Phil Maneri’s
BASS
LAB

The Fender Jazz Bass is the archetype for the electric bass guitar. This American Ultra Jazz Bass V is a modern 5-string bass that lives up to its 60-year heritage. It’s priced around $2,100 street, which puts it in a crowded, but sweet, place in the market. That area between $1,800 and $2,500 is where most committed bassists find themselves, at one point or another. Higher than that, and you have to be making some coin; lower than that, and you start taking on compromises that you may not like.

This bass looks like a traditional Jazz Bass. From a distance, you might not even see it’s a 5-string. The silver flake white finished body is made from alder. The maple neck sports a bound maple fingerboard with huge late ‘60s to early ‘70s style block inlay. The inlays are smart-looking, Smoky pearloid blocks.

Its wears higher-end active electronics, starting with a pair of Fender Ultra Noiseless Vintage Jazz Bass pickups feeding into Fender’s current proprietary higher-end preamp. The circuit is stamped from 2017 design, made in late 2019. It features master volume, blend, stacked treble and bass, stacked midrange and passive tone, that oddly only works when the bass is switched into passive mode. Fender indicates that the bass has conductive shielding paint in control and pickup cavities. I was unable to see or measure the conductive shielding paint, but I will note that I did not hear any unwanted noises.

Tuners are Fender stamped open-frame clover-style, similar to the early ‘80s open-back sets, but with a newer take on it. The bridge is a Badass-style, Fender-branded, lower-profile setup with stamped or molded chrome-plated saddles; functional, good-looking, and serviceable. In addition to the single-action truss rod, the neck is also equipped with Posiflex support rods.

Fender makes basses to a higher standard of quality than ever before, especially given how many they crank out every year. The fretwork, fit and finish are all excellent, especially for the price point. The finished is well-applied and super hard; durable no doubt. As with most factory instruments, it is sprayed heavy and thick. The satin on the neck is a great choice. The neck feels slick and comfortable. The whole feel of the neck is quite good, in fact; comfortable and clean.

The ergonomics and design are classic Fender right out of the ‘60’s and ‘70s, just with one more string. It’s comfortable and familiar. The bass sounds like a great Jazz Bass should. It plays as well as anyone would ask for a $2,100 bass. In fact, everything you could ask for a sub-$2,500 instrument is right here. Fender has really got it right with these instruments. It’s light. Well-made for the price point. Great looking – classic, in fact. Finally, Fender has moved to the front of the pack with this instrument at this price point. Fender shape, Fender decals, Fender sound, modern appointments, under $2,500 … this is a big win.

bass test
Supro Huntington III

Fender® American
Ultra Jazz Bass® V

CONFIGURATION

Strings:5
Style:Double cutaway
Overall Length:46 ½”
Body Dimension:20 ¾” long x 14” wide at lower bout
Body Contouring:Moderate
Weight:10.05 lbs.

MEASUREMENTS

Scale length:34”
Neck width at nut:1.868” (47.45mm)
Neck width at 12th fret:2.574” (65.38mm)
Neck width at joint:2.728” (69.29mm)
Neck thickness at nut:.948” (24.09mm)
Neck thickness at 1st fret:.832” (21.14mm)
Neck thickness at 12th fret:.882” (22.42mm)
Neck thickness at joint:1.014” (25.75mm)
String spacing at nut:.390” (9.92mm)
String spacing at saddle:.763. (19.38mm)
Fingerboard radius:9” (at our measured position; Fender states 10” to 14” compound)
Descriptor for neck shape:modern D
Peghead break angle:8 deg
Bridge break angle:17 deg
Afterlength at nut:2.061” (52.36mm) to 7.528” (190.83mm)
Afterlength at saddle:1.478” (37.55mm) to 1.825” (46.37mm)
Attachment:N/A
Pocket gap:None
Truss rod type/access:Single action / body end
Fret count:21
Fretwire:100 x 40

ELECTRONICS

Pickups:Ultra Noiseless Vintage Jazz Bass
Pickup location(s), from 12th fret:10 19/16” and 14 7/16”
Electronics:Proprietary Fender (new voicing)
Controls:Volume, blend, bass/treble (stacked), mids/passive tone (stacked), active/passive switch
Shielding:Paint
Preamp circuit voltage:18v

CONSTRUCTION

Body Woods:Alder
Neck WoodsMaple (with graphite bars)
Fingerboard:Maple with black pearloid blocks and black binding
Body Finish:Arctic Pearl gloss
Neck Finish:Clear satin (gloss headstock face)

HARDWARE

Strings:Fender USA NPS (nickel plated steel)
Gauge:.045, .065, .085, .105, .125
Attachment:At bridge
Bridge/color:Fender HiMass, chrome
Nut (Guide):Bone
Tuners/color:Fender/chrome
Knobs/color:Plastic/black
Pickguard:4-ply tortoiseshell
Control cavity cover:n/a

GENERAL

Company:Fender Musical Instrument
17600 N. Perimeter Drive, Suite 100
Scottsdale, AZ 85255
Phone: 480.596.9690
Fax: 480.596.1384
Email: [email protected]
http://www.fender.com/
County of origin:USA
Warranty:Limited lifetime, non-transferrable
Price:$2,099.99 ($2,199.99 for ash-body models)
Options:None
Accessories:Hard molded case with TSA locks
Available combinations:
  • Arctic Pearl (review instrument) – Alder body, maple fingerboard, black binding, and black pearloid inlays


  • Mocha Burst: Alder body, rosewood fingerboard with white binding and white pearloid block inlays


  • Ultra Burst – Alder body, maple fingerboard, black binding, and black pearloid inlays


Acquired from:Fender USA
Dates:Winter 2019/2020
Locals:Illinois, Ohio
Test gear:Gallien-Krueger Legacy 800, Aviom, GK Neo II 1x12.

TEST RESULTS

1-5 (unacceptable to impeccable)

In-hand

Features:4
Tonal Flexibility:5
Ease of Use:5
Aesthetics:4
Ergonomics:4
Tone:5
Value:4

In-hand Score
4.43average

On-bench Score
4.63average

On-bench

Overall construction5
Wood choice5
Materials choice4
Joinery5
Fretwork5
Fit and Finish of adornments5
Quality of finish work4
Ease of repair5
Potential range of setup5
Balance on knee4
Balance on strap4
Overall electronic quality4
Solder joints, wire runs4
Clarity5
Noise5
ShieldingN/A
Quality for Price Range5