Fender 1958 Precision Bass Thoughts

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Tom Neves, Jan 23, 2001.

  1. Anyone have an original out there?
    I am thinking of getting one but I'm not sure what they sound like. I hear they are better playing and better sounding than other P's but never heard one or played one.
    I have an original 1963 Fender Precision with a rosewood neck and was wondering how the 58 with a maple neck would compare.
    I guess what I am after here is, "Are they any more magical than say the 60s Fender basses"?
    I have tried the 57 re-issue.......your thoughts?
    Thanks all
  2. The trouble with comparisons of this nature, is that early Fenders are not uniform or consistent like modern instruments. You could take two 58 P's, identical in every respect, and they could play and sound quite different. Not all early Fenders are good Fenders, but of course some of them are sheer magic. Sometimes an "as new" early Fender pops up for sale, complete with tags and unmarked case, and the price is, like, a trillion dollars. You have to ask yourself, why is this bass (or Strat,or whatever) in this condition? I'll tell you. In the majority of cases, it's because it was a DOG, and no-one wanted it. The good ones got PLAYED, and scratched, and ciggy burns on the headstock etc. Case in point, a friend of mine had (they got stolen) two 1961 Jazz basses, both sunburst with rosewood board. They were different. One was better in sound and playability than the other.
    So, be careful when you evaluate something, that you get to the nitty gritty of the instrument, and dont get wooed by the mystique of the vintage Fender.
    JIO likes this.
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    If you read the "Bass Book" there are several interviews with the people who made the early Fender basses. I put in some quotes in another thread. What they did mention was that the early Ps had a very noticable problem with "dead spots" on the neck and the main reason for changing the headstock in the 60s was to deal with this problem. So there is a case for saying that the 50s Precision is a flawed design and is recognised as such. But then my view is that vintage instruments are quite often not about how well they play or sound, but the money!!
    BassHappy likes this.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    If you want a good site on the "collectibility" of basses try this :


    Their rating for the P bass is as follows :

    1952-1957 C-
    1957-1959 B
    1959-1965 C

    Where A is the highest and only a 50s Strat gets an 'A' rating!

    So it looks as if from the collectibility viewpoint 57-59 is the highest - i.e. most expensive!

    For J Bass

    1960 - 1962 B+
    1962 - 1965 B-

    No other years get any rating at all for "vintage" collectibility!!
    BassHappy and Spinal Tapper like this.
  5. Everyone,
    Thanks for all the great information.
    It appears this particular bass is the most sought after.
    The seller claims it plays and sounds like butter....Mmmmm!
    My only concern now is that it's as original as he claims it is, and that after I send him the money I get the Bass.
    What a dilema.
  6. You need to be careful that it is, in fact, what it is claimed to be. How do you KNOW it is a 1958 Fender? Because the owner says it is? There is only one sure way of knowing, and that is to pull the neck off, and check for the date, hand-written in pencil, under the end of the neck. It wont necessarily be '58, could read '57, as sometimes parts did not get used straight away. The only other way would be to have the original sales docket with the serial number on it. If in doubt, ask the owner if you can have it verified by an expert, at your expense of course.
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Wel actually the sources I quoted reckon a 60-62 Jazz would be more desirable and I did say you can expect "dead spots"!

    My view is that any boutique bass - like Sadowsky, Lakland etc would give better value, be more reliable and sound and play better! As Marty says you also have the hassle of verification - to me it's just not worth it.
  8. I've got The Bass Book too- I think the headstock change described is the enlargement of the Tele-style shape to the full Strat-style shape in 1957, so the 58 P-bass would have the large headstock- in the book they say "enlarging the headstock helped some....but we never solved the problem completely".
  9. I'm just trying to find out what the 1963 neck is really like - "baseball bat" -ish; or "U" shaped is my understanding - ?
  10. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
  11. cronker


    Feb 13, 2007
    Adelaide. SA
    You can't have "more older".
    It's older or it isn't.
    And yours is the most unique post in this thread...
    Spinal Tapper likes this.
  12. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I'm jealous of your abs, bro

    Not exactly the way I see it. People who spend $3k-$4k on a Sad or Lakland or (insert your boutique bass here) trying to get their money back once they decide to sell and not getting even 60% of that on their return "investment" while a vintage instrument will only gain value with age. Not to mention most boutiques or custom builds have a way more hi-fi sound than old Fenders - it's apples and oranges.

    As far as reliability, playability, and sound, you can't get better than an old workhorse Fender. As far as verification - you'd better be able to verify that sucker if you're gonna drop the cheese for a pre-CBS Fender. And that grading scale you posted above might be one of the most absurd things I've ever read.

    To the OP: I've been tempted on a few 58's (I've got 3 62's) and never pulled the trigger. I haven't found the right one. There was ONE refin that I came across that spoke to me, but I'm glad I saved my dough.
    Yes, the 58 will sound different because all Fenders of that era sound and play differently, so if you find the right one that speaks to you, pull the trigger.

    Wow, I just realized I was responding to a 14 year old thread LOL!
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2015
    Twangster101 likes this.
  13. It's harder to generalize about the older ones.
    You can be sure that if the wood was going to shrink, warp or crack
    it would have done so a long time ago.
    The pickups were often wound until they looked about right.
    The necks were shaped by hand.
    Tedeo Gomez is legendary for his neck shaping
    there were days he felt like it needed to be a bit bigger
    and there were days he felt like it needed to be a bit thinner.
    Then there were days someone else did that job.
    Each one has it's own sound, feel and mojo.
  14. thebrian

    thebrian into the deep Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    And the zombie thread resurrection of the day award goes to bassorama57!! ;)
    Twangster101 likes this.
  15. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Wow, 2001 to 2015.

    Is that a record?
    Mastermold likes this.
  16. Do I get a vintage '63 as a prize?
    That is a pretty darn amazing feet. Sometimes I astound even myself!
    What I did wind up doing was taking a deal I couldn't refuse from Mike at Bass Central on a '63 ReIssue in Sonic Blue. So let the thread die again....see ya'll in 2029!
    Mastermold and thebrian like this.