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.

3 Likes

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:

3 Likes

@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

2 Likes

+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!

2 Likes

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.

4 Likes

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.

1 Like

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:

2 Likes

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:

2 Likes

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!!!

3 Likes

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.

3 Likes