Like a lot of players I know, I’d always hoped to come across an old Fender that had that “old school” look and sound. When Fender introduced their Road Worn series, a 3-color sunburst Jazz caught my eye. Could this be it?
The first thing that struck me was that this bass looked like it had some serious road time to its credit. The finish is faded, chipped, and worn in all the places you’d expect, and right down to the hardware, this baby has character! The back of the neck has that comfortable broken-in feel. The tuners felt tight, smooth, and easy to turn; they felt like they weren’t going to slip anytime soon.
I plugged into an Ampeg combo with everything set flat. The Jazz has a wider range of sounds than Fender’s P-Bass. I normally run both pickups wide open or roll the neck pickup down 15/25% and when I did, I got that throaty midrange I had hoped was there. This bass growled when I dug in. Both pickups wide open produce a good slap tone, and when I backed off the neck pickup and added a little bass on the Ampeg, the sound grew warmer. Soloing the neck pickup produced the P-Bass throaty punch I was looking for.
Wanting to see what it would do on stage, I headed for my favorite blues jam. My buddies thought I’d found a pawnshop prize when they saw it! First some SRV and the bass cut through the harp, keyboard and guitar; I could hear it compliment the bass drum. I soloed the neck pickup for a slow Blues and the bottom was rich and dark. Playing over the fretboard produced a nice open woody tone and when I dug in over the pickup, I got a few grins.
With both pickups wide open, I launched Sly’s “Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin” and that low E was massive! I will be adding this bass and giving my 5-string a little rest.