Price paid: € 680
Purchased from: Jellinghaus, Dortmund, Germany
Sound — 8
I never played any bass guitar with any volume knob turned down for the simple reason of creating the highest possible impedance. I feel that anything else (rolling back the brightness, for example) also messes with the dynamics. I do my sound settings on the amplifier. If you feel that this would reduce your versatility of tone too much, don't buy this bass as it has only got one volume knob. This leads to less resistance in the electronics. The pickups are very loud on their own behalf, so this is a very loud passive guitar. But it's also very bright, especially when played with a plek. When played fingerstyle, roll back the heights and turn up the midrange on your amplifier and you'll get a nice rumbling low-mid sound. I played it in punk, ska, rock and function bands. Depending on your style of playing, you can somehow find your way, yet it's a very distinctive sound as for the rumble. DR Strings will give less brightness than Fenders do. There's one dead note (D on the G string). I didn't want anything else but the dead note is a pain.
Overall Impression — 6
The Mark Hoppus Bass is a good sounding instrument for punk, wave or even more classic rock styles. I play this bass via two 1978 acoustic control amplifiers. On these two, it sounds brutal (in a good way) if played with a plek and it still has a lot of pound and rumble to it if played fingerstyle. Given the quality of craftsmanship in it, it was extremely overpriced. I'll keep it, but I'll look out for something other than Fender next time! Also, I would not buy it again as I believe other companies to produce significantly better quality at a slighty higher price. Now that it's ten years old, I'm not going to sell it as I can put some trust into the quality of the woods used.
Reliability & Durability — 5
I don't care so much for the finish, otherwise I wouldn't have bought the daphne blue one. There's a few cracks, but it's rigid enough. In ten years, I played about 100 gigs plus countless jam sessions, recording sessions and so on over europe (enormous climate changes) with this bass and there are no problems with the woods used whatsoever. So no worries on the wood quality front. That's important for me as the Mark Hoppus proves to be a bass to rely on for the next ten years and the occasional spare part repair won't hurt as long as the wood is fine. Would I use it without a backup? Yes, because I resoldered the wiring myself. I did use it without a backup for a long time and there was nothing to worry about until the wire fell off. It's a very simplistic construction (if not primitive, taken the neck screws that are just drilled into the wood - seeing this just hurts!) so there's hardly anything there that could break. Could I depend on it and will it withstand live playing? Now that I worked on several things, yes. The way it arrived: No. Bear in mind that all the woodwork is fine after ten years, but the assembly and qc were ridiculous.
Action, Fit & Finish — 1
A bad joke. In fairness, I was about to hand it back when I first got it. - The upper PU had fallen out of its housing. - The bushing of the E string tuner gets slightly misaligned by the tension of the E-string. Why? Behause the hole for the tuner extends into the radius of the headstock cutting. Therefore it CANNOT be parallel. I wouldn't expect construction flaws like these in the worst low-quality cheapo bass. - Drips of dried out lacquer in the through-body string holes. I had to mill them away so the stings would pass through the holes evenly. If you buy a string-through bridge for more sustain, you surely don't want your strings to rest on excess plastic. - The solder joint of the upper pickup just let go after a bit more than three years without any physical impact. The wire just dropped off. I put it back on and resoldered all of the other joints too because I felt I can do better than what I saw in there. - The string end bushings at the back of the body are too small for the cavities they rest in, so they drop out. - The spring in the G string tuner was never tight enough to fix the worm. The tuning is stable by the tension of the string, but still it's actually a broken machine head that came with the new bass. Overall, I reckon that the product description "precision bass" is a bit grandiose, don't you think? I paid 680 for it (that corresponds to about $ 890 these days) and I've had cheaper ones that were assembled with much greater care (Washburn, for example). I didn't return it because Fender's support department in germany is generally said to be very slow.
Features — 7
Mine is a 2002 Mexican made Mark Hoppus. The neck is made of maple and rosewood; it has 20 medium jumbo frets. The pickups are not Fender made ones but very loud Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound P-Style Pickups (passive). They go nicely with a single volume knob (no tone pots). So therefore this is a Precision bass with a very high output because there's very little resistance in the pots. The body (J style) seems to be made of several (possibly five or seven) strips of maple. There's a string-through-body bridge on it. Tuners are standard open tuners you'd find on lots of other (much less expensive) basses, too. I'd give it a ten out of ten for the uncompromising simplicity, but the construction of the body leads me to be more sceptical.