What is it?
Fender's Vintera series is a real boon for those of us with everyday budgetary concerns and unhealthy fixations on vintage gear. It revisits Fender's classic designs, gently revises them, and makes them available for today's player at a reasonable price.
It means that you can get a bass such as this winsome '60s Jazz for under a grand, when a cursory look on Reverb.com informs us that an original model from the era could set you back anything from £11,000 or thereabouts for a refinished model to over three times that if its pristine. Big money.
Fender offers the Vintera '60s Jazz Bass in Daphne Blue, Three Colour Sunburst and Firemist Gold – the colour of our review model. Having been impressed by the Vintera '50s Precision Bass earlier in the year, we had a degree of expectation – especially considering the Jazz Bass was introduced in 1960 as a dual-pickup improvement on the P-Bass.
One thing the Vintera '60s Jazz Bass does have is the element of surprise. Here we have got the traditional offset body, the dual-pickup configuration with two individual volume controls and a master tone knob. It weighs in at a very respectable 3.9kg, and those very familiar body carves wear the finish well, and nicely set off by the three-ply tortoiseshell 'guard.
The body is solid alder, the neck maple. The only timber concern for the purists is the use of pau ferro on the fingerboard instead of rosewood – but we have lived with these CITES-era alternatives for a while now, and truth be told it is a more than passable substitute.
For hardware we have a set of open-gear reverse tuners and a chrome vintage-style bridge with threaded bridge saddles allowing you to adjust string spacing, which comes from the factory set at 19mm.
Performance and verdict
Even before you plug it in the Vintera '60s Jazz Bass feels, well, it just feels so familiar. If you've had the pleasure of a J-Bass, you'll recognise that ebullient resonance, and it is a quality that really takes flight once you plug it in.
There's a weight to the low end, of course, there is, but it's tight and controlled, with all that discipline giving it a heft punch in the midrange – especially on the bridge pickup. Note articulation is exceptional. Some Jazz Basses run darker than others, but this is very much playing for the ballpark 1960 tone (seek out the Vintera '70s Jazz Bass for those quasi-scooped bounce tones).
• Fender Vintera '50s Precision Bass
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.
• Fender American Ultra Jazz
Why go vintage-style when you can take a brave step into the future with the American Ultra Jazz Bass. Fender's new flagship US series excels in its radical subtlety, and that new neck profile is a winner.
Moving to the neck and you've got a wealth of tones for soul and R&B, a solid floor of bass, but when you start bringing the bridge pickup into the mix there are so many frequencies to explore, and a tighter focus to the notes.
It is a joy to play. The C-profile neck has a gloss finish and fills the palm with a more rotund feel, but with a narrow 38mm nut width, there's no big stretch when navigating the fretboard. It's speedy. It's fun. In that sense it is bang-on for a Jazz Bass.
At this price, it is a no-brainer for those looking for a classic feel. The finishes on offer are Fender classics. The tones are convincing too – another victory for the Mexican-built Vintera series.
MusicRadar verdict: 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.
The web says
"The Jazz is unassuming in both looks and sound, sitting right in the pocket whichever way you look at it. While admittedly a little weighty, the bass still feels balanced when standing and playing. It feels great to really dig in to the tones with a pick, or to groove along with your fingers."
- Made In: Mexico
- Body: Alder
- Neck: Maple, 34” scale, gloss finish
- Neck Join: Bolt-on, four-bolt attachment
- Nut Width: 38mm Fingerboard: Pau ferro Frets: 20
- Pickups: Fender 60s Jazz Bass single-coil pickups x 2
- Electronics: Passive Controls: Volume, volume, tone
- Hardware: Chrome hardware, vintage bridge, vintage reverse open-gear machine heads
- Weight: 3.9 kg / 8.59 lbs
- Gigbag/case included: Deluxe gigbag
- Left-hand available: No
- Contact: Fender