Fender Blacktop Precision and Jazz basses

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They may be the most instantly recognisable bass guitar designs on the planet but Fender’s tireless efforts to maintain interest and indeed innovation in their instruments has once again produced another highly playable pair of basses. The ‘Blacktop’ moniker is essentially a little marketing spin for a new line of guitars and basses that fire double the amount of volume through their pickups – by simply doubling the number of pickups (who’d have thought that would work?) – with the intention of rocking harder and louder for half the money.

This may sound a little crass on paper but in practice the sometimes-meek sounding passive (as opposed to battery powered ‘active’) instruments get a serious kick in the volume department. Confusingly the ‘Precision’ Blacktop bass comes with two pairs, i.e. four, ‘Jazz’ style pickups, while the Jazz design bass comes with two pairs of ‘Precision’ ones. A double take and double check were duly performed on receiving our review basses but this role reversal is indeed the way they are meant to be. As such the traditionally simpler sounding Precision bass gets a broader tonal range thanks to the two pairs of stacked humbucking pickups, which in practice means by switching to just the bridge pickup the nasal Jaco-ish tone is full and rich, and with double the signal being pumped through to your amp the added headroom in the sound is staggering. The sound with both sets of pickups on and with just the bridge pair selected was also mightily impressive. Couple that to a sleek neck radius, neatly finished frets, a pleasingly subtle sparkle of the “white chrome pearl” finish and overall lightweight feel of the instrument, and this bass really does tick all the right boxes. Certainly a workhorse instrument but one with no shortage of finesse, it’s a good investment at around £500 for those needing a step up to a better instrument or for pros looking for a reliable standby bass. The only downside of this pair is the Jazz style Blacktop’s double split-P pickup configuration couldn’t match tonal variety or quality, so our advice is check out the Precision, it’s a jazzy delight.

For more go to www.fender.co.uk