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'51 vs. '54 P-Bass bodies?

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

  1. 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

    Nov 18, 2002
    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.
    mrbacco likes this.
  3. The 51 is for real men with large cojones. The 54, not so much.
    mrbacco and tomoya97 like this.
  4. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    The 51 is for men who enjoy swollen, red spots on their forearms after 2 sets. The 54, not so much.
    mrbacco and organworthyplayer337 like this.
  5. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    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.
    TomB likes this.

  6. 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)...
  7. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Worn low, like a man, the lack of contours on the slab bodies is a non issue.
  8. 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.
  9. Got it.
  10. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    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.
  11. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    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.
  12. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    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.
  13. If Dusty Hill were here, he'd say go for the 51'!
  14. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    A '51 body has a '54 body hiding inside of it...just a thought.

    ROOTSnFIFTHS Low-end Lover since '78!

    Oct 25, 2012
    NJ to 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!
  16. midichlorine

    midichlorine Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2005
    my real deal 56

    my copy 1259235905.
    A. D. Fairhurst likes this.
  17. yodedude2

    yodedude2 Supporting Member

    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.

  18. 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?

  19. About where do you wear your bass?