Price paid: C$ 800
Purchased from: Avenue
Sound — 7
I used this bass for the past 7 years in everything from gritty punk bands to a wedding band (it even played some metal for a while). Currently, I use it in a functions band as my primary 4 stringer. I play the bass through an Eden Nemesis NA-650 and a Peavey 115 cab. This bass is really a single sound bass. You plug it it, turn the volume all the way up and wail away with it. It has the classic sound that you would associate with a P-bass, but with added clarity and bite from the SD pickup. Played with a pick, its super aggressive and very articulate, especially when playing double stops or chords. Played finger-style, its balanced and classic sounding. Slap and pop styles are, as expected, very P-Bass like, but with a bit more clarity and aggression. Depending on the technique and amp used, the bass is capable of playing a variety of styles, but it doesn't deviate far from it's basic tone. It is worth noting that the bass has excellent sustain, it just seems to ring on for weeks. Overall, it is a very pleasant sounding bass. It essentially sounds like a classic P-Bass with added balls. Very nice. The 7 is because of the lack of versatility, it is not a reflection of the sound alone.
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, this is an excellent example of a purpose built rock bass. Its loud, its aggressive but not altogether foreign. The simplicity may seem like a limitation, but it allows for technique to become the center of attention and ensures that you never need to worry about playing with switches and knobs on the bass. I would highly recommend this bass to anybody looking for an all-purpose rock bass, especially punk players. It really just nails the requisite sounds so effortlessly. I only wish that it came with a case. Essentially though, the motto of this bass would be "everything you NEED, nothing that you don't".
Reliability & Durability — 9
This bass is a tank. Given the extremely simple design (we're talking a simplified P-Bass here...) and Fender's time-tested construction methods, it no surprise that this bass has stood the test of time. The hardware is still immaculate, there is no oxidation, peeling or spotting to be seen yet (again, I've gigged this bass for 7 years now). Ditto for the finish on the neck: its still flawless with no signs of wear at all. The body has taken on some dings over the years (careless singer with his mic stand...), and it is starting to wear through along the top, but it has held up admirably as well. I have yet to have an issue with this bass in years of playing with it. I never play without a backup anymore (5 strings are necessary for some songs), but I played without a backup for years and I would not hesitate to do so again.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Given that I bought the bass used (in near mint condition), I cannot comment on the factory set-up. However, it is worth noting that this is one of the easiest basses to set-up I have ever come across. Consequently, it is easy to always have great intonation and great sound. Apart from that, the bass seems well put together. The pickup cavity is very tidy and properly shielded. The fretwork is quite nice and the finish is evenly applied. The bass even featured coated screws throughout the electronics cavity (they seem to help with noise). My only gripe is that the neck joint is loose, really loose. You can fit 2 credit cards on either side of the neck. I suspect this is due to using a P-Bass neck on a J-bass body, and more recent examples appear significantly better. However, it doesn't seem to affect the sound or playability of the instrument, so it is not a massive concern.
Features — 8
My particular bass was made sometime between 2000 and 2003 (I bought it used in 2003), and it is a Mexican made bass. The bass is somewhat of a hybrid of P and J bass models, featuring a J bass body but a P Bass neck and pickup The body is made out of alder (as of 2006, they are ash), with a maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard. The neck features a relatively tight 9.5 inch radius and has 20 medium-jumbo frets. The neck has white dot position markers. The neck has a 34 inch scale length and is bolted to the body by way of a standard 4 bolt plate. The electronics on this bass are super simple; a single passive Seymour Duncan SPB-3 Quarter Pound P-Bass pickup in the standard P-Bass positions (later models are reversed). The only control on the bass is a volume control. The hardware on this bass is, like the electronics, simple but highly effective. The bass features generic Fender open-style machine heads. The bridge is made up of Mexican series saddles on an American series bridge plate, and it is a string-through body design. The bass came with a deluxe Fender gig-bag, a truss rod wrench and a saddle intonation wrench. Though this bass is extremely simple in its set-up, everything is well though out and every piece (or lack of a piece) serves a purpose. I very much appreciate the lack of any extra stuff on this bass. You can really just grab it an play.