I went to a major music shop to compare the discontinued USA Standard Precision basses with the new Professional Precision basses.
Skipping MiM’s and maples (personal preference), it boiled down to a USA Pro P-Bass (with standard price) and a residual USA Std P-Bass (with a significant discount). Both basses had newish strings.
I was expecting the Pro to win the comparison. However; playing them side-by-side, I was surprised to admit that the Std was (subjectively) the better choice. Why?
- Resonance. Playing acoustically, Std had a better resonance to it. String vibrations could be felt in the body of the bass.
- Sound. Plugged in, The Std had a much more vibrant & organic sound. The notes were jumping out of the amp effortlessly. It might be due to its Custom Shop pickup, overall wood density, or a combination of both. But the difference was evident.
- Neck. Subjectively, the neck of the Std felt much better to me.
- Price. Std was 30% cheaper.
- Color. I have a soft spot for white – tort – rosewood basses, and Std had just that.
Overall speaking; the Std felt and sounded like a vintage-ish P-Bass, while the Pro felt like a modern P-Bass lacking active electronics.
I think that an easily overlooked factor in instrument choice is how the instrument inspires you to play. Beyond the technical specs, each instrument affects your note choices and make you play a little different. Playing both for half an hour each, I found out that the Std made me play more satisfactorily.
Long story short, Std won over the Pro. Considering the discount and the (subjective) perks, it is obviously the better choice.
Now; this short comparison doesn’t mean that Pro series are inferior to Std series.
Too much depends on the particular instrument due to wood density, craftsmanship, etc. If I had the chance to compare 10 Std’s and 10 Pro’s, I might prefer a particular Pro bass over all other candidates.
It only means that; in my experience, Pro series are different basses (V-Mod pickups, different neck profile, etc) but not superior to Std. They are simply different.
You are likely to find good discounts on Std basses; and you might be lucky enough to discover a gem like me.
I did a similar comparison for Jazz Basses as well.