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73-74 Fender black bobbin pickups

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by denton57, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    This was discussed in the past on a thread, but I wanted to start a thread on the appearances of black bottom pickups in 73 era P basses. I've seen a listing on eBay for them (73's), and I now have a 73 P on the way with original black bottom pickups (thanks TheBrian :)).

    With several known occurrences, I am curious to why these exist?? Could a box of pickups have surfaced in 73 at Fender that were made pre gray bobbin (pre 64)?. Here is an old thread:

    http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f8/who-can-help-decipher-fender-neck-stamp-450867/

    In the interest of digging deeper into the history of the P, I think it should be documented and clarified! Plus, I'm bored at work and am anxiously awaiting Thursday, when my bass arrives.
  2. thebrian

    thebrian Still can't think of anything good to put here. Supporting Member

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    I'd like to know why too. I've seen enough of them now in person and in pics on ebay/internet to know they were fairly common in Ps in 1973 &'74. I have never seen a black bottom Jazz P/U from that era, but I have read about black '73/74 Strat P/Us also. I guess it's one of 2 things.. Fender found and old box of bobbins from the early '60s somewhere in the warehouse and used em in '73.. or whoever their supplier was sent them a batch of black bobbins that year.
  3. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    I haven't researched this, but I'm curious if the wire is the same color as the grey bobbins, or is it different?
  4. thebrian

    thebrian Still can't think of anything good to put here. Supporting Member

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    I know Fender changed the pickup wire they used in 1973 from the previous copper colored windings of the mid '60s to dark burgundy colored, plain enamel windings. The ones in your bass and all the other black bobbin '73/74 P/Us that I have seen have the dark burgundy windings, as well as all of the grey bobbin '73 (thru the late '70s) P/Us I've come across.
  5. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    So I guess the thought of a box of early 60's pickups being found and used in some select 73-74 basses might be a little far-fetched :)

    I do think it is good to document that they really exist. I need to go back and read my Fender bass book, but I don't think it's mentioned in there.
  6. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

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    Interesting topic as I just picked up a 73 P bass.

    I did a little googling and found this web page: http://home.provide.net/~cfh/fender.html#specs

    Here is an excerpt:

    •1950 to March 1964: all models had "black bottom" pickups and cast slug alnico magnets with rounded top edges. Pickups not dated. Pickup wire is usually a real rich cooper color. Pickups are dipped in hot wax to eliminate microphonics, and this wax is evident on the entire pickup. Also the pickup screw "springs" are made out of rubber surgical tubing cut into small 3/8" long pieces.
    •March 1964 to late 1970's: most models had "gray bottom" pickups and cast slug alnico magnets. Gray bottom pickups would be the rule, but black bottom pickups were used from old stock as late as 1967. Starting in the early 1970's, the top edges of the magnets were no longer rounded. Most gray bottom pickup assemblies have at least one pickup with a hand written date. By the late 1960's this changed to an inked stamped date code, much like the date code used on the butt of the neck. Most gray bottom pickups have a deep burgundy colored pickup wire. Wax treament is no longer used in favor of a lacquer dip treatment, which is much harder to see. Pickup screw springs are now actually real cone-shaped springs instead of rubber surgical tubing. Click here for a picture of gray bottom pickups (1970s) http://guitarhq.com/fenddiff/gray_bottom_pu.jpg.


    I'm going to look when I get home and will report back...
  7. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    That's the same site I use whenever I'm trying to date something. Very informative.

    I first discovered the black 73 pup when I saw one on eBay. I ended up not getting it (lost track of time), but I have been intrigued ever since. Now that I have a bass on the way with them installed, it's even more intriguing. With very little differences between 70's P over the years, especially in the 70's when the jazz went to three bolt necks, blocks, pickup location, etc., it's cool to see something unique with the P
  8. draftdodgerscom

    draftdodgerscom

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    I've also read those pages through a good few times, an invaluble resource, but the paragraph quoted does say that you wouldn't expect to see black bottoms on guitars as late as '73 or '74.
    Maybe Fender used old stock bobbins for absolute authenticity because the basses I owned ie. Precisions in natural finish, with white scratch plate were effectively the first Re-issue basses Fender made unless I'm mistaken. That is going back to a colour scheme of the past..... seem to remember reading that somewhere....
  9. thebrian

    thebrian Still can't think of anything good to put here. Supporting Member

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    That website is great and has a wealth of knowledge, BUT it's primarily focused on pre-CBS guitars and does not list all the anomalies of that era, nor does it focus on the small difference between the basses and the guitars (even during the pre-CBS era), and it definitely does not focus on the anomalies of the '70s.

    Even in that excerpt that was quoted from that website earlier in this thread, it says the pickups from 1950 to March 1964 are usually wound with rich copper colored wire.. Well, I can tell you that at least the split coil P bass pickups from that era did nor adhere to that rule. The early P bass pickups were wound with the dark burgundy wire (just like the '73 black bottoms are wound with). Look at these 1960 pickups...

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-195...873?pt=Guitar_Accessories&hash=item3cdcb28589

    And these 1961s...
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-FEN...D&orig_cvip=true&rt=nc&_trksid=p2047675.l2557

    The pickups in my personal 1961 P have the dark windings too and look exactly like the pickups I linked to. If all you had to go off of was that website, you'd think all these pickups were fake. The site has some great info on it, but it's only "cliff's notes".
  10. narud

    narud Supporting Member

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    my buddy has a 74 jazz with black bottoms too!
  11. thebrian

    thebrian Still can't think of anything good to put here. Supporting Member

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    That's interesting! I've never seen or heard of a black bottom Jazz yet.. just P basses and Strats.
  12. narud

    narud Supporting Member

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    yeah he hit me up about it when he bought it. alder/rosewood/stripped. he bought it off the used guitar center website. has the right pickup covers, pole pieces, everything. just black flatwork.
  13. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    I agree with Brian in that the link has a lot of great info, but it pretty much sums up the entire history of Fender guitars in a couple pages. Definitely the cliff notes version of events.

    Very interesting about the Jazz, and it just adds to the mystery.

    So TB is probably the largest collection of bass players in the world. I'd assume there's a couple dozen members with a 73 or 74 Fender bass...I'm curious to hear of any others out there?
  14. thebrian

    thebrian Still can't think of anything good to put here. Supporting Member

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    BTW, I also had a natural '73 P that I sold here on TB within the last year and a half or so, that had black bottoms in it too. I've had a lot of '73s and '74s for some reason.. Js and Ps.
  15. denton57

    denton57 Supporting Member

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    Here's a 73 on eBay.. Black bottom pickups:

    1973 VINTAGE FENDER PRECISION BASS GUITAR SUNBURST BEAUTY USA ORIGINAL CLEAN

    http://bit.ly/1bmPJqj

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