Saturday, December 12, 2015

1985 Fender Japan P-J Bass Guitar Review


On a recent trip to Japan I found today’s bass in a Hard-Off secondhand store in Nagoya, and the price was right so I had to bring it home with me. It is a 1985 Made in Japan P-J bass guitar.

This was the equivalent of the Jazz Bass Special guitars that were made famous by Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses, and later of Velvet Revolver. These basses were made by Fender at the Fujigen factory in Japan, and were of better quality than the instruments Fender produced in the US. They were originally built from 1985 to 1987 (or so). 
Like those basses, this instrument has a Precision Bass body shape with a Jazz Bass profile neck and a P/J pickup configuration.

The body is probably basswood, as it is light, and it has black hardware, (including brass bridge saddles that have been anodized black). There is a control cavity routed in the back so there is no pickguard, which also makes it easier to add active electronics. Besides black I have also seen these P-J basses in Fiesta Red, and of course this one has the distinctive black neck, which looks really cool.

This one is fairly unmolested, and it has the original electronics, including the TBX tone control. It looks like the output jack was changed somewhere along the way. It had a hard life in Japan, as most of the finish is worn off along the bottom edge, but the frets and fretboard are still in good condition.

This bass has good tone, and I have always loved the flexibility of having the PJ combination, but playability was a bit rough when I got it. It was as buzzy as anything, and it took a lot of experimentation to get the relief under control, and I ended up having to go to a slightly larger string set-up than I had hoped to so it would be playable. It turned out ok, and I ended up moving it on to a friend for what I paid for it, making it a smoking deal for a good instrument.


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