Precision vs. Jazz Basses
Almost every electric bassist worth his salt owns, or aspires to own, a Fender bass in his arsenal. The renowned Fender Musical Instruments Corporation produces both the Precision and the Jazz bass models, each of which has a very different personality. It can be difficult to figure out which bass to choose, especially when both are of equal quality. When comparing Precision vs. Jazz basses, the main differences between these models lie in the neck, body and pickups.
Although both the Precision and the Jazz models have a maple neck with a basic C shape, there are noticeable differences between the necks. The Jazz model has a reputation for being easy to play. Its tapered neck is narrower at the nut, and many players like the way the strings feel. The Precision neck has a more consistent thickness. Meanwhile, the Jazz starts with its strings in a noticeably narrower spacing at the nut that give it a distinct "tapered" feel for what some players feel is easier fingering. The fast-action maple Jazz neck also debuted with a rosewood fingerboard that made it easier to manage. With that in mind, though, a wide variety of neck options are open to today's P Bass or J Bass buyers. From Custom Shop models with a full "C" shape to Artist Series Jazz with Precision necks and Precisions with Jazz necks (as with the Deluxe Series P Bass Special), you can have the body/neck combination that suits you best
Both basses are available in the same choices of wood, but there are slight differences in the bodies of the instruments. The Precision has a contoured body that is reminiscent of many electric guitars, and that is comfortable to hold. The Jazz body, which is based on later instruments, is sloped to avoid a bassist's right arm. One can now buy basses with a Precision neck and Jazz body, or vice versa.
Although this point might be debatable, many players feel that the Jazz model has a cleaner sound than the Precision model. The Precision features a split-coil pickup, while the Jazz has a dual eight-pole pickup with many tonal options and a pan knob to balance the sound.
The final decision
The decision about whether to buy a Precision or a Jazz bass is a personal one. Thankfully, one can now purchase basses with features of each guitar. However, the obsessive collector probably wants to purchase bass guitars of both vintages.