Sometime Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters commands a huge fanbase with sold-out shows wherever he plays, and if this instrument is anything to go by, he certainly knows a good bass tone when he hears it.
Sure, you may look at this Fender and think ‘Not another Precision?’ - but never assume that you know exactly how a bass will play and sound until you’ve tried it. So what does this bass bring to the table?
The finish of Waters’ bass harks back to the classic Wall period of the late 70s and early 80s, and is not out of keeping with that time, when sunburst Fenders were being outnumbered by black, white and solid-coloured gloss instruments.
These fitted in more favourably with the punk and new wave artists that were most prominent at the time, so we have the classic black gloss body matched with a warm-hued maple neck and fingerboard, also finished with a urethane gloss coat, and a single-ply black scratchplate to complete the minimal but classic vibe.
With the usual front and rear contouring, the bass feels very familiar and is very comfortable to wear. Despite some headstock bias, the bass balances perfectly well when placed on a strap: this certainly isn’t a Fender back-breaker from yesteryear.
Build quality generally is very good: the full D-shaped neck profile is a classic touch and gives the player something to get stuck into, while the F-stamped neck plate, signature on the rear of the headstock and brass nut for improved sustain all point to care and attention being afforded to this model.
Black dots have been utilised on the front and side of the neck, while the neck pocket appears solid and tightly seated. The chrome 70s-style machine heads and black knurled volume and tone controls are all reassuringly attached and operate smoothly.
The bass is set up very well, which makes its somewhat bulky dimensions feel a lot more comfortable; we were expecting a sub-£1000 Mexican Precision to be a little more hard work than this bass actually is, which is a pleasant surprise. Considering that this isn’t a Custom Shop instrument, we were also surprised at just how resonant this bass is before plugging it in. Despite its naturally deep sound, a pronounced midrange was also present, giving the bass a pleasing bright response.
Once plugged in, this Precision’s true colours came to the fore and for lovers of the classic P-Bass punch, throaty midrange and spiky clarity, you will very much appreciate what it has to offer. Pick players in particular will enjoy the attack from the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder pickup. However, if you prefer a woodier-sounding Precision, roll some of the tone control back slightly and the familiar rounded tones are easily accessible.
As a fingerstyle player, if you require a little more edge or bite for definition, this bass certainly isn’t lacking in that respect and will respond accordingly.
What quickly comes across is that although this is a new bass, with modern manufacturing advances bestowed upon it, Fender have pretty much nailed the classic (there’s that word again!) Precision tone - but in a package that includes tone and volume controls that function across the pots’ whole turn. Added to that is a neck that is well-crafted, with no dead spots that we could find, no sharp fret edges and a fairly even string volume across all four strings.
Players of all persuasions will find something to enjoy in this bass; you begin to wonder why every Precision (whether made by Fender or not) can’t play as well as this. At £786, it’s hardly remortgaging material, yet we have come across instruments in this vein, costing a lot more, that haven’t played half as well.
This is a very clearly voiced instrument that isn’t hard work to play, unlike some Precisions. Fender have really come up with the goods with this bass, and although it may not have the visuals or bells and whistles of a lot of instruments, a good bass is a good bass whichever way you look at it.
For those who hold the opinion that a P-Bass is too limiting, we defy you to track down a Roger Waters Signature model and see if it doesn’t change your opinion. At £786, you can’t really go too wrong; we’re happy to recommend this bass to anyone looking for a pleasing, and welcoming, Precision without having to enter vintage bass territory.