A Great Buy!
I have 3 Jazz basses: a 6 string SX, and a 5 (Affinity) and 4 string Squier (CV). While all of them are good enough, play great and sound decent, I wanted to lay my little paws on a MIA Fender, so I pulled the trigger on this beauty.
I have not been disappointed! From the moment I opened the hard shell case that it came in this bass has QUALITY written all over it!
The finish is flawless. The neck is nice and smooth (not glossy), tight neck/pocket fit. You can see the ash grain through the light white paint. It is a looker!
Playability is superb! Balances well (no neck dive). Mine weights 9 lbs and 5 oz (which in my book, for a 5 string? that's great!) The neck plays nice, fret work is very very good. Of course it came with action a bit higher than I'd prefer, but (for those that give reviews based on action) it is adjustable... I adjust it I did. The truss rod is adjusted on the body side of the neck via a Fender-supplied hex wrench. I actually like this more than what I'm used to, which is through the headstock side. I never make drastic changes to the neck, so in the few weeks that I've had it I've done minor adjustments, and lowered the action a bit. It feels great and I'm more and more growing into how it feels on my hands.
Sound. It's a jazz bass... that "traditional" jazz bark/honk is all there. You can toggle a switch to go from active to passive. On passive you have vol/blend/tone EQ controls, whereas in active you have vol/blend/stacked high-low/stacked mid-tone. In active mode the tone knob does nothing, and in passive mode the active controls do nothing.
Now, purists will tell you that you won't get a true "vintage" jazz sound of these N3 pickups in passive mode. That may be true, but I think it's all a matter of preference... they DO SOUND GOOD in passive mode. I have been experimenting with the active controls (all of my basses are passive) and I'm finding my tone... there's plenty of tones to be had on this bass. The thing I've found in active mode small adjustments can go a long way.
The N3 noiseless pickups are precisely that, noiseless. No annoying humming when soloing either pickup. In passive mode they seem to be lower-output that I expected, but no harm done... that little knob on your amp that says "Volume"? Yes... turn it clockwise and see what happens. And don't forget to set your amp's gain right.
This bass sounds good, and the ash body and maple neck/fretboard is a winning combination. However, tone is the least of my worries because I can always swap out the pickups and preamp if I wanted to. It's the overall feel of this instrument that makes you feel that it will handle anything you throw at it.
Now, the B-string. It's good. I see some people complain about B-strings, but I suspect is because they forget that you just don't pluck a B string the same way you pluck the rest of the strings. A lot depends on your technique, the strings you are using, and your EQ settings. But a floppy B it is not. I love the B on this bass and I love knowing that it is there WHEN I need it.
Now, for $1700... is this bass nirvana? What would I change? What's the other side of the story here?
1) Well for starters, I don't like the swimming pool under the pickguard... yes, it's there.
2) The bass was supposed to come with tapered B and E strings (per Fender site) and the strings it came with were NOT those. It's strung through the body, so the E string sounded like it was twisted a bit, giving me the well-known "chorus-E" effect. I just adjusted it as well as intonation and all was good.
3) These basses supposedly come with a plastic overlay showing you what each of the knobs do. Mine didn't. I figured it out via trial and error, and ended up calling Fender to confirm my findings.
4) Fender forgot to include the little hex wrenches to adjust string height and saddle position for intonation. In case this happens to you too, you need STANDARD (not metric!) 7/64" and 1/16" hex wrenches for intonation and string height, respectively. A quick trip to your local hardware store and you'll be set.
Having said all of the above, I sincerely believe that these American Deluxe basses are very well worth their price. They sound great and their playability and feel is just fantastic! And, I take pride knowing it was built right here in the USA.
Of course, there is no chance in heck that I would spend this much money (at least to me) buying an instrument through the Internet... that's where Sweetwater comes in, which has given me enough confidence to know that I will be well taken care of as a customer. My sales engineer, Nick LaMendola, always stays in touch and listens to my concerns as a customer. Sweetwater's customer guarantee and customer service are second to none in the industry. Wished more companies were like them.
Bottom line is, you CANNOT LOSE by ordering this bass, especially if you do it through Sweetwater. A jazz bass is not everyone's cup of tea, but that is mostly a matter of personal preference, and certainly, when it comes to the American Deluxe Jazz V, there is nothing lacking in terms of design, execution and performance. What you can or cannot do with this bass is entirely up to you. Highly recommended!!!