Precision Bass or Jazz Bass: Which Is Right for You?

If you are someone who wants to learn how to play bass but aren’t sure whether to start with precision or jazz bass, we’re here to help you make that decision! Even if you are not a beginner but simply aren’t sure what the differences between the two are and you want to learn more about them, we’re here to break down both of these in detail!

Learning how to play any instrument takes a lot of time, determination, and practice, and the same applies to learning how to play bass—be it jazz bass or precision bass. Along with all of the previously mentioned factors, determining which instrument is right for you is also very important.

There is no shortage of options to choose from, and that is why making this decision can be quite difficult at times. We’ll go over the key differences between precision bass and jazz bass—two of the bass archetypes. That way, you’ll be able to learn all there is to know about them without wasting hours doing research on your own, and you’ll be ready to start your jamming session in no time!

What Is a Precision Bass?


Before we get to what the differences between precision and jazz bass are, we’re going to explain what each of these instruments is and how it works. That way, you can get a better understanding and a clear picture of the two, as well as learn to differentiate between them like a real professional. Let’s begin with a precision bass.

Also, it’s worth to mention that P and Jazz basses are the most popular types and many modern electric bass guitars are based on them. Manny bass guitars use their pickup configurations or overall look and feel. And these bass guitars are very versatile and used in various genres such as rock, metal, pop, jazz, etc.

Precision bass, also known as P-Bass, is an electric bass guitar model that is manufactured by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. The instrument has a solid body, usually four strings, a single split-coil humbucking pickup, as well as a maple neck with either a rosewood or maple fingerboard.

This instrument was brought to market in the 1950s, and it has since become one of the most popular and most frequently played instruments out there. It is also one of the best-selling instruments on the market. There is an abundance of notable musicians who play this instrument. Take a look at the list below to find out who some of them are:

  • Peter Cetera
  • Michael Steele
  • Dusty Hill
  • Donald “Duck” Dunn
  • Mike Dirnt
  • Tony Franklin
  • Duff McKagan
  • Steve Harris
  • Sting
  • Roger Waters
  • John Lodge
  • Dee Dee Ramone
  • Pino Palladino
  • Dallon Weekes
  • James Jamerson

What Is a Jazz Bass?


Now that you know what a precision bass is, it’s time to go over what a jazz bass is. Jazz bass, also known as Fender Jazz Bass and J-Bass, is a model of an electric bass that is made by Leo Fender. While the precision bass was introduced in the 1950s, J-Bass came a decade later, in 1960. This instrument was first known as the Deluxe Model, but it was later renamed Jazz bass. It was also redesigned to feature a narrower and more rounded neck that jazz musicians would prefer.

J-Bass features a bit different, less symmetrical, and more contoured body shape, as well as two single-coil pickups with two pole pieces per string. The two pickups give this instrument a very bright and high-end sound. The inspiration for this bass was the Jazzmaster guitar and its offset body and sculpted edges. If you’re curious about what well-known musicians played jazz bass, take a look at the list below to find out:

  • Paul McCartney
  • Tom Hamilton
  • Flea
  • David Desrosiers
  • Noel Redding
  • John Entwistle
  • Robert Sledge
  • Marcus Miller
  • Jason McCaslin
  • Geddy Lee
  • Pete Wentz
  • Jaco Pastorius
  • Paul McGuigan
  • John Klingberg

Precision Bass VS Jazz Bass—The Key Differences

Since you are now acquainted with both of the instruments, it is time to list their key differences and determine which one would work better for you based on that. We will list three of the most crucial differences between these two bass guitars in the list below:

1. Neck

Both of these bass guitars were made by the same manufacturer, so they share a similar design and overall style. However, they are not the same. While both the P-Bass and J-Bass feature C-shaped necks, the precision bass one is 43mm at the nut and stays consistently wide throughout. Jazz basses feature a tapered neck that is broad near the body but narrows down to 38mm at the nut. So, in short, the precision bass neck is wider from the sides but thinner from front to back, and the jazz bass neck is narrow from the sides but thicker from front to back.

2. Body


When it comes to the bodies of these two bass guitars, they are quite different. Precision bass was designed similarly to the Telecaster, while Jazz bass was designed drawing inspiration from the Jazzmaster. That is why the two don’t look the same even though they were designed by the same manufacturer.

P-Bass features a strat S-shaped thicker body with a somewhat of a retro style. J-Bass features a sleek offset body, and it is made to be extremely comfortable, usually featuring an ergonomic design.

3. Electronics

Last, but certainly not the least important, factor on our list is electronics. Precision bass has originally featured a chrome-plated single-coil pickup. However, in 1957, it was upgraded to a hum-canceling split-coil pickup. The polepieces that the bass feature provides thunderous low-end and clear high-end.

Jazz bass boasts dual single-coil pickups, as well as two polepieces per string, which offers a bright and trebly tone with an excellent midrange growl. Some players argue that the adjustability that this provides offers more sound variations. Whether you agree with this or not remains to be seen once you try the basses out and see which one is right for you.


Deciding whether Precision bass or Jazz bass is right for you doesn’t have to be difficult. Once you go over this article and gather the relevant info we provided, you should be able to determine which of these fits your needs in a matter of minutes!

Keep in mind that both of these bass guitars can be used across almost all music genres, so there is no need to worry about making a wrong choice. Take into consideration the looks, sound, and feel, and pick the one that would be the most comfortable and suitable for you.