Our resident bass guru Marc takes on a tour of the creation and evolution of the venerable Fender Jazz Bass. From the instrument's introduction thru it's notable transition years to the latest and greatest models.
Fender Jazz Bass at Chicago Music Exchange
History of P-Bass
1961: Concentric stack knobs. Addition of two more patent numbers to the two originally found below the headstock logo. Late '61 saw introduction of three-knob (vol, vol, tone)
1963: Individual below-string mutes replaced by simpler all-string mute glued to the inside of the bridge cover; slab fingerboards replaced by round-laminated fingerboards.
1964: Three-ply white nitrocellulose pickguards replaced by three-ply white vinyl pickguards; clay fingerboard inlays replaced by faux pearl inlays.
Other design changes and options were implemented throughout the remainder of the 1960s and 1970s, although their infrequency might only underline how little the Jazz Bass has changed in 50 years. These other changes included:
1966: White binding added to the neck; pearl block inlays replace dot fingerboard inlays by late '66; medium jumbo frets replace previous smaller frets; Fender-produced paddle-shaped ("lollipop") keys replace clover-shaped tuning keys; tuning machine gears no long turn backward.
1969: Larger and bolder logo decal replaces traditional headstock logo; headstock strap button removed; "lollipop" tuning keys discontinued; maple fingerboard option with black binding and black block inlays introduced.
1972: Bridge pickup moved 4/10” closer to the bridge; a small move that nonetheless introduces noticeable tonal change (the older spacing returned to the vintage reissue Jazz Bass models of 1982).
1974: Three-bolt neck plate introduced; white binding and block inlay option for maple fingerboards introduced.
1976: Headstock logo again redesigned; serial number moved from neck plate to headstock logo.
1977: Control knobs changed to black plastic with numbers.
'Gush' - Bobby Vega
'That Jaco Riff' - Jaco Pastorius
'Beastly' - Vulfpeck
'Eat That Question' - Frank Zappa
'Hair' - Graham Central Station
'Bop Gun (Endagnered Species)' - Parliament
'Tom Sawyer' - Rush
'Detroit' - Marcus Miller
'I Keep Forgetting' - Michael McDonald
Milkman Half and Half Bass Head
Emperor 2x12 Bass Cab
1961 Jazz Bass 3TS
1962 Jazz Bass 3TS
1964 Jazz Bass Olympic White with Matching Headstock
1966 Jazz Bass 3TS
1967 Jazz Bass 3TS
1968 Jazz Bass 3TS
1974 Jazz Bass 3TS
1976 Jazz Bass Olympic White
1978 Jazz Bass Antigua