The Company Line
Back in 2018, Fender came out with the Player Series, which replaced their Standard Series instruments. In doing so, they took the Standard Series and basically kicked them all up a notch. The upgrades from the Standard Series include alnico pickups, updated body radii, upgraded bridges, new colors, and a revised logo. But otherwise, they’re still passive baseline instruments with single-coil pickups (humbuckers are optional) and primarily call back to the vintage tone and feel (including the neck radii). Those models range from about $750 to $900, depending on the model. Now in September of 2021, Fender comes out with a more “advanced” or “modern” instrument building off the Player Series, called the Player Plus Series. The Player Plus series consists of seven models, three of which are basses, and only one of which is a 5-string, which we review here. The upgrades above the Player Series are a preamp (with new voicing specific to the Player Plus Series), noise-cancelling pickups, a flatter fingerboard radius, the Hi-Mass™ bridge, rolled fingerboard edges, and yet again, some more new colors. For these upgrades, you’ll spend a little more, but not a lot! The prices range from about $1,000 to $1,150.
Coincidental to the Player Plus Series release, Fender is also doing some nice things for the Music community. They came out with the Player Plus Studio Sessions, where selected winners would receive over 200 hours of free studio time at professional studios around the world. From over 1,000 entries, Fender awarded 21 lucky winners from Australia, Japan, Mexico, the UK, and USA. For more information, please click here: (https://www.fender.com/articles/artists/player-plus-studio-sessions).
This review bass has an alder body with a gloss polyester finish over a classic three-tone sunburst. As far as color options go, pretty standard for a Jazz Bass®. The Player Plus series has some nice finish options here, however, such as the fairly radical Tequila Sunrise. Go check them out! The hardware is straightforward chrome, except for the Hi-Mass bridge, which is based on the same upgraded bridge that goes on Ultra models. Otherwise, the tuners are standard chrome clover leaf, the strap buttons are of the typical conical fare, and the knobs are classic black plastic J-bass style. The neck heel plate is chrome over a standard 4-bolt attachment, and the neck heel is not contoured on this model. The neck shape is a “modern C,” 34” scale, with a 12” fingerboard radius. It incorporates medium jumbo frets, white pearl dot inlays, and a 1.875” wide synthetic bone nut. The preamp configuration is master volume, pan (blend), bass/treble stack (boost and cut), midrange (boost/cut), and an active/passive mini-toggle switch. The pickups are their own Player Plus Noiseless™.
Fit and finish
All the hardware works smoothly and reliably, and the bass takes a great setup (the fret level is really quite good for this price range). The fingerboard has nicely rolled edges, and the fret ends are also nicely finished – more so than I’ve seen on many other instruments at this price point. The neck fit is surprisingly tight on this bass, also comparable to much higher end models. I can find no flaws at all in the finish or fitment of the pieces parts, and the wood selections seem particularly nice.
On the gig
This bass weighs in at 10.8 pounds, which makes it on the heavy side, even for a 5-string bass (at least by my standards). Based on what I’ve seen online for this model, 10+ pounds is pretty typical for this model. However, keep in mind, lightweight body blanks of alder and ash these days are in short supply, so are often reserved for higher-end instruments which can bear the generally higher cost of those materials. That said, the bass has the familiar classic Fender contoured body shape, and the newer neck profile is very comfortable to play; it feels “fast” to me. The noiseless pickups sound really good to my ear, very even across the strings, with a good dynamic range and breadth of tone. Also, the preamp – which they say is newly voiced for this model – sounds pretty comparable to the Elite and Ultra series preamp to me. I consider that a compliment. I’m very happy with the overall sound and tonal versatility of this instrument from a J-bass standpoint (which is my home base, btw). I had no trouble dialing in all the traditional and modern Jazz Bass tones I love most. I play my Elite Jazz V regularly, and honestly, even though the Elite is clearly a finer instrument, this bass definitely holds its own, and at around half the price! I’d say the only niggle I have for this bass other than its weight is that it doesn’t have any tone control in passive mode. I do miss that.
The Bottom Line
|Model:||Player Plus Jazz Bass V|
|Warranty:||Limited, 2 years|
|Bridge/color:||Fender Hi-Mass™, chrome|
|Nut (Guide):||Synthetic bone|
|Control cavity cover:||Pop-out battery boxes on the back|
|Pickups:||Player Plus Noiseless Jazz Bass|
|Preamp:||Player Plus (18V)|
|Controls:||Volume, blend, bass/treble stack (boost and cut), midrange (boost/cut), active/passive mini-toggle switch|
|Body Finish:||3-Color Sunburst, gloss polyester|
|Neck Finish:||Satin urethane|
|Number of Frets/Positions||21|
|Strings:||Fender USA NPS (nickel plated steel)|
|Gauge:||.045, .065, .085, .105, .125|
|Accessories:||Deluxe gig bag|
|Options:||Four finish options (some finishes feature maple fingerboards)|
|Price:||$1,149.99 (Player Plus Series starts at $699.00)|
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