If a Fender P bass could talk, it might say something like this: “Hi. I’m arguably the most popular bass design of all time. I have been on too many hit records to count, rocked a bazillion people throughout my history, and I am made in California not far from where I was born. Although I have been through a few mods in my day, including my latest incarnation, I can be identified with one letter and the entire bass community knows exactly what it means.”
Fender has the luxury (and, some might say, curse) of owning the two best-known bass designs in the universe: the Jazz and the Precision. I call it a blessing because of the wonderful history and design of these basses, but also a curse, because with progress comes change. In the eyes of the Fender faithful, change can be the death of a historic design. (Dimension Bass anyone?) Classics doneed to be reworked on occasion, however, and thus the American Performer series was born. We recently tested the Precision in the series to see if it could capture decades of Fender magic at around 1,200 bucks.
You Down With APP?
Out of the included gig bag, the American Performer P feels the same, but, well, different. The neck is a hybrid between a P and a J and has what Fender calls a “Modern C” design, which means there’s no Louisville Slugger or broomstick vibe here.
The instrument’s arctic-white poly finish is fantastic. The other colors in the series include a three-tone burst, Lake Placid blue, and a bright copper-colored metallic finish that Fender calls "Penny." The black 3-ply pickguard offers a cool contrast with a little attitude, although I’d love to see the bass available with a tortoise guard against this gorgeous white finish. The APP doesn’t feel too heavy or cumbersome. Rather, it sort of feels like it hugs you with its belly scoop and light alder body.
The APP has crushing sustain unplugged, and did I mention this neck? The satin polyurethane finish provided just the right glide and slide, and the neck felt absolutely perfect in the back, with no anomalies or uneven spots. The taper on the neck goes from ’50s P to almostJazz at the nut, which provides an ergonomically pleasing experience in that I wasn’t fighting the instrument because of width or depth.