Monday, July 15, 2013

Fender American Vintage 1962 Re-issue Jazz Bass Review


The original stack-knob Fender Jazz Basses have been out of reach for the common man for decades now. They were only built for a few years in the early 60’s and hard core guitar collector snatched them all out of circulation years ago.

But, if you really want one of these basses, Fender built a very good copy for quite a while until a couple years ago when they finally discontinued it. This would be the Fender American Vintage ‘62 Jazz Bass (Fender part number 019-0209-800). It is a really neat instrument!

On careful examination, this U.S. built ax really looks the part. It has the contoured alder body with a well-done burst finish and a tort guard (black was also available).

The neck is a pleasantly C-shaped, and is made of maple with a rosewood fretboard. Of course there is a 1.5” nut and a 7.25” fretboard radius. They hammered in 20 vintage-profile frets, and dot markers. The markers are not clay or even tinted, which is a little disappointing. The headstock shape and logo are spot-on.

The hardware looks right too, from the serrated saddle bridge to the 4-bolt neck plate (with the serial number on it) to the strap button on the back of the headstock. Pickup and bridge covers are included with the bass, but the body if not drilled for them.

And lastly, the electronics are the real deal. Fender installed their Vintage Jazz Bass pickups, and they stuck with 60’s style bridge pickup placement (1/2 inch further from the bridge). Fender retained the stacked concentric volume and tone knobs for each pickup, which I feel is a lot more versatile that the subsequent volume/volume/tone control layout.

The 1962 re-issue bass comes with a nice vintage-style G&G tolex hard case, and the goody bag includes the aforementioned covers, as well as a vintage-looking strap that nobody ever uses. I am toying with the idea of installing the covers, but have not pulled out the drill yet.

This instrument came to me new with a terrible set-up and a sky-high action. I pulled the neck off a bunch of times and adjusted it with no joy. Having the truss rod nut at the heel is historically correct, but it is a world class pain in the ass. Anyway, I finally gave up and took it to my tech, who did a wonderful job of getting it set up for me.

I cannot blame the factory for the set-up, as it sat around for a long time at the store before I bought it. So it shows a bit of shelf wear, but the overall craftsmanship is very good, with a very pretty finish and nice but and fret work.

It has a fabulous sound with dead quiet electronics, and the neck is very playable. When I am using it, I am reminded of why I was drawn to Jazz Basses in the first place. The thin neck is easy to navigate around, and having the bridge pickup provides a nice edge that I do not get with my P basses.

But, unfortunately, I am still a Precision Bass convert, I really only need (or want) one Jazz Bass, and my Sadowsky handles everything this bass will, and then some. So, this one will not be along for very long.

The American Vintage ’62 Jazz Bass is not a cheap instrument, with a list price of $2149.99 and a street price of $1399.99. But it has a look and a slew of features and components that are not found on the American Standard basses, so it is worth the price of admission. Besides, if you take good care of it, in 50 years it might be a collectible too…



  1. I own one of these that has the anniversary sticker also. It is my go to bass as I can get every sound from super-thin pop to sooooo muddy I think I am sinking bass. I have owned several other basses but this and my stick bass (the Washburn/Steinberger wannabe) are the only ones I play regularly (I play the Washburn with a bow mostly). This bass plays well, great tones and super sustain. I am glad I happened upon it!

  2. I bought one of these a few years ago and although I am a P bass/ Rickenbacker player I am starting to appreciate this instrument more and more.
    It plays and handles beautifully.