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An encounter with an excellent mid-1960s Precision Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Snaxster, Oct 8, 2017.

  1. Snaxster


    Nov 29, 2008
    Yesterday at my friend's music store, I met an old friend of his who visited with their bass. After greeting them, I ended up in a different part of the store. So as they took out their bass to play with my friend for a little while, I heard the sound before I saw the instrument. Listening for a few minutes, I knew that it was a vintage Precision Bass and guessed that it could be pre-CBS. The hollow resonance, quick decay, and slow, big bottom was unmistakable.

    Since business intervened, my friend couldn't play for long. Casually I walked into view of his visitor as they talked with someone else while playing, and saw that my guess probably was right: the vintage tortoiseshell pickguard with metal shield peeking out where its missing point once was; the body paint wear and deep, fine checking; the hardware patina and yellowed gloss neck; and what I thought might be a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard... just beautiful. What wasn't there was a string mute. So the quick decay of fretted notes that I heard was intrinsic to the instrument and its heavy strings and setup, and to its owner's playing.

    When I mentioned this to my friend, he said that it was a 1965-66 Precision Bass. Eventually I spoke to the owner, saying that I could help with an early Jackson 5 song that momentarily they tried to play with the other person, a guitarist. I declined their kind offer to demonstrate the part on their bass, but I grabbed a bass from the wall and showed them the Jackson 5 bass line.

    In addition to meeting a nice person and fellow bass guitarist with a fine, old instrument, later I was encouraged when I realized that I formed my opinion about that instrument with my ears first, not my eyes. Though I believe that not all old guitars are good ones, when I hear a good one I am reminded that there ain't nothing like the real thing.

    MonetBass and JIO like this.
  2. TomB

    TomB Supporting Member

    Aug 24, 2007
    ...and those 2 were the real thing :)! ...as is my '61 P !
    Snaxster likes this.
  3. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    Good ears are invaluable.
  4. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    no truer words were spoken! :thumbsup: my '66

    liverbird, Bob_Ross, cdef and 3 others like this.
  5. I don't know what it is, but every 1966 P-bass that I've played had a very particular sound to it, which earlier or later instruments did not have. I'd call it a sense of urgency. Very upfront, agressive-without-being-punched-in-the-face and resonant.
    Bill Whitehurst, ajkula66 and JIO like this.
  6. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Pacifica CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    I'm not sure what to call it, but it is what lead to me purchasing mine - when you hear that sound, you just know.
  7. When I first played mine, my first thought was
    'hello old friend, where have you been all my life'.

    We have all been conditioned to expect a P bass sound
    from the millions of recordings we have heard them on.
    For me, my '66 is the P bass sound the rest want to be. :smug: