It’s a widely held belief that every pro bassist should own at least one Fender Precision, and a random sampling of the field shows that to be mostly true. The classic chunky tone of a Fender P-Bass has launched a thousand hits, and it’s overwhelmingly the first pick of players in all genres. When it comes to inventions of great importance, the P-Bass is right up there with the wheel—but to keep things fresh, Fender recently introduced the American Professional series, built in Corona, California, with top-quality materials and components. The American Professional line features P and J models in 4-and 5-string configurations, and it becomes the de facto standard for Fender U.S.-made basses, with the American Vintage and American Elite lines rounding out the selection. But there’s more to being professional than simply calling yourself that—does the Fender American Professional Series make the grade?
The review instrument came with a maple fingerboard in the new Antique Olive finish, with a three-ply parchment pickguard. Some refinements are not visually obvious, like the new fluted-shaft-design tuner posts that make getting a solid top-to-bottom wrap more convenient. Looking to exploit the natural tendencies of the materials, the V-Mod Precision pickup uses alnico 2 magnets on the bass coil—which includes the B, E, and A strings—and alnico 5 for the treble coil. The taller, narrower frets measure .055" tall and .090" wide, a welcome change from the typical medium-jumbo standard. The 4-string model follows the neck profile of the American Vintage ’63 Precision, which was meticulously recreated from an actual vintage neck. How does that translate to the 5-string model? The 1.875" nut width feels slim and comfy, and like the ’63, the neck gradually fattens as you move up the neck. The string spacing is the Fender-standard ¾" over the brass-saddled High Mass Vintage bridge, which can be strung through the body, or top-loaded.
The American Professional series also offers new colors in addition to the usual sunburst, black, and white options. While Sonic Gray is reserved for the J-Bass model, the P gets the new Antique Olive finish. The supplied hardshell case also gets an upgrade with a form-fitting, plush-lined interior, TSA security locks, and a medium-duty molded plastic outer shell.
I had the opportunity to review the first release of the Fender Precision V, and the improvements to the American Professional are subtle but noticeable. The neck profile has been slimmed down in the money zone, giving it a nicely sculpted feel. The tuners do make it easier to wrap the string around the post, but in my opinion, nothing beats the old-style straight barrel shafts for an easy wrap. While the alnico 2 magnets for the bass coil are supposed to have more warmth and punch than the alnico 5 on the treble coil, I can’t report a significant difference between the two, but the bass does have the classic, punchy tone you would expect from a P-Bass—it sounds the way it should. I give Fender props for trying to introduce some new colors to the line, but the Antique Olive finish is a bit drab in person. Color is a subjective thing, and I’m sure there are people looking to outfit their band with a Soviet-era military vibe; this will do the trick. Luckily, you still have the standard colors to choose from, although maple fingerboards are paired with black and Antique Olive, and rosewood boards go with white or sunburst.
The American Professional Precision V plays great, and it has the classic tone you want from a P—on the top 4 strings. The B string balances well with the rest of the instrument, and at 34" scale, it presents a stout report; with the pickup in the standard P position, the response is big and wide. It is perhaps not the best choice if you need to articulate fast fingerstyle runs on the lowest string, but a pick will solve that. The texture is well suited for the occasional dip into the lower register, or playing above the 5th fret for a thicker tone in the standard range.
The Fender American Professional series is the new standard for Fender’s U.S.-made offerings, and it represents the company’s commitment to improve the platform without changing what everyone loves about it. Consider this a win.
American Professional Precision Bass V
Street $1,550 (maple), $1,600 (rosewood)
Pros U.S.-built, dependable quality
Bottom Line A well-priced U.S. competitor.
Neck Maple, ’63 profile
Fingerboard Maple (as reviewed) or rosewood
Scale length 34"
Neck width at nut 1.875"
Pickups V-Mod split single-coil
Hardware 5-string High Mass Vintage bridge, Fender Lightweight Vintage
Weight 9.5 lbs
Made in USA