Precision Bass vs Jazz Bass Compared: Which Guitar is Better?

Which guitar is better: Precision Bass or Jazz Bass?

Both guitars are great instruments. They both have their pros and cons. The question is which one is better?

Precision Bass vs Jazz Bass Compared Which Guitar is Better (1)

The answer to this question is that it depends on what you want out of your bass. If you just want a solid instrument, then the jazz bass might be for you.

But if you want something with more versatility and tone options, then the precision bass might be for you too.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the differences between these two basses, drawing to a conclusion – which bass is best?

What Is A Bass Guitar?

A bass guitar is an electronic instrument, known for being the lowest pitched of the guitar family. With four strings (EADG), this guitar is iconic for its deep bass lines bringing the soul to any song.

You will find the bass playing a big part in many genres however what this instrument is particularly known for is its jazz origins.

The bass guitar was first known as the stand up double bass, typically used in orchestras. As the years progressed, bass found its way into the jazz scene.

It was then (1920s) that the large stand up double bass became the standard bass guitar we all know and love today.

There are two main types of bass guitars. There is the precision bass and the jazz bass. Both of these instruments provide the same purpose yet have many differences which set them apart.

The Precision Bass

This type of bass has a larger body than the jazz bass. This allows it to produce a fuller sound. It also means that the neck is longer, allowing for easier access to higher frets. This makes it ideal for finger picking and fretting chords.

The Precision Bass is often seen as a ‘musician’s bass’. Its size and shape allow it to fit comfortably in the hand. It can be played sitting down or standing up. The only downside to this model is it tends to be heavier than other models.

As this bass is the successor of the double bass, this instrument will be giving off a classic sound which mimics the original bass. Because of this, many are more comfortable with this type of bass guitar, especially beginners.

The Jazz Bass

The Jazz Bass is a smaller version of the precision bass. It has a slimmer profile and lighter weight. This means it fits easily in the hands of most players. With this said, however, because of its light weight, some are put off by its lack of sturdiness. 

Moreover, the jazz bass is designed to give a diverse range of sound due to its pickups and this gives it a very different feel from the precision bass. This instrument came after the precision bass, offering an alternative style and new sound which advances a bassist’s quality.

It is common for musicians to use both basses during live performances. Some prefer the precision bass while others like the jazz bass because they feel more comfortable using it.

However, when choosing one over another, it comes down to personal preference.

Precision vs. Jazz Bass: What’s the Difference?

As you can see, there are many similarities between the two basses but they do differ slightly. Let’s go through each of their features and compare them.

Sound

Both the precision and the jazz bass have four strings (EADG). The differences lie in the way the strings are tuned and the sound they produce.

The Jazz Bass produces a brighter tone than the precision bass. The reason for these differences is because the jazz bass uses single coils instead of split coils. This makes the bass sound brighter and clearer.

The Precision Bass has a darker tone than the jazz bass. This is because it uses split coil pickups. Split coils are known for producing a dark tone.

The reason for this difference is because the pickup is positioned lower on the body. This position allows the string to vibrate freely, resulting in a deeper tone.

Body

The body style of the precision bass is different from that of the jazz bass. The body of the precision bass is designed with a flat profile.

This gives the player a stable balance. On the other hand, the body of the jazz bass is curved. This creates a less stable feel for the player.

The body of the precision bass feels lighter than that of the jazz bass because it does not contain any hard materials like plastic or metal.

The body of the jazz bass contains hard materials. This makes it heavy and difficult to move around.

Neck

The neck of the precision bass is wider than that of the jazz. This is because the neck is designed to be used with a capo. A capo is a device that allows the musician to change the pitch of the guitar without changing the length of the guitar.

The neck of the jazz bass is narrower than that of the precision bass. This means that it is easier to bend the neck of the jazz bass. This helps the player to get into certain positions.

Electronics

The electronics of the jazz bass are different from those of the precision bass. The main difference lies in the fact that the jazz bass uses active electronics.

Active electronics are electronic devices that amplify the signal sent to them. In contrast, passive electronics are electronic devices that only convert signals.

Active electronics make the bass louder and crisper. They also allow the bassist to control the volume of the instrument. Passive electronics, on the other hand, are quieter and smoother sounding.

Four String vs Five String Bass

It is important to note that the number of strings on the bass determines its tuning system. There are two types of tunings commonly used by bassists: open-tuning and fixed-tuning.

Open-tuning refers to the fact that the strings are not fixed at specific pitches. Instead, they are free to vibrate at different frequencies. This allows the bassist to play chords using different notes.

Fixed-tuning refers to a system where all the strings are set at one particular frequency. This limits the range of notes available to the bassist.

Four string basses have four strings tuned to E, A, D, G. These strings are referred to as low strings.

Five string basses have five strings tuned to E, A, D, G, C. These strings are called high strings.

On the other hand, you can also have five string basses which add an extra low string. These five strings will then be tuned to B, E, A, D, G.

How To Tune A Bass Guitar

To tune your bass, follow these steps:

Using a Tuner

Tuning a bass requires a good understanding of how the instrument works. It is therefore essential to use a tuner when playing.

A tuner is a device that measures the pitch of a sound. It displays the pitch on a digital display.

You should always check if the pitch displayed by the tuner matches the actual pitch of the sound. If there is a discrepancy between the pitch displayed by the instrument and the pitch of the sound, you need to adjust the pitch until the two match up.

If you do not know what the correct pitch for a given string is, you may want to refer to the manufacturer’s specifications. You may also want to consult a professional who knows about bass guitars.

With a bass guitar, the standard notes are E, A, D, G (an easy way to remember this is to think of Every Angry Dog Growls). The lowest/deepest of the notes is E and the highest pitched is G. By knowing this, this will help to guide you when using a tuner.

Tuning By Ear

If you are familiar with the bass guitar then you can also tune by ear. This is only ideal for those who have been playing for a while and are familiar with the sound of this instrument. With knowledge of the instrument, tuning by ear will enable an accurate sound.

The best thing about tuning by ear is that it does not require any special equipment. However, it is still advisable to use a tuner before starting out.

P Bass vs Jazz Bass: Which Bass is Best for a Beginner?

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There are many factors that determine whether or not the bass guitar is right for a beginner. When it comes to the P bass and the jazz bass, there are only slight differences in the way they look and the sound produced, but what does this mean for beginner bassists?

Some factors all beginners should consider when searching for their first bass guitar include:

  • Size
  • Price
  • Tone
  • Sound quality
  • Intonation
  • Setup
  • Playability
  • String spacing
  • Number of frets
  • Body shape
  • Neck profile
  • Pickups
  • Controls
  • Accessories
  • Warranty

Size

When choosing a bass guitar, size is very important. In general, smaller instruments are easier to play than larger ones. For example, a 5-string bass has more fretboard space than a 4-string bass, yet as the 4-string is standard, this will more than likely be much easier for a new bassist.

In addition, the bigger the body size, the harder it is to move around. Therefore, it is better to choose a small bass if you plan to practice at home.

Price

It is common for people to start off with a cheap bass guitar because they cannot afford a high-end one. Although a cheaper model will give you a lower price tag, it will most likely lack some features found in higher-priced models.

As such, you might find yourself having to buy additional accessories later on.

For example, a $200 bass guitar will probably come with a set of strings, whereas a $500 bass guitar will usually come with a set of premium strings.

Therefore, it is better to spend your money wisely on a good quality bass guitar.

Tone

A bass guitar tone is determined by its pickups. There are two types of pickups available: single coil and split coils. Single coils produce a brighter tone than split coils.

However, both types of pickup provide different tones. For example, a single coil produces a warmer tone.

such, it is recommended to try out various bass guitars until you find the one that suits you best.

Sound Quality

This refers to how loud the bass sounds. It is possible to get a louder bass guitar than another bass guitar. However, it is also possible to get a quieter bass guitar.

As such, it is up to you to decide which type of bass guitar you want.

Intonation

This refers to the accuracy of the pitch of the notes played. The closer the note is to being exactly where it should be, the more precise the intonation is.

If the bass guitar lacks proper intonation, it may become difficult to play certain songs.

Setup

To get the best results from your bass guitar, you need to make sure that everything is correct. This includes the neck profile, string spacing, nut width, bridge saddle height, etc.

The setup process can vary depending on the brand of bass guitar. Some brands have pre-set settings while others require a manual adjustment.

Playability

The playability of a bass guitar refers to how easy it is to hold down the strings.

Generally speaking, the thicker the neck, the better the playability.

However, there are other factors that contribute to playability. For example, the position of the pickguard and the angle of the headstock can affect the ease of playing.

Accessories

There are many accessories that you can attach to your bass guitar. These include tuning machines, picks, strap locks, tuners, etc.

Some of these accessories can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. Therefore, it would be wise to consider what you really need before buying them.

When it comes to which type of bass guitar is best for a beginner, it is important to refer to the points we have listed above.

As for choosing a P bass or a jazz bass, that is purely down to the comfort you feel with the bass and the sound results you want to achieve. We suggest visiting a guitar shop to look for bass guitars in person. 

While you are there, speak with someone who has plenty of knowledge of the bass guitar, try some out, see how it feels in your hands. This is the best way to find out which bass is most fitted for you.

Pros and Cons of Precision Bass 

Pros of Precision Bass

  • A great choice for beginners
  • Simple instrument to use and play
  • Produces sounds perfect for all genres

Cons of Precision Bass

  • Doesn’t provide a plethora of tones like the jazz bass does
  • Its thicker neck can take some time to get used to
  • Weightier than a jazz bass

Pros and Cons of Jazz Bass

Pros of Jazz Bass

  • Great for practicing
  • Can produce a wide range of sounds and tones
  • Curved body makes it easier to hold

Cons of Jazz Bass

  • Less durable than a precision bass
  • Controls of a jazz bass can be confusing

Reasons To Play the Bass Guitar

Playing the bass guitar is not only fun but it will help improve your skills as well. Here are some reasons why you should learn to play the bass guitar:

Improves Your Skills

Learning to play the bass guitar will increase your skill level. You will learn new techniques and develop your ability to improvise.

It’s Fun!

Learning to play the bass guitar is an enjoyable experience. It provides hours of entertainment and gives you something to do when you’re bored.

You’ll Learn New Things

You may not know much about music theory at first, but learning to play the bass guitar teaches you a lot about music. You’ll learn about chords, scales, modes, and more.

You’ll Meet People

As you start to play the bass guitar, you’ll meet people who love to play it too. You might even join a band or start one yourself.

You Can Make Money Playing Music

If you decide to become a professional musician, then you’ll definitely make money playing the bass guitar. In fact, if you’re good enough, you could earn up to $50,000 per year.

You Can Expand Your Musical Horizons

If you’ve always wanted to play different instruments, then the bass guitar is a great place to start. The bass guitar is versatile and can cover a whole range of musical styles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Bass Should I Buy?

There are many types of basses available on the market today. If you don’t know what kind of bass you want, then you should probably go for a standard electric bass.

These are usually made from wood and come in various sizes and shapes. 

They also have adjustable frets so they are easy to tune. If you’d prefer to purchase a pre-made bass, then you should consider purchasing a Fender Precision Bass.

These are made from plastic and are often referred to as “precision” basses because they are designed to mimic the tone of a real acoustic bass.

How Long will it Take me to Master the Bass Guitar?

Learning to play the bass guitar takes practice and dedication. However, once you’ve mastered the basics, you shouldn’t need very long before you’re able to perform at a high level.

Where Can I Get Bass Guitar Lessons?

If you would like to learn to play the bass, there are plenty of places where you can find lessons. One of the best ways to learn how to play the bass is through online tutorials.

There are numerous websites that offer free lessons. Another option is to attend a local music school. Many schools offer private lessons, which means that you won’t have to pay any tuition fees.

Is it Hard to Play the Bass?

The truth is that playing the bass isn’t all that difficult. Once you’ve learned the basic techniques, you should be able to pick up the instrument with relative ease.

Learning to read music is another challenge, however, and this is something that most beginners struggle with.

Conclusion

Playing the bass guitar is a fun hobby that can help you expand your musical horizons. It’s also a rewarding career choice if you choose to pursue it professionally. As you can see, the bass guitar has lots to offer. 

So whether you’re looking to play a jazz bass or a precision bass, it is completely up to you. No bass guitar is better than the other for they both hold great and unique qualities.

To know which one is best for you, refer to our guide before testing them out for yourself.

Howard Matthews