The 4 Best Jazz Bass Guitars – Fender Reviews 2024

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The first Fender Jazz Bass came out in the 1960s and was instantly revered for its rich tone. Fifty years later, the model still dominates the electric bass guitar market, continuing the classic approach to tone and construction even though there have been many changes made to the model over the years.

One constant you’ll find across eras and models of jazz bass in the shape of the body, which uses an offset-waist that shifts the mass forward, out of the way of the player’s arms. They also tend to have a narrower string spacing at the nut than precision basses, giving it the tapered feel that many players find more comfortable.

The main differences between various models of jazz bass available today are in the materials used in the construction, the style of the pickups, and the other small details—like the bridge and tuners—that give each instrument its own unique sound. Below we’ve compiled what we consider the 4 best Jazz Bass guitars on the market. Take a look!

Squier by Fender Affinity Jazz Beginner Electric Bass

If you’re just starting out—or you’re a more experienced player who’s on a beginner’s budget—what you really want out of an instrument is a combination of playability, sound quality, and value. The affinity series from Squier definitely strike this balance, using high-quality components that defy the low price tag. It uses the traditional single-coil pickups that give Fender jazz basses their punch lows and clear highs. The neck uses a modern “C” shape that’s easier on your fingers and not as likely to cause muscle strain, especially important for new players. The action can be a bit off right out of the box, so you should expect to get it adjusted before you start playing, but this is a small compromise to make considering what you get for the money.

Squier Affinity Jazz Bass - sound test

Fender Jaco Pastorius Fretless Jazz Bass

If you’re looking for a fretless jazz bass, this model is one of the few options you’ll find in Fender’s catalogue. It’s based on the famous fretless bass played by Jaco Pastorius, a player who’s become legendary for his genre-spanning style and unique approach to the instrument. The main unique feature on this bass is the shape of the neck, which has a more subtle taper than most jazz basses, though it also comes with two vintage-styled Fender jazz pickups, at the neck and at the bridge, to emulate the sound of the legendary player.

The instrument’s body (see full specs) is made of standard alder with a beautiful sunburst finish while the neck is maple with a rosewood fingerboard that has 20 vintage-style fretline markers. The attention to detail Fender brought to this instrument gives it a full yet subtle tone that’s a perfect tribute to the jazz bass legend. If you want the best Jazz Bass guitar, you just might be looking at it.

Custom Made Fretless "Jaco" Fender Jazz Bass

Fender Standard Jazz Electric Bass

This bass gives you a modern version of the classic Jazz Bass sound for a budget price, making it a great value as well as a great instrument. The body has the classic offset shape, made of alder and with an option of lacquer colors, from the classic sunburst to Candy Apple Red. The neck is a modern C shape, made of maple with a maple 20-fret fingerboard.

It also uses modern single-coil pickups that give your tone clarity and punch, while the shielded body cavity reduces the background hum of the instrument. If you’re looking for a jazz bass with a vintage look and a modern sound, the Standard Jazz Bass has you covered.

Fender Standard Jazz Bass Demo

Squier by Fender Vintage Modified Jazz Bass ‘70s

This affordable bass from Squier is designed to bring the classic Super ‘70s feel and tone into the modern era. The body is constructed of soft maple with a Polyurethane finish. It uses proprietary single-coil pickups at the bridge and middle positions, with volume controls for each along with a master tone knob. The hardware is chrome and consists of a four saddle bridge and open-gear tuning machines.

The end result is an instrument with a powerful tone that stays clear throughout the entire range of the instrument. It’s especially perfect for players in funk ensembles, but the craftsmanship and value make it an excellent option for bassists in all styles. If you’re on a budget, this just might be the best Jazz Bass guitar you can buy.

Slap Bass Jam - Squier Vintage Modified Jazz Bass 70's


While pickups are one of the more easily altered parts of an electric string instrument, when you’re dealing with basses made with the care and attention to detail that Fender brings to all its instruments, the pickup that comes with the instrument is designed to bring out the best qualities of the instrument’s sound.

The original Jazz Bass employed two single-coil pickups, one each at the neck and the bridge, using two pole pieces per string. This gave the Jazz Bass a brighter tone than Fender’s previous Precision Bass model. The extra treble in the sound gave it that in-your-face powerful bass tone that was so important to the funk, rock, and jazz of the mid-20th century. Both vintage and modern pickups will typically be aimed at bringing this iconic bright sound, if they’re designed for the Jazz Bass; the main difference you’ll find will be in the winding of the coil and the material employed in the magnet.

Although the pickups that come with the instrument are selected with care, they are easily changeable, as was mentioned before. If you like everything else about the Jazz Standard but had your heart set on vintage-styled pickups, you can buy a new set from Fender for a relatively small investment, letting you customize your sound to give you the exact tone and style that you’re looking for.

Body Materials of the Best Jazz Bass Guitars

The type of tonewood used in the construction of the body has less of an impact on a jazz bass’ sound that it does when discussing upright basses or even hollowbody and semi-hollowbody electric models. Having said that, we believe the use of high-quality solid wood is still important to getting the right resonance and depth out of your instrument.

Fender was the first company to make use of alder in the construction of its instruments, and this is still the standard wood today when we’re talking about jazz basses. Alder tends to be a bit lighter in weight than other tonewoods and gives you a clear, full sound that’s especially powerful in the low end. The other common wood you’ll see used for the body is maple, which is a dense and heavy wood. Some players find all-maple bodies to be too heavy, though it also gives you a uniquely bright and precise tone that’s tight in the low end and singing in the upper range.

There are other factors that influence the tone of your guitar, from the pickups discussed above to the style and make of the neck, fretboard, and bridge. The tonewood used in the body, though, establishes your baseline tone. If you want an overall brighter sound, a maple body will serve you better than alder, though most players prefer the rich depth of an alder instrument.

  • Micah Johnson started playing music in high school, when he taught himself the bass to join his friend’s band. He added guitar and drums during his twenties playing in local clubs, and along the way, he picked up unique, hands-on experience from hand drums to studio mixers. On Song Simian, he aims to share this knowledge from 20+ years playing and recording music. When not in gearhead mode, he enjoys photography and travel.

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