By Ted “Blyss” Gould

This Article Was Originally Published On: July 1st, 2014 #Issue 14.

The Company Line

In 2013, Fender launched the Cabronita Precision Bass, which is a sort of hybrid between the classic P-bass and the styling of the Cabronita Telecaster series. The bass features an alder body, which comes in Candy Apple Red, 2-Color Sunburst and Black.

Instead of the traditional split-coil P-bass pickup, this bass comes with a single Fender Fideli’Tron™ humbucking pickup, which gives it a gritty, aggressive and rather punchy tone. Two knobs control volume and passive tone roll-off. The “C”-shaped maple neck has a gloss urethane finish, a 9.5” radius maple cap fingerboard with 20 medium-jumbo frets and black-dot inlays. There’s a Stratocaster-style forearm contour that really makes for a comfortable bass.

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First Impressions

This well-balanced and comfortable bass has all of the class P-bass traits. When you dig in, it delivers a pretty serious growl. It’s clean sounding, without being thin. The components are nice for the $799 (list) price tag. The vintage-style reverse tuners with the larger plates and straight posts work flawlessly, and the (newly designed) High Mass bridge is basically a Bad Ass II. This is a sexy looking thing that says, at least to me, “Peg your jeans, roll up your sleeves and rock the XXXX out!” Right out of the box, I was impressed the sleek retro styling and pristine Candy Apple Red paint job. The chunky feel of the neck is reminiscent of the ’57 reissue. Feel-wise, I thought that the bass felt like a classic Precision Bass with a Tele neck and forearm contour.

The biggest and most obvious difference between the Cabronita and a traditional P-bass is the Fender exclusive Fideli’Tron pickup, which is, to my ear, a bit more gritty and aggressive-sounding than a standard split-coil pickup. The feel of the bass is not strikingly different from that of a standard P-bass; in fact, the scale length and radius are identical to that of a standard Precision.

A Closer Look

Those who know me well know that I’m kind of a diehard 5-string J-bass kind of dude. I like low action and flat necks, and anything other than that tends to get uncomfortable pretty fast. However, this neck – although big and chunky, as a P-bass neck “should” be – didn’t cause any fatigue in the short time that I had it with me.

My first opportunity to play it was at a Wednesday night church rehearsal, where there are never amps used and we monitor everything through an Aviom system. To me, the P-bass – nearly any P-bass with, naturally, a few choice exceptions – is a one-trick pony. Don’t get me wrong, it’s one pretty darn good trick, in the right hands, but one-trick, none the less. This bass is no different. The right P-bass in the right mix sounds amazing. Take the mix away, though, and often, you’re left with a tone that does not sound as impressive and “flashy” on its own. That is, of course, unless you’re isolating Jamerson, Palladino, League or any other number of other-worldly bad-asses.

That’s how it was in my Aviom mix. With the bass and drums, it sounded awesome. With the whole band, it didn’t slot into the mix as well. I blame that more on the band’s setup than the bass. The worship leader (who didn’t know that I was reviewing, only that I had a different bass) did mention that the sound, to his ears, wasn’t as “warm and round” as my American Jazz Bass. I agreed, so I used my regular bass on Sunday morning. In my experience, some gigs just call for a J-bass. Fortunately, Fender makes those, as well.

I used the Cabronita at a different church that Sunday night (which is a 1,500-2,000 seat auditorium), playing through an Aguilar TH500 and two GS210’s. The style of music is contemporary Christian worship music, which is, if you aren’t familiar, very pop/rock oriented. This bass, of course, fell into that style quite nicely. Again, one trick, but one really good trick.

Lasting Impressions

The simple, unique stylings and tone of this bass separate it from the rest of the P-bass pack. While it wouldn’t be my first choice for smooth jazz, R & B or funk that requires you to spank the plank, it’s totally money for all kinds of gritty blues, rock, classic rock and contemporary Christian worship sets. Overall, the Cabronita Precision Bass is a great-sounding bass that sits great in a mix. The paint job is awesome on the alder body. The neck feels chunky and solid, and the maple Tele neck and vintage tuners are a great touch.

Model:Cabronita Precision Bass
Made In: Mexico
Body: Alder
Neck: Maple
Fingerboard: Maple
Bridge: Fender High Mass
Tuners: Vintage-style, reverse
Pickup: Fideli'Tron
Preamp: None
Controls: Volume, Tone
Finish: Gloss Poly
Scale Length: 34”
Number of Frets:20
Fingerboard Radius: 9.5”
Accessories:Gig bag
Price: $799.99/$599.99 (list/street)
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