P Bass review by Johnson

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  • Features: 7
  • Sound: 7
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Reliability & Durability: 9
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 6 (18 votes)
Johnson: P Bass

Price paid: $ 20

Purchased from: Yard Sale

Features — 7
- 20 frets
- P-body black finish
- One volume and one tone knob

I purchased this bass at a yard sale for 20 bucks little over a year ago. I consider this an amazing decision, not necessarily for the quality, but if I didn't I wouldn't have become the bass player I am, and probably would have stuck with guitar. When I purchased it, it needed work. Badly. One knob was missing and neither worked. It was a simple 20 dollar fix at my local music store (I was still new to guitars mostly, so I didn't like the idea of fixing it myself). The tone knob doesn't seem to do anything, and I don't know if this is because of the poor quality of the instrument, or poor quality of the repair. I would love to see what it could do if it worked. One thing I was amazed about picking it up at a yard sale, was that it came with some really nice EMG's. I doubt if these are original. All this could go to show how poorly the electronics may have been set up out of the factory, but I'll most likely never know. Judging by what others say about the out of the factory electronics on this bass, it may be worth it to just scrap those and get new ones for the sake of it. For the whole investment, 60 bucks when strings were bought, I am still very happy with this today.

Sound — 7
This bass did a good job of getting me into bass playing. It has a really thick mellow sound, which when I started playing was perfect for Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult type stuff. Once I started on to play more varieties, mainly being Primus and my own writings with a few other guys, I knew I had to get another bass. This ended up being an Epiphone Thunderbird Pro 5 (5 string). I still play the Johnson, but now that I'm moved on something feels missing when I play it. Like I said, I doubt the pickups are original, so I'm not sure how the originals sound. As for equipment I hook it up to a Peavey 110 watt amp. It sounds great, little to no noise. When hooked up to my GNX 2 pedal, it makes some pretty sweet sounds, but, that's mainly the work of the pedal.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
I didn't get this new from the factory, but I'll fill this part out as best as I can. The action suits me well, some of my friends complain that it's high, but that's all a personal taste. The pickups were adjusted well, not having to be moved until recently. I moved them lower because my more aggressive playing styles (specifically slap) were causing the strings to hit the pickups, creating an awful sound. Now I have difficulty resting my thumb on them, so I plan on getting a thumb rest. Other than cosmetics, it seems to be holding up just fine as most likely will for a long time.

Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar would definitely withstand live playing. I've performed in front of small groups with a few other guys, and I do not see where it could possibly fail. Now that I have an Epi 5 string I love, I will probably use this as a strong back up I can depend on. Although with this bass, I would go without a back up. The strap buttons haven't budged since I got the guitar. The finish shows the life of this bass, when a bought it I could tell it's taken a few beatings. Lots of dents, scratches (I can see the base wood in one spot), and some of the shine is wearing off in a few spots. I don't really understand how the previous owners could have done this, I've banged it up lots of times and it hasn't left a mark. Maybe they just threw it in an attic/garage and left it, which I consider a shame. Other than the few chips and wear, it seems to be built like a tank.

Overall Impression — 8
I started playing bass on this guitar, and my style of playing has evolved into mostly slap and switching between 2 and 3 fingers. It suits that all well.  My 5 string Epi does contradict the sound and style of this. It is ultimately a better bass than the Johnson, but it seems more suited for funk and faster stuff, which is what I was looking for, because those are some of the weak spots of the Johnson.  If it were stolen, I'd probably kill someone. But then again, I get attached to my instruments. This bass got me into being a bassist, and it will always have a place with my other guitars, no matter how many more I get. I like the heavier body, I like most about it. I can't tell you what it's like from the factory, but put some work in it and you got a nice sturdy decent sound bass.

1 comment sorted by best / new / date

    I bought one at a "barn sale" this summer. I gave the yokels $80 for the black hard shell case, and this brand new Johnson Bass was inside. A lawsuit-worthy copy of Fender P-bass with barrel bridge saddles. Nice clear Maroon finish over some basswood. Setup was really bad, but I managed to get the neck and string action under control. Very, very light and comfortable- put heavy gauge strings on it and you can get the Jamerson on