What P? (decided on MJT!)

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stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
edited March 1 in Bass
I’ve had a cheapie J for years now (originally built in the £100 challenge in days past). It’s nice enough for 100 quid but hardly inspiring. 

In my ever approaching middle age I’m really fancying a proper P bass and happy to spend a bit to get something decent. I’m not looking to emulate Billy Sheehan - more Motown, classic rock, alt/indie type of thing. 

I’m a big fan of nitro finishes and rosewood fretboards but otherwise not super bothered on other specs mainly because I don’t know what I want other than single pickup passive and ideally not super-vintage frets.  The Nate Mendel sig appeals but I’m not a massive fan of the colour. 

I’m potentially up for anything sub-custom shop level, but wondering if better to grab a Squier CV to get used to the “P thing” then upgrade in a year or so. And then there’s the other bit of me that thinks “fuck it, buy a Rick”...

Suggestions please! 
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 2342
    I've go a Squier Affinity P and it is surprisingly good; I've (I think) agreed to sell it for £60.

    I bought a Fender MIM P last weekend for £100.
    I'm trying to think but nothing's happening!
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 12278
    Fender American Special Precision.

    Cheaper than a full blown American Standard, with a much less clubby neck and tend to be lighter in weight too. Mine was 8lb dead, and I swapped the tuners for Hipshot Ultralights and now it is just under 7 3/4 lb. And as the weight reduction is all at the headstock the balance is much nicer. Precisions can be a bit neck heavy.

    Only slight downside is the "Greasebucket" tone control which is shit. But 30 mins with a soldering iron and a new capacitor and you get a proper tone control again.

    There is a run of them every few years. I've had 2. A sunburst (sold) and a white (still here) with rosewood boards.

    Pickup is very good and with some flats it does the Motown / Blues Brothers / Soul thing etc perfectly.

    Tend to be in the region of £600 but if you are patient you might get it cheaper. 
    "I had a transposition pedal hooked up for the bass synth that I could literally hit my low E string and drop it almost three octaves. We were getting down in the area of 6Hz at probably about 130dB. The first time we actually tested it we all threw up and cracked a wall in the warehouse. It was fantastic."
    --Lee Sklar--

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  • MattBansheeMattBanshee Frets: 1200
    prowla said:

    I bought a Fender MIM P last weekend for £100.
    Damn.
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  • JezWyndJezWynd Frets: 3791
    If you are used to a Jazz, then trying out a Squier CV may be the way to go - the P neck is substantially bigger than the J; you may decide you want a P bass body with a Jazz style neck. 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 5907
    edited February 22
    prowla said:
    I bought a Fender MIM P last weekend for £100.
    Nice find.
    Be seeing you.
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 12278
    Sandberg California VS2 Passive.

    The neck is much closer to a J, it's light weight and brilliantly built. 
    I'm a huge fan of Sandbergs. I've had several and only moved them on when I had medical issues meaning I needed to go super light weight.

    Now got my 'berg Superlight TT4 as my main bass, but I'm saving for the 5 string version.
    "I had a transposition pedal hooked up for the bass synth that I could literally hit my low E string and drop it almost three octaves. We were getting down in the area of 6Hz at probably about 130dB. The first time we actually tested it we all threw up and cracked a wall in the warehouse. It was fantastic."
    --Lee Sklar--

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  • The G&L LB-100 might be worth a look. The Tribute if you're just wanting to dip your toe in the P-Bass water, or a US model if you're feeling more spendy.

    Both are excellent VFM, especially if you can find on 2nd hand. I believe the US ones have multiple different neck options, so might be able to find one with a width closer to a Jazzer? 
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  • prowlaprowla Frets: 2342
    prowla said:
    I bought a Fender MIM P last weekend for £100.
    Nice find.

    It is a bit beat up, but plays OK.
    I'm trying to think but nothing's happening!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 46013
    stickyfiddle said:

    And then there’s the other bit of me that thinks “fuck it, buy a Rick”...
    This is the correct answer :).

    If you really want a P, then the plain Mexican Fender Standard one my friend has is the best modern P I've played. I have no idea why, it just resonates really well and sounds superb.

    Here's the rub... the one he briefly had before it, and luckily was able to return - same model, even the same colour - was one of the worst.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    Cheers all. The neck is my main question mark on a P. To be honest I play the J about twice a year, so while I’m acclimated to it in as much as I don’t have anything else, it’s not like a muscle memory thing where I have a decade of playing 8 hours a week that I’ll need to unlearn. I also figure that your “average” P neck isn’t any bigger than 50’s style Telecaster, so it shouldn’t be an issue in the long run. 

    But it’s also why I’m wondering about something cheap for a little bit so I can see what I do or don’t like about that so I can make a more informed choice on something more expensive a bit later. 

    This is where being in Abu Dhabi makes things a bit tricky. We’re shit for guitar shops and even worse for basses, so I don’t have a chance to try anything at all beyond *possibly* a Squier in the local Virgin Megastore (they didn’t go bust here!)
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 46013
    stickyfiddle said:

    I also figure that your “average” P neck isn’t any bigger than 50’s style Telecaster, so it shouldn’t be an issue in the long run.
    They can be huge - at least the proper vintage-spec ones that @Bridgehouse and others swear by... they just make me swear :). I can't play them at all.

    Modern ones are smaller, somewhere between that and a Jazz.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    ICBM said:
    stickyfiddle said:

    I also figure that your “average” P neck isn’t any bigger than 50’s style Telecaster, so it shouldn’t be an issue in the long run.
    They can be huge - at least the proper vintage-spec ones that @Bridgehouse and others swear by... they just make me swear :). I can't play them at all.

    Modern ones are smaller, somewhere between that and a Jazz.

    Are we taking inch-thick 52 Nocaster reissue, or even bigger? I can cope with anything smaller than that on guitar, particularly if the edges are heavily rolled. 

    I’m interested in classic “sensible” sorts of parts, rather than your (dare I say tasteless?) Fleas and Sheehans and Pastoriouses (sic) so I’m not worried about speed, just hand cramps!
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  • ICBMICBM Frets: 46013
    stickyfiddle said:

    Are we taking inch-thick 52 Nocaster reissue, or even bigger? I can cope with anything smaller than that on guitar, particularly if the edges are heavily rolled.
    It's width as well as depth - 1-3/4" on the 50s vintage reissues... daft for anything with only four strings.

    I can only get on with 1-3/4" for 12-string guitars, and even then it's pushing it - I prefer 1-5/8" really, for both guitar and bass - but I wouldn't play a 12 for a whole set anyway.

    "Take these three items, some WD-40, a vise grip, and a roll of duct tape. Any man worth his salt can fix almost any problem with this stuff alone." - Walt Kowalski

    "Just because I don't care, doesn't mean I don't understand." - Homer Simpson

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 20375
    edited February 11
    Well now, the traditional P neck and its dimensions.

    Personally, I love the early 60's wide neck. Others (like @ICBM) don't. 

    My 64 Precision has the super wide nut width - 45mm, but the depth on the neck is actually quite shallow. It's wide, but not chunky or thick. In fact, the early 60's P traditionally isn't thick - it's not "clubby" at all - and it's a very different experience to the Nocaster style of "thick".

    What I've found is it makes you play a little differently. Most bass connoisseurs would argue that to play bass properly you need thumb behind the neck and plenty of reach with the fingers - the trad P bass neck encourages this a lot.

    The other factor is string spacing. The spacing on my P is wide. Very wide. And it's good for some styles and not for others. At the bridge end the spacing is huge - it's fabulous for finger style but if you prefer a pick it might cause issues. 

    Horses for courses. You'll either love or hate the P style wide flat neck from the early 60's. When I first played one it made total sense to me and suited my style. Others will hate it. 

    I guess it explains why the neck on my Shuker fretless suits me so much. It's wide (43mm) but really thin front to back...
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    Cheers all, that’s very clear. I reckon I’m fine with 1 3/4 on guitar, though admittedly that depends on general profile fatness as well. But I’ve never played a P bass in earnest so hard to know how that translates without playing some.

    I do know I generally don’t like extremes of fat or thin or narrow or wide on guitars (or thick/thin drumsticks for that matter) so assume I’ll be the same on bass. 

    I’m in the UK next week so I’ll try and get to a guitar shop even briefly to see if there’s anything I particularly do or don’t like.


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  • crunchmancrunchman Frets: 6001

    My first bass was a Japanese Fender reissue of an early 60's P of some type (maybe a 62?).  I didn't know any better, but the nut width on that was too much for me - as I have very short fingers.  I think it was about 43mm.  I sold that and bought a Jazz bass with a 38mm nut, which was a lot better, but the Jazz doesn't have the P sound.

    I've now got a mid eighties Japanese Squier P bass with a 32" scale.  The shorter scale helps a lot.  I'm not sure of the width.  It might be a bit wider than the Jazz, but with the shorter scale, it's a lot easier to play.

    The purists will frown on a 32" scale, but it still seems to have a lot of the punch that a short scale (30") bass like a Mustang doesn't seem to have, while still being a lot easier to play.  They are hard to find though.

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  • I've a a Vintage V4 reissue and a MIA Fender P, very little difference sound wise, finish is better on the MIA Fender
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 2128
    Well now, the traditional P neck and its dimensions.

    Personally, I love the early 60's wide neck. Others (like @ICBM) don't. 

    My 64 Precision has the super wide nut width - 45mm, but the depth on the neck is actually quite shallow. It's wide, but not chunky or thick. In fact, the early 60's P traditionally isn't thick - it's not "clubby" at all - and it's a very different experience to the Nocaster style of "thick".

    What I've found is it makes you play a little differently. Most bass connoisseurs would argue that to play bass properly you need thumb behind the neck and plenty of reach with the fingers - the trad P bass neck encourages this a lot.

    The other factor is string spacing. The spacing on my P is wide. Very wide. And it's good for some styles and not for others. At the bridge end the spacing is huge - it's fabulous for finger style but if you prefer a pick it might cause issues. 

    Horses for courses. You'll either love or hate the P style wide flat neck from the early 60's. When I first played one it made total sense to me and suited my style. Others will hate it. 

    I guess it explains why the neck on my Shuker fretless suits me so much. It's wide (43mm) but really thin front to back...

    This may be an heretical view, but I really like the early 70's P-bass neck profiles over the wide 60's necks (and I have quite large hands). I find the early 60's profiles too wide and shallow for me.

    The mid 50s P-bass are nice too.

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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 20375
    jpfamps said:
    Well now, the traditional P neck and its dimensions.

    Personally, I love the early 60's wide neck. Others (like @ICBM) don't. 

    My 64 Precision has the super wide nut width - 45mm, but the depth on the neck is actually quite shallow. It's wide, but not chunky or thick. In fact, the early 60's P traditionally isn't thick - it's not "clubby" at all - and it's a very different experience to the Nocaster style of "thick".

    What I've found is it makes you play a little differently. Most bass connoisseurs would argue that to play bass properly you need thumb behind the neck and plenty of reach with the fingers - the trad P bass neck encourages this a lot.

    The other factor is string spacing. The spacing on my P is wide. Very wide. And it's good for some styles and not for others. At the bridge end the spacing is huge - it's fabulous for finger style but if you prefer a pick it might cause issues. 

    Horses for courses. You'll either love or hate the P style wide flat neck from the early 60's. When I first played one it made total sense to me and suited my style. Others will hate it. 

    I guess it explains why the neck on my Shuker fretless suits me so much. It's wide (43mm) but really thin front to back...

    This may be an heretical view, but I really like the early 70's P-bass neck profiles over the wide 60's necks (and I have quite large hands). I find the early 60's profiles too wide and shallow for me.

    The mid 50s P-bass are nice too.

    I've mellowed over the years tbh.. I quite like the 70's P profile and I don't mind a wider jazz profile these days either.

    Can't stand lacquered boards tho :)
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 5907
    edited February 22
    Redacted.
    Be seeing you.
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  • Winny_PoohWinny_Pooh Frets: 4268
    edited February 11
    Could look out for a Mark Hoppus signature ff you want a narrow neck
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  • When back in uk.Try as many as you can. Make notes if you can. Try some outside your budget incase you can find them used.

    What's importing by mail order like if you can't find what you fancy locally.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    edited February 12
    When back in uk.Try as many as you can. Make notes if you can. Try some outside your budget incase you can find them used.

    What's importing by mail order like if you can't find what you fancy locally.
    Yeah, good plan if I can get an afternoon free from family I honestly don't think the neck size will bother me hugely, but if I can check that quickly in PMT Norwich then order exactly the right thing to be shipped after a bit more research that's ideal.

    Importing is easy - I’ve only had a guitar come in once and that was used via Reverb, but had a whole drum kit from Andertons last summer and have used Coda, Gear4music and Thomann for big stuff in the past too. Never cheap on shipping, but I don’t pay the 20% VAT that I would in the UK, so it usually works out similar enough to UK pricing overall. If I can get an idea of roughly what neck I like I’m usually happier mail ordering than bringing things back on planes.

    The only issue is knowing what you want. Actually the main thing I didn't like with the LP Custom I got off Reverb was the hilariously large neck. It sounded epic, but I couldn't get used to it. 
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  • fretmeisterfretmeister Frets: 12278
    45mm for a 4 string is stupid.
    Many 4 strings are 45mm. The Ray 5 string is 44.5mm

    There is just no need / benefit for 45mm on a 4 string at that end of the neck. Unless you've got meathooks for hands it gets tiring very quickly.

    The old Fender Urge 2 Stu Hamm sig model is quite understated but has a full set of J and P pickups. It's incredibly versatile and has a really comfy asymmetric neck with a 40mm nut - between Jazz and P sizes. The switching means you can just use the P, just the Js (with a balance still) or all 3 at once. It will get every tone a P or a J will get.

    They really are excellent and come up cheaper than many others.
    "I had a transposition pedal hooked up for the bass synth that I could literally hit my low E string and drop it almost three octaves. We were getting down in the area of 6Hz at probably about 130dB. The first time we actually tested it we all threw up and cracked a wall in the warehouse. It was fantastic."
    --Lee Sklar--

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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 5907
    A nut width of 44 or 45mm (properly, 1¾ inches) yields a string spacing of 10mm centre to centre. This dimension is derived from the contrabass. 
    Be seeing you.
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  • jpfampsjpfamps Frets: 2128


    I've mellowed over the years tbh.. I quite like the 70's P profile and I don't mind a wider jazz profile these days either.

    Can't stand lacquered boards tho :)
    I don't mind the lacquered boards; my P-bass in a '74 maple board.

    I'm aiming to get a friend of mine to assemble a 55/56 style P-bass later in the year (when the weather is better for spraying).

    I find Jazz basses very hard work.

    In my opinion you need a very good reason not to have a P-bass.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    jpfamps said:


    I've mellowed over the years tbh.. I quite like the 70's P profile and I don't mind a wider jazz profile these days either.

    Can't stand lacquered boards tho :)
    I don't mind the lacquered boards; my P-bass in a '74 maple board.

    I'm aiming to get a friend of mine to assemble a 55/56 style P-bass later in the year (when the weather is better for spraying).

    I find Jazz basses very hard work.

    In my opinion you need a very good reason not to have a P-bass.
    This is where I am right now. I don't play bass that much and I'd like to a lot more. My current jazz is fine but literally 90% of all the music I have ever loved has had a Precision on it, so it's a no-brainer. My only questions are the neck size and how much I have to spend to get an overall fti & finish (and colour..) that doesn't make me itch.

    I'm also not against an MJT (or similar) - I've done plenty of kit building in the past so if I can work out what I want it might be a cost effective way of getting something really nice and "vibey"
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    edited February 12
    Has anyone got any experience of Nash basses? They look really good and have a middling nut width which I'm pretty sure I'd like. Their guitars I've played have sounded good but had square-edged fretboards, but I'm happy rolling my own rosewood if needed, so if they're otherwise good it could be a good option? 
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  • FunkfingersFunkfingers Frets: 5907
    edited February 15
    a middling nut width
    You just described the Squier Vintage Modified P Bass. (Well, the PJ version before they changed the headstock decal and renamed the series Classic Vibe.)

    Neck width at nut = 40mm, whereas the VM/CV Jazz is 38mm. The Chris Aiken signature bass is also 40mm.



    fancying a proper P bass ... not looking to emulate Billy Sheehan
    There is a way to do both.

    Track down a pre-owned Yamaha Attitude Plus or Standard. Upgrade the bridge, the pickups and electronics. I was going to include the Attitude Special on my list but the prices on these are getting insane. 

    then there’s the other bit of me that thinks “fuck it, buy a Rick”.
    The Attitude Standard Bass employs a three-way lever selector switch and is routed for P and J sized pickups. IMO, that makes it an ideal host for the Oil City Hardman and Overkill pickups.



    Be seeing you.
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  • stickyfiddlestickyfiddle Frets: 13717
    a middling nut width
    You just described the Squier Vintage Modified P Bass. (Well, the PJ version before they changed the headstock decal and renamed the series Classic Vibe.)

    Neck width at nut = 40mm, whereas the VM/CV Jazz is 38mm. The Chris Aiken signature bass is also 40mm.



    fancying a proper P bass ... not looking to emulate Billy Sheehan
    There is a way to do both.

    Track down a pre-owned Yamaha Attitude Plus or Standard. Upgrade the bridge, the pickups and electronics. I was going to include the Attitude Special on my list but the prices on these are getting insane. 

    then there’s the other bit of me that thinks “fuck it, buy a Rick”.
    The Attitude Standard Bass employs a three-way lever selector switch and is routed for P and J sized pickups. IMO, that makes it an ideal host for the Oil City Hardman and Overkill pickups.


    Ta. No intention of something that does both, I just want a P with all the restrictions that entails.

    Im pretty sure I like the 40-41mm thing in theory, but happy to spend more than Squier money if I can get confident on neck sizes, and I like nitro if I can get it, so stuff like the Nate Mendel or Nash models with that sort of nut width are currently top of the list.
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