JTB-401 review by Jay Turser

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  • Reviewer's score: 0 Junky
  • Users' score: 8.3 (31 votes)
Jay Turser: JTB-401

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    just for you to know...10 is the best score you can give and 1 the worse
    Think about that for a few moments. Why are there never any used Jay Turser 401's for sale on eBay?
    B/c Jay tursers are cheapo entry level gear.
    turbonegro wrote: Think about that for a few moments. Why are there never any used Jay Turser 401's for sale on eBay? B/c Jay tursers are cheapo entry level gear.
    I woudln't exactly say that, they make good gear aimed at low to intermediate musicians but most of their stuff that i have played was good nontheless.
    loeuf wrote: just for you to know...10 is the best score you can give and 1 the worse
    I gave it straight tens because the one I has deserved it. When someone makes a playable, usable, reliable instrument at this price point that not only holds up but actually outperforms most of the much more expensive basses I've owned...it should get 10's.
    turbonegro wrote: Think about that for a few moments. Why are there never any used Jay Turser 401's for sale on eBay? B/c Jay tur [quote]turbonegro wrote: Think about that for a few moments. Why are there never any used Jay Turser 401's for sale on eBay? B/c Jay tursers are cheapo entry level gear.
    I cant count how many different Fender basses Ive had over the past 37 years only to finally find out that all I really needed all along was a cheapo-entry level bass. What an epiphany! There are lots of OTHER cheap entry basses for sale used on eBay. AND there are lots of other Jay Turser models that show up used on EBAY. I've rarely seen a used 401 though and I've actually been watching for them for the past year during which time Ive seen about two used ones come up for sale. Unless you have actually played a 401, I don't think you are actually in any position to comment to their quality. I dont think you have played a Jay Turser 401 or you would never have made such a silly remark. It really is a very usable instrument. Is it Fender Custom Shop quality? No. Can I afford a Custom Shop 53 P-Bass anyway? DOUBLE NO. Does it sound better than my 2004 Fender USA Jazz that I sold on eBay because the neck and truss rod was junk??? YES, to me it sounds fuller, richer and more alive than any other bass Ive owned in the past ten years. Does it sound better than my 2006 model $700 Ibanez active SRX700? YES, to me it honestly does. Of course the Ibanez can produce more highs and a way hotter output because of the active electronics, but character of the Ibanez's sound is not as full and rich as the tone or the fat THUMP from the Jay Turser 401. No kidding. I'm using Thomastik strings on both so this is a fair comparison. The SRX700 plays great, is very well balanced and very well made but it just doesn't thump as good to me. The Jay Turser plays as good as the Fender reissue. I played yet another Fender 51 reissue at Guitar Center only last month so I am comparing apples to apples. I owned Fender basses EXCLUSIVELY from 1968 until I bought this Jay Turser. I actually WORKED as a sales rep at a Fender dealership in the early 1970's and up until the Turser 401 I never even considered another brand. Now Im trying Ibanez and G&Ls and Warwicks and all kinds of basses, but Ive not found one YET that I honestly have as much fun playing. Yes, the Jay Turser is far more inexpensive than any bass I've ever owned, but I really would NOT categorize the JTB401 is as "ENTRY LEVEL" or "CHEAPO." It is EVERY BIT the bass that the Fender 51 reissue is except for the string through body setup and does it at one-third the price and comes in four different colors while Fender gives you a choice of butterscotch or butterscotch. This Jay Turser 401also beats other Fender basses I've owned over the past 10 years including a Fender Mexican Jazz, an active Fender Mexican Precision Bass Special and a Mexican Precision Standard and a bunch of basses I rapidly traded off or sold because I just didnt like them or they needed work. The only Fender bass I can actually compare it to is the Fender '68 Telecaster Bass I had from 1968 until 1971. Incidentially, I neglected to mention in my review that the Telecaster strings body-through while the Jay Turser 401 strings with a top-loading bridge. The Turser can be converted to body through with a drill press and some ferrules from GuitarPartsResourse.Com, but Id get a luthier to do that and it probably isnt worth the trouble. I play the 401 EVERY SINGLE DAY and the strap button issue which I easily repaired and probably caused myself is the only problem Ive had. This is the best bass bargain Ive EVER found and I LOVE mine very, very much. EVERY bass Ive ever had was for sale but Ill NEVER sell this one. Youll have to pry it from my cold dead hand.
    You summed up exactly how I feel about these basses. They are one of the best kept secrets out there.
    brotherdave, Thanks for your honest and forthright, review. I have found that musicians, as much as audiophiles and photographers, are prone to equipment envy, brand-name-snobbery, and the belief that the level of knowledge and/or competence you possess or wish to display to others is directly proportional to the amount of money you spend. I appreciate your detailed analysis of the equipment and the hands-on review of its playability. That is infinitely more useful to me than a jaundiced Made-In-China-POS opinion from someone who has never touched it. Thanks again.
    To the guy who called it a "entry level" piece, I have to disagree 1000%. I have been playing bass for over 45 years, and in fact have made a great living at it. I own 16 pre 1957 Fender P Basses I use to own 17. One was stolen a few years ago at a Blues Festival. I no longer play the old stuff on the road. After going through more than a dozen re-issues and retro basses, I now have only two with me on the road. A John Bolic hand made Tele Bass and a Jay Turser JTB 401. Mine is Black with Maple neck. Stock pickup. All I can say is GREAT BASS !!
    I recently purchased a JT 401 on a whim from MusicCentral and have been more than pleased with it. The quality for the money is surprising...for less than $190 I have a bass that plays better than a number of my present and former Fenders (former ones that I sold/traded 1969 Tele Bass, early 1980's Vintage reissue 1959 and 1962 P-basses, a 1971 Jaco-ized Jazz bass, and my workhorse 1978 P-bass that I bought that year). As a player who's been at it professionally since 1970 I am to the point where I am concerned only with playability and quality, not brand names...though I have owned and still own some really highly-respected "brand basses." The JT 401 balances pretty well (a little neck heavy, but no biggie) and has a nicely figured maple neck and fretboard. It certainly is of better quality than my 1969 TeleBass that I unloaded about twenty years ago; why Fender retained that old-style bridge is beyond me on those basses. The knobs on the JT are metal, not plastic like the earlier versions, and the wiring/soldering is clean. The only weak link I've found is that the nut is made of a too-soft plastic that I've already cracked changing the stock strings to half-rounds...hopefully will be able to reglue it tomorrow. It will be replaced next year by my luthier. Also, since I've not had the chance to take it out on a gig to date the jury's still out on the stock pickup...I want a solid, old-school sound, and any suggestions as to a good, sensibly-priced replacement T-bass pickup will be appreciated (Ive noticed the Razor brand getting some good PR...but it might be bull, too, since I have no way of testing this out w/o purchasing one). It's certainly not a vintage reissue Custom Shop quality unit, but I am not afraid to wail on it either. All in all, it's a sharp looking, vintage-styled bass for a good price...and I should be able to get in top shape for about $100 additional for a new nut and pickup, if necessary. Put aside your made in China prejudices...this is the first MIC [and I was very down on them] bass I've ever owned, and it's surprisingly a very decent unit.
    I was wondering, what kind of music do you think the 401 would be better suited for? I'm looking to get my first bass guitar, I'll be playing mostly rock and maybe some metal. Thank you.
    Update on my 11/8/2010 post: I let the strings and action settle in for a couple of weeks and evaluated its sound and construction. The only downside (besides the low quality nut) of this bass is it seemed a little thin soundwise. Opening the control cavity I found small micro-pots and a capacitor, much smaller electronics than I expect in a bass and decided to improve the circuitry. I then did a little customization of my JT 401 this week and made it into a vintage sound clone...installed a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Telecaster Bass pickup along with a reproduction Tele Bass 60's Vintage wiring harness (from OnlyMusic's eBay shop). It took some minor modifications (and it's the first time I ever attempted anything like this): 1. Routed out the control area under the chrome cover a little to make more room for vintage potentiometers (the original ones are tiny). I used a Dremel tool/rotary bit for this job. 2. Hand sanded the base of the new pickup, reducing its size to fit into the body of the bass because the vintage one is a little larger than the original pickup. This was a little dicey...in hindsight it may have been better to route the body a little to make room for the new pickup, but I didn't want to try to match the body's paint where raw wood was exposed. Sanding around those fine wires was very difficult, and I nicked them, did a little soldering repair, and the pickup works fine. 3. Enlarged the shaft holes in the stock volume and tone knobs with a drill and worked them onto the volume and tone shafts. 4. I adjusted the truss rod, flattening the relief of the neck a little and checked the factory intonation, discovering that it was surprisingly perfect. The sound improved, and it now sounds like a vintage Fender bass. For an outlay of about $145 for additional parts and about two hours of time (working very slowly and carefully) I now have a bass that's better than the Telecaster Bass I sold many years ago. I am out about $310.00 for this JT 401, and I couldn't touch a decent quality vintage Fender TeleBass for ten times that much. I recommend this bass highly...you may want to customize it as I did though most people will be more than satisfied with its stock sound. It's a true winner and a lot of fun to play.
    jrockwraith wrote: I was wondering, what kind of music do you think the 401 would be better suited for? I'm looking to get my first bass guitar, I'll be playing mostly rock and maybe some metal. Thank you.
    I'd recommend this bass for classic style rock...though it's pretty darn flexible and has a good tone that is pretty much useful for most kinds of music. You can thrash away on it...
    Update on my post from 11/2010... I took my JT 401 to my luthier because the cheesy nut broke when I attempted to file it to widen it for new strings. It needed a new nut and he recommended a complete setup for it. Anyway, he was impressed with the quality of its construction for the money and was very surprised about how easy it was for him to dial in its action/truss rod. My Turser now has the best action of any of my current collection of bases. Seriously, if you are looking for a vintage vibe for a fair price I would search out a JT-401. Seems that they aren't currently being manufactured, but it's worthwhile trying to find one.
    I bought a used instrument on line looking for a vintage style precision bass. I paid 140.00 for it, so I didn't think it would be much. After recieving it, I was was pleasantly suprised regarding the quality and build of this bass. The bass was good, but it needed a few modifications to bring it to the level I was used to. I replaced the electronics and pickup with an aftermarket one, I modded it to have a string through vintage bridge, and vintage pickup covers. I cut the headstock to match a 1954 Fender P bass, and stripped the poly off the neck, tinted it to period correct color, and shot it with period correct nitrocellulose lacquer. When finished, it was a replica of a 1954 precision bass. This bass sounds and feels very good, closer to the made in Japan reissues. The necks are good quality, frets are well dressed and fretboard as flat as the fenders I've played. Body is alder I believe, and even with tone. The bass is a little on the heavy side, but no more than older precision basses. For the cost, these are amazing basses, higher in quality than the Indonesian Squiers being built these days, and they are pretty good quality. I would place them between the made in mexico and Older American standards. They are truly that good. I've played the 70s telecaster basses, and this bass runs circles around them in quality. While not the best basses out there, they will hold their own with most out there with a few mods, namely electronics. If I can find another, I'll probably buy it.