Turning Sixty in Style
The 60th Anniversary Jazz Bass, featuring an offset body, slim tapered neck and dual single-coil pickups, celebrates Fender’s original “deluxe” four-string with sonic excellence and style.
By Richard Bienstock
Introduced in 1960, the Jazz Bass is an undeniable classic. But don’t just take our word for it. A quick glance at just a few of the many artists that have played one over the years tells you all you need to know about the model’s singular place in music history — from fusion and funk pioneers like Jaco Pastorius and Larry Graham, to classic rock icons John Paul Jones and Noel Redding, to prog, punk and alternative stars like Geddy Lee, Sting, Adam Clayton and Flea.
So why is a design synonymous with so many diverse styles of music named the Jazz Bass? At the time of its introduction the model was aimed at the jazz crowd, offering a louder, more playable (and portable!) alternative to the upright acoustic bass. But really it was so much more.
Known as a “deluxe” model, the Jazz Bass debuted nine years after Fender’s first electric four-string – the Precision Bass – and it brought the instrument kicking and thumping into new sonic and stylistic territory. Most noticeably, the Jazz Bass traded the Tele- (and later Strat)-like body of the Precision Bass for a curvaceous offset shape reminiscent of the then-new Jazzmaster guitar. Additionally, the Precision Bass’s thick chunky neck was swapped out in favor of a slimmer, and uniquely tapered-at-the-headstock design, ideal for playing faster and more intricate runs with ease.
And if anyone is still questioning the “deluxe” aspect of the Jazz Bass, look no further than the instrument’s trailblazing pickup configuration. Where the Precision Bass featured a single split-coil pickup designed for volume and low-end thump, the Jazz Bass boasted two single-coils capable of deep round tones, a mid-range growl in the newly-placed bridge pickup and bell-like high-end that cut through a mix with previously unheard clarity and bite.
Given its sleek looks, easy playability and wide-ranging tone, it’s no wonder the Jazz Bass has remained at the forefront of the low-end conversation for six decades. And now Fender is celebrating that milestone with the 60th Anniversary Jazz Bass and Road Worn® 60th Anniversary Jazz Bass.
The new model’s alder body boasts the classic J-Bass offset waist design, and is paired with a fast-action ’60s U-shaped maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard topped with 20 vintage tall frets and white pearloid dot markers.
The original-era tones are delivered via a pair of specially-voiced Pure Vintage ‘62 Single-Coil Jazz Bass pickups that are controlled, just as on the earliest models, via stacked concentric volume and tone knobs. Other vintage-style appointments include a four-saddle bridge with threaded steel saddles, period-correct pickup covers and reverse open-gear tuners. It’s all finished in a stunning Arctic Pearl complemented by a tortoiseshell pickguard and white binding on the neck and matching headcap.
A Roadworn 60s version, meanwhile, pairs a mid-‘60s C-shaped maple neck and Pau Ferro fingerboard with a set of 60th Anniversary Jazz Bass Single-Coil pickups, and comes finished in a choice of Olympic White, Firemist Silver or classic 3-Color Sunburst – each slightly aged and weathered for authentic vibe.
In either iteration, the 60th Anniversary Jazz Bass is a timeless classic with a formidable legacy – combining one-of-a-kind sound and style, top-notch materials and unsurpassed build quality in one iconic instrument that has powered some of the greatest music of the 20th century and beyond.