What is it about Fender?

I have owned three basses over the years, I’ve played with other people, and I’ve known other bass players and none of us ever used Fender. We were young and the price made it prohibitive. However, Fender always got all the hype.

I have played a Fender in a guitar store (not the best environment) and I was never really wowed by the sound. Good bass sound but expensive and other cheaper basses had ‘good’ bass sounds too.

I’m older now, have a little bit more money, and have a whole different set of expectations.

I went to my local Guitar Center to play around with as many basses as possible. I was trying to get an idea of what I really wanted and specifically, what felt good in my hands. To keep myself focused on that one aspect, I didn’t plug any of them in. That will be a different days experiment.

I had decide I wasn’t interested in Fender. They seem heavy, clunky, and I tend to doubt anything surrounded by that much hype. After 12 - 15 different basses I picked up a Made in Mexico Fender P Bass. I was completely ready to scoff at all the hype since this bass didn’t have anything I thought I wanted.

Now… I’m kind of embarrassed by how wrong I was and how quickly and completely I had written Fender off. I liked it. A lot. More than any other bass I picked up. I tried a MIM Fender Jazz Bass, it was great too. I tried the Fender Short Scale Mustang, still liked it. I was, and am still, a bit taken back by how much I liked these basses and how much they seemed to fit me better than any of the others.

I still haven’t decided to get it. What I thought I wanted was a TRBX 304. They don’t carry them. At least, not at this store. I found a different place near by that does have a used TRBX 304 in like new condition and I’m going to go try it out before I make any decision. I’m also going to go back to those Fenders, plug them in and give their sound another listen to with the TRBX in mind.

This brings me to my questions for the good people of BassBuzz.
What is it about Fender that makes it more than just the hype?
For those of you that can afford the Fenders why do you use anything else?
Feel free to geek out and give terribly in depth answers.


So, without a very in-depth knowledge of the history of this instrument (still haven’t got Geddy Lee’s book), as far as I know Leo Fender in essence invented the electric bass guitar. When they came out with the P-bass that basically revolutionized how the bass was and could be used in music (not least live music) and pretty much was one of the major midwives for rock and pop as we know them today (along with their many variants). I guess this alone gives you some hefty street credibility!

Also, the fact that many (if not all) of the legendary players of the e-bass used Fender instruments (first, the P-bass and later other models) certainly added to building the lasting legacy of this brand. And once you hear a certain sound and like it, people want to copy it, emulate it and perpetuate it. From there on, it is almost self-running… and only Fender itself can possibly destroy that myth (by putting out bad models, models with design flaws, cheap materials, etc (see perhaps some of the things Apple did, especially during the 90s)).

So, while there are undoubtedly many great basses out there these days (and some arguably much “better” than Fender basses), there is certainly a kind of cult-like reverence for Fender, maybe because they were the first, maybe because they provide a recognizable, relatable, original sound, or maybe because virtually everybody plays one (or several) or, at least, has at one point in their career. Probably, it’s all of the above.

Just my 2 cents :smile:


@eric.kiser . . . I think you’re off to a great start :+1:

You’re taking your time and not rushing into any old purchase! . . . IMHO, I’ve always been a Fender guy (P bass in 70’s and J bass in 80’s) and I guess they’ve been considered the “standard” for decades. I wanted to get back into playing bass, so I bought a Squier and am very happy with it.

After hanging around BassBuzz the past few months, one point people seem to agree upon is to try as many guitars as you can and find the one that feels, looks, and sounds best to YOU . . . regardless of brand or country of origin, etc.

Right now, I’m considering a second bass. Like you, I’m older and have a bit more money to spend, so I’m going to follow their advice! . . . :slight_smile:

All best and wishing you good luck, Joe


+1 to that. It’s all about the sound, in my mind. If you want “classic” bass sounds of a certain era, Fender is where it’s at.

Personally, I much prefer other instruments for playability, soloing, etc., but for getting vintage Fender-y sounds, I go for the Fenders!


Totally agree- and I avoided them for my first 10 years of playing… playing mostly punk, metal, really agressive, modern, soloistic material. THEN! I started playing more Americana, country, soul, and singer songwriter stuff (more work, more sessions, etc.) and I HAD to have a Fender. It was the sound they wanted, the classic sound, etc etc.
There’s also a killer other thread here about the worth of the more affordable Fender lines vs. the US made stuff - so you don’t necessarily have to shell out for the super expensive made in the US line to get some of that classic sound.


So, this goes back to the issue of versatility? Fender is great at sounding like Fender but other basses, such as those with active electronics, like the modern Ibanez, Yamaha, Peavey, etc., can give you more freedom to design whatever sound you need for a particular song, style, feel, or whatever.

Is the correct based on your experience? Please feel free to correct me if I’m misunderstanding you.

Edit: I had connection problems when trying to post this. If it ends up being a double post? My bad.

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Mmm, good question. I think versatility can mean at least a couple different things - versatility of tone, and versatility of technique/approach.

In terms of tone, basses with multiple pickups and/or active EQ will give you more options than basses with a single pickup and/or passive tone.

BUT that doesn’t mean they’ll give you what you’re looking for - the best way to get a P bass sound is with a P bass.

Versatility of technique/approach is where I think more “modern” instruments shine. You can do a lot more slappy/tappy/chordy/solo-y things on a bass with a couple pickups, some EQ, 24 frets, good upper accessibility, etc., than you can on a chunky Fender with 20 frets.

Not saying you can’t do that stuff on a Fender, because you can, it’s been done, and I do it… but there’s stuff that feels way easier and sounds clearer to me on my “modern” Peavey Cirrus (dual humbuckers, active EQ, 24 glorious frets) than my P or J basses.

And no double post issue that I see! Although maybe a double post would give you more tone options. :crazy_face:


After reading this, I realize I didn’t even know exactly what information I was looking for. This is what I wanted to know without knowing what to ask. Thanks a lot for this.

What I’ve learned…
I need some New Hotness to help my Old and Busted so I can play the Greasy I want to play.

Time to plan another day trip to the guitar store. :metal::monkey_face::metal:


Ah, that is what you were after all along :grin: Why didn’t you just say so? You can always get absolution for “needing” another bass in here!!!


I don’t understand it either.
I have a Carvin Jazz bass and it sounds better than any Fender I’ve ever played.

I played a 1958 Fender and found no difference than a new Fender.


So I’m checking out amps today and the guy asks me which bass I want to use. I tell him any 4-string is fine, and he asks if a Jazz is ok. I’m like sure, whatever, and assume he’s going to bring me some random cheapo jazz bass style bass.

Nope. He handed me this gorgeous baby blue Traditional 60’s MIJ. Basically, this one in Daphne Blue:


Ok I can see what you guys see in these. That was a nice bass.


What did you like most about it, @howard? . . . :slight_smile:

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I liked its neck feel, which makes sense I guess given I am a Yamaha fan. I’d probably want it to be taken to a satin neck finish which is probably sacrilege but I prefer it.

The tone was of course great too.


Got it, @howard . . . since I’m a Fender guy, I would probably like Yamahas, too! :+1:

GMTA . . . :grin:

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I also like that they look like creamsicles :slight_smile:


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You’ll want to be careful with that :slight_smile:

What I meant by my comment was that the one I was playing had a relatively thin neck, which is common to the Fender Jazz. Compared to, say, a Warwick.

Many (not all) Yamahas have thin necks too. Mine does. In fact mine makes the Jazz feel thick in comparison.

That’s about where the similarity ends, though. Mine has 24 frets, a satin back, and is a 5-piece. The Jazz had a 20-fret gloss backed one-piece neck. And everything else about the basses was even more different - mine is an active/passive dual-humbucker with a gazillion knobs, while the Jazz is a dead simple two-J pickup passive.

The Jazz I was playing is about 1.5x the cost of my bass. Mostly that’s the MIJ Fender tax I assume but it was in fact a very nice bass. I would happily own it - but I am not going to pay that for it. Lots of great basses in the $1k range.

It sounded amazing though. Crystal clear and thumpy.

If I bought it I would probably do this to it before the gloss drove me crazy:

except without the steel wool, which is apparently a super bad idea. And there goes $900.

On the bright side I would be keeping it forever so :man_shrugging:


@eric.kiser, You will not be disappointed with the 304. I have mine in Candy Apple Red, and along with it is my 174EW - yup, Yamaha’s. I Have played Fender (and Custom Fender) guitars for years and love them! As for Bass’s… I went directly to Fender, trying several that just didn’t ‘feel’ right… I tried Yamaha, and was sold…

Now having two Yammy’s, for the price and playability “FOR ME”, I could not go wrong.

Some players are more comfortable playing a Fender, some players, something else…

It’s not ‘Watcha Play’… It’s ‘How Ya Play It’… Same goes for the music as it does for the gear…


I absolutely loved my 304. Considered keeping it even after I bought my 604.


@howard,… I kinda get ‘attached’ to certain things in my life,… Guitars happens to be one of those things. I just can’t get rid of them and as such, end up with several styles of the same manufacturer. I do play them all, and each have a special bookmark in my life. Don’t get me wrong… I have cycled and re-cycled many musical instruments throughout the course of my 66 years here on planet earth, but there are ‘some’ that are ‘special’… Your ‘first’ is always a keeper in my book, and with each, there is always a ‘first’ story to tell about it.

Might sound a bit weird, but hey, I got several grandkids over the age of 18 that have already mentioned that one of my instruments is special to them… Only because I always used playing music with them individually with something that they remembered.


Or… you just play with a glove :crazy_face::rofl: