Fender Steve Harris Precision bass review

  • £1139
  • $1699.99

The Iron Maiden star's new signature model

Image 1 of 2 Fender Steve Harris Precision bass
The eye-catching pickguard is chromed to a mirror finish
Image 2 of 2 Fender Steve Harris Precision bass
The bass has a chunky one-piece maple neck that nicely fills the hand

Our Verdict

Harris fan or not, this is a great P-bass. The strings, bridge and pickup combine very well.

For

  • Striking looks. Solid sound. Meaty feel.

Against

  • Modern-style tuners – old reverse action is our preference.
Buying options

We've been itching to get our hands on this new series for many months now and the timing couldn't be better: we're writing this review on official Iron Maiden Day!

One of the three models here is the is a new version of the Iron Maiden P-bass from Fender, which now bears the squiggle of four-string main man Steve Harris.

With two great guitarists swapping licks, Iron Maiden require a rock-solid foundation and Steve Harris has continually provided that with his trusty Fender Precision.

The choice of hardware and pickups on this signature are more in keeping with Steve's own preferences than on previous signature models and, as a result, this one will certainly stand out in a crowd.

Looks

Harris insisted that this should be a heavy bass with a chunky one-piece maple neck that nicely fills the hand. Naturally it's loaded with his Signature Series Rotosound Flatwound strings – the West Ham United colours of claret and blue in the silk windings at ball and tuner ends easily identify these.

The eye-catching pickguard is chromed to a mirror finish and surrounds the well-chosen Seymour Duncan SPB-1 vintage-correct split coil pickup. The practicality theme continues with the Badass II bridge, with its sleek looks and great intonation, and yet more chrome.

On the headstock the trusty 'elephant ears' tuners have the more ungainly modern day long shank and are not reverse action. Steve's signature is at the back of the headstock. All in all we get a great looking, and very practical P-bass.

Sounds

Check out the video below to see it in action alongside the other new Iron Maiden signature instruments:

objectVideo : News%20Video/Guitar/iron-maiden-fender-video.flv

Even without plugging this in you can tell it's going to perform well as it's been set up for hard rock playing – a good action, but a little higher than you might expect. Tight and tough, this invites you to get stuck in, and when you hear the sound that's exactly what you'll want to do.

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Harris is a finger player and likes working the strings at the bridge end for a tight sound and punchy delivery, but he sweetens up for chordal stuff by playing over the pickup. This is the simple beauty of the Precision – it always sounds great wherever you shift your playing position to.

With his low-slung playing style and 'fast fingers' action, Harris is one of the most influential players of the heavy metal world and the SPB-1 pickup is what he currently uses on his own bass.

We feel it works a lot better with the flatwounds than the SPB-3 Quarter Pounder used on the earlier signature model. This is a really great combination that offers a pleasingly vintage element to the sound, which should also appeal to far-from-metal Motown lovers.

The flatwounds do suffer from individual note clarity but provide a superior thump and tonal fatness than the more common roundwounds do. In the right hands, this is a formidable instrument.

Overview

Bass guitars are rarely flashy looking but with its blue sparkle finish and mirror scratchplate this Precision is a real attention grabber. It has a great feeling of 'rightness' about it when you play it and the set-up is far more 'on the road' than 'in the shop'.

That may take the less experienced player by surprise but, of course, it can be easily tweaked to your own style; likewise the strings. Yes, it's pricey, but it offers enough of its own merits and exclusivity to be worth it. There are cheaper options out there, but few that rock quite as hard.

Considering the sheer legacy that Harris and his Maiden bandmates share as players, what's good enough for them to use is no doubt more than good enough for the likes of us. We suggest you reach out…

Tech Specs

PickupSeymour Duncan Basslines SPB-1 Vintage P-bass split-coil
No. of Frets20
Scale Length (Inches)34
Country of OriginJapan
HardwareLeo Quan Badass II bridge; chrome mirror finish scratchplate
Weight (lb)9.4
Neck MaterialOne-piece maple
Nut42mm
Fingerboard Radius7.25 inches
Scale Length (mm)864
Weight (kg)4.3
Fingerboard MaterialMaple
Nut MaterialPlastic
Guitar Body MaterialAlder
Body StyleDouble-cut signature solidbody bass