Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Review: 1986 Fender PJM-65 Jazz Bass Special

Hi there!

I have long been a fan of the Japanese Fender Jazz Bass Specials, like the ones that Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses made famous back in the day. I have owned many of these over the years, but have run into a few that came with different specifications from the factory, and the subject of todays post is one of these: 1986 model PJM-65 Jazz Bass Special that I found in the secondhand section at the Ishibashi store in Nagoya, Japan.

For starters, there are plenty of obvious physical differences from the regular export model Jazz Bass Special. The alder body is sculpted, and painted in a cool shade of minty green metallic with a matching headstock. There is retinue of gold hardware, including the sealed tuners and a massive bridge. The Lace Sensor pickups do not have exposed pole pieces and there are four knobs instead of three (but the original knobs are still there!), with no select switch. And flipping it over, there is an aggressive cut at the heel for more access to the frets that bass players should never use.

Less obvious are an active electronics pre-amp, and the fact that this is a medium scale (32-inch) instrument. The rest of the good stuff is there, including the rosewood board with 21 frets, an output jack on the edge of the body, and the expected fine Japanese craftsmanship.

This bass is remarkable condition for a 30+ year old instrument (with the exception of the faded gold hardware), and it came with a wonderful set-up and a nice Ritter soft case for a very good price. It sounds killer and plays well, with much better sustain than I have found on other medium-scale Fender basses - maybe that huge bridge has something to do with it. Also, the 2 tone / 2 volume knob set-up is versatile and intuitive, and I think it actually has a bit more punch and warmth than the more traditional Jazz Bass Specials I have played in the past.

I am not sure where this will fit into my collection, but I like this one a lot, so it might not be going anywhere soon. Unless I get an offer I cannot refuse…



  1. Can a standard Fretless Precision neck fit on it without issue?

  2. The "PJR" variant uses a full-scale neck, so presumably the PJM medium-scale could accept a full-scale swap. But why would anyone want to do that? The uniqueness of this instrument *IS* the medium scale!