Digital Music News has teamed up with Sweetwater to help a lucky musician kickstart 2021. Here’s a look at the recently-released Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass, and how you can win it.
2020 may have grounded most tours and live concerts, but it did little to halt practicing, recording, songwriting, and overall musical creativity. Amazingly, lockdowns also created a surge in the number of new guitar and bass players, with manufacturers like Fender reporting record sales levels in 2020. Surprisingly, younger women were the largest growth category at Fender, a development that promises to shift the musical landscape for years to come.
That’s good news, though few would call last year a cakewalk. So as 2020 drew to a close, Sweetwater — one of the largest musical instrument retailers in the world — approached us with an idea. Why not give away an incredible piece of gear to one of our readers to help them kickstart 2021?
In the process, Sweetwater wanted to give us a taste of how they help customers select the right instrument, then deliver the goods. That’s a pretty involved process at the company, so they wanted to flex their muscles a bit — and give away something juicy in the process.
So why the Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass?
As a bass player myself, and owner of two seriously-worn 4-strings, I was curious about what was out there. I was delighted to find lots of solid basses available at lower prices, with some incredible entry-level options for those just starting out. I even found an acceptable starter bass for less than $100 — just to get the chops going.
And there are also dozens of higher-end basses constantly being released, from brands big and small. For those willing to drop thousands — or tens of thousands — on a gorgeous, one-of-a-kind bass, there’s something beautiful waiting for you with endless tailored specifications (for some fun, check out this list of ‘Bodacious Basses‘).
But what about my non-stratospheric budget?
We set a budget in the $1,500 range, and I called a Sweetwater sales rep with dozens of questions related to body styles, woods, pickups, necks, frets recording, touring, cases, and more. I was looking for something that could survive gigging 250+ days a year, multi-hour high-energy shows, hours of practicing a day, versatility across numerous genres and performance atmospheres, all while delivering excellent performance in recording environments.
I also wanted to pick a bass that almost any musician reading Digital Music News would be thrilled to win. For that reason, I decided against 5-string, 6-string, and fretless variations, as cool as those variations are. I also nixed more delicate works-of-art that might get rattled on the road or become a magnet for thieves — we’ll leave those in the high-priced studios and performance halls of the musical elite.
But make no mistake: in the mid-$1,000 range, there are some incredible basses that will supply decades of enjoyment. Makers like Ibanez, Gibson, Yamaha, Rickenbacker, Ernie Ball Music Man, and more all have beautiful options, so I had a lot of go through with Sweetwater. And frankly, there were several basses that could have been chosen for this giveaway. But based on the metrics I’d fed Sweetwater, Fender came out a clear winner.
Actually, I’d already been buying some gear and instruments from Sweetwater. They know their stuff and are willing to handhold.
I spent nearly two hours with a single Sweetwater rep vetting through more than ten different possibilities. In the process, I learned every nuance about necks, frets, pickups, player feedback, and even cases. I also focused a lot on durability and versatility, while also including the possibility of a few accidents and mishaps (hey, the road can get unpredictable).
Eventually, Sweetwater narrowed it down to just a few basses, with the Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass the best buy for the budget. It’s also one of the latest, having been released in October of 2020, which gives it a few of the latest-and-greatest snazzy features that earlier versions lack. And for those that are actually playing jazz, this bass delivers a warm, upright standup bass sound, though it’s also perfectly capable of nailing other genres like pop, funk, and rock.
One plus is that Sweetwater can dial into specialty sounds and tell you which instruments are used by which famous players, whether it’s Jaco Pastorius, Flea, Geddy Lee, Cliff Burton, or Gene Simmons. Just be prepared for some elevating price tags as you head into more specialized terrains and celebrity-designed instruments.
Once you make your selection and swipe your card, Sweetwater also keeps contact with you to make sure everything arrives in one piece.
Actually, I’d also ordered another piece of percussion equipment for some Christmas caroling, and my sales guy also checked in on that — nice touch. Both arrived well-packaged and in good order — and this is a beautiful bass — though if there had been any problem, there’s definitely somebody home to help.
The bass itself arrived in pristine condition. There’s also a comprehensive, 55-point inspection process for any instrument over $299, which guarantees a problem-free start — though Sweetwater also checks in to see how things are going.
Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass specifications.
Enter to win below.
Please note: this is a right-handed bass guitar!
- Body Shape: American Professional II Jazz
- Number of Strings: 4
- Color: 3-Color Sunburst
- Body Finish: Gloss Polyurethane
- Body Material: Alder
- Neck Material: Maple
- Neck Shape: Slim C
- Radius: 9.5″
- Fingerboard Material: Rosewood
- Fingerboard Inlay: White Dots
- Number of Frets: 20, Narrow Tall
- Scale Length: 34″
- Nut Width: 1.5″
- Nut Material: Bone
- Bridge/Tailpiece: 4-Saddle HiMass Vintage
- Tuners: Fender Vintage-style
- Middle Pickup: Fender V-Mod II Jazz Single-coil
- Bridge Pickup: Fender V-Mod II Jazz Single-coil
- Controls: 2 x volume, 1 x master tone
- Strings: Fender USA 7250M, .045-.105
- Case Included: Hardshell Case
- Manufacturer Part Number: 0193970700
Enter to Win the Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass.
Please only one submission per entrant. This giveaway is US-only, and only one winner will be selected at random by March 31st, 2021. Please enter the address that you will be receiving the Fender American Professional II Jazz Bass if you are a winner. Your email address and/or phone number will be used to notify you if you are a winner. If you do not respond to reasonable efforts to contact you, Digital Music News will select another winner. You are responsible for any taxes or other charges associated with winning this prize. After the giveaway is concluded, all entry details will be deleted, except for the email addresses of those selecting to receive the Digital Music News Daily Snapshot. Good luck!