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Fender '57 and '62 RI P Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Old Blue, Aug 10, 2000.

  1. Old Blue

    Old Blue

    Mar 18, 2000
    For any of you who are familiar with these instruments, are they fairly accurate reproductions of the originals? Do the pickups deliver an accurate "vintage" tone? How do the nitrocellulose finishes hold up to regular use? If you own or play both, do you have a preference for one over the other, and why? Thanks in advance.
  2. Jerry J

    Jerry J Supporting Member

    Mar 27, 2000
    P-town, OR
    I don't have alot of experience with the RI basses but have had several of the RI Strats. I have played all the RI basses that I've run across, though. I have found that they tend not to have original specs, i.e. body contours and neck profiles. The bodies are obviously been shaped by a CNC machine and the necks don't have the depth in the profile like their namesake. The finish seems to be thicker and I'm not quite certain that it is nitro.

    I have found that they are like the rest of the Fender line which means that some are good, some are great and some are mediocre. They are playable but again here it's difficult to get the tone of a 38 year old pickup. My preference would be for a RI over a new American Standard but YMMV. I 'm wondering about the RI built back in the early 80's. Anybody have one of those? Jerry
  3. James Ellis

    James Ellis

    Mar 28, 2000
    Actually, my sunburst 62 RI compares very well to every early 60s P bass I have ever played. Same neck dimensions, same body contours, etc.

    Very, very close to the real thing... except, as Jerry noted, no 38 year-old pickup.

  4. Old Blue

    Old Blue

    Mar 18, 2000
    Thanks for the feedback, guys. If they're decent with the exception of the pickup, would a SD Antiquity be an improvement? Again, I haven't played a bass with that particular pup, but switching out pickups is a relatively quick and simple proceedure, so I'd certainly consider doing that if it's worthwhile for the improvement in tone.
  5. DaveB


    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I would have a slight preference for the '62 because it has a rosewood fretboard. I believe the '57 is available only with maple (just like in 1957). Either would be a fine choice.Don't forget that the radius on both the '57 and '62 is rounder (7.25)as opposed to the later 9.5. That may or may not be an issue for you.
  6. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    I've played the 57 reissue and it's a very nice bass. I own two 62 reissue jazz basses and they are definately accurate reproductions. It's my understanding from those who have both that they are accurate reproductions. As for the nitro finish, that is one of the 'attractions' as far as I was concerned. I hate the poly finishes on the new basses. Feels like I'm playing a guitar inside a plastic cover. And yes, the finish holds up nicely. I've heard great things about the SD Antiquities but frankly, I've been so happy with my reissues 'as is' that I haven't done any modifications.
  7. I had a 1993 US '57 Precision Reissue. It was a really nice bass with far better workmanship than I've seen in other Fender basses of recent manufacture. I experimented with putting a Duncan Antiquity pickup in it, and it sounded great. The stock pickup that came in the bass also sounded great, although the two did sound somewhat different. The Antiquity seemed somehow "warmer".

    I ended up selling that bass to a guy who has an original '58 Precision, and he says they sound really really similar. He sent me photos of the two side by side and it's really difficult to tell the difference. Only very slight things like the placement of the Fender decal on the headstock were different. He's so pleased with it that he's now using it for gigging and is leaving the '58 at home.

    A couple weeks ago I decided that I really did want to have a Precision with flatwounds on it for the occasions where that is exactly the sound I need. So, I ordered a '62 Reissue through a local music shop.

    The first one came in and it was a mess... big bow in the neck and the trussrod was already screwed down all the way, cardboard shim in the neck pocket. The bass guy at the shop said he wanted to send it back to Fender and get the other sunburst one they had in stock.

    So a few days later the second one came in, and it's flawless. Great neck, fretwork, very resonant body. I put a set of La Bella '54 Fender / Jamerson flats on it... tone heaven. Exactly the sound I was looking for.

    Unfortunately, that particular set of strings is quite heavy gauge (.053-110 or so), and I couldn't get the relief down to where I want it, and because of the high relief I couldn't get the action down far enough without bottoming out the saddle adjusters. Bummer!

    I really didn't want to crank the trussrod adjuster any tighter than I had it, so I pulled the La Bellas off and put on a set of Thomastiks that I had sitting around. Wow. Now it's perfect. I'm not tempted to change the pickup to an Antiquity on this bass. It's already warmer, probably due to the rosewood board versus the maple board on the '57. I'm happy with this one just as it is.

    I even put the bridge cover on and stuffed some foam in there for that 60s thumpy sound (I have a Sadowsky PJ5 and a Lakland 55/94 fretless for "modern" sounds).
  8. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    >I really didn't want to crank the trussrod adjuster any tighter than I had it, so I pulled the La Bellas off and put on a set of Thomastiks that I had sitting around. Wow. Now it's perfect.

    Yeah we're new converts to Thomastiks. As an experiment, I put a set on my '66 p bass that wasn't getting a lot of attention and suddenly it started getting used more often. I've now thrown a set on the 62 reissue jazz bass and it sounds great, although I'm still getting used to the 'feel' of flats. (I haven't played flats since 1966.)
    basscrab likes this.
  9. I almost forgot... a note about the nitrocellulose finish. I agree with the previous poster who considers that finish to be a benefit. The originals used nitro finishes too.

    However, the nitro doesn't really protect the wood as well as the modern poly finishes. Fender even includes a red tag on the case handle warning you to let the bass acclimate itself to the local climate for 24 hours before opening the case, and there is another card packed inside warning about temperature effects on the nitro finish.

    The nitro lacquer is brittle and can crack and craze when exposed to rapid temperature changes. You may have seen this crazing on older nitro finished basses. It can be avoided by paying attention to the bass's environment and not exposing it to rapid temperature / humidity swings, but it's something to consider anyway if you are the kind of person who is not likely to take such care with the instrument.

    On the other hand, nitro "breathes" more than the modern finishes, and is typically applied in thinner overall thicknesses. Many people believe this allows the body to be more resonant and also contributes to the "aging factor" on real vintage basses, accounting for some of the tonal differences. I believe this to be true too.

    I think the MAIN reasons Fender no longer uses nitro on anything but the US Vintage Reissues and Custom Shop stuff are:

    1) it's toxic and requires lots of EPA-approved vapor containment equipment when it's sprayed.

    2) it's more difficult for an unskilled worker to apply successfully.

    3) it's less durable and provides less protection for the instrument from dings and scratches.

    ...but I think the primary reasons are #1 and #2, because those translate into higher expense for Fender, driving the costs up. That's why you only find nitro on Fender's more expensive instruments.
  10. pedro


    Apr 5, 2000
    Madison, WI.
    >However, the nitro doesn't really protect the wood as well as the modern poly finishes. Fender even includes a red tag on the case handle warning you to let the bass acclimate itself to the local climate for 24 hours before opening the case, and there is another card packed inside warning about temperature effects on the nitro finish.

    Those of us who grew up with this finish honestly never gave any of this a second thought. The truth is that I never even knew that sudden big changes in temperatures could cause a problem. I live in Wisconsin now, where it gets quite cold and I asked the local tech about this and he says it's exaggerated. The temperature change has to be quite extreme in order to cause a problem with the finish. But I think you put it very nicely when you say that nitro 'breathes' better than the new poly finishes. I love the nitro and I don't think I'd own a poly finished bass now.
  11. Well, I "grew up with this finish" too... I'm 50 ;-)

    I think it isn't just how extreme the change is, but the amount of TIME the change takes. I'm sure you could freeze the thing to 60 below zero and bring it back slowly to 120 above zero without ill effects, as long as that temperature change was gradual. If it's SUDDEN, there can be problems.

    I've personally never had crazing / cracking problems on a nitro-finished solidbody guitar or bass, but I do remember one time in 1963 when I was driving from San Francisco to Colorado in the wintertime.

    At the time, I had an acoustic guitar in the back seat of my VW. Somewhere in Wyoming on I80, I was caught in a blizzard. Colder'n hell outside with blowing snow. Toasty warm in the VW with the heater blasting. As you may or may not remember, VW beetles had the engine in the rear, and had heater outlets on the floor in the rear and pipes that ran the hot air up to the front seat area.

    Well, that guitar was sitting in the back seat, NOT in a case (I know, I know, I'm not that stupid now). I pulled into a motel to get a room for the night and sit out the blizzard. Registered, got the keys, opened the door to the room and went back to grab the guitar.

    The INSTANT I removed it from the car interior and exposed it to that Wyoming blizzard air, there was audible cracking of the finish. I ran into the motel room and put it on the bed and looked at it... spideweb crazing all over the instrument! I'm pretty sure this was a nitro lacquer finish, and I saw first hand what a rapid temperature change does to it.

    However, I think the additional mass of a solidbody instrument probably helps in this regard, and even that acoustic probably wouldn't have done that if it'd been in a case like it should have been.

    So yes, the fragility aspect of nitro is probably over-emphasised, especially because Fender doesn't want to have to do warranty repairs when people do dumb stuff like I did with that acoustic guitar. They can just point to the tags and say "Hey, we even put a tag on the OUTSIDE of the case that warns you... tough luck!"
  12. Datsgor

    Datsgor Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2000
    I really like my '57 P-Bass.
  13. D.M.N.

    D.M.N. (O)))) Supporting Member

    Oct 6, 2008
    Los Angeles, CA
    Now I can't say what it's like compared to an original 62, but I can honestly say my 62 P is one of the best basses I've ever played. I absolutely love the feel of the nitro finish, doesn't feel so plastic-y as the poly finish, just a "smoother" finish I suppose. A note though, I've heard (though it's unconfirmed) that there is a layer of poly under the nitro to help protect the wood. May or may not be true. Personally I see no need on changing the pickup, it's just about perfect for me. The tone has a fairly wide range, roll it all off for the bassy thump, roll it all the way on for some good, growly mid & treble. But I think the best part of it for me is the neck. It does have a nitro finish which can be off-putting, because some people feel it can be sticky when it gets hot, but personally I think it gets slick, which is nice. The other thing is the shape. It's quite wide, the normal P-bass width, but front to back, it's very thin. It not at all a baseball bat, just slim, but wide, which is great for bigger hands but not wanting to deal with deep necks. I played a 64 Custom shop jazz, and personally I thought the fit and finish was nicer on the 62, and the only other bass that really comes close to being as comfortable I've played was a CAR 64/65 Jazz. So go play one, but even if it doesn't isn't an exact replica of a 57/62, they're still darn good basses.
  14. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    My 62 RI compares well to my 64 P. The 64 P is crisper in the low end. It also has a better resonance. First time I played the 62, I was like WOW, and bought it, thats the old passive P bass sound.
  15. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx
    To sum up all above (and from what I've learned playing the bass)...

    THE 57 IS KILLER!!!
  16. slogo

    slogo Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2006
    Hopatcong, NJ
    I've been playing bass for 30+ years, always Jazz basses with narrow necks. 6 months ago I bought a 57RI. When I first got it I thought I'd hate it due to the very wide, flat neck. Plugged it in and it sounds absolutely great. Got used to the neck, and now I really like it. Its my go to bass. Every bass I have turns into a players instrument after a while so I dont care about the wear. The feel of the Nitro out weighs its shortcomings by a long shot.
  17. vintagebass01


    Nov 6, 2011
    Hello all!
    This is my first time on any bass chat site.... I wanted to get some feedback on a bass that I believe is rare. In 1999 I bought a 57 reissue from fender through a little music shop. At the time they offered in three colors....I ordered a white blonde. When the shipment arrived at the store I got the call to go get it. I opened the box from fender then opened the case to find a 57 reissue but not the color I picked out. Not only the wrong color but in a color they don't offer for that bass. The Rep from fender was called and it was mentioned to us that this is a one of a kind and it was a mistake at fender to let this bass ship. Not sure if there's any more value than any other reissue but the bass looks amazing! So, your feedback would be appreciated. As I can't find anything about this bass.
    PS....the color is vintage white.
  18. PJRL


    Mar 27, 2010
    greenfield center NY
    I have a 57RI 2-tsb that I just bought a week ago. I mostly play a 62 RI Jazz Bass. I had an American STD P a while back. After having the STD P and selling it I realized that I really like the P sound as well as the J. For the last few months I have been watching for a used 62 or 57 RI. I found one. I love the P sound, what a great Bass. The 57 RI is so great in it’s simplistic beauty, love it.

    Yep, the US-V 57 RI is a great bass, and a tone monster !
  19. DTF


    Feb 14, 2010
    this thread is 11 years old
  20. StrangerDanger

    StrangerDanger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    You're not suggesting that the pickup changes tone over the years? The wood, obviously dries out and that affects the tone.

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