Fender Modern Player Telecaster Bass review

A great, retro-styled Fender bass at a good price point

  • £526.8
  • $839.99
This butterscotch blonde finish has an especially attractive retro charm.

MusicRadar Verdict

A fine retro-looking Fender bass with huge humbucking tones. What's not to like?


  • +

    Great build and the fatter, rather un-Fender-like tonality.


  • -

    Once you understand it, nothing.

MusicRadar's got your back Our team of expert musicians and producers spends hours testing products to help you choose the best music-making gear for you. Find out more about how we test.

If you're bewildered by the sheer number of pimped out guitars and basses that Fender has released in the past year, well, the influx isn't quite over yet.

Following in the wake of the recent Blacktop and Pawn Shop Series models, Fender has now unveiled its highly affordable Chinese-made Modern Player Series, consisting of four electric guitars and three basses.

"This is definitely the right time for a comeback and it's a wonderful bass to behold and play."

The reason for all this activity is simple: new blood. If you own a Strat, Tele, Precision, Jazz or anything else with Leo's surname on the headstock, well, they've already got you hooked. It's the newbies that Fender is hoping to attract.

But don't take that to mean that there's not something interesting in the Modern Player range for you if you're one of the Fender faithful.

This Telecaster Bass is a handsome beast indeed and was Fender's first attempt to bring its classic basses bang up to date. When originally launched back in the seventies, Fender used the original P-Bass template from the fifties and raised the game by fitting it with a pair of imposing humbuckers.

This was design morphing in a truly delightful fashion, yet the Telecaster Bass has been somewhat elusive over the intervening years. So this is definitely the right time for a comeback and it's a wonderful bass to behold and play.

This butterscotch blonde finish is particularly attractive and evokes a nostalgic feeling, but the body is fully contoured so is far more comfortable to play than those early Precisions.

On the Telecaster Bass the 'split-coil' pole screw adjustment on the pickups reveals the 'hidden' P-Bass nature of these meaty humbuckers. They produce a far more throaty element to the sound than is associated with regular Fenders, as we found with the original version of this lovely bass.

Generally the neck pickup is dominant (which is a good thing for a bass) so to get the best blended sounds you need the tone control favouring the treble end. Only then is that delightfully honky edge revealed and it's totally unique to this pickup configuration on a Fender.

Overall, we are impressed with the quality and little evidence of cost cutting in looks, sounds or overall feel. The sound of the Telecaster Bass is so different from the general Fender bass tonality that it has the potential to convert the uninitiated - or indeed existing Precision and Jazz Bass owners - so is really worth trying.

All in all, the Modern Player Series is a great idea and beautifully executed. They might be aimed at Fender newbies, but there's plenty to appeal to more experienced players too. And with the world economy in meltdown the lowly prices seem rather attractive - to all of us!