Fender Custom Shop- '55 P-Bass "Time Machine"- NOS

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by realdeal, May 29, 2007.

  1. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    ...in Sunburst...!

    Life is good and the $$ keeps coming in, from Music, no less!

    The Fender Custom Shop builds a great looking '55 P-Bass- i should say "built" because it's been discontinued. There are some in stores at a reasonable price, and I was wondering if anybody has any views to share.

    I have high regard and have heard good things about the Fender CS-
    This bass of course recreates the '55 with original tooling and all other details.
    One concern- It has the original 2-saddle bridge. In this day/age of very well-designed hardware, how well does this function?
    Will it keep intonation well? Anybody deal with this?

    I currently have basses with both MM and G&L Bridges, and my '69 P-Bass has a BadAss II, so I'm used to some very solid and accurate pieces.

    I'm sure that the Custom Shop Model is built superbly, feels great, and NAILS a vintage tone, but did wonder about that aspect.

    You KNOW I have to buy some gear before I do something ridiculous like---save the money, or invest it, or make some advance car payments, or something crazy (read:sensible) like that.
    Isn't that what $$ is for- Basses. Amps. Strings. Etc.
    (Can't wait 'til my CUSTOM leather strap is done!!!!:D )
  2. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    Hi, I own a 58 Relic P bass (Teambuilt) Fender CS.

    It is incredible.... the more you play it the better it sounds, the Nitro finish the one piece maple neck, lightweight woods, etc... etc...

    this is my first CS but it wont be my last. In my opinion they are worth every penny, Ive often overlooked Fenders higher end stuff for the boutiques, but Im glad I snagged this one when I did. Like I said it will not be my last.

    I know the bass you are referring to, I looked hard at that model myself, i dont know about the bridge but I know that if you dig the Fender vibe you will be in heaven.
    is this the one?

    love it in Vintage Blonde!

    - Tom
    Chaz pugz likes this.
  3. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    That's it!
    And I better make up my mind because- A CS Dealer in my area told me that tho discontinued, the bass could be ordered as a Team Built, but I'd be looking at 6 months. He told me to jump on the MF/GC link you sent- Price won't get better.
    He also stated what you did- That EVERY instrument that leaves the Custom Shop is a piece of art and an incredible instrument.
    I bet your '58 is awesome!
    Thanks for the feedback..
    &*^&^! Now I REALLY want that bass-
    I assume yours had the more traditional 4-saddle Fender bridge?

    Oh, BTW- The Sunburst '55 had a "bit part" in "DreamGirls" Great scene where a player was running it in the studio with a Portaflex I believe- And I also love the Blonde finish- I had my G&L ASAT, another great bass, done with that finish.
  4. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    Yes I have a more traditional bridge. Ive only had my bass a short time, but I have not put it down, I know I said it before but it Really sounds and plays better the more you play it. I never noticed it as much with any other bass Ive owned.
    the woods used give the bass a very open (resonant) natural tone, I have not heard alot of other P basses get, that one tone control on mine is actual very subtle and very useful, the bass has vibe to spare.

    well I guess you know what I think about Fender CS ....
    Ill shut up, but you should buy it :)
    - Tom
  5. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Grab it!!! :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:

    I have a real 1955 P-bass. It is a great instrument. The 2 saddle bridge is fine, and I am picky about set-up and intonation. I assume the CS NOS finish is Nitro for those kinds of bucks. :D

    BTW, in the photos from MF, the promo photo neck looks a bit wider at the nut than mine, which IS already fairly chunky, but not quite a C-neck from the '60s. Also, mine is almost a V neck in contour. Even though it is 52 years old, it sets up very well with light gauge flats. I played it for years with rotosounds, and the frets somehow endured.

    IMHO, the tone of a '55 is clearly not the same as a 57 or later--because of the single coil Pup. It's deeper, brighter, yet with less low mid punch to my ears....but sa-weeeet! :bassist: :bassist: :bassist:

    Here are pictures of my baby:
    Please ignore the sloppy string wrap...long since fixed. :bassist:
    tblurker, Shawn Luckman and JIO like this.
  6. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    :eek: :eek:
    Wow. that's amazing, thanks for the pix and info, Jim.
    Not many of those around, and that bass has got to be heavy with all its Mojo!

    The Custom Shop '55 does have the Nitro finish; also the 1.75" width at the nut- I believe that it has the Fender "C" shape neck, but I would adapt to what they build.

    I hear they do an outstanding job with the SC pup, and I hear that it gets a "thump" that you only hear from a passive P-Bass.

    Tom, I don't need a lot of convincing believe me! The plastic on my MasterCard melts everytime I think about a Fender Custom Shop instrument.

    As far as the Fender Vibe- It IS the Fender Bass, whether its a Spector, Warwick, or Essex!

    I have a '69 P-Bass- the real thing that I "rescued" from a vintage shop.
    It was pretty thrashed hardware-wise (Bridge, machine heads, etc.)
    and electronically. It needed re-fretting and lots of TLC restoration- It was SPRAY PAINTED black (which my tech told me to leave alone!) but the neck and feel made me buy and restore it.
    It's now a players bass, new everything, BadAss II, Duncan Pup, and
    refinished to the natural alder by Wilkinson.
    It may not be in Original condition, but the wood is, and it rocks.
    I have some other active, modern state-of-the art instruments including G&L, Tobias, and MM- But the P-Bass does what only a P-Bass can do- It's the wood.

    I worked for an incredibly talented Guitarist/Singer/Writer from New Orleans-old Funk, Reggae-R&B originals. We toured the country, and he absolutely insisted on two things from me as Bassist:

    1)Play the bass lines EXACTLY as written-note for note; don't play around!

    2) Use the P-Bass.

    He knew what he was taking about.

    I'd love to have the '55 to go to.
  7. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY
    I dream about finding an old fender at a garage sale or a pawn shop for a steal. Very cool how you got your 69 P.... basses like that are for keeps.
    very cool
    - Tom
  8. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    Tom, I wanted to add this-
    The shop I found the '69 P-Bass in is a well-known Vintage Guitar (and Bass) dealer here in the 'burbs in LA.
    I wandered in to kill some time one day, and first saw a completely original, early 60's Jazz bass, dead mint, Lake Placid Blue, IIRC, even had the hang tag! I believe they were asking about $10K, maybe more.

    As I looked at it, the Salesman came over to dissuade me from picking it up because he sensed I was not in the market for a 10 grand collector's bass. He was right.

    Next to it was what became my '69 Precision. Beat to he**, spray-painted with all sorts of scratches, bridge and pup shot, and these '70's hooded machine heads that were installed showing the holes from the original tuners.
    I picked it up and despite it being thrashed, the neck, the feel, and the unplugged tone were it right there for me.
    They wanted $400 for it- "with the case."
    When I went to pay, they brought out a generic, new plastic molded case- I said "Wait a minute, your SalesPerson told me it came with the original Fender Case!"
    The owner said "Oh, I thought you would much rather have a nice, new case for it."
    Bull! There's even a market among collectors for Vintage Fender cases!
    He was trying to keep his vintage inventory!
    I insisted and got the original case, as thrashed as the instrument was, but who cares?
    Saves me from worrying about scuffing, and that case and that Bass have traveled many many miles and have lots of stories to tell!

    I put about another $1000 or so into restoring the instrument to top-rate playability, and it STILL has what drew me to it in the 1st place-
    The FENDER Bass sound, from wood that's almost 40 years old.
    Way cool.
  9. echo008

    echo008 Supporting Member

    Jan 30, 2004
    Long Island, NY

    It usually seems to be when you aren't looking ... there it is.
    thats awesome... though generally you hear the words "69 p bass" no matter what condition it usually means BIG bucks thats a steal at 400 w OHSC or with any case the case is just icing on the cake.
    hey you have any pics?
  10. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    Considering the usual inventory of that particular store-
    Think Strats & Teles, Les Pauls, L5's etc in the $10K & WAY Up price range, as well as a pretty good number of P & J Basses, some in immaculate condition costing lots of $$ too-
    The Bass I bought was out of sync with their inventory, being a beater and all- probably was a trade-in.
    But no matter- It was a "realdeal" '69 P-Bass with the finest neck Leo Fender ever put on a bass, and I wanted it.
    Even at around $1500 total invested including restoration, and being a non-collectible "Player's Bass" it is a great instrument.
    I'll be happy to post some pics- I have a laptop issue, but will circumvent that & post some images by tomorrow.
    Now, I'm going to call MF and see if they will give me 10% off of that outstanding '55 Custom Shop even tought the "special sale" is over!

    At under $2K for that instrument (with a tweed case) lot of money but Oh, well...
    I'll always earn some more!
    Now you know why my VERY financially responsible Lady considers me an immature , impulsive person. Go figure!:D
  11. nmontz


    Mar 2, 2007
    Here is my cs 55 p bass in closet classic finish. It is just a great instrument. It was really over my budget but I am glad I went all out. Mine is real light 7 3/4 lbs. I love the huge wide neck. Mine is a huge soft v shape at the nut which rounds out to a c at around the 10th. Very hand filling and nice. I look forward into wearing my bass in until it looks like Jim Carr's.

    When I got it I did a setup and truss rod adjustment, removed the weird resistor that loads things down when you use the tone pot and raised the pup adding a small wood shim under the pickup. I experimented for a few weeks which covers I wanted to use. I went back, then none,now I have them both back on. I also messed around with a rigged up mute. I could go either way on that.

    I am a huge t birds fan and most of the bass players through that band have been scpb players. And I once was front row center for a sting concert and spent the night drooling over his old p. This was the bass I had to have. It totally gets the old school real deal blues tone I was looking for with my 66' showman amp and a bag end s15d.

    I was going to order one but my favorite shop said it was about a year wait. I looked around on the net and made quite a few calls until I found this bass at martin music in memphis. I liked the weight and the straight grained body.


    that said if I had more scratch to spend I would have gotten this bass. I'd rather have the adler body and the 30+ years of play and time on it.

  12. dave19er


    May 19, 2007
    Sorry if this a bit off-topic/hijack, but that's an awesome story about the P-bass find - I love the great pawn shop find stories. Here's mine (I can't help sharing) - I was killing some time, and walked into this totally dumpy pawnshop (the kind that makes you want to wash your hands after you visited, even if you haven't touched anything). And there, on the wall was a gorgeous late 70's Jazz. I asked the salesman about it, and he said, "oh, that's some 80s bass." I asked how much, and he said $400, and it comes with a beat up case. I asked if he'd knock $50 off because the case was in such bad shape. He quickly agreed (made me wonder if I could have asked for $300, but I figured that was pushing my luck). I quickly shelled out the money, and walked out of there as calmly as I could. I ended up with a gorgeous '78 in clear candy apple red with all the case candy (which was still on the bass when I bought it - didn't look like it had ever been removed). It does have a bit of strap rash, where it rested on some strap in the case for probably 20 years and a beat up non original case, but it sounds friggin' amazing and plays like a dream.

  13. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    Oh, Man, are those ever great pictures and great stories, and most of all great basses.
    NMontz, you are killin' me with your '55 CS- Absolutely awesome-
    Only difference in our thought process is that I'd rather add "my own" dings (or not!) and would opt for the NOS version.
    But either way- It's amazing what the Fender CS does in relic'ing instruments. And under 8 lbs too. You have my envy for being able to pick up that bass right now and play it. I also dig the Dexter Gordon poster in the pic too.
    I assume you were referring to the Fabulous Thunderbirds- I'm a long time fan, Kim Wilson, Jimmy Vaughan etc. "Wrap it Up" and "Two Time Lover" are in the set list of one of my projects backing a Hot little Female Vocalist-They take on a whole new meaning when sung by a Lady (as an added note- she likes girls, but then again...so do I!:D )
    That Telecaster Bass is too cool for the room. If that doesn't get a player's blood pumping, then I dunno- What a magnificent bass!- If you're playing in the pocket-That bass IS the pocket!
    So nice!

    Dave that J-Bass is outstanding, and so is the story!
    That's a real dream come true- Walking into a pawnshop, garage sale,flea market whatever and finding a hidden treasure that the seller knows nothing about!
    A J-Bass in CAR, and... I love it- "strap rash" from laying in it's case.
    The find is great, the buy is great, but best of all is that these instruments get PLAYED!
    Putting them behind glass, or having them sit unused is just wrong.
    And there's not much that compares to owning/playing an older Fender. Like real estate, they just are not making more.
    Good thing the Custom Shop does such a dedicated job of building excellent reproductions.
  14. nmontz


    Mar 2, 2007
    At the time I actually would have liked the nos version better. Also the nos versions are like $250-350 cheaper....but when I was looking in January there were 3 bursts I could find. Two relics and this one. I have a nos 56 strat also. One thing I found out after I acquired my p bass is that the cc and relics have a different lacquer than the nos. I actually like the cc/ relic lacquer better. It feels more organic to me. I'm not sure I'll ever get another NOS because of that. My nos strat and my p bass although I bought them two years apart were built 2 months apart according to the coa's. The finish on the p bass feels amazing, almost like an old guitar. My nos strat is sticky and it feels like the finish isn't completely cured yet....especially the neck and under where my arm rests. I'm constantly having to wipe my nos neck down with a cotton cloth. I'm almost tempted to break out the 3m pad and take all the finish off the back of the neck. I agree about the adding my own dings, and it makes the instrument more personable. My cc p bass has big checks all the way across the body (which the camera doesn't pick up)...but no real wear or dings other than the fender custom shop took the a little bit of the shine off the hardware. The cool thing about the vintage bass (68 tele bass) is that it will appericate in value faster. I usually prefer the tone of adler over ash...but then my bass wouldn't be so light. Another plus on the vintage scpb is....I think the 30 years of play time allows the finish to cure and the wood to dry out. I'm not sure of what the deal is but that age just seems to give some instruments some extra mojo. All that said I truely feel though that all of the fender cs instruments I own are built as well or better than most of the vintage guitars I have played. They just need 50 years of lovin' play time to make them feel right.

    Have that female singer of yours do "Scratch my Back" and "Natural Born Lover" I've heard Lou Ann Barton do both with Jimmie Vaughan and it got my blood going!

    Dexter Gordon is too cool...although Sonny Rollins is my favorite tenor player. :)
  15. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    If you're gassing for a CS55 and can find one, get it...it's a great bass. They were discontinued back in december.
    I don't have a problem with the two-saddle bridge, the intonation seems fine and the bass plays great. Mine weighs in at 8-1/2 lbs, and it has a soft V shaped neck, which kinda makes for a 'clubby' neck...I would have preferred a C shape. Mine was also an NOS, and at 2yrs old now, it's nitro finish is nicely weather checking and almost appears more like a closet classic now.

    I found out real quick about the goofy 2nd resistor the Custom Shop puts on, and they also attach the pickup hot wire to the tone pot lug. Well, when it's wired that way, and you turn your tone knob down, your volume goes down too.
    So I also removed that 2nd resistor, and I attached the pickup hot wire to the volume pot lug, that way my knobs function like a regular P Bass should.


  16. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    Holy &*%*! Mike that bass is unbelievable!
    How did you get that finish?
    I've only seen it in 'Burst, Blonde, & Black. The CS Dealer told me that now, if ordered as a Team-built, it would take about 6 months, cost about $500 more than GC/MF, and there are no options in build- To do that you'd have to have a Master-Built model, which would require a 2nd mortgage (Hey, no problem for me!) but my Lady would see to it that I'd be sleeping on the couch.... in the alley....by myself.

    Seriously, that color is outstanding, and sounds like you have a lightweight instrument as well.
    Interesting about what you both have stated re: the wiring. I'm surprised it has that "flaw" coming out of the CS. Appreciate the heads up. BTW- what's that on the pup cover?

    NMontz, thanks for the word on the finish. I actually dug out an old Bass Player mag article where they tour the Fender Corona plant, including the Custom Shop, which operates as it's own "Kingdom" within the high-end Fender USA facility.
    It's a trip on how they relic instruments-Using all sorts of inventive ways to age and mar finish, hardware, etc. I always thought they just took new instruments, had lots to drink, then went to "dive" bars with lots of cigarette smoke, bumped into things, and aged them naturally.

    True about the wood aging naturally- The timbre of my P-Bass, nearing 40 years old, is amazing. Round and Woody, with a flat thump.
    I had the spray-paint removed, and when we did that, found that it had an extremely nice grain for an Alder body. I left it unfinished, except for a very light natural oil. Pics coming. The gloss on the back of the neck was dinged pretty bad, so we sanded it down nice and smooth, and added light tung oil to it, also re-fretting the bass and dressing the maple board. I left the headstock with it's original weathered-to-amber gloss finish. It's like a fine wine....
    That Tele is just screaming to be played- What an awesome instrument.
    I've seen Sonny Rollins live- twice. The first time was with McCoy Tyner and Ron Carter- He hit some harmonics that still make me shiver- I've never heard a better musician. 2nd time a few years back, with his own band, including Bob Cranshaw, playing Fender Bass, who IMO is one of the most under-rated bassists, really under the radar. He did great things on double-bass, but plays the Fender Bass in a jazz setting, and we Bass guitarists owe him some real props for showing how it's done right. He can be really funky with Sonny too. as well as walk a jazz line that's 2nd to none. Sonny is a national treasure and when he's gone, there ain't no more, just like the Vintage Basses!

    Lou Ann BArton makes me toss and turn at night! We do "Old Enough" and "Sudden Stop" from her CD "Old Enought" which is a masterpeice produced by Glenn Frey. Why this Lady isn't selling out arenas is beyond me- She's fantastic- I'd love to hear her versions of T-Bird songs- They have a great volume of work!

    As it is, I have to keep young, lovely, and sexually-ambiguous Amanda straight-up musically! She's a kid (23 y.o.- Shame on me for what I'm thinking!:D ) and altho she's a natural doing Etta James, Robert Cray,
    Stevie Ray, Marcia Ball etc...If I don't steer her in the right direction, like all wayward youth, she'll want to do stuff she digs, like the other day she played a song she liked for me by the Scanners, and the next by the Silversun Pickups.
    Interesting stuff, but I have to remind her we're doing dance-yo'-ass-off R&B on this gig!
    Funniest thing is on the job- Watching the guys in the audience hit on her big-time at break (she has the Angela Jolie vibe- really beautiful), and seeing how she "plays" them- All the time knowing she has a "relationship" with....ANOTHER hottie! She gets enough drinks provided to her to float a battleship, then laughs and tells me "You have to make a guy feel like he's got a shot, besides we also get a piece of the bar!" I love that girl, she's an entertainer. ...And I'm not Dr. Phil- She can do what she wants..... No I'm NOT going to ask to watch!:D Sorry-HAD to say that!

    Back to biz- I called MF and asked them for the 10% off until midnight Monday 5/28- They said No, no way, uh-uh, read the ad, yada-yada.
    Then he told me they plan a Summer Clearance sale in June to celebrate their new warehouse or something and advised me to wait a few weeks 'til notified. I guess for a savings of over $200 I'll chill for a couple weeks Unless this thread has motivated some to do the right thing-
    Buy this incredible bass. I hope there's one left for me by then.
  17. kobass

    kobass Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2003
    Outside Boston
    I bought a CS Custom Classic Jazz V from MF/Private Reserve. The best thing about buying from them is their 45-day return policy. If you don't like it, you can return it and you'll only be out the cost of shipping. Go for it! Fender CS basses are incredible.

  18. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    I've seen that one before; didn't know it was yours. That is seriously one of my very favorite basses ever. Beautiful.
  19. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Wow. Custom Shop and vintage P-basses, pawn shop treasures, Fabulous T-birds, and hottie vocalists -- all in one thread! What more could a guy want before heading to work? I love it. Thanks. :D

    P.S. RealDeal, one of these nights you need to have Amanda sing "Full Time Lover," keeping the lyrics original ("She used to be my part time woman, but she's my full time lover now..."). See what happens.
  20. realdeal

    realdeal Inactive

    Dec 10, 2004
    LOL-We have a couple Ann Peebles tunes in the mix-
    "Just You, Just Me" (beautiful ballad) and "Bouncin' Back" Funky!
    from Ann's "Full-Time Lover" CD- Amanda would get a kick outta that.

    I have a lot of fun with her, and have stated that, "Ya know Amanda, one day, we're gonna be on the road, with a couple hours to kill before the show, and I'm gonna invite you to my suite (yeh right- prolly be at the Holiday Inn-IF I'm lucky!) and you & me are gonna work this sexual preference thing out for good!"
    She's a cool Lady, is good friends with my female significant other- Hey! Wait! Not that good, I hope!:D

    But back to basses-Kevin that's the exact advice a CS dealer told me- That their price was untouchable and you can return if for some reason the bass doesn't speak to you. Never know...
    Not possible with ordering from a Dealer, they want 1/2 up front, etc.
    But I'm pretty sure the '55 NOS would be a keeper, and when GC runs their June Clearance event, I believe I shall go for it.
    That bass through my Ampeg. Fenders and Ampeg.
    Ampegs and Fender.
    Hot Ladies together... Hey where did that come from??!!!:D

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