Thursday, September 25, 2014

2012 Fender American Standard Precision Bass V 5 String Review


Those that know me are aware that 5-string basses never stick around for very long here, but I am also a die-hard Precision Bass fan, so I had to give the Fender American Standard Precision Bass V a try. It is an awesome playing and sounding bass, but I am afraid that it is still not going to be enough to convert me.

Fender has been in the Precision Bass business for over 60 years, and this is a logical extension of their highly successful flagship bass. It has the classic profile with a contoured alder body that does not have an 1/8-inch of plastic-looking poly on it. The finish seems relatively thin, which allows the instrument to resonate better and have a more authentic vintage Fender tone. This one is covered in a beautiful three-color burst, with not too much red in the fade.

The maple neck is graphite-reinforced, and the rosewood fretboard is loaded up with 20 medium-jumbo frets. There is a matte vintage tint finish on the back that is pleasant and does not require any breaking in. The profile is a comfortable c-shape that makes access to all five strings fairly easy.

The Precision V hardware follows the trend of their 4-string offerings, which is a good thing. The bridge has a thicker bass plate that makes me wonder how they are able to bend it without having it crack, and it can either string through the body or terminate at the bridge. The tuners are lightweight units that help prevent neck dive while still holding well. The chrome on all of these parts seems very thick, and looks almost as good as nickel. The tortoiseshell pickguard is the right shade of brown and avoids the usual trap of being too red and looking stupid.

Electronics are about what you would expect, with master volume and tone knobs, no active electronics, and what Fender calls a 60’s vintage Precision Bass split single coil pickup. I am not away of the company making many 5-string P Bass pickups in the 1960s, but this one has plenty of output and it does replicate the P Bass sound. Close enough!

This one is a 2012 model and it is very well-kept. It shows almost no wear and the craftsmanship is first rate. The fretwork is very good with no buzzing and perfect intonation. The finish shows no flaws, and it is obvious that Fender’s US employees had their A-game on when they put this one together. I have nothing to complain about on the assembly of this instrument, which is an uncommon occurrence.

It plays well and makes all of the familiar Precision Bass sounds until you get down to the B string, and then things seem to get a bit fuzzy. The fifth string is a bit dark and indistinct and is not nearly as tight as the B on a Stingray or even some of the lower end Ibanez offerings. I have experimented with various strings have not found any that sound as good as the factory strings – I wonder who they are buying them from. Anyway, it is a nicely made instrument and it has the Fender tone, which counts for a lot.

If you buy one of these new it comes with an uber-nice G&G Tolex case and a full complement of case candy. And it should come with nice extras like this because it is not cheap – a new Fender American Standard Precision V Bass has a list price of $1949 and a street price of $1449. This is not a lot cheaper than a Stingray 5, which I feel is better made and is a lot more versatile with a decidedly better B string. But if you want the P-Bass sound in a 5-er this is pretty much the best game in town. If you are thinking of buying one be sure to check it out before you buy.


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