Fender’s recent Vintera range has been a decent replacement for the Big F’s Mexican-made Classic range, and its 60s Jazz basses come in three color options –three-tone Sunburst, Daphne Blue and Firemist Gold.
The last of these is so easy on the eye, and Fender have imbued the Vintera Jazz with so many vintage 60s features, that we had to check one out. We reviewed a Vintera Precision earlier in the year – so how does the J stand up?
Weighing in at 8.6 pounds, this bass sits somewhere in the middle of bass weights – not especially light but not overly heavy either.
The offset body-shape and classic curves, coupled with contouring front and back, add up to a totally familiar playing experience, and looks-wise, the body color fits very well with the three-ply red tortoiseshell scratchplate and the warm color of the 20-fret pau ferro fingerboard.
The bass is reasonably well set up, with no sharp frets that I could feel along either side of the neck, but the action was a little high for my tastes. This is easily remedied, of course.
White dot position markers have been incorporated along the side and front-facing of the fingerboard, and with easy access to the upper frets via the lower cutaway, the player can quickly get to grips with this bass.
The hardware is robust and solidly attached. Open-geared reverse machine-heads maintain the vintage vibe, as do the threaded bridge saddles: These allow the string spacing, set as standard at 19mm, to be adjusted. The three-control setup (volume, volume, tone) is as effective as ever: This is, after all, a Jazz bass, with all the familiar touches which the name implies.
Sounds and Playability
It comes as no surprise that this Jazz variant is lively and resonant, when played unplugged, but what is impressive is that its natural bounce continues across all four strings and across the whole neck. If you want a bass with a spring in its tonal step, here it is.
As Jazz players will know, the design has an identifiable tonal signature of its own, but it’s not uncommon for there to be variations on the theme – some Js are darker-sounding than others, while some are brighter, and some supply buckets of sustain.
This bass has a tight, punchy character with a fair smattering of natural growl in the midrange, which is particularly obvious when playing over the bridge pickup.
The pickups themselves have been revoiced to provide a more accurate approximation of the original 1960s units, so the scooped sound of a 70s Jazz isn’t quite so apparent. Instead, its warm rounded tone is accompanied by a gritty presence.
The warmth of the neck pickup is well suited to classic soul lines, and does an admirable job of covering the split-coil tone you’d get from a Precision. Bring the bridge unit into play and a raft of tight, bubbling sounds are provided. The tone is exactly as it should be – with a bright raspiness that adds clarity and definition.
The Vintera’s playability is very pleasing – there’s something extremely satisfying about picking up a Jazz from a new range and finding that all the classic hallmarks are there. The mid-60s C-shaped neck is also gloss finished and feels more rounded than a standard Jazz neck, but the narrow 38mm nut width helps to retain the slinkiness for which J-Basses are renowned.
This is a fine instrument – and at $999.99, it won’t break the bank, while giving you all the classic Jazz Bass tones. Understandably, there’s a lot of competition at this price, but the finish alone will no doubt pique a lot of interest. Do audition one...
- Made In: Mexico
- Body: Alder
- Neck: Maple, 34” scale, gloss finish
- Neck Join: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- Nut Width: 38mm Fingerboard: Pau ferro Frets: 20
- Pickups: Fender 60s Jazz Bass single-coil pickups x 2
- Electronics: Passive Controls: Volume, volume, tone
- Hardware: Chrome hardware, vintage bridge, vintage reverse open-gear machine heads
- Weight: 3.9 kg / 8.59 lbs
- Gigbag/case included: Deluxe gigbag
- Left-hand available: No
- Contact: Fender