Gear Review: Fender Deluxe & American Deluxe Dimension Basses

Yes, we all can agree that Leo Fender got it right the first time in 1951 with the Fender Precision Bass.
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American Deluxe Dimension Bass V 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.

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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.

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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.



Street 4-string, $1,600–$1,700; 5-string, $1,700–$1,800
Pros 5-position pickup switch (on HH) and 3-band EQ offer loads of tone sculpting options.
Cons None

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.
Cons None



Construction Bolt-on
Body Ash
Neck Maple
Fingerboard Rosewood
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, U.S.A


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Roundup: Short-Scale Basses

THE OLD ADAGE THAT “LEO GOT IT RIGHT THE FIRST TIME” WITH THE Fender Precision Bass is hard to dispute; the combination of styling, ergonomics, and tone from that design forms the core of our consciousness as bass players.