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Fender Vintera '50s Precision Bass review

This vintage-inspired P-Bass from Fender’s Vintera range has the hallmarks of a classic, but does it have the sounds?

Fender Vintera '50s Precision Bass review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

A certified winner, the Vintera '50s Precision nails the vintage look and has heaps of authentic P-Bass tone to play with.

For

  • Great visuals.
  • Very pleasing P-Bass tone.

Against

  • A lot of competition at this price.

A red Precision with a honey gloss maple neck and fingerboard, gold anodised scratchplate and chrome hardware is a classic look in anyone’s book – and straight from the supplied deluxe gigbag, this beauty returns you to a bygone era. What makes this particular model justify the prestigious F on its headstock?

Build quality

When it comes to simplicity, a Precision is as basic a bass design as you can get, although its styling serves it admirably – and considering its history, it hasn’t aged badly. This model calls on vintage visuals to sock you between the eyeballs, which it does to great effect, with all of the characteristics you have come to expect very apparent. 

Rounded, curvaceous body-lines, front and rear contouring for player comfort, one-ply gold anodised scratchplate, screw holes where the tug-bar (or finger rest) and ashtray cover screws should be are all present, topped off in a sumptuous Dakota Red gloss polyester urethane finish over alder body timber.

The one-piece maple neck and fingerboard are also finished in this thick gloss, which gives the neck an almost honey-like hue. The well-rounded vintage C shaped neck profile gives the player something to work with, offering the bass a substantial feel – although this doesn’t mean the bass is tricky to play. 

The frets have quite a low profile, so skipping across the neck at speed poses no problem at all. Thankfully, the bass is blessed with a fine setup, no sharp fret edges and a string action that begs to be played.

Vintera. All the classic P-Bass thump and plumminess are in full effect, while the tone control provides a very useable contrast in terms of brightness

The chrome hardware is sturdily attached and operates smoothly where required. Everything functions as it should, with no shortcuts in this department. The slotted bridge saddles allow for string-spacing alterations should you require that option, while the volume and tone controls are of the flat-top, knurled variety. Keeping with tradition, the fingerboard and side of the neck both feature black dot position markers.

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(Image credit: Future)
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(Image credit: Future)

Sounds and playability

Thankfully, the Vintera is no back-killer, weighing in at 3.7 kilos (eight pounds), which is relevant to the natural tone it offers. Holding the bass against you, the body timber resonates warmly, but with an audible bite and spring in the midrange. Sustain is noticeable and impressive, while the throaty response across allfour strings is very appealing.

Using an Aguilar Tone Hammer setup, the Vintera has much to offer despite its simple split-coil pickup design, pricetag and build location. I’ve played full-blown US-born Precisions that haven’t sung quite like this Vintera. All the classic P-Bass thump and plumminess are in full effect, while the tone control provides a very useable contrast in terms of brightness. 

A degree of clank can be dialled in should you require it, but the sweet spot is easily obtained and the pickup conveys a pleasing level of warmth and smoothness, matched with some low-mid power. Pick players and fingerstyle players will be equally at home, although slappers and those who like to tap will inevitably feel that something is lackingfrom this passive pup.

From a playability perspective, the Vintera’s simplicity is very much to its advantage

Despite some headstock bias, which becomes quickly apparent, the Vintera hangs well on a strap and shouldn’t cause the player any issues. The traditional 19mm spacing at the bridge and familiar neck profile make digging in almost a prerequisite, and a certain degree of tonal character can be coaxed from this instrument depending on your playing attack. 

But from a playability perspective, the Vintera’s simplicity is very much to its advantage. It’s nothing new, but it feels so good!

Conclusion

This is one solid performer – and although some players will argue the age-old point of how many times the wheel can be reinvented, it’s Fender’s wheel to reinvent as they wish. There are other Precision variants out there, but there is still something about owning the real thing – especially when it is as affordable as this one.

Specs

(Image credit: Fender)
  • Price: $899.99, £929
  • Made In: Mexico
  • Colour: Dakota Red Gloss
  • Body: Alder
  • Neck: Maple, 34” scale
  • Neck Join: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
  • Nut Width: 44mm
  • Fingerboard: Maple
  • Frets: 20
  • Pickups: Vintage-style ’50s split-coil pickup
  • Electronics: Passive
  • Controls: Volume, tone
  • Hardware: Chrome hardware, elephant-ear machine heads, vintage slotted bridge
  • Weight: 3.7 kg / 8 lbs
  • Gigbag/case included: Deluxe gigbag
  • Left-hand available: No
  • Contact: Fender