The iconic bass manufacturer introduces a new low-end machine.
When you work for the company that created the two most revered and copied bass models ever, what do you do next?
Fender’s classic designs remain the go-to axes for countless bassists, though some Fender models have not been as widely cherished. Such was the case with the Modern Player Dimension bass that Fender released about a decade ago, but retired after a few years. Now a new Dimension series has arrived. These basses integrate many popular components into a forward-thinking design aimed at players seeking a modern alternative to a P or J.
The ’Buckers Start Here
Our Dimension Bass IV HH arrived in a slick, TSA-certified, ABS molded case. I was instantly smitten. This blonde beauty had a lot going for it out of the gate, with its maple fretboard and a beautiful ash body finished with gloss polyester. Bonus: The case candy includes strap locks, a cable, and a strap.
A pair of humbucking pickups (hence HH) announces that this is not a traditional Fender bass. The 3-ply pickguard has a sweeping look similar to a Fodera Yin Yang, and Fender has upped the hardware ante with a high-mass bridge. Knurled knobs control the volume and 3-band EQ, while a 5-way switch selects pickups.
Flipping the bass over reveals a 5-bolt offset neck heel and a battery panel for the 18-volt electronics. While I prefer tabbed battery covers for convenience, Fender made the screw drives wide enough for a coin, so there’s no need to scramble for a screwdriver if you have change in your pocket.
The Dimension arrived with low action, and its oil-rubbed, asymmetrical C-shaped neck (thinner on the treble side, thicker on the bass) is very fast. The bass felt great overall, though some frets have sharp ends that need a bit of dressing. It’s nicely balanced and doesn’t dive when strapped up. The bass really sings, even without an amp.
The 5-way pickup selector is a little confusing at first, but makes perfect sense once you cycle through its options. In position 1, both bridge pickup coils are engaged. The next position engages the inner coils of each pickup. The bass is at full bore in the middle position, with all four coils active. Only the outer coils are active in the fourth position, and the final position solos the neck-pickup coils. The 3-band EQ is active in all five positions, and all pickup combinations are hum-canceling.
Running the bass through a DAW and some favorite amps models from IK Multimedia’s AmpliTube 3 plug-in, I found that the Dimension falls somewhere between vintage tones and modern shimmer. As a fingerstyle player, I favored position 5. Despite the humbucker, it has a single-coil feel that makes tones breathe and boom at the same time. StingRay-esque “pop” appears when both pickups are rocking in position 3. Slaphappy I am not, but it wasn’t hard to launch into fast, overplayed riffs—good tone is inspiring. (I’d be curious to hear this bass with the rosewood fretboard option for added warmth.)
What impresses me most about the Dimension is how many tones I can get from it. The switching options are great, and when combined with the EQ’s boost/cut properties, you can tame highs or add midrange pop in a flash. The only drawback to the 5-way switch is its location: A heavy-handed player could knock it out of position.
Design is often variation on a theme, and the Dimension is no exception. Its body shows influence from the Ibanez Musician and Gibson Victory. The truss-adjustment style recalls a Music Man. The headstock, of course, is pure Fender The Dimension is a cool offering that differentiates itself from Precisions and Jazzes, though I’m glad Fender didn’t alter their iconic headstock as they did with previous Dimension models. At a couple of clicks under two grand, this instrument is pricey, but it has many tones on tap. If you want a quality, U.S.-built Fender bass from that isn’t a P or J, you might want to give the Dimension a serious look. Dimension basses are also available in 5-string models, multiple finishes, and in lower-priced import versions.
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