1989 Fender American Standard Longhorn Jazz Bass

CRAVE Guitars says…

Pluses: A cool variant of the classic look. Relative scarcity. Familiar but unfamiliar at the same time. Playability. Versatile sounds. Condition. Vintage prices.

Minuses: Not a traditional Fender Jazz Bass. Unusual aesthetics. Prejudicial attitudes of the conservative unenlightened. Non‑original case.

Verdict: Revel in the non‑conformity while not straying too far from the beaten track. It has the right name on the headstock. Dare to be different. What are you waiting for?

Model Description:

Not content with introducing the game‑changing Fender Precision Bass in 1951, Leo Fender set about designing another solid body electric bass, one that would appeal to a different audience while reinforcing the reputation of the earlier P-Bass. The Deluxe Model, as it was originally called, was introduced in 1960, shortly thereafter to be renamed the Jazz Bass (or J-Bass for short), a classic that remains in production to the current day. The Jazz Bass’s body was different from the outset in that it has an offset contoured body. The maple neck was also slimmer than the Precision, intended to appeal to jazz musicians. It was launched to complement the similarly targeted 6‑string Jazzmaster guitar. Like the Jazzmaster, the Jazz Bass’s appeal would soon extend way beyond the jazz fraternity. Fender also used new pickups on the Jazz Bass. A pair of 8‑pole (2 per string) single coil pickups wired to be hum‑reducing when both pickups are used in tandem, which gave it a distinctive scooped sound. The American Standard series was introduced in 1989 with the so‑called Longhorn model Jazz Bass. What most sets the Longhorn apart from its standard J‑Bass counterpart are the deeper cutaways to give better access to the longer 22‑fret neck (2 frets more than a normal Jazz Bass) on the rosewood fingerboard. Many think that the horns are actually extended but they just appear that way because of the deeper cutaways. The slightly unusual, and some say ugly, look imbued the American Standard Jazz Bass from 1989‑1994 with the crudely whimsical and shorter nickname of the ‘boner’ bass. Others say it looks like a bad far eastern copy of the ‘real thing’. The outline proved an anathema to conservative players accustomed to the traditional shape. The Longhorn was discontinued after 5 years and has not been reissued to‑date. The body shape gives the Longhorn better balance when strapped on and many owners are very positive about the build quality of the instrument. The single tone control is Fender’s propriety passive TBX (Treble/Bass eXpander) circuit for a more flexible range of sounds. The Longhorn model should not be confused with the Fender Jazz Bass Plus, which had a number of specification differences. The Longhorn ‘boner’ bass is not common, although it isn’t particularly rare. Many self‑opinionated commentators vociferously condemn the Longhorn, rendering it a relative ‘bargain’ on the current vintage bass market. This will hopefully change as the model matures and people wake up to the variant as something to be appreciated not disdained.

Bass Description:

There’s nothing like a good ‘boner’, as some might say. This glorious 1989 Fender American Standard Longhorn Jazz Bass is not well‑known and not what you might expect at first glance. The reason why this groovy bass belongs to the CRAVE Guitars family is because it diverges from the norm. The short‑lived Longhorn ‘boner’ Jazz Bass marks it out as cool & rare‑ish. It was certainly unusual and a brave move by Fender, messing with an icon. Anyone can play a normal Fender J‑Bass, ranging from a Squier through Mexican and Made in U.S.A. models right up to a Custom Shop one‑off, but only a select few can claim to have a Longhorn. It looks different, feels different and sounds different. This gorgeous example is in a very good condition for its age with only a couple of small dents on the back of the lovely slinky neck. The classic black and ivory look is timeless and very cool. It plays very well, just like a smooth J‑Bass should and with that little bit extra. Access to that top D is child’s play. It also sounds great, with that distinctive bright J‑Bass sound featuring plenty of harmonic growl, rather than a focus on the percussive fundamental, as with a Precision. Blending the twin pickups using their individual volume controls, along with the uncommon TBX tone control, allows for a versatile range of sounds. It’s not too heavy compared to some, coming in at 9½lbs. I must admit that I belong to the admirers of the Longhorn because it is deviant, as opposed to the detractors who hate it for exactly the same reason. Once you get used to the admittedly odd aesthetics, it grows on you and the standard J‑Bass (not called a shorthorn) begins to look a bit ‘stunted’. Now, I think the Longhorn looks quite streamlined. The ‘slimming’ effect of the gloss black finish probably helps with the weird effect. Let’s face it, the ‘boner’ is not an instant masterpiece that customers are clamouring for but it may well become a cult classic. This is a Fender Jazz Bass but not as you know it. There are only a very few truly iconic original basses out there, including the Fender Precision, Fender Jazz Bass, Music Man Stingray and the Rickenbacker 4000 series. Yeah, yeah, I know there are plenty of others out there but these four are undoubtedly the thoroughbred benchmarks. The Fender American Standard Longhorn ‘boner’ Jazz Bass is a credible variant. Even if the long name is unwieldy, the bass isn’t. There is a good reason for getting your hands on a good ‘boner’ (sorry, couldn’t resist it).


  • Made by Fender in Fullerton, California, U.S.A. in 1989
  • Offset waist contour double cutaway body in black polyester finish
  • Maple bolt‑on 4‑string neck with skunk stripe
  • Original Fender Bass tuners
  • Rosewood fingerboard with 22 medium frets and white dot markers
  • Nut width: 1½” (38mm)
  • Long scale length: 34” (863mm)
  • Original chrome hardware
  • Original top‑loading 4‑saddle bridge
  • Original 3‑ply ivory/black/ivory plastic scratchplate
  • Original dual 8‑pole single coil Jazz Bass pickups
  • Original two volume and one Fender TBX tone control
  • Original pots, knobs and jack socket
  • Non‑original TKL moulded ABS hard shell case
  • Weight: 9lb 8oz (4.31kg)


There have been many, many artists that have wielded a Fender Jazz Bass. Among the numerous J‑Bass advocates, here are just a few of them:

  • Frank Bello (Anthrax)
  • Les Claypool (Primus)
  • Adam Clayton (U2)
  • Bootsy Collins (James Brown, Parliament/Funkadelic)
  • Tim Commerford (Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave)
  • John Deacon (Queen)
  • Gail Ann Dorsey (David Bowie)
  • Bernard Edwards (Chic)
  • John Entwistle (The Who)
  • Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers)
  • Simon Gallup (The Cure)
  • Colin Greenwood (Radiohead)
  • Mark Hoppus (Blink‑182)
  • John Paul Jones (Led Zeppelin)
  • Greg Lake (ELP, King Crimson)
  • Geddy Lee (Rush)
  • Martin Mendez (Opeth)
  • Marcus Miller (Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock)
  • Jaco Pastorius (Weather Report)
  • Noel Redding (The Jimi Hendrix Experience)
  • Sting (The Police)
  • Robert Trujillo (Metallica)
  • Roger Waters (Pink Floyd)
  • Tal Wilkenfeld (Jeff Beck, Prince)


The Longhorn/’boner’ model of the Fender American Standard Jazz Bass was designed by George Blanda, who was Fender’s senior R&D engineer at the time, a highly regarded luthier and a founder of Fender’s Custom Shop.

Natural finish American Standard Jazz Bass bodies were made of Ash for its wood grain pattern, while the solid colour finish models were made of Alder. The Longhorn only came with a rosewood fingerboard, with no maple option.

The American Standard Jazz Bass came in fretted, fretless and 5‑string versions, as well as a lefty for southpaws. Unlike many Fender Jazz Bass models produced over the years, the American Standard Longhorn didn’t feature the traditional bridge cover, pickup cover or thumb rest.

A number of reputable artists have had Signature Fender Jazz Bass models, including Jaco Pastorius, Flea, Geddy Lee, Adam Clayton, Noel Redding and Marcus Miller.

Detail Gallery:

← Return to ‘Basses’ page

Like it? Why not share it?