Fender Jazz

Bass Guitar

The Fender Jazz is an electric bass often used by Prince and his band. He regularly used the bass in the early to mid 1980s, and then used it again from the 2000s onwards. It is popular with funk, disco and jazz artists, and is particularly suitable for playing in a slap style.

Andre Cymone first used a Fender Jazz just after the Prince album came out. It is likely that Prince used this bass in the studio for the Dirty Mind album onward. Andre first used a natural jazz with a maple fretboard and mirrored pickguard. He then used a model finished in a zebra print pattern. When Brownmark joined the band, he used a black jazz, also with a mirrored pickguard. He then moved to a purple Jazz for the 1999 tour and Purple Rain movie. The purple "Purple Rain" Jazz is in the collection at Paisley Park. The whereabouts of the other basses is unknown. All these basses had the same neck and mirrored pickguards, so it is possible that they are all refinished versions of the same bass.

The are reports of Prince using the Jazz in the studio for the Purple Rain sessions and he used one on the song She's Always In My Hair. It is likely that he used one on Dirty Mind, Controversy and 1999 as well. For the Purple Rain tour, Brownmark switched to an Alembic Spoiler and it is likely that Prince stopped using a Jazz as well. It is not featured in his guitar collection in the Nude Tour tourbook and it is not mentioned in his 1999 Bass Player interview.

Prince started using a Jazz again at some point in the early 2000s. He was seen playing purple, red and black models with maple fretboards. These three basses are in the collection at Paisley Park and appear in the Prince - Guitar & Bass book. He also used similar ESP and Moon basses. 

Rhonda Smith also started to use a Fender Jazz American Deluxe in the early 2000 and Josh Dunham used Jazz basses, including the Marcus Miller signature bass.

I started with the “zebra bass,” an early ’80s, passive Fender Jazz. After 1999, I went to the “flower bass,” a custom Alembic Spoiler. Prince liked that bright, clean sound, but I hated it. I don’t like people to understand what I’m playing. Prince insisted on it because for big arenas, the Alembics cut through, especially with my Crown PA rig and paisley Ampeg cabs loaded with 15s.
Brownmark; "Brownmark: Purple Rain" - Bass Player, November 2017
A Fender Jazz through an Ampeg SVT, but the amp didn’t growl enough so I went to two Crowns and custom boxes with four 10s and an 18. I used separate preamps, a Lexicon phaser and parametric EQ. Here’s a secret about Prince’s sound: he liked everything mixed high, so the low presence would cut through. Eventually I migrated to an Alembic Spoiler and by the Parade album (1986), I had a Roland interface built in so I didn’t have to play that weird-looking Roland bass thing.