Jumbo Sunshade - Ezine

Music Gear Review - Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass
[for all you robots out there: fender jazz bass, geddy lee signature model]

I have this saying: Sure, i borrow an awful lot of gear; but i also lend out alot of awful gear.  Get it?  Yea, it's not very funny.

About ten years ago it occurred to me that i should just go out and buy my own damn bass guitar.  Then five years ago i started really looking at what kindof bass i might want to drop $1,000 on (it's good to set limits!).
Finally, three years ago i narrowed it down to two basses: the Fender Jaguar and the Fender '70s Jazz Bass.

I was leaning toward the '70s Jazz but then i checked out the Geddy Lee signature Jazz which cost about the same plus it has the maple neck, which i prefer.

The GL might have even been cheaper than the '70s J at that time.


The Fender Geddy Lee Jazz bass is made in Japan.

The body is alder and features that goofy shape we've all come to know and love or hate.  It's not a big deal if you play standing up most of the time, but the neck dip and that fat lower horn are tedious to deal with when recording while sitting down.

Neck is finished maple/maple with black binding and 70's-style block inlays.  The

click to enlarge
thin neck is easier (for me) to play than some of the other basses that i use.  Frets are medium.  Open face tuning gears and BADASS II saddle - gotta love it!

I took my pickguard off and now everybody says "oh because Jaco did it".  Nope.  There just isn't enough room between the G string and the pickguard - maybe i just have fat fingers or something.

^click to enlarge                  same here >

Neck issues:
In researching all three of these basses (Jaguar, '70s, & Geddy Lee) i read alot of complaints regarding problems with buzzing and/or dead spots.  According to reviews there were problems with neck twist and fret ends popping up over time.

I played mine before buying it, and at that time it was fine.  But in the past three years i've had to adjust the truss rod about five times and i still have some fret buzz on the G string up around the 12th.  About a year ago somebody reminded me to detune all the strings when not playing but who knows how much this will really help.



Of course this Jazz bass comes with two single-coil vintage J bass pickups.  Controls are volume/volume/tone.

One thing i have always disliked about the Jazz (and Precision) bass is that the jack comes straight out of the front of the guitar.  It's annoying to play and then you have to unplug it when you're putting it on the guitar stand most of the time.  Whenever i know i'm gonna be recording i have to start looking for my right angle cables - hehe.

A popular J bass mod with studio musicians is to replace the single-coil pickups with stacked double-coil and then add switches for splitting and phase inversion.  This does sound really good, and gives the player a ton of options before even considering what he/she can do at the amp.


How does it play?
I'm a guitar player; not a bass player.  I use medium gauge strings and i set the action about the same height as other bass players i know.  I'm a pretty simple player: I don't use a pick; i don't slap/pop (beyond just goofin around); i don't play anything difficult; i don't play much up beyond the 7th fret.

Having said all of that; for me personally this bass is great - i love it.


How does it sound?
I don't care who is playing it or what kindof music: by now everybody should know what the J bass can sound like.  There's a reason it has barely changed in over thirty years!
For the pop/rock material i use it on, it cuts through just like you'd expect. 

Although; in the hands of an incapable hack such as myself, a standard Jazz bass has kindof a limited range of tone.  I personally don't like that scooped sound, and when i use both pickups they've always gotta be at the same level.  What i should really do is just get rid of one volume pot and throw a 3-way switch in there.


When i got mine about three years ago, the Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass was going for around $700.  I'm not absolutely positive on that - it was maybe closer to $750.  If the GL would've been closer to $800 i would've had a harder time deciding between it and the Mexican-made '70s J bass.

Right now (2009) the Geddy Lee J is on sale for $1,000 at the Guitar Center, while Musician's Friend has it going for $1,220.  That's more than a 25% price increase over three years.

I know there are some really good Japanese-made Fenders out there, but...
With its reputation for neck/fret issues, $1,200 is more than i'd be willing to spend on the Geddy Lee signature model.  If i were looking right now, i'd definitely get the '70s Jazz ($700) or the Jaguar ($750).  That $450 i'd be saving is way more than enough to upgrade pickups and saddle (plus get a case and strings!).


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