Jazz Bass Timeline 1960-1982
Fender introduced the Jazz Bass in 1960 as a "deluxe" model to augment the Precision Bass. Since it's debut the Jazz has stayed remarkably similar to it's original design.
There have however been many smaller changes over the years that are important not only to it's history but also has great year indicator for vintage bass buffs.
The 1960 Fender Jazz Bass had two single coil pickups with stacked knob concentric controls. The top knob would adjust the pickup volume and the bottom knob would adjust the tone of that pickup.
The bridge was identical to the threaded saddle Precision Bass one, but the mute system was more complicated. Instead of a simple foam strip glued under the bridge cover, the Jazz featured an individual mute for each string. The mute holders were screwed into the body and hidden by the bridge cover.
The new thin Jazz Bass neck, only 1 1/2" at the nut had a slab Brazilian rosewood fingerboard with "clay" dot position markers. It was rumored that Leo Fender used old floor tile material for the "clay" dots, but it's generally believed now that it was a type of wood putty.
By late 1961 Fender changed the stacked knob controls to a simpler three knob design. The first two knobs controlled each pickup volume and the smaller third knob served as a master tone.
The individual mute system was also changed around this time to the more basic foam strip that was used on the Precision Bass.
Sometime in 1962 Fender changed the slab rosewood fingerboard to a radiused laminated rosewood board (much thinner).
In 1964 Fender changes the clay dot markers to faux pearl dots. They also replace the nitrocellulose pickguard with a vinyl one. Fender also moves the offset contour decal out to the ball end of the headstock around this time.
In 1965 Leo Fender sells his company to CBS. The era before this is now known as the pre-CBS years by collectors, and represents the most coveted of Fender's instruments.
Binding is added to Jazz necks in early 1966 and later that year "mother of pearl" block inlays are set into the rosewood fingerboards. These feature are not added to Precision basses.
The smaller thinner vintage frets are replaced with medium jumbo frets in mid 66'. Fender starts using it's own tuning machines, known as "paddle" or "lollipop" tuners on the Jazz the same year. The tuners no longer turn backwards for tuning up.
Fender starts offering maple cap fingerboards with black block inlays and black binding for Jazz Basses in 1967-68 although they are quite rare. The following year Fender switches from nitrocellulose finishes to polyurethane for the neck and bodies. The headstock face remains nitro due to chemical reactions with the decal. Also in 1969 Fender starts using a much larger logo on the headstock.
In 1970 Fender replaces the threaded bridge barrels with single slotted versions. The bridge pickup is moved about 1/4" back towards the bridge on the Jazz sometime in late 1970. This has a significant impact on the sound, giving the Jazz basses of this era a tighter and brighter tone. This change lasts until about 1982.
Ash is now used on all natural finished bodies starting in 1970.
Fender starts offering one piece maple necks for the Jazz bass in 1972.
Sometime in 1974 Fender moves the finger rest from under the G string to above the E string now making it a thumb rest. Black pickguards start to replace tortoise shell guards around this time. Maple fingerboards on the Jazz now feature pearl block inlays and white binding.
In 1975 Fender starts using three bolt necks with bullet truss rods on all Jazz basses. This feature is never used on Precision basses.
The logo on the Jazz is made smaller in 1976 and the serial numbers are moved from the neck plate to the headstock. The offset contour decal is no longer used.
In 1977 Fender replaces the normal skirted control knobs to stratocaster style knobs with numbers. This change lasts until about 1983.
In 1980 Fender starts offering white covers for the pickups and gold hardware is available on some models.
Fender introduces it's vintage reissue series in 1982, offering a 1962 Jazz bass model with classic design features such as stacked knob controls, nitrocellulose finish, vintage style tuners and bridge and a slab rosewood fingerboard. The Precision Bass models are available in 57' and 62' models.