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Alternative History Series 1: Imagine a World Without... Fender Basses

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Eclipse96, Jun 18, 2017.

  1. Eclipse96


    May 26, 2017
    Northfield, MN
    So this came up in the withholding design improvements thread:

    And it made me think; not only would it be interesting to have a thread discussing this specific topic, but also a series of threads imagining what the world would have been if certain musicians, instruments or technologies were different or had never existed at all. What would the world be like today without Scott Joplin? Miles Davis? The Beatles? The Roland 808? MP3s?

    So for this particular thread there's a couple scenarios to consider:
    1. Scenario 1: Leo Fender never invents the P or J basses.
    2. Scenario 2: The P or J basses are invented, but Fender goes out of business and ceases to exist in the early 80s.
    Discuss away!
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2017
    Jeff Scott and Pbassmanca like this.
  2. ICM


    Apr 29, 2013
    Eastern Pennsylvania
    1. There'd be more Ricks and Gibsons. Also I'm sure not as "big name" companies would have more of a chance in to market.

    2. Someone would buy to rights to the Fender name and keep making them to original spec.
    Gravedigger Dav likes this.
  3. Eclipse96


    May 26, 2017
    Northfield, MN
    Regarding 1, the Precision Bass was the first electric bass to achieve widespread success, so without it I'm not sure even Ricks and Gibsons would look anything like they do today.
    GregC, design, ICM and 2 others like this.
  4. What are Fender ceasing to seize?
    Eclipse96 likes this.
  5. Eclipse96


    May 26, 2017
    Northfield, MN
    Homophones. :(
    Killed_by_Death likes this.
  6. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    1) I think the Upright would have continued to be the dominant type of bass, only with maybe Piezo or other pickups. The invention of the EUB might have been the logical next step. So today we wouldn't be playing BGs but EUBs.

    2) The P-Bass sound at least was firmly established by that time, so Fender basses wouldn't be relegated to the role of a curious piece of musical history. I think other manufacturers would then offer similar models, just without the Fender logo on the headstock, or, as ICM speculated, the Fender name would be bought up. In that case, I wouldn't assume they'd be up to spec due to cost-reducing measures though.
  7. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Scenario 1-
    I become a drummer

    Scenario 2-
    Fender went out of business in 1964-ish.

    Jeff Scott and 47th Street like this.
  8. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are. Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 11, 2008
    Intergalactic Mind Space
    Song Surgeon sofware
    1. Others basses fill the market.

    2. P/J would be reproduced by others. +1 Sale of Fender name.
  9. McCartney puts a mudbucker in his Hofner.
    ICM likes this.
  10. Clef_de_fa


    Dec 25, 2011
    I would be interesting to be in a world where it is either EDB or accoustic classic DB.

    Rock music wouldn't be what it is now ... or Metal would be quite different or not at all.

    But I still could see Punk, Folk, Grunge, Blues based rock music, Rockabilly etc still exist. I guess more people would be able to play solo DB music or play solo, melody etc on it instead of seeing instrument as role and stick to it.
    G RICH 5 and 47th Street like this.
  11. Low84

    Low84 Supporting Member

    Mar 30, 2014
    Hendrix and Clapton make THIS the unofficial international symbol for rock...

  12. Scenario #1:

    Electric bass guitars today would have a different range of design, aesthetics, and pick-up types.

    Scenario #2:

    Someone would have bought Fender, licensed the name or copied the products and the electric bass guitar world would be more-or-less what it is today.
  13. Felken


    Jun 28, 2016
    Ottawa, CAN
    Woah woah woah! Fender going out of business? I think we all neglected one thing. The OP specifically said the Leo Fender did not invent the P and J basses. However, Leo Fender DID invent the telecaster, the stratocaster, etc. Fender still produces guitars, and in fact, most of their revenue comes from guitars, not basses. So it is reasonable to say that even if Leo Fender did not invent the P or J, Fender could still be the dominant company in the instrument business, due to their sales on electric guitars. But the invention of the electric bass was inevitable. Necessity would have eventually created the BG. Someone would say "Hey, why can't I make a guitar that does low notes?". As for how basses would look, I don't know. Maybe single-coils would dominate the market, with soapbars arriving sometime in the mid 80's and the split-coil never really making it into the mainstream except for some crazy idea by Yamaha. The Jazz bass (or some variation with only a single pickup) would be the standard in modern day.

    And who knows? Maybe the cold war would have broken out if Ps and Js didn't exist.
  14. Jamerson works for the Teamsters.
  15. Richie Se7en

    Richie Se7en Finger-lickin' Hood Supporting Member

    Nah, this wouldn't have happened. Berry Gordy would've found a way to wire Jamerson's DB into a B-15 to carry Motown into music history and all the bass superstars of the past half-century would be known for playing upright.
    design and 47th Street like this.
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    What's the point? It didn't happen that way. The only thing different is that someone else would have come up with the electric bass, and people would have been playing other basses.
  17. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    There was enough earlier experimentation with bass guitar-like instruments, that sooner or later (probably sooner) someone would have produced something very similar to the Fender bass. The emergence of rock and roll and the problems with uprights in that genre would have inevitably spawned the bass guitar. It had to be.

    Losing Fender in the 80's is a non-issue. The major Fender designs were generic by then and would be produced by others.
  18. two fingers

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

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Leo was nothing if not an opportunist. He wasn't the only opportunist who ever lived. Leo didn't "create" a genre or a market. Heck, he hardly played. He saw a nitch and filled it. Had he not done it, someone else would have.

    The "Gibson Les Paul Bass" probably would have been king of the hill for a while.

    Rock and roll, soul, funk, R&B, etc. We're going to happen, precisions and jazzes notwithstanding. We wouldn't have kept playing doowop and swing country forever because the electric bass didn't take off at the exact same moment.

    Do you think Hendrix could have been contained by the limitations of am upright bassist? Do you think jazz would be the most popular music on Earth? Do you honestly think metal music would have refused to be born because there weren't bass instruments that coukd keep up with electric guitars??? Do you think Larry Graham wouldn't have thumbed a bass if it hadn't been a Fender?


    Fender did change the bass market forever. But the bass market would have been changed forever with or without him.

    Keep in mind when you read this that I own three main basses currently. All of them are P basses. So it's not as though I don't love the guy's work. ;)

    Virtually zero non musicians can tell you the difference between the sound of a Gibson bass or a Fender bass or a Ric. So rock and soul wouldn't have suffered anything more than a minor speed bump had the P and J not come along.
    RyanJD, JimmyM and jhb138 like this.
  19. beatnut


    Sep 27, 2016
    Western Mass
    Tuba! Yay!
    RyanJD, GregC, bassliner50 and 5 others like this.
  20. fhm555

    fhm555 So FOS my eyes are brown Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2011
    Let's pretend the sun never existed, that out planet was lit only by clouds of bioluminescent microbes drifting in our atmosphere. They are triggered by changes in magnetic fields so to standardize the dark/light cycle, we have massive field generators to turn these masses off and on at will.

    Since the sun never existed, the word never existed, or was used to describe something totally unrelated to a burning mass of gasses.