JP-90 review by Fender

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  • Sound: 7
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 8
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 7
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 10 (2 votes)
Fender: JP-90

Price paid: $ 250

Purchased from: private seller

Sound — 7
I play a lot of jazz, blues and rock and this bass has been suited well for those styles. The pickup configuration allows for excellent tone for blues walking, while a turn of the tone knob makes it excellent for rock. I have tried to minimize the amount of effects I have used for it because the tone is so crisp and defined sometimes effects can take away from the natural tone of the pickups. If I use any I use a DigiTech processor for the expression pedal and the gain control only. Only recently had the pickups gotten a little noisy (probably because the guitar is almost 25 years old), but a small bead of solder on the grounding wire solved that. With the volume and tone all the way up, in the P pickup position, the sound is punchy and very heavy. The same can be said for the center position, but the J position has the best sound of them all. The J pickup is tuned so that it has the low while the more treble tone rides along the lower amplitude making the perfect Blues walking sound.

Overall Impression — 9
The Fender JP-90 is a match for pretty much any style of music, I stick to blues and jazz but like I stated above it is good for just about anything. I've even seen it used for funk and slap bass (YouTube) and it sounds just as good as any other. I've been playing for 8 years and this is the second bass I've owned. If it were stolen or lost I would be devastated and look high and low to find another JP-90. I love the profile of the neck and the shape of the body. Both a well suited together and make the guitar that much more easy and fun to play. I've compared the shape and feeling to newer Jazz and Precision basses, and I have to sat the JP-90 just feels better to me. The neck gets more narrow as you get closer to the nut which takes the stress off your fret hand while walking. I have some future upgrades planned such as a Badass Bridge and possibly upgrade the pots to see how I can add to the tone. I've already added a thumb rest and switched the pickguard, I have nothing else to really add to it, I wish only that Fender would reissue the model so I could have one brand new from the factory. Video from YouTube:

YouTube preview picture

Reliability & Durability — 8
Fender quality will stand the test of time and the JP-90 supports their reliable craftsmanship. The guitar is nearly an antique and is still my go to bass. The hardware has held up very nicely, the only piece to fail has been the front straplock which I repaired easily and is stronger than ever. I have depended on this bass much throughout the years and plan to continue to. I've considered buying something new, but everything I pick up to try just doesn't feel as good in my hands. I don't currently have a back up bass, but I don't feel like I need one because the JP-90 is just that solid. The finish hasn't worn out or changed a bit. Still looks slick, I have the black finish so it's hard to tell there is any age to it.

Action, Fit & Finish — 7
When I took ownership, the guitar was a little rough because I bought it from a private owner who really did not take all that great of care of it, however a little guitar TLC goes a long way. I soldered a new volume knob and regrounded the system. The pickups required no adjustment, as they sounded great after 20 plus years of playing. The guitar had obviously seen better days, I changed the strings, cleaned the fretboard, removed the pickguard and cleaned the guts of the guitar. Even after the 20 years of neglect, the guitar was still solid and sounded fantastic. The minor adjustment and cleaning I did just made it easier to play.

Features — 8
Fender released a line of affordable and different looking bases in the late '80s and early '90s. The JP-90 was in production from '91-'94. The particular model I own was manufactured in '91. All JP-90 bases were made in USA, American made Fenders always have more of a quality feel to me for some reason. It has 22 medium frets on a rosewood dot inlay board. The neck is maple and tapered as you go toward the nut. The contour of the neck is the biggest selling point for me; the shape is more like a soft D which makes walking patterns easy. The body is made of a solid piece of poplar, which makes the whole guitar very light and saves you back during those longer than usual gigs. The body is recognizable as a Jazz Bass shape; however the contour of the body is more extreme than the conventional Jazz also adding to the lightweight body. The hardware is pretty standard for and Jazz or Precision bass, normal bass bridge with oversized Schaller tuning keys. The electronics are another interesting detail on this bass; they are passive Precision and Jazz pickups (hence the name "JP"). The pickups fall under the American electronics category of Fender pickups, so they are the same electronics you'd find on the higher end American Series basses of the time period. These pickups are very versatile and the unique pickup selector switch allows both pickups to be blended nicely.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    That pickguard is pretty ugly IMO.
    True, but other than that, it sounds like a pretty interesting bass to try out!
    I forgot to refrence it in the article, but yes the goofy 1 ply pickguard I think led to the demise of the JP-90. They usually crack or fall apart with age and finding new ones is rather difficult. All and all it makes it look like something from the 80's,and when it was discontinued in 1994, about 3 other 80's looking basses went with it.
    I was just going to type "The pick guard is cool". lol. It's very subjective. My understanding is that this model--though a commercial flop--is a very inexpensive way to get an American made Fender bass.
    I have this bass since 1993. I never had any problem with it, and it give a lot of satisfations. It is a great bass!