'51 vs. '54 P-Bass bodies?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Gbass75, Feb 23, 2014.


  1. Gbass75

    Gbass75 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Location:
    Berkeley, California
    Can some of the Fender Precision Gurus enlighten me in the differences between these two body types?

    Thank you!
  2. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle / Tacoma
    51 is a flat slab, meaning no arm and belly contours, and the edge is a little sharper.
    54 got the contours, and the edge is rounded down more.
  3. vin*tone

    vin*tone

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Location:
    Ballaarat, Ostraya
    The 51 is for real men with large cojones. The 54, not so much.
  4. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Burlington, Vt.
    The 51 is for men who enjoy swollen, red spots on their forearms after 2 sets. The 54, not so much.
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  6. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    I always thought the 1954-1956 Precisions were the most interesting, being the "transitional" models between the early slab bodied, single-coil models and the contoured body, split-coil "modern" version Precision.

    Of course, I may be prejudiced because I'm a 1956 model myself.
  7. Gbass75

    Gbass75 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Location:
    Berkeley, California

    Man... I like the look of that '51... but, the lack of contours does sound like it could become somewhat uncomfortable.

    What do you '51 players think? (I suppose that's kind of a dumb question; seeing as how you've chosen to play them)...
  8. ASATMAN

    ASATMAN Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2003
    Location:
    Kentucky
    Worn low, like a man, the lack of contours on the slab bodies is a non issue.
  9. vin*tone

    vin*tone

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Location:
    Ballaarat, Ostraya
    I used to have a 51RI and I hardly noticed it.

    The Duesenberg bass in my avatar is a semi with no contours either - it's still really comfortable.
  10. Stealth Fighter

    Stealth Fighter

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    Location:
    Eastern North Carolina, USA
    Got it.
    [​IMG]
  11. mongo2

    mongo2

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Downdashaw
    It's a question of playing style. Most of the time, I pluck up by the neck so my right forearm rests very comfortably on the side of a slab style body, more so than with a contoured body. I don't notice any discomfort from not having a "belly" contour.
  12. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2007
    Location:
    Burlington, Vt.
    Seriously, comfort with a slab body depends on your picking hand technique. For me arm relief is essential for long shows. I tend to wear the finish off the top edge of my basses, and on a slab or hollow body, my forearm gives out before the edge does. But if you're accustomed to playing hollow-bodies or acoustics or if your arm doesn't rest on the top edge (like for most pick players), you should be fine with a slab.
  13. jnewmark

    jnewmark Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Location:
    Stax 1966
    Disclosures:
    Play guitar.
    Don't play a '51, but for many years I played a Tele Bass that was a slab, with a big Humbucker. Did'nt notice any discomfort, but a contoured body, like my Jazz, just seems to fit me better.
  14. SturmUndDrang

    SturmUndDrang

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Location:
    Nashua, NH USA
    If Dusty Hill were here, he'd say go for the 51'!
  15. mongo2

    mongo2

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2008
    Location:
    Downdashaw
    A '51 body has a '54 body hiding inside of it...just a thought.
  16. ROOTS_n_FIFTHS

    ROOTS_n_FIFTHS Previously rootsnfifths Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2012
    Location:
    Sin City
    Well feeling a bit wimpy here but my '51 hurts a bit. My forearm mostly at live gigs. IF I practice sitting down, my rib cage gets sore at times.

    Not really a big issue though. Just have to think about it and adjust. I am not giving up the '51!
  17. midichlorine

    midichlorine Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2005
    my real deal 56
    [​IMG]

    my copy[​IMG]
  18. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Location:
    rio grande valley, texas
    i have a g&l sb1 with a slab body and it is a comfortable player for my right arm. otoh, i had a ric 4001 and it gouged my forearm. the 4001 had a straight-edge bound top. might be best to try one out.
  19. Gbass75

    Gbass75 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Location:
    Berkeley, California

    I can't really see how the belly contour makes much of a difference.

    As for the forearm... you can see in my avatar about where I wear my instruments... So, what would you guess? ...do you think I'm going to run into much discomfort?
  20. Gbass75

    Gbass75 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Location:
    Berkeley, California

    About where do you wear your bass?

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