Fender's latest signature model comes from Foo Fighters' four-stringer Nate Mendel and features some alluring tweaks, including a Badass II bridge, a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickup and a slim neck.
Ever since the immensely popular Eric Clapton Stratocaster of 1988, Fender has been expanding its range of artist signature models of guitars and basses. Some are derived from the player's own instrument, where they have modified the standard spec in some way; others are more like 'dream machines', where a player creates their ideal Fender instrument.
This Nate Mendel bass is a case of the former, modelled on the Foo Fighters low-ender's own 1971 Precision Bass, which has modified body contouring and a C-shaped neck with notably slim dimensions and nut width.
It's a striking instrument: simple in looks, but the combination of Candy Apple Red with the black scratchplate proves a bold statement. It's fitted with a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pounder split-coil pickup, and a bridge upgrade.
It was certainly a common mod to update your 70s or 80s P-Bass with a more substantial bridge; the original, raised-tail bridge/ tailpiece was considered (rightly or wrongly) by many as a weak point. Despite the added mass here, you don't perceive any weight gain to the bass.
As a further bonus, every one of these basses comes with an extra neck plate that has been engraved with a Fender/Foo Fighters hybrid logo. Naturally, each bass also carries the Nate Mendel signature on the back of the headstock.
In this reviewer's opinion, the light relic'ing is a little needless. It's just a series of small chips on the front of the body, with a little wear on the back of the top body horn and the lower front - it's barely noticeable. The neck is pretty much untouched, and the fingerboard is just perfect, with a noteworthy well-played-in feel. In fact, the neck profile is simply superb: there's plenty of meat in the hand, yet it's beautifully comfortable.
While this obviously retains all the hallmarks of a classic Precision as far as sound is concerned, the difference provided by the Leo Quan Badass II bridge and the Duncan Quarter Pounder is a big deal. Together, you get the feeling of improved sustain, as well as noticeably fuller bottom-end. The Precision has always delivered across so many styles, but this version feels superbly tweaked for rock.
This focused sound-shaping will appeal to more seasoned players, because there's plenty of thump and projection from a constantly robust tonal range. The volume/tone relationship has always been important in P-Basses, and here it just seems a little more tweakable than 'normal', perhaps because of the beefier pickup.
There's little here to convince you to buy this for the mods alone, so on paper it might only really appeal to Foo Fighters fans. However, take the time to try it and the appeal escalates. Not only is this a great sounding P-Bass, but it also has that well- played-in feel that makes you feel instantly at home. Add the fine choice of component parts, which elevate the quality of the sound, and you begin to understand the allure.
Nate Mendel has always been a very physical player, and his personal Precision has withstood the rigours of constant hard work over the years - this signature model is destined to do the same. As a bonus, this has got to be one of the best 'straight out of the box' setups we've experienced, making a great instrument to own, whether you're a Foo Fighters fan or not.