sleuthing a vintage P's history

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JIO, Mar 29, 2014.


  1. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

    As some of you may have seen from some prior postings, I recently acquired this lovely '66 P-bass which visually begs for many stories from it's active-duty past. My own theory was that it was a one-owner bass, and was professionally used for the majority of its 47yr life - very used, but well taken care of as it plays wonderfully. The very playable set-up and fresh/smooth condition of the frets belied the heavy-duty wear & tear of the wood, but the fingerboard showed much wear in the usual (3-4-5-6) fretboard locations. (most wear in A#-D#) I didn't have much to go on, but like an adopted child I wanted to know it's history.

    To visually explore it's 1966 siblings, I googled "66 P-bass - images" and this very bass appeared on the top of the first page! (and not from my recent tb posts!) Clicked and found it was (recently?) sold through Gbase (!) from a Seattle shop. I contacted the shop and learned (thanks Mike!) they got it from another shop briefly (guitar-traders/horse-traders/car-traders etc) and they were told it was originally owned by a prominent sessions player in Portland (Portland, Seattle, SF - the west coast tour) but that's all they knew and that they sold it "a number of months ago". I learned more from their sales copy; it had a 1-8 refret (made perfect sense and was a pro job so relatively seamless), a new-ish jack (again, understandable) and they also had pics showing the pg removed and the conforming '66 dates on pots and pu's. (hadn't done that yet!) The pu's were dated from Dec '66, so it's likely this bass was sold in '67. (or possibly it was a last minute christmas present!)

    I've sent emails to a couple of Portland vintage guitar shops hoping for more info like if they knew of this seasoned studio bass player who "played the hell" out of this beautiful beast. Part of my post here is throwing the net out as far as I can - if anyone reading this has any info related I would be very grateful. I will post updates as I learn more. My hope is that the original owner is still kickin' and since I visit Portland occasionally I would love to talk w/him about his life and this bass.
     
  2. JimB52

    JimB52 User Gold Supporting Member

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    I would have thought they'd used up the reverse-wind tuners by the end of '66. Nice bass!
     
  3. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    thanks - yes, the neck is stamped Sept 5 '66 and the rw tuners are original. It was at the very end of the transition period that started in '65 so I imagine anything is possible. I heard back from one Portland vintage shop - no dice. I know I can get to the bottom of it eventually if I keep digging.

    Anybody from Portland out there? ...a possible lead on long established recording studio musicians in your town? Maybe the kind of studio that did TV/radio promotional ads etc.
     
  4. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    The other Portland vintage shop came up nill w/info as well. I may just have to go there eventually and make the rounds on foot like Columbo!

    [​IMG]
    "I know I forgot something.., it had to do with a certain TV jingle I heard once with this bassline"
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
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  6. DigthemLows

    DigthemLows

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    cool to do this, I kind of want to do that with the 68 Tele I just got.......... your bass looks amazing btw!!
     
  7. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

    yep - it communicates in a very specific language that all our ears understand but it ain't got nothin' to do with words.
     
  8. DigthemLows

    DigthemLows

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    I love that his finger wore through the pick guard at the pup that's where I anchor... but the wood along the pick guard seems such a crazy place to anchor... awesome bass
     
  9. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    It is an awesome bass and that's a great detail actually, because it's super shiny/glossy right there - all from continual buffing through the tort layer to the white layer w/a thumb! I'll try and get a detail shot tomorrow in daylight.

    One of the reasons I want to meet its orig owner - so he can demonstrate how he created those deep valleys in the wood! :bassist:
     
  10. Davo-London

    Davo-London

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    Compare it to the wear on mine!



    Davo
     

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  11. Dragan

    Dragan

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    beautiful basses,both.
     
  12. Energy

    Energy

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    Yes, anything is possible. Mine's dated June 65 and it has the newer Fender tuners. Almost every 1965 P I saw so far had the Kluson tuners.
     
  13. tomydacat

    tomydacat Supporting Member

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    DUDE THAT LOOKS AMAZING..would love to hear it as well as see it WOW...
     
  14. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Sweet Davo! - another road-warrior! What year? Looks like a lot of upstrokes w/a pic on the G-string! Full provenance? Mine had a replacement bridge - a later (early 70's?) one-slot saddle version of the same Fender bent-plate. With my Columbo hat on I figured it had nothing to do w/an "upgrade" but was probably more about keeping the strings seated while he played. Since my playing style is... less aggressive ;), I found a vintage (1960) threaded bridge to replace it. Waiting for new strings (DR Sunbeams) before I put it on. The one in the pic above is a new threaded-saddle bridge I got while I searched for this one.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    I shot a couple of detail pics of the wear near the pu. Shows the pg wear pretty good but does't do the ridge/valley in the wood justice - it's deep and polished smooth from use.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  16. tomydacat

    tomydacat Supporting Member

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  17. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Word! It looked amazing when I first caught sight of it but it wasn't until I sat down and played it that I knew I had to beg, borrow or steal to get it!
     
  18. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Took the '66 P to a jam session last night (its second visit) - both nights were very good nights and I'm starting to get the impression this bass has something to do w/it. (well, that and awesome co-players!) I would have never called myself a P-bass guy, more a J-player if push came to shove. I think preferences change over the years, but it may partially be linked with what you start with. At a critical point in my life as a bass player, I was given a lead on a Fender P-bass at a pawn shop. This was pre-vintage mania but it was probably pre CBS. I went to check it out and it was sold already. (and probably for cheap) Looking around w/cash in my pocket - a ('63) T-bird caught my eye and that is what I ended up with. I knew John Entwistle played one, and the bass player for Wishbone Ash. It was my only bass for many years (alas stolen in '78). Owning Fender basses for me came much later and J's always appealed to me because of a similar neck/nut profile. (love the TB, love the J)

    However, I'm starting to feel a bit "born again" with this amazing instrument. It's almost like it is a battery that has 48 yrs of "juice" stored in it - and playing it taps into that nectar. (or as Austin Powers would say - mojo baby!) I know there's a lot of romanticizing involved w/our instruments, but wood was once living and it is porous... ;)

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  19. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member

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    Current pic w/the '60 bridge installed along w/a set of D'Addario 'balanced tension" strings (50-120). I've decided to christen this instrument "magic bass" as every day I play it opens my ears to it's depth. This one snuck up on me…

    [​IMG]
     
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  20. faulknersj

    faulknersj Gold Supporting Member

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    If the love affair ever wears off and you decide to find her a good new home....please don't hesitate to let me know :)

    Cheers and congrats on a killer bass!
     
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  21. ydnac robert

    ydnac robert

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    Great JIO and thanks for always being helpful here in TB :D
     
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