What is it?
Fender's Vintera Series takes a trip down memory lane in search of some authentically retro appointments from the design books of yore and then gets its Mexican plant to put together an instrument with a premium vintage feel and accessible price.
"Vintage style for the modern era," says Fender. Quite. At £929, this Vintera '50s Precision Bass isn't an entry-level instruments, but it offers a whole lot of bass for your money. Finished in Dakota Red, with honey gloss maple neck and fingerboard, that gold anodised scratchplate completing the look, this is an exquisite instrument.
Our review instrument had a solid alder body but ash is available as an alternative. There is a single passive split-coil P-Bass pickup, with controls for volume and tone. That honey gloss neck is carved into a very playable and period-correct C-profile, and has a 7.25" radius maple fingerboard with 20 vintage-style frets.
The four-saddle bridge with threaded saddles and vintage-style Elephant-ear tuning machines all point the clock back to a more innocent age.
In many respects, the Precision Bass has always been a triumph of minimalism, of practicality first, of giving the player what they need. It's no different here. The four-saddle bridge is a triumph, easy to set intonation and adjust for string spacing, and is such a small, neat piece of hardware. Indeed, there's no flab on this bass. Weighing in at a svelte 3.7kg/8lb it is not going to declare war on your lower back.
The real test is whether it can declare war on the structural integrity of your practice spot with that heft P-Bass vintage thump...
Performance and verdict
The first impression of the Vintera '50s Precision Bass is how resonant it feels. There is a liveliness to its midrange, plenty of punch there, and heaps of sustain and a voice that's never too far from a growl.
Some people might quibble about the lack of options on offer, the lack of a second pickup, and so on, but the Precision Bass is certainly no one-trick pony. It invites the player to impress their style upon it, and can embrace all comers. There is plenty of range in that tone control. The revoiced '50s-style P-Bass split-coil is so uncannily of the era you'd be forgiven for trying to pay for it in pounds, shillings and pence.
There is plenty of warmth and midrange power. The passive pickup setup might put off those who want to play slap and tap and have grown accustomed to active electronics supporting that response, but it accommodates fingerstyle and pick players just fine.
While there is a little weight towards the headstock, ultimately the Vintera P-Bass is balanced enough, the 19mm string spacing a familiar feel on an instrument that is all about the familiar.
That's the thing. It won't surprise you. There are no hidden gimmicks. What you see is what you get, but that has always been the case. Let other basses stack the features high. Let the Precision Bass stand for simplicity, playability, and a tone that's featured on more records than you'd care to imagine.
MusicRadar verdict: The Vintera '50s Precision Bass offers excellent value with an affordable riff on a classic. Looking for some vintage thunder? It's a no-brainer.
- Price: £929/$899.99/€1069
- Made In: Mexico
- Colour: Dakota Red Gloss
- Body: Alder
- Neck: Maple, 34” scale
- Neck Join: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- Nut Width: 44mm
- Fingerboard: Maple
- Frets: 20
- Pickups: Vintage-style ’50s split-coil pickup
- Electronics: Passive
- Controls: Volume, tone
- Hardware: Chrome hardware, elephant-ear machine heads, vintage slotted bridge
- Weight: 3.7 kg / 8 lbs
- Gigbag/case included: Deluxe gigbag
- Left-hand available: No