Fender Steve Harris Precision bass

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:

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.

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…

MusicRadar Rating

4.5 / 5 stars
Pros

Striking looks. Solid sound. Meaty feel.

Cons

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

Verdict

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

Pickup

Seymour Duncan Basslines SPB-1 Vintage P-bass split-coil

No. of Frets

20

Scale Length (Inches)

34

Country of Origin

Japan

Hardware

Leo Quan Badass II bridge; chrome mirror finish scratchplate

Weight (lb)

9.4

Neck Material

One-piece maple

Nut

42mm

Fingerboard Radius

7.25 inches

Scale Length (mm)

864

Weight (kg)

4.3

Fingerboard Material

Maple

Nut Material

Plastic

Guitar Body Material

Alder

Body Style

Double-cut signature solidbody bass

Review Policy
All MusicRadar's reviews are by independent product specialists, who are not aligned to any gear manufacturer or retailer. Our experts also write for renowned magazines such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Computer Music, Future Music and Rhythm. All are part of Future PLC, the biggest publisher of music making magazines in the world.

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