"Fender Japan produced some "not so standard" very special medium scale instruments during the mid to late '80s. This Jazz Bass Special is one of the models and there were at least five Jazz Bass Special configurations released. The commonality would be the 21 fret rosewood board and PJ pickup configuration and electronics. Usually, those with hidden pole pieces had active electronics while those with exposed pole pieces had passive electronics. The passive models would generally have three knobs and a pickup selector switch - and the active models had Fender-labeled active pickups - with four knobs and no pickup selector switch. They also have gold plated hardware and sealed tuners."


This particular model was only available in Japan - in both long and medium scale configurations - and only a small number of medium scale basses were made. Here is the medium scale model, PJM65 as it was listed in the 1986 - 87 Fender Catalog - as shown in the catalog below:


An excerpt from an article by rexbass on the Jazz Bass Special appears here:

"Some folks have requested that I write about the original run of Fender Jazz Bass Specials, and I am happy to oblige. One of these was my first decent bass, and they have remained one of my favorite basses of all time. I have owned bunches of them, making me a pseudo-expert.

If you are not familiar with these, Jazz Bass Specials were made famous by Duff McKagan of Guns N Roses, and later of Velvet Revolver. These basses were made by Fender in Japan in the early years that were known for the best MIJ guitars, and were of better quality than the ones produced in the US. They were originally produced from 1985 to 1987 (or so). The ”special” part of the Jazz Bass Special is that it has a Precision Bass body shape with a Jazz Bass profile neck and a P/J pickup configuration.

The bodies are probably basswood, as they are light. They have a control cavity routed in the back so there is no pick guard. The necks all have a glossy black head stock, and a rosewood fret board. They were available fretted or fretless. The backs of the maple necks were either clear coated, or painted glossy black.

Often times, the knobs were replaced, too. They came with F-logo plastic knobs that had a nubbly rubber grip around the edge. Good luck finding replacements if they are missing, because Fender does not sell them, and I never see them for sale on eBay. I am thinking about re-issuing them myself. Anyway, these are great basses. They sound good, play very well, and generally come in under 9 pounds. I would pick up one of these original Japanese Jazz Bass Specials before considering one of the low-quality newer re-issues."


OK, so I had to do this. I found this 1986-7 Fender Jazz Special for sale in Japan for a very reasonable price and I just had to pull the trigger. There were a few reasons for this. First of all, I don't have a Fender bass with a Precision/Jazz "Active"pickup configuration, which will most definitely add to my arsenal of tones. Secondly, I don't own a bass with gold hardware. I have never been much of a fan of gold hardware, but somehow on this bass it works for me. And lastly, for a bass over 25 years old, this one was in amazing condition!

The most intriguing thing to me is that this bass, even though it looks like black paint from a distance - is actually a transparent black dye - allowing the beautiful grain of the swamp ash that lies beneath to shine through. The standard basswood bodies were all painted solid black. The swamp ash body with the transparent dye is what classified this bass a custom order back in 1986-87.

One of the other interesting things is that the paper on the back of the plastic control cover shown below was never removed. I soaked it in WD-40 and the paper came off fine after soaking ot for a couple of hours.


One of the other nice features is that the asymmetrical neck pocket has a micro tilt neck adjustment as you can see below. Notice the hole in the neck plate through which you can make micro adjustments to the neck tilt.

Micro-Tilt is a simple leverage mechanism. Through a small hole in the neck plate, a small Allen screw can be used to increase neck angle. Tightening the screw makes it protrude beyond the surface of the neck pocket, pushing on a metal plate mounted on the bottom of the neck heel and thus slightly increasing the neck angle.

This is a feature originally introduced in the early 1970s as an easy means of adjusting the angle of the neck in relation to the instrument body. Above is the four-bolt neck attachment with Micro-Tilt on my Jazz Special. In the neck pocket - in the lower half of the photo - the round Micro-Tilt mechanism is separate from the four neck “bolt” holes - and is seen with its Allen screw protruding from its center hole. The Allen screw presses against the circular metal plate set into the underside of the butt end of the neck, as seen in the upper half of the photo.


This is a Fender Japan Jazz Bass Special which - according to the serial number - was manufactured in 1986. We would call this bass in the U.S. a P-J, meaning it has both a P Bass and a J Bass pickup on it. However, the body shape is strictly P Bass. The electronics feature an active Precision Bass split coil pickup in the neck position and an active Jazz Bass pickup in the bridge position, both designed by Fender. This bass weighs in at a hefty 9.8 lbs and the width of the neck at the nut is a narrow 38.5mm - most certainly making it a Jazz Bass neck. Although most of these models were made with basswood, this was apparently a special order - or "order made" as Fender Japan would call it. The body is swamp ash. - with a very unique, and beautiful - transparent black finish. Although black was available in those years, it was black paint over basswood, not transparent black dye over swamp ash. This bass also features a micro-tilt adjustment on the neck plate with a "skunk" stripe down the back of the neck. It is outfitted with all gold hardware and the sound and playability is remarkable. The special Fender pickups on this bass are active - during this period most pickups made by Fender Japan with no visible "poles" were generally active.


Builder/Manufacturer: Fender Japan

Year: 1986-87

Model Name: Fender Jazz Bass Special

Model Number: PJM-60C

Body: Ash

Finish: Transparent black urethane, gloss

Neck Material: Maple with walnut "skunk" stripe on back

Fretboard: Rosewood with clay dot inlays as position markers

Neck Attachment: 4 bolt with micro tilt adjustment

Neck Shape: Standard Fender Jazz Bass Medium Scale

Neck Finish: Satin lacquer by Patrick Cummings

Scale Length: 32” (813mm)

Number of Frets: 21

Nut Width: 39mm

Pickups: Fender Precision Bass split coil pickup in the neck position - and a Fender Jazz Bass pickup in the bridge position

Electronics: Active

Controls: Master Volume, Balance, Bass and Treble

Bridge: Standard Fender vintage gold

Hardware Finish: Gold, original Fender Machine Heads - Light

Strings: Original Fender Japan roundwounds

Unique Features: Black transparent finish, very rare - also micro tilt adjustment is unique


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