lawsuits.they are made as well and sometimes better.keep your friends close but your
    enimies closer!!! hehehehehe!

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