Text Box:  Marcus Miller Signature Model Jazz Bass

Marcus Miller is considered one of, if not the best contemporary bass players, having played with countless big name acts such as Miles Davis, David Sanborn, Luther Vandross just to name a few and also has a successful solo career

To his credit he has two Fender Signature Bass models, an American made 5-string which has recently been released and a Japanese made 4-string counterpart, which has been in production since 1998, this resembles the instrument Marcus uses. The 4 string is the instrument we will be reviewing.

The Bass itself is based on a 1970s Jazz bass, with an ash body, but gone is the usual bridge and “ashtray” cover as this is replaced by a more up to date Leo Quann Badass II Bridge.

The mid pickup cover remains though as this is an essential element is Marcus’s playing style.

This is no ordinary Jazz Bass though, as extra controls and a preamp have been added to make the instrument active or passive at will. The pickguard has also been extended to hide the extra electronics.

Each pickup has its own independent volume control via two knurled chrome knobs whilst two Jazz Bass plastic knobs controls the overall treble and bass. A small switch also turns the preamp on or off.

The pickups themselves are single coil Jazz Bass American Vintage as found on Fenders USA Reissue Series.

Visually the bass is very attractive with lots of grain from ash body showing through the polyurethane finish. The maple neck has 20 medium jumbo frets and is adorned with white square pearl inlays and is also bound in the same colour. All hardware is chrome and the tuners are the correct period vintage reverse tuners.

The tone is well exactly what one expects pure Marcus! Bright and snappy in the higher registers yet deep in the low ones. The preamp also adds extra tone and volume when switched on.

Playing with the pickup cover at first takes a bit of getting used to, it can be easily removed but it adds so much to the character of this instrument that at least for now its staying on!

As final note the finish on this bass is excellent, very impressive for a “Made in Japan” instrument that some consider inferior. The only thing I would have preferred is if it had come with a case though as I had to purchase one separately and these can be rather expensive when bought separately.

Overall a great instrument, which fantastic tone, and an excellent finish.

By Ernest H Slade