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Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass review

Modernised with Noiseless pickups and an updated spec, the Player Plus Jazz Bass offers a pro-quality instrument at a price to make amateurs take notice

  • £949
  • €1055
  • $1099
Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass
(Image: © Fender )

MusicRadar Verdict

An evolutionary rather than revolutionary step, the Player Plus Jazz Bass is proof once more of the format’s enduring appeal, with a ‘deluxe’ spec positioning it as a serious bass for not-so-serious money.

Pros

  • +

    Subtle modernising makes sense.

  • +

    Superbly playable.

  • +

    Nice finish options and high-quality build.

  • +

    Powerful EQ.

Cons

  • -

    It's quite heavy.

  • -

    Other options if you prefer traditional fingerboard dimensions.

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass: What is it?

We have seen what the Fender Player Plus series has done for the electric guitar, with brand touchstones such as the Stratocaster and Telecaster models refreshed in hot new finishes, souped-up with noiseless pickups and with a 12” fingerboard radius to modernise them. But how does the Player Plus series look from a bass player’s POV?

Here we have one of the most influential bass guitar designs of all time, the Fender Jazz Bass, augmented with the new broom of the Player Plus. That means we see Noiseless pickups, a Modern C profile maple neck with rolled fingerboard edges. 

Like its six-string kin, this Jazz Bass opts for the 12” radius fingerboard, giving it a different feel from its counterparts in the regular Player series, which have a more recognisably Fender 9.5” radius. 

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass

(Image credit: Fender )

The Jazz Bass is a design that has been tweaked relentlessly over decades of innovation, and yet it always retains that sense of itself, with its slightly offset silhouette offering a very player-friendly chassis to build upon. The Player Plus Jazz Bass assumes this form, with a solid alder body, a neck that joins the body with a four-bolt joint and F-branded neckplate. 

Like the Player series fingerboard materials are dependent on finish option with the choice of maple on the Olympic Pearl and Aged Candy Apple Red models, and pau ferro with the Belair Blue and 3-Color Sunburst. 

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass

(Image credit: Fender )

While our Aged Candy Apple Red model feels very on-brand, the Belair Blue is very new for Fender. It’s a gradient burst finish that looks like the instrument has been dip-dyed. Very cool. But a strong look. 

The Noiseless pickups assume the same footprint as your typical Jazz single-coil but, of course, arrive with promises of humbucking performance, and these are controlled by a tweakable preamp that offers controls for master volume, pan, and a three-band EQ, plus there is a toggle switch for alternating between the Player Plus Jazz Bass’s active and passive modes.

Elsewhere, Fender has equipped the Player Plus Jazz Bass with a super-solid HiMass bridge whose saddles fit into slots and promise on-point intonation. 

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass

(Image credit: Fender )

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass: Performance and verdict

All the things that have made the Jazz Bass such an enduring instrument are evident in the Player Plus model. No one could call it a lightweight bass by any stretch. It’s 10lb in its underwear. But those body contours help balance it, and with that Modern C neck profile – the primo touch of rolled fingerboard edges giving it that worn-in feel – the Player Plus Jazz Bass is one comfortable ride.

Priced at the top of Fender’s Mexican-built range, the Player Plus models have been nicknamed the ‘Mexican Ultra’ series for good reason. Okay, the modernisation only goes so far. We don’t have sculpted heels a la the American Ultra or American Professional II models. But there’s no question this feels right for today’s player. The notes pop off the fingerboard and the neck’s satin finish offers little resistance even to sweaty hands.

Also consider...

Fender Vintera '60s Jazz Bass

(Image credit: Future)

Fender Vintera '60s Jazz Bass
The Vintera '60s Jazz Bass has got the looks and the tones, and with a few tweaks to the setup it's got the feel as well – all maintaining the convincing illusion that this is a vintage instrument and not a 2020 production model.

Fender American Ultra Jazz Bass
Stunning finishes and smart new features make for a welcome if not radical update for Fender's top-line US production models. 

Finding a sound has never been easier. Old-school Jazz growl is right there where you want it on the passive mode, a sound that’s upfront, articulate and very on-brand for the model. But there’s plenty of opportunity to dial in a wide range of bass sounds.

That’s a key factor in the success of the Jazz Bass – and indeed the Precision – over the years. Anyone can pick up one of these and apply their style to the instrument. Its active performance yields superlative control over your EQ. Bass and treble occupy one stacked pot. Midrange, where so often the battle for great tone is one, has its own dedicated control. As per house style, these controls are mounted on a metal plate that abuts a four-ply tortoiseshell pickguard.

As we have come to expect from Fender’s Ensenada facility, the fit and finish is bang-on. Having wowed us with the time machine vibe of the Vintera, this Player Plus series brings us a contemporary alternative. Those ready for something bold might prefer Belair Blue, but Aged Candy Apple Red is really something. 

No question, the Player Plus Jazz Bass would make a fine choice for the gigging pro or serious amateur. It would make an excellent first serious bass, quite possibly why Fender has enthusiastically marketed the Player Plus series to a younger cohort while offering finish options and a performance that Jazz fans of all vintages can get down with.

MusicRadar verdict: An evolutionary rather than revolutionary step, the Player Plus Jazz Bass is proof once more of the format’s enduring appeal, with a ‘deluxe’ spec positioning it as a serious bass for not-so-serious money.

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass: The web says

"We applaud the thinking that has gone into this range. To a great extent, this is a friendly bass for the young musician: the neck will suit small hands, and the electronics are perfect for today’s needs, whether studio or live. It’s a heavy instrument, though, and having seen a few athletic-but-slender kids struggle with a 10-pound bass, some reduction in mass might have been beneficial."
Bass Player Magazine (opens in new tab)

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass: Hands-on demos

Fender

Andertons

Cosmo Music

Empire Music

Fender Player Plus Jazz Bass: Specifications

  • MADE IN: Mexico 
  • BODY: Alder
  • NECK: Maple, 34” scale
  • NECK JOIN: Bolt-on
  • FINGERBOARD: Maple, 20 frets
  • PICKUPS: 2x Player Plus Noiseless single‑coils
  • CONTROLS: Volume, pickup blend, three-band active EQ (1x mids boost/cut pot, 1x stacked treble/bass boost/cut pot), active/passive toggle switch
  • HARDWARE: Fender tuners, HiMass bridge
  • FINISH: Olympic Pearl, 3-Color Sunburst, Belair Blue, Aged Candy Apple Red (reviewed)
  • WEIGHT: 9.9 lbs
  • OPTIONS: Belair Blue and 3-Color Sunburst models have pau ferro fingerboards, while a five-string version is available, priced £1,159
  • LEFT-HANDED: Yes
  • CASE/GIGBAG: Deluxe gigbag
  • CONTACT: Fender (opens in new tab)

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