Saturday, November 1, 2014

1989 Fender PB70-70R Precision Bass Review


My first Fender bass was a made in Japan E-series Fender Jazz Bass Special, and ever since then I have a soft spot in my heart for Japanese Fenders. They made incredible instruments in the 1980s, and unfortunately not very many of them made their way to our shores. Well, this late 1980s F-series Precision Bass finally arrived in the US as part of my carry-on luggage, and it is not going anywhere else.

This is a PB70-70R, so it is a reproduction of a 1970 Precision Bass with a rosewood fretboard, and as it was 70,000 Yen when it was new it is one of the higher-end models. It is a faithful copy with the correct logo on the headstock, and everything conspires to give it just the right look. This includes an authentic 3-tone bust finish, full-sized tuners, and a pickguard that looks just right. The cheaper models came with terrible looking smaller tuners that are out of proportional for the era.

The body is probably ash though it is kind of discern in the parts of the fade where the paint is thin enough to see through. It is sprayed with a fairly thick coat of poly, and the body has the correct contour and look. It appears to have never ben modified, and the whole thing weighs in at around 8 ¾ pounds.

Though it has been played quite a bit, the original frets are still in good shape and there is damage or unsightly wear to the maple neck or rosewood fretboard. This one has a 1 5/8-inch nut, in case you were wondering. The electronics also appear to be as they came from the factory, with just volume and tone controls.

I found this one at a Hard-off (secondhand store) in Nagoya, where there are usually a few cool instruments on the wall. It is certainly well used, and there are some pretty good chips and some finish problems, but it has an authentic vintage look, and you will never find a Japanese (let alone American) Fender Precision Bass for a better price. Also, if you really think about it, an old P Bass is really the most that any of us really need. There is almost nothing simpler than having a passive bass with a volume knob and a single tone control.

Despite the appearance issues, after a set-up with new flats it plays very well, with good frets and the classic Precision Bass sound. The late 1980s were the golden age for Japanese-built Fender instruments, and I am lucky to have picked this one up!


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