Yes, we all can agree that Leo Fender got
it right the first time in 1951 with the Fender Precision Bass.
And the second time in 1961with the Fender Jazz Bass. And
the third time in 1976 with the Music Man StingRay. And the
fourth time in 1980 with G&L’s L-series basses. Leo’s bass
legacy is undeniable, and we are fortunate to still pick fruit
from three vital branches the Leo Fender family tree: Fender,
Ernie Ball Music Man, and G&L. While each of those companies
could brainlessly bank their futures on Leo’s designs of
decades past, it’s heartening to see each reach into the modern
age with fresh designs for the times.
|American Deluxe Dimension Bass V
For Fender’s part, much of the company’s innovation has
come through offering Precision and Jazz Basses—some,
slightly modified—in a range of trim packages and at various
price points. The company is now throwing its
weight behind an entirely new bass, the Dimension
Bass. Not to be confused with the Modern
Player Dimension Basses released a few years ago,
the new American Deluxe Dimension Bass comes in
four models: 4-string or 5-string with either single
or twin humbuckers (HH). The Deluxe Dimension
Bass is available in 4- or 5-string configurations,
both with a single bridge-position humbucker.
|Deluxe Dimension Bass V
To call the Dimension Bass revolutionary would
surely be overstating things; from its headstock
to its Hi-Mass bridge, the Dimension bears a lot
in common with its Fender brothers and younger
cousins. But with a slightly offset body shape that
feels like a cross between a Jazz and a StingRay, compound-radius
fingerboards (on the American Deluxe), and newly designed Fender
Fathead humbucking pickups, the Dimension certainly occupies its
own plane in the Fender universe.
Spending the bulk of my time with the American Deluxe IV
HH, it took mere moments to get with the Dimensions comfortable
shape and distinctly Fender feel. Unplugged, the Dimension
has all the snap and resonance I love in an ash-body bolt-on.
Plugged in, the Dimension really begins to separate itself from
the traditional Fender pack. I was all but befuddled by the array of
tones at my fingertips. Not unlike the Ernie Ball Music Man Sabre
we recently reviewed [October 2013], the Dimension HH boast a
5-way pickup selector switch with the following options, back to
front: neck pickup; both pickups, outer coils; both pickups, humbucking,
both pickups, inner coils; neck pickup. With that variety
of sounds, paired with a potent onboard 3-band EQ, the Dimension
is nothing if not flexible.
The Dimension’s new Fathead pickup is unique in its construction;
rather than utilizing a single pole piece for each string, the
Fathead in fact employs two poles that are connected at the top to
create a horseshoe shape intended to create a wide but focused magnetic
field for increased low-end punch. In humbucking mode, the
high-output pickups pump out a fat fundamental with a balanced
top end. Single-coil operation attenuates some of the low-end
boom, and gives the bass a smaller, more focused sonic footprint.
For players who perhaps don’t want or need the vast sonic
range of the Dimension HH, the single pickup Dimension Bass
offers charms that shouldn’t be overlooked. With its single humbucker
placed in a StingRay-like position, a sonic parallel to Leo’s
latter-day design is perhaps unavoidable. But with their slimmer,
more shallow neck and unique body profiles, the single-pickup
Dimension Basses have a feel that’s all their own.
Both the Deluxe and American Deluxe Dimension Basses are
available in 5-string; the American Deluxe V comes with either
pickup configuration, while the Deluxe V comes with a single
bridge humbucker. Both tester Vs played beautifully, and had taut
B strings that spoke clearly through the burly-sounding Fatheads.
Whether its the sparkle and growl of a Jazz, the grunt of
a Precision, the scooped goodness of a StingRay, or the power
and punch of an L-2000, each of these iconic basses has a signature
sound that speaks to some, if not all. Though it’s impossible
to wrap the sounds of all into a single bass, the Dimension
at least takes one step closer. For that, it is deserving of a Bass
Player Editor Award.
AMERICAN DELUXE DIMENSION BASSES
Street 4-string, $1,600–$1,700; 5-string,
Pros 5-position pickup switch (on HH) and
3-band EQ offer loads of tone sculpting
DELUXE DIMENSION BASSES
Street 4-string, $750; 5-string, $800
Pros Offers much of the tonal versatility of
the American Deluxe Dimension for a
fraction of the price.
DELUXE & AMERICAN DELUXE DIMENSION
Pickups Fender Fathead humbuckers
Controls Volume, 5-way pickup selector
(HH models), treble (+10dB @ 10kHZ,
-12dB @ 12kHz), midrange (+8dB/-7dB @
650Hz), bass (+7/-10dB @ 40Hz)
Made in Deluxe, Mexico; American Deluxe,