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Advice on building a '50 Precision Replica please

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JohnnyNoStars, Jul 29, 2013.

  1. JohnnyNoStars


    Jun 25, 2012
    London, UK
    Hi there, I'm new to the forum (so please be gentle... I bruise easily). I've enjoyed 'lurking' for ages now, and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the valuable insight here - so thanks everyone.

    I'd really appreciate some advice and help here:

    Although I've been playing bass for over 30 years now, I'm a novice on building them, but that hasn't stopped me trying out a few builds and projects. My next one, is to build a replica 1950's Fender Precision. I'd like it to look visually as authentic as possible, so will be attempting some relic work, with the help of YouTube, etc.

    My two immediate questions are:

    1. Is there anywhere I can buy an authentic-looking (and good quality) replica of the two-saddle bridge employed on '51-'57 single coil P-Basses (other than those flimsy looking Squire/Vibe jobs)? I doubt I'd get something stamped with a Fender logo and a serial number - and don't worry, I'm not looking to build a fake to pass off as the real thing! This is a bass to keep for life, and a way of testing whether I have any relic skills... especially as I'll never be able to afford the genuine article.

    2. I really love that classic P-Bass sound: plenty and plenty of low end, but with a distinct bit of grit, growl and a dirty edge. Is there any internal circuitry I can instal into the tone and volume cavity of a bass; that accentuates and enhances this 'attacking and dirty' tone, without it sounding too distorted or over-driven?

    I want it to remain passive, and am aware of ceramic tone caps and Paper In Oil capacitors, but I wondered whether there was some neat circuitry that could add that tonal dimension to my project? Perhaps even with the ability to be switched on and off?

    Finally, I'm currently torn between using Lindy Fralin, Lollar or Bare Knuckle single coil pick ups, so any general feedback or advice - on anything - would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks in advance.
  2. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Warmoth makes '51 style bodies and necks with the early headstock shape. The neck pocket and neck butt are rounded like the neck end on a split-coil P, however, and they don't offer the squared-off version.

    Other parts are available all over. I have a CIJ '51 RI, and I think it's a great bass. Good luck.
  3. George Mann

    George Mann Banned

    May 27, 2012
    Unless you prefer an unforgiving slab with a grossly under-wound pickup, I suggest you replicate a '55 or '57.

    They are much improved over the original '51.
  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    You can source everything you need relatively easy on ebay or on the classifieds here.

    May I suggest a custom Seymour Duncan single coil stack. Great tone and pretty quiet.

    Best of luck and keep us posted on your progress.

    I have a somewhat similar project that is in for finishing. Can't wait to get it back to assemble and enjoy.
  5. JohnnyNoStars


    Jun 25, 2012
    London, UK
    That's great, thanks for the feedback guys, much appreciated.

    This project will probably take me some time, but thanks again!
  6. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    By the way, the "flimsy looking Squire/Vibe jobs" bridge is true to the original specs.

    And +1 for the Seymour Duncan pickup.
  7. BossOnBass


    Aug 11, 2012
  8. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    I was going to suggest this thread too. Boss has beaten me :)
  9. Red_Merkin


    Nov 12, 2012
    The Squier Classic Vibe 50's actually has a modern high mass bridge with 4 brass saddles.

    The original you're trying to replicate had a "flimsy" bent steel, 2-saddle bridge (and the original saddles were phenolic, iirc) that was string-through only.

    Classic Vibe:

    Original Style (with metal saddles)
  10. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef Formerly "thebrian" Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    I have a Wilkinson string-thru bridge on my '55 Sting Tribute P bass. It's the same style as the original bridge, but the saddles swivel to allow better intonation (same bridge as the pic above).

    I have a SD 1/4 Pounder SCPB-3 in it and I highly recommend it. It sounds way better than the '51 reissue P/Us IMO.

    The neck is Allparts, not sure about the body. MJT did the relic work. I bought the bass used a while back here on TB.


    One of my favorite basses to play. I have a white pickguard an chrome covers for it, but I think it looks better w/o them. This bass weighs under 8 lbs. too!
    Alan Ace Cooper likes this.
  11. khutch

    khutch Praise Harp

    Aug 20, 2011
    suburban Chicago
    The MIM Sting Bass has most of what you need.


  12. Indeed, that is a beautiful bass, but it has to fails:

    - the signature medal at the 12th fret
    - there is a routing under the pickguard, so you can't remove it without making the bass look stupid.
  13. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
  14. T-34


    Aug 11, 2005
    France, Paris region
    But frankly this design is just not so good. Being unable to set intonation separately on each string sucks imho...
  15. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    my two saddle teles and 50's p's strobe great on my Petersen strobe.
    chris merrill likes this.
  16. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    My 51 RI has an American Deluxe 4-saddle bridge. I could not get the two-saddle to intonate properly with the Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flats I use. Mine also has a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound and I love it. It emphasizes the personality of the original without adding anything. Finally, I installed an Electrosocket in place of the standard jack cup after the original worked loose.

    If I could I would contour the body; as George Mann pointed out, the slab is uncomfortable, especially hanging on a strap.

    You may have noticed that I'm not a purist. I love the character of the '51 single-coil, I just wanted to improve it where it was necessary.

    And, as mentioned earlier, the "flimsy" bent-metal bridge is part of the Fender sound. A lot of guys who have substituted heavier bridges have learned that it can diminish the personality of the bass. The 51 P shines as the Thump King: quick attack, short sustain, and percussive sound. Trying to mix in "modern" sounds doesn't work, in my personal opinion.
    faceless_master likes this.
  17. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    My dad made solid brass chrome plated saddles for this '55 Fender bridge (as well as complete bridges) and have had no problem w/ intonation sporting TI Jazz flats.
  18. B.Hefner is Fender-authorized and makes the square heel. Warmoth won't make them, I asked, and I don't see the proper headstock shape @ Allparts (though I might have just missed it), so I'm thinking that if you really want to put together a parts bass, these guys are probably your closest option.

    They also have the option for graphite rods, which while they don't show up outwardly, make for a more stable neck. Good for a player-bass. Get the "Tele Bass Neck" and the "Tele Bass Body." Make sure you have the square option checked on the neck heel and the single-coil pickup route selected and you'll have very close replica parts to a '51. They won't be a perfect copy, however, because no one but Fender uses the old screwed-up templates that I'm aware of. See the "bump" on every old P-Bass's heel block on the body in the lower cutout - it's not on new basses and I doubt it's on any replacement bodies, either.

    Doing a parts bass isn't your most cost-effective way of doing it. It would be a TON cheaper to get a 50's CV Squier bass and replace a few parts. I haven't looked under the pickguard. If there's extra routing under it I wouldn't know. I don't own one... yet.

    Edit: zOmg, they added new options! Bullet rod! I can replica-build my old '74 Tele now! I guess I'll be ordering as soon as my wife says I can :D
  19. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    allparts makes a square heel body (swamp ash) and a square heel tele bass neck and they both are very nice. the body has a route under the pickguard like the 68 tele basses, but other than that, it's just like a 50's p bass.

    ....and BTW, Bernie Hefner's p bass bodies do have the router hump on the treble side of the neck pocket.
  20. taurus1


    Sep 13, 2006
    Vancouver B.C.
    will a normal (rounded heel) P neck fit on the Allparts body?