My Jazz Bass came with a nickel chrome tail piece with a big "F" on it, and also a chrome cover for the forward pickup. These accouterments were supposed to improve the looks of the bass, but for modern bass players, they are more of a deterrence than anything else. So Fender did away with them, and I agree with the decision.
During the late 1960s, British rock was all the rage, and groups did not use Fenders as much -- so I sold mine (big mistake). In 2005 I bought a Fender Mustang bass, thinking the shorter neck would be good for my small hands. That was also an illusion. Even small hands can be trained to successfully navigate a standard bass guitar neck, and I have no problem with the full-sized neck on my Rickenbacker 4003.
With my growing interest in becoming a professional bass player, I have developed a desire to have another Fender Jazz Bass. For sentimental reasons, I want one that is three-color Sunburst and has a tortoise shell pick guard -- like the one my father bought for me in the long-ago summer of 1960. With the advent of the Chinese made version of the bass, the price for a Jazz Bass has become very affordable. The Chinese version above costs $499, compared to $1,350 for the American-made version on the right.
Yesterday I went to Guitar Center in Gilroy and played a Chinese Jazz Bass. The finish on it was gorgeous, and the neck and action sublime. It sounded great as well, even with the cheap Chinese strings that come with it (I will upgrade to better strings if I buy one). The pick guard is black, but I can buy a tortoise shell pick guard from Sweetwater for less than $30. I can also order a beige, tweed hard shell case (like the one that came with my 1960 bass) for about $130. The Chinese bass only comes with a gig bag.
Other differences are (1) the wood -- the Chinese bass is made from alder whereas the American version is made from ash. (2) The Chinese version has noise-canceling humbucking pickups, compared to the traditional single-coil pickups on the American bass. Fender describes the new bass this way:
The Modern Player Jazz Bass® is a volcanic new take on the time-honored Jazz Bass thanks to its dual Modern Player humbucking Jazz Bass pickups. Other features include an alder body, C-shaped maple neck, rosewood fretboard with 9.5" radius and 20 jumbo frets, three-ply pickguard, vintage-style four-saddle bridge with brass saddles, open-gear tuners and nickel/chrome hardware. Available in Three-color Sunburst, Olympic White and Black Transparent.Reviews of the new bass on YouTube and on bass forums are very positive. This appears to be a great bass at a great price. I'm going to get one -- hopefully, sooner rather than later.
UPDATE 5/22/2013 -- The bass is mine! I bought it today and I love it!!