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1961 Fender Jazz Bass - "Surf Burst" Finish

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SurfBass61, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. SurfBass61


    Feb 11, 2020
    Hi Everyone - Long time vintage collector, but first time on this forum. I recently bought this 1961 Fender Jazz Bass from a California storage locker clear-out. The color instantly reminded me of the guitars from the early 60's surf era and with Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. It may be a long shot, but I am looking for some expertise regarding if anyone has seen this guitar before in any old surf rock books, videos, etc., as I finish tracking down its history. The parts/electronics are original (the finish is very old and what I'd expect from a 50-60-year old finish). Thank you!


    Attached Files:

  2. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    It would probably be a reeeeaaal long shot to find an actual historical photo of this particular bass, as so many vintage jazz basses out there have old refins, and who knows if anyone famous may have owned this bass. It’s not impossible to find some evidence I suppose, but unlikely, especially since many of the photos from that era were black and white. I believe Dick Dale was more known for his sparkle finished guitars (which were said to have been done by a local Fullerton auto body shop that was close to the original Fender factory, since Fender’s spray guns weren’t able to handle the large sparkle flakes). Cool bass nonetheless tho!
    happygilmour, groooooove, MCF and 2 others like this.
  3. SurfBass61


    Feb 11, 2020
    Thank you for the info and reply! A lot of the old "Beach Party" movies from the early-mid 60's have Dick's band playing guitars in this finish. The band uses Precision Basses though (I've only seen one clip of a Jazz Bass.) But they have had white pick guards. I realize it's a long shot but I had to ask...:bassist:
    Polk Salad, nixdad and The Bass Clef like this.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    neat find! and a good-looking old ax. i hope you get some helpful info. good luck! :thumbsup:
    nixdad likes this.
  5. bass4more

    bass4more Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2007
    Oakland, CA
    :woot::woot::woot: Wow! I’ve never seen that finish before. Killer bass!
  6. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    Mill Valley
    Wow, that color/finish is amazing!!! :woot: But I'd be very surprised if it was the original finish for a '61 Jazz.
  7. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Have you disassembled the bass? Need to see whats in the pickup and control cavities and neck pocket.
    The Fullerton hump that would be in the lower cutaway looks almost non existent (like sanded away), so seems this was an old refin.
    Guiseppe and Jim Carr like this.
  8. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    This looks like something that may have been refinished as a group guitars, I bet dollars to donuts theres a strat out there somewhere with the same finish (or was at one time) I'd be really suprised if this was a factory special order job.

    I dig though, who ever did it
    maxl, bigtone23, Rip Van Dan and 5 others like this.
  9. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    WOW! I like it! It looks wonderful with that tort.
    I'm looking forward to hearing more about what you find out about the history. I imagine it's not entirely impossible that this was made by Fender as a custom job.

    I'd love to see Fender offer this as a standard finish. Hell, I'd even invest in a Spitfire guard to complete the look.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  10. Picton


    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    Refin or not, I bet that bass pays for the whole storage locker. Or ten.
    AudioTaper, Microbass, 10cc and 2 others like this.
  11. SurfBass61


    Feb 11, 2020
    Thanks for the feedback! I have taken it apart but can't identify any authentication markings. The pots are all 1961 and the neck is 8-61 in pencil. Is this what you mean by the hump? It is pretty pronounced but hard to capture in photographs. DSC08662.JPG DSC08661.JPG
  12. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Dang. That's a ridiculously cool bass. If any group can dig up info in this bass, it's this group. Welcome to TalkBass! Way to make an entrance!
  13. nixdad


    Aug 15, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Agreed - LOTS of expertise here.
    two fingers likes this.
  14. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    Vail, CO
    Wow ! This is a truly fantastic find! As a collector , I’m sure you know what to look for in order to validate the originality of the finish.
    nixdad likes this.
  15. SurfBass61


    Feb 11, 2020
    Sort of! These custom finishes can be bizarre. Sometimes they were painted at the factory. Sometimes Fender outsourced them to local car/motorcycle or furniture shops. Sometimes fully finished guitars were soon after refinished independently by local surf bands. Lots of variables here! The parts I can tell are legitimate and correct, but the finish I'm nailing down (...and any connection to a 60s surf rock band).:bassist:
    davidprice and nixdad like this.
  16. Polk Salad

    Polk Salad Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2007
    murphy, Aaron75, bobyoung53 and 19 others like this.
  17. Warpeg

    Warpeg Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2005
    Let’s see some pictures of the front of the headstock.
    nixdad likes this.
  18. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    This bass is a serious jaw dropper!:woot::bassist:
    10cc, nixdad, bass4more and 1 other person like this.
  19. Incredible bass. Jealous.
    kirillstokes and nixdad like this.
  20. Polk Salad

    Polk Salad Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2007

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