Video: 5 Precision Basses, 5 Price Points—What's the Difference?

Earlier this week, Reverb's Andy Martin took some time to showcase five great guitars that could all be had for $500 USD. Today, our resident low-ender Jake Hawrylak dropped into the studio to do a similar thing, but with bass guitars—P-basses, in particular.

In the video above, Jake runs through five precision basses at five different price points. He's showing off how they sound and what they can do so that anyone in the market for a P-bass of their own is equipped to make the best choice, regardless of their budget.

Squier Vintage Modified P-Bass

First up is the most budget-friendly on the list, the Squier Vintage Modified P-Bass.

As Fender's budget-friendly subsidiary, Squier is a brand that a lot of beginners quite reasonably start with. Despite being a bass that's built to keep the cost low, writing it off as a cheap instrument would be an unfair shake.

"I feel like Squier gets a really bad rap for being cheap instruments that aren't worth anything, but if you dig around—especially with this Vintage Modified series—you can really find some good stuff," Jake explains, going on to compliment the bass's playability and explain its spec list, which features a C-shaped neck, a 9.5-inch radius, and 20 jumbo frets.

With the Vintage Modified series, players also get a PJ pickup configuration, which means you get a single-coil jazz bass pickup in the bridge and a standard P-bass split-coil pickup in the middle position.

Fender Standard Precision Bass

Next up is the made-in-Mexico Standard Precision Bass from Fender. These basses are the next level up from the Squier Precision, with slightly better build quality, materials, and playability.

Jake highly recommends this bass for a solid beginner-to-mid-level player. He played a Mexican Fender Jazz Bass for a few years when he was starting out, and buying a used model online cost him about as much as one would pay for a new Squier. "It's a really, really great investment, and you'll get a lot of mileage out of these basses."

Similarly to the Squier P-bass, this bass features a C-shaped neck with a 9.5-inch radius and 20 medium-jumbo frets, but one area of difference is with the pickup configuration. The MIM P-bass that Jake is playing features the standard precision setup of a split-coil in the middle position, which lends itself to a tone not unlike what you'd get from a classic original.

Fender American Performer Precision Bass

The next level up from here is the made-in-America alternative, the Fender American Professional Precision Bass, which is a great way to secure a well-built instrument with excellent tone and playability without having to pay the price vintage instruments command.

Above, Jake is playing a Precision bass from the Player Series, which is the lower-end of Fender's made-in-America instruments and is a great entry point into that upper strata of bass guitars. If you want to do some more exploring in this realm, though, check out the Professional or Elite series.

Pickup-wise, this bass is equipped with a Yosemite jazz pickup in the bridge and a precision-style Yosemite split-coil pickup in the middle position. Be sure to check out the video for a taste of how it sounds.

Fender Custom Shop P-Bass

"Now, if you're looking for the best modern P-bass that money can buy, look no further than the Fender Custom Shop P-basses," Jake starts, with the next bass from our list in-hand.

The coolest thing about these basses is that each of them is custom-made and so can be tailored to suit the preferences of the player. "Everything from the neck profile to the tuning pegs to the color of the body to the bridge plate to the type of pickups—anything that you like can be custom-made," Jake continued.

Custom Shop basses are perfect for players who want to get as close as possible to a pristine vintage original, which brings us to our next entry on this list.

Vintage Fender P-Bass

This last spot on the list is, of course, goes to an original vintage Fender Precision Bass from the '50s through the '70s.

The Precision Jake is playing in the video above is a 1958 original Precision bass featuring a slight refinish, and as he explains, it's these bass models that the modern-day Custom Shop designs are modeled on. If you have the money to spend and you're a collector passionate about vintage instruments, there's no comparison to a vintage original.

One disclaimer that Jake does make is that, if you're getting into the vintage market, you want to be familiar with all of the aspects of the bass and what they mean. For example, knowing the differences between differing neck shapes, pickup configurations, and fret sizes. "With these vintage instruments," Jakes elaborates, "You're really not going to want to change anything on them. You're going to want to buy them as they are and keep them as they are."

Do you have a favorite P-bass of your own, or one that we didn't feature? Let us know in the comments below. And to take a look at all of the Precision basses we have available on Reverb now, click the banner below.

Buying Guide: Precision Basses
Learn everything you need to know to choose the right P-Bass for you.
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