If you’ve already taken a good look through the large selection of bass guitars we have on offer, you may have come across Fender’s legendary Precision and Jazz bass models. What are the differences between the two and which one is right for you? We’re a fan of both of these iconic models (as well as lots of other bass guitars, of course!) and in this blog, we’ll be taking a closer look at both of them.

Precision Bass vs Jazz Bass: which model is right for you?

Wood types and sound

 Fender introduced the Precision Bass in 1951 and the Jazz Bass in 1960. In terms of design, they share a number of similarities. The bodies of both are normally made of alder, for instance, which ensures a full, deep sound that is lively too. Ash is sometimes used as well, which has similar sound characteristics and adds extra brightness. The bolt-on necks are made of maple and enhance the clarity of the overall tone. Maple or rosewood is used for the fretboard with the former complementing the bright sound and the latter adding extra warmth as well.

Body shapes

The Precision looks a lot like the Stratocaster: Fender’s most well-known electric guitar. This is no coincidence, since the first ever Strat that was released in 1954 was actually inspired by the original Precision Bass, and a few years later, the Precision design was even tweaked a little bit so that it looked more like the Stratocaster. The Jazz bass, on the other hand, has a unique asymmetrical design that generally has a livelier sound than the Precison bass. Which body shape you prefer is a matter of personal taste.

Precision Bass and Stratocaster
The Precision Bass (left) and Stratocaster


 As well as different body shapes, the P bass and J bass have different pickup configurations. The P bass has one split single-coil pickup that’s essentially divided into two, giving it extra versatility and preventing it from suffering from unwanted noise and interference. It also gives the Precision bass a robust, punchy sound that cuts well through any mix. Jazz basses are normally equipped with two standard single-coil pickups that deliver a slightly thinner, brighter sound than split single-coils. The second pickup is closer to the bridge too which results in even more brightness. This makes the Jazz bass great for playing techniques like slapping. With the possibility to adjust the volume levels of both pickups separately, the Jazz bass offers slightly more variety when it comes to sounds as well.

String nut width

 Another determining factor in which model to go for is the width of the string nut. Precision models generally have a width of between 1.63 inches on more modern versions and 1.75 inches on vintage ones. Jazz basses tend to have a string nut that measures 1.5 inches. These differences may seem small, but they’re definitely noticeable, especially when you’re playing notes lower down. A lot of bassists find the Jazz’ narrower string nut width more comfortable and easier to play. The relatively wide string nut on the Precision bass can feel a bit more cumbersome at first, but it matches the robust and punchy sound this model produces very well.

Which one to choose?

 No matter which model you choose, you’ll be getting a great bass guitar that’s versatile too. Other factors including your amplifier, your playing style and which effects you use will also determine your sound. You should also take into account the type of music you want to play. Hopefully, the information presented above has made you aware of some of the similarities and differences beween these two iconic models and will help you make the right choice.

Finally, we are curious: are you going for the Jazz Bass or the Precision Bass? Let us know below!

2 responses
  1. Howard Horton Jr. says:

    I’d like one of each, plus aPrecision 5 String, never 6 or more. Throw in a Rick 4003 bass. And a Fender v1. And a nice baritone. Please send all these time ASAP. Thanks.

  2. Bethany Woodward says:

    I’m choosing the Jazz bass. I’m a new bass player and I’m totally in love with this instrument. Currently I have an Ibanez Soundgear and I want to purchase a Fender. The smaller nut size on the jazz bass is appealing to me. I’m immersing myself in the different genres of bass players and I do love slap. I love all of it!

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