A friend at work is looking to get a Christmas present for one of her family - a Fender Jazz Bass. Good choice! She has a budget of £500 and ask my advice. I offered the following but made me realise that frankly it's bloody confusing as hell isn't it for someone who knows nothing but what they know the other person wants but they want to buy in secret without that person knowing....
No problem – happy to help.
Okay firstly an attempt to quickly unravel the mystery around this…
Largely there are three main groupings of Fender instruments.
American made – these are the “puka” Fenders made in the Californian factories. Generally considered the pinnacle that people aspire to. I’ll explain more about these in a moment…
Mexican made – these are still Fenders but generally not considered the real thing. You have to be careful when buying as these are often refered to as Standard series and I’ve seen Mexican Fenders on eBay with “American” in the title. There is a difference with “American Standard” vs “Standard”… confusing
Far East – some with Fender in large name but these are rare most have Squier as the main name and noticeably cheaper normally.
Okay – so assuming you’re looking for an American one given these are as I say what most people aspire to. There are three divisions generally…
1. Highway 1 series – this is like the one in the link you sent me. These are stunningly good value frankly. You can get them brand new for just around £500 if you shop around. Companies I’d recommend that have on-line/mail order via phone are Andertons in Guildford http://www.andertons.co.uk or Guitar and Keyboards in Brighton http://www.guitarampkeyboard.com/ You’d be right up against your budget but get a brand new USA built instrument with a guarantee etc.
2. American Standard Series – or USA Series depending on age they recently changed the title. Brand new these start from about £750 - £800 and will go up… and up to many thousands
3. Vintage / custom shop. These are likely to be out of your price range I’d suspect even second hand they generally are limited editions and hold their value very well – many even appreciating over time.
So the things to look for are to confirm that is a USA version – as I say just Fender Standard in the name is likely to be Mexican. These are good but not as good as USA built and won’t hold their value like USA ones do.
If you do see a particular one that you are thinking to bid on please let me know and I can have quick look and give you my opinion. Clearly the whole eBay thing is a bit buyer beware – although I’ve bought guitars via it at very good prices myself. But then I’ve also reported sellers to eBay who are clearly selling things that are not what they suggest they are as well. Final bit of advice – any guitar with the word “project” in the title on ebay normally means something is seriously wrong with it needing someone with serious knowledge, a long time and or a lot of money potentially to fix, for example to replace the electrical components in a bass like this would be easily the best part of £200 - £300 and a new neck and fitting will be likely similar.
My advice would be with your budget to think about getting one of the Highway 1 series brand new from a good mail order/online dealer. I’ve played a few of these and been tempted to get a model from this range myself I think they are excellent value.