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I was on the hunt for a Music Man Stingray bass for the past couple of months because having already owns an American Standard Jazz & Precision bass, I wanted to own the other "industry standard". The Stingray would have been my first active bass, until I actually had to deal with Music Man. I'm not going to delve into my experience with them but what matters in the end is I would not be purchasing one of their instruments.
After this experience with MM, I turned my attention back to Fender in search of an active bass to add to my arsenal. I came down between the American Standard Jaguar Bass, or the American Deluxe Jazz bass. I decided to go with the Jaguar bass due to the fact that I already own a Standard Jazz Bass and I was not happy with the sound of the 5 string version of the American Deluxe Jazz bass that was at my local Sam Ash. So I went ahead and ordered the Jaguar bass in Olympic white. I received the bass new-in-box, unpacked it and quickly put it to work. My first impression was a good one. The neck was similar to my American Standard Jazz bass in that it was comfortable, slim, and fast. The dark rosewood is visually appealing, especially with the pearloid block inlays. I prefer maple boards but this bass is definitely an exception. The back of the neck is finished satin while the headstock is a high gloss finish. This feature is found on American Standard instruments and makes for a nice playing neck that looks great to your audience. The white finish is striking, with a great cream tint, like a nicely aged instrument. The chrome plates catches the eye and pairs nicely with the finish and tortoise shell pick guard. Functionality-wise, the Jaguar bass is a tone behemoth. After finally plugging it in for practice, I got to unleash everything it withholds. At first it takes a few minutes to figure out what all of the controls actually do. I'll start with the bottom most control plate. This play holds two knobs: tone and volume and also the input jack. These controls are pretty much self explanatory. The plate closer to the neck controls your pickup selection. The switch closest to the neck turns the precision bass pickup on and off. This bass boasts Fender's American vintage 62 precision bass pickup. This pickup on its own is fat and round. Perfectly fills out your band with just the flick of a switch. The switch in the center turns the bridge positioned jazz bass pickup. This pickup pairs nicely with the precision bass pickup in that it is extremely mids-y that cuts through like a knife. Pairing both pickups gives you an unexplainable blend of tone that its the low end you're looking for without getting lost in the mix. The last switch on the plate is a series/parallel switch that allows you to use the pickups in either series or parallel. The parallel mode is bright and harmonic while the series mode is much darker and thicker. The final plate on the bass holds the bass's active circuitry. When you flick the switch, the basses passive tone control on the lower plate is bypasses and now the two rollers on the upper plate controls your tone. The first roller is your active treble control and the second is bass control. This preamp is LOUD. Using it in practice sent items falling from their places all around our practice space. This is perfect for that extra pop for slap or sculpting the perfect tone for various situations. Other features include the High mass Vintage bridge that allows you to string thru the body or top load, or any combination of both.
I'm able to get any sound I want from this bad boy. So many different settings, so many tonal characteristics. I have an American Standard Jazz as well, and this one just feels so much better to play. (Not that the jazz is bad at all!)