First introduced in 1960 as the 'Deluxe Model', it was renamed the Jazz Bass as Fender felt that its redesigned neck - narrower and more rounded than that of the Precision Bass - would appeal more to Jazz musicians. The Jazz Bass has two bipolar 'Jazz' pickups. As well as having a slightly different, less symmetrical and more contoured body shape (known in Fender advertising as the 'offset waist contour' body), the Jazz Bass neck is noticeably narrower towards the nut than that of the more common Fender Precision Bass. Note that while the Precision Bass was styled similarly to the Stratocaster guitar, the Jazz Bass's styling was inspired more by another then-recently introduced series of Fender guitars, the Jazzmaster and Jaguar, with which the Jazz shared its offset body theme and other styling cues. The original intention was to make it easier for upright-bass players to make the switch to electric bass. The original jazz bass had two stacked knob pots with volume and tone control for each pickup.
Some 'Deluxe' Jazz Bass models have been produced which feature active pickups rather than the traditional passive ones. In place of the usual single passive tone-rolloff control, these models have three separate equaliser controls: bass and treble response are controlled by the base and top, respectively, of a stacked double panpot, while midrange is controlled by a second panpot. The Jazz Bass has a warm, fat, funky sound, with more high end than the Precision. This makes it ideal for pick playing as well as fingerstyle players - bassists who pluck the strings with their fingers rather than using a pick.
The Fender offers an excellent combination of design and versatility. The neck is also nimble and quick to get around on. In ELP, I have to cover a lot of different parts and some of them are very fast. If you play something like 'Tarkus', itís shifting along at quite a speed. A big neck would be too slow and awkward to deal with. The Fender neck lets me move around to match the pace of the music. It also has a beautiful, resonant low end. I always tried to sound the JazzBass like the bass end of Keith's Steinway piano, so I favoured an ultra-clean hi-fi tone. It has an ash body and a slab-board neck, all of which adds up to near perfection in a bass guitar. Itís hard to improve on it.
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