Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Fender Sting Precision Bass Review


Some folks are not very fond of artist edition instruments, but I have found many cases where the artist model gives me a combination of features that is really cool and that I would not otherwise be able to get. One such instrument is the Fender Sting model Precision Bass.

You are surely all aware of Sting, the Tantric monster that was the frontman and bass player for the Police. The instrument he is most readily identified with is an early 1950s (1953, I think) Fender Precision Bass.

Fender chose to issue an artist-edition Sting Precision Bass, model 025-1902-303. This is quite a bit different than their 1951 Precision re-issue in a few important aspects. Like the 51 re-issues, these basses are also built in Japan.

The Sting basses have a contoured light ash body, which is waaay better than the slab body found on the 51s. Not having that edge dig into my wrist is a real benefit. These basses string through the body, and all the ones I have seen are sprayed in 2-tone burst. These come with a single-ply pickguard which looks cheap, but that is the way there are supposed to look.

The neck is supposed to be thicker than on the 1951 re-issues, but it feels exactly the same to me. It is a regular 34-inch scale, and has a nice C shape to it. The synthetic bone nut is 1.625-inches wide and there are 20 vintage frets sunk into the 7.25-inch radius maple fretboard. I see guys whining and moaning that skinny frets wear out too quickly, but there are plenty of old Fenders with vintage-size wire that have never been refretted. I think the whiners need to work on their technique. Oh yes, and there is a Sting signature clock inlay at the 12th fret. Ick.

The chrome hardware consists of vintage-style reverse tuners, and a traditional 2-saddle bridge. The basses do not come with pickup or bridge covers, but they are cheap to buy and they are easy enough to install. It does look a lot nicer with the covers, in my opinion.

The electronics are traditional, with a one single-coil pickup with a master volume and master tone control knobs. This bass sounds about like it should, which is not super edgy or great. But it has a good thump and works nice for blues and country.

The Sting Precision Bass is built in Japan, so it has everything that I expect from their craftsmanship. The finish is perfect, and the fretwork is first-rate. It was a terrific-playing instrument and it would not need much to take it to the next level. The bridge saddles are crummy, but there are nice Wilkinson replacements available (this one has them). I think a Lollar pickup and some nicer pots would wake up the bass too. But the inlay (Stinglay!) at the 12th frets is uglier than sin and completely kills the vintage vibe. Maybe I should have an inlay with my name put in there. I wish they could have put the signature on the back of the headstock like the Geddy basses.

The Fender Sting Precision Bass has a list Price of $1199 and a street price of $899 and this is supposed to include a nice padded gig bag. But you can pick up used ones all day long for 5 or 6 hundred bucks, which is not too bad, really.


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