Has Fender been Surpassed?

Do you think that Fender, as the original inventor of the electric bass, has been surpassed technically and qualitatively by other companies?

What are, in your view, the most Fender-esque non-Fender instruments in terms of tone?

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Yes, that’s for certain.

There are a lot of brands. Sandberg comes to my mind right now but there is a lot other brands.


Absolutely. There are several brands, large and small, that have made and continue to make better basses than Fender.

Tone is available by many means: pickups, preamps, strings, amps, plugins, etc., etc., etc. Simulating any tone is achievable and doesn’t necessarily come from a specific brand, Fender included.


What confuses me is why people are still so attached to Fender, as proved for example by the fact they tend to maintain their value on the second hand market and are always in high demand? Is it because of the “name”?


Fender didn’t invent the electric bass, but that’s not here nor there.

Have they been surpassed technically and qualitatively? Yes and no.

Qualitatively, broad question. The instruments coming out of their custom shop are top notch in workmanship. Squier makes good quality, the only place where you hear complaints are out of their Mexico factory; skip that and quality is fine.

Technically does not apply to Fender. For the most part they produce passive instruments in vintage styles. They don’t even try and advance technically so the question is moot.

Interesting question, because it implies that people try and achieve the Fender tone, which they do. Fujigen and Tokai make the most Fenderesque tone for non Fender products, which makes sense as they also build many instruments for Fender


Short answer: yes. And marketing.

Fender offers many models at different price points, made in the US and in foreign factories. So any player with almost any budget can own a “Fender.”


My bad, but you know what I mean… :sweat_smile:


Yeah and also many, many, many basses uses P and/or J pickups, and sound close to Fender’s.

I have a few Fender’s. 5 or 6 I think. Fender is some kind of safe choice for me : I know exactly what I can expect from them and it’s somewhat comfortable for me. Kinda like the guys who ride Harley Davidson’s I guess.


Fender was indeed the first mass-produced electric bass. The Precision set the electric bass standard and the Jazz broke new tonal ground.


Most of my basses are Fenders. I am by no means attached to the name. But I do prefer passive basses, and Fender makes great passive basses. And I love the feel of their necks. And nothing beats a P bass


Leo Fender was always an innovator. The Precision was his first. He then invented the Jazz to expand the electric bass tonal and playability possibilities. Then he invented the StingRay to take things to even further versatility.

Here’s an interesting discussion with demos that compare and contrast Leo’s first and last designs.


Fender is a marketing conglomerate no an innovative musical instruments company. What they are selling are what’s been around for the last 80 years. Most if not all of their new inventions often failed to make any kind of traction.

Time passed helped Fender a lot no one cares about the 51 bass in 53-55 or later. Early 60s were frowned upon just as much as the 70s and 80s and so on. Then something magically happened enough time passed next thing you know it’s the rare specimens a must have holy grail.

My prime playing time was in the 90’s Fender was not the thing. Spector, Tobias , Yamaha and other active basses were the hot tickets. Even back in 2006 I remember I could have scored a ‘62 jazz bass and P bass for $1000-1500 cheaper if they are heavy sign of use. Boy time have changed, now people pay a few grands extra just to have it beaten up straight from the factory :joy:


Fender was surpassed in the '70s, that’s why they and Gibson had to resort to lawsuits to compete. And it’s just gotten worse since then. They haven’t been a leader in innovation in 50+ years.

Leo’s spinoffs did do some cool and innovative things for sure. MusicMan and G&L are great examples of what Fender innovation might have looked like.

But Fender itself makes basically two guitars and two basses, each with subtle variants, and a few far less impactful models (that do have some cool points). They have been more or less stagnant for a long time. The last innovation I remember them having was turning relicing into a profitable custom shop business.


Nice fishing.



This is more like large scale gillnetting but sooooo easy.


Any improvement from Leo after his time at Fender has been so great. You are getting MM pickups and active electronics, unbelievable bridges designs (both version MusicMan and G&L). Cool and fun pickup configuration HS, HSS, HH from MusicMan, MFD from G&L and the electronic wizardry on the G&L keep things fresh. 2024 now and Fender’s still selling like @howard said the same 2 basses and the same 2 guitars.

MusicMan made a Precision and a PJ and they are both better than any Fender ever Made. G&L SB series are unbelievably good and both are better than Fender in just about everything. These models are just as good as the Premium copies of Fender like Sandberg, Sadowsky, Atelier, to name a few.

Their Japanese lines are a lot more exciting and rewarding to own than the USA ones. That said, it’s not a bad idea to own a made in USA Fender especially from the older ones definitely pre covid. Then again who knows? 20 years from now the poorly made Covid era Fender may triple in price like those misprint stamps. :rofl:


It also is true that there’s nothing wrong with P-basses, Strats and Telecasters; they are great. But when it comes to innovating, growth, and change, Fender just ain’t it.

Nor is Gibson; same deal as Fender, but with worse quality control.


Mainly because they are what we hear on almost every tracks, then and now.


Yeah. And of course they also feel great and are the standard. I loved my Tele and P-bass, nothing wrong with them; it’s just that I loved other instruments more.


I was able to test drive a Fender P alongside my 40 yr old Yammie P and it just wasn’t close. I don’t know if it’s the reverse pickup configuration on the Yamaha or what but in every way, the Yamaha was more “P bass” than the Fender. That being said, I’d really like to get my hands on a G&L SB and test it out.