Fender '51 Precision Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bass Atlanta, Oct 16, 2004.

  1. I am interested in buying a '51 RI Precision Bass, but my research indicates that there are 2 versions of this classic.

    The Fender website currently lists the '51 Precision in their CLASSIC SERIES HERE. This baby is MIJ and costs about $599 at MF or Music123.

    Apparently, the '51 P-Bass was also re-issued as a 50th Anniversary Bass CUSTOM SHOP, as described in this press release: CLICK HERE. This bass appears to differ from the Classic Series cosmetically, specifically the ash trays and the finger rest.

    Of course, these basses are not to be confused with the 1996 50th Anniversary P-Bass, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Fender company......or the 2001 50th Anniversary P-Bass AMERICAN SERIES, which commemorated the 50th anniversary of the P-Bass itself. This bass is described in this press release: (CLICK HERE), and looks like this:


    So........here's my question. Is anyone familiar with the CUSTOM SHOP version of the '51 reissue? Specifically, was it ever actually produced? (I've never seen any comments on TB about this model, after reading through miles and miles of search results.) Also, what did it cost new and what is the used price? What differentiates it from the current CLASSIC SERIES '51 Reissue, besides the obvious cosmetic differences (ash trays and finger rest)?

    Any comments or clarification would be appreciated.


  2. orskard


    Mar 17, 2004
    all i know is that those are some nice basses. i always liked the way the 51's looked but they dont have the forearm part cut out so if you play with a pick it can be kinda rough.

    other than that those things are sweet. i really wonder if any one has any info the custom shop one.
  3. I'm pretty sure I've played one or at least it was about 3000$ and looked exactly like that one. I think its over priced. I thought it sounded what i would consider twangie (like using Bag End cabs or playing with certain picks). It didn't really sound that good when you slap, i also remember that it had a really thick neck. Hopefully I'm talking about the right custom shop.
  4. knuckle_head

    knuckle_head Commercial User

    Jul 30, 2002
    Owner; Knuckle Guitar Works & Circle K Strings
    The Custom Shop version was certainly $2.5K+ based on my experience with them. The recreation they did was a replication - that means hardware, finish, the whole ball o wax. That's both a good and not so good thing. The original bridge was a plastic/bone composite and was uncompensated (compensated meaning slightly angled at the adjustment screw for better intonation - and I can't recall the actual material, my apologies). That's the down side. The up side is that Custom Shop lacquer finishes are exquisite.

    The American Classic series had a metal bridge but if memory serves it too was uncompensated. The finish was a contemporary poly.

    I have removed trays from every bass/guitar that had them. There's a reason most of them have gotten lost, though I do understand wanting the full meal deal.

    I owned a '51 reissue and liked it very much - from feel and sound to fit and finish. Poly finish with no rest or trays. I acquired a compensated saddle set as it too had the straight saddle pieces - intonated much better. There were rumors that there was a significant difference in electronics from the RI's to the US built versions and I can't speak to those.
  5. Lyle Caldwell

    Lyle Caldwell

    Sep 7, 2004
    The original 51s had Bakelite saddles. They quickly changed to steel.

    For 51RI/Sting owners, Wilkenson makes an intonatable 2 saddle direct replacement.
  6. Glenn D.

    Glenn D.

    Aug 20, 2002
    Fort Collins, CO
    My Sting intonated just fine.

    Glenn D.
  7. There's a photo of the bakelite bridge on the website listed above.

    I suppose the Wilkinson bridge would fit the 51 RI?

  8. custom_mark


    Oct 18, 2005
    All I know is that I have 51 reissue without trays or rest, and it's just damn good bass! the sound and the tone is nothing put perfect and I love that classic 50's look of it. Great bass!
  9. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    That custom shop page lists the saddles as phenolic, which I believe is different from Bakelite. I'd be more willing to believe that they were bakelite on the original.

    The fiber pickguard is right, but have you ever seen how those things wear? Ugly.
  10. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    The fender Custom Shop 51 reissue 50th anniv, made in 2001 had a list price of $5999. Yikes!
    Back in 1991 fender CS also made the 51 reissue 40th anniv, but it was alot less then, list about $4k if I remember.

    Only a couple tiny details sparate the '91 from '01. Both are rare and in limited numbers, but they do turn up used once in a blue moon. I've tried a '91 and it was a incredibly nice feeling bass.

    I had one of the MIJ 51's for a few years, it was a nice sounding bass, and I even added the covers and finger rest...looked beautiful. But I ended up selling it because I hate the japan 'thick as a brick/hard as a rock' finishes. I figured I'll wait to find a used MIA one.