ICONIC MANUFACTURERS OFTEN FACE CHALLENGES WHEN THEY INTRODUCE NEW DESIGNS. For a company like Fender, the desire to expand and innovate is often met with reluctance from die-hard fans who are happy to stick with their Precision and Jazz Basses—and yet, that has never stopped Fender from bringing out new ideas. Some, like the poorly conceived Coronado (1963–73) have come back as greatly improved reissues, while others, like the ’80s Katana and Performer models, may forever remain hidden away like old jump-suited band photos. Fender has been successful at bringing in new blood, as witnessed by the popularity and diversity of the Jaguar Bass lineup, and the company is giving the newly re-minted Dimension Bass the full treatment by bringing out a version in its flagship American Standard series.
The original Dimension Bass was built between 2004–07 and featured a 24-fret neck, active electronics, a tilted-back headstock, and decidedly new styling. While that model has faded into obscurity, the new Dimension Bass was introduced in 2013 as a part of the Modern Player series, but quickly made its way into the Deluxe and then American Deluxe categories. Now that the Dimension is available in the American Standard series, it’s safe to assume the new kid is here to stay. The body shape has distinctive Fender elements: The lower bout is a nice cross between the P-and J-Bass, while the shortened horns harken back to the Fender electric mandolin. The shorter top horn places the top strap button in line with the 12th fret, as opposed to the 11th on a Por J-Bass—while this is a small difference, it increases neck-dive when playing with a strap. The pickguard has a new design that winds its way around the middle-position humbucker and doubles as the mounting surface for the controls. The asymmetrical “C” neck profile is slightly thinner on the treble side, and treated with a satin urethane finish for a comfortable feel. The badass-looking Hi-Mass bridge has chrome-plated saddles, with comfortable .71" (18mm) string spacing. The compound-radius fingerboard feels natural as it flattens out in the higher register, and the asymmetrical neck heel allows for perfect clearance to the highest fret.
The Dimension pickups are the most significant change from the classic Fender format, and the passive American Standard is the first platform that exploits them as a naked pair. The Deluxe and American Deluxe models are active only, with the HH (two-humbucker) configuration available in the U.S.-built version. The American Deluxe Dimension HH also employs a five-way switch that gives you access to useful coil combinations, while the American Standard adopts a traditional Fender battery-free approach with a simple volume/volume/tone control panel. The high-impedance Dimension humbuckers use Formvar-coated 41.5-gauge wire, a q"-thick ceramic bar magnet, and horseshoe-design polepieces with two rods in the coil. The bridge pickup is positioned similar to that of a G&L L-2000, while the middle pickup sits w" closer to the neck than on a standard P-Bass.
The American Standard Dimension bass captures the essential Fender-ness one looks for: an elegantly simple, sturdy design that provides a full, balanced tone. The playing surface feels comfortably familiar under the hands, and the control panel is state-of-the-art for 1961. The instrument functions like a classic passive Jazz Bass, but with a thicker texture. While ceramic-driven pickups are sometimes cited as sounding harsh, the Dimension humbuckers have a smooth high-end response, adding just a touch of icing to a relatively traditional Fender tone. The neckpickup serves up a slightly beefier version of the Precision Bass texture; rolling back on the tone control dulls the slight edge to make it vintage-safe. Blended, the two humbuckers produce a great full-range tone that can be applied to virtually any playing situation. While not as open and airy as its single-coiled cousin J, the Dimension gets an organic slap tone that avoids the sonic clutter of some dual-humbucker setups. The bridge pickup soloed is ideal for tight finger-funk playing, and will help your Jaco-inspired Jazz lines cut through the mix. Of paramount importance in the 5-string category, the test bass sported the fullest, most articulate-sounding B string I have found to date on a Fender bass.
The American Standard Dimension V is a traditional take on Fender’s newest model, and it’s a good way to introduce a more modern sound to those firmly ensconced in the legacy. If you’re the kind of player who digs the simplicity of a passive two-pickup axe with V/V/T controls, you’ll appreciate the American Standard version. However, I’m a little wistful about the absence of a five-way switch, as providing the coil combinations of the American Deluxe HH model would be an easy way to make this bass even cooler.
American Standard Dimension Bass V
Pros Has the feel and punch of a classic
Cons No access to coil combos
Bottom Line The Dimension Bass offers a new take on the classic Fender tone.
Neck Maple, asymmetrical “C” shape
Fingerboard Rosewood or maple
Fingerboard radius Compound 9.5"–14"
Frets 21 medium jumbo
Nut Synthetic bone
Scale length 34"
Neck width at nut 1.75"
Pickups Two Dimension ceramic humbuckers
Weight 9 lbs
Made in U.S.A.