Fender historians, help me ID this bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by BLU Dragon, Oct 9, 2003.

  1. I ran across a peculiar Fender bass at a local music store. This is the kind of store that sells el-cheapo, brand X stringed instruments at prices that could get you a decent starter axe. They get away with this because it is a small town, and the people that make up their customer base simply don't know better.

    Anyway, yesterday, I had some time to kill, so I walked in there and, among all the crappy new axes with brand names I've never heard of, is a really, really old Fender P-bass. Now, keep in mind that I've played bass for over 25 yrs, and have owned many vintage Fenders over the years. But I've never seen anything quite like this. It has a P/J pup configuration, like the modern P-bass "Special", but with a single volume and tone knob, and a three way selector switch to choose pups. Since there are no individual volume controls, your choice is P-bass pup only, J-bass bridge pup only, or both pups, full on. It also had a Badass bridge. This is the first version of that bridge. There is almost no finish left, but there is still a tiny splotch of white paint left, so you could tell it was once white (what they call "Olympic White," I believe). Maple board. Electronics are functional. Neck is pretty fast.

    The lady in there freely admits that she doesn't know jack about basses. She says that her husband (who probably doesn't know very much more than she) claims that it is either a '69 or a '73. I seriously doubt that they have checked the serial numbers on the body and neck to see if they match, or to accurately date the piece. Frankly, I wouldn't trust them to even know how to date it accurately. They are asking $1200. It could be a piece of crap Frankenstein bass worth $500 or a ultra-rare model worth thousands. These people would have no clue either way.

    Questions that come to my mind include, how early did Fender offer a bass with a P/J configuration? Does this sound like an actual model that was ever offered in the Fender catalogue, or did some guy just buy a stock Fender bass, and customize it by adding a Jazz pup and a Badass bridge? While I'm certainly not convinced that this bass left the factory like this, everything looks like it has aged together, so I'm pretty sure that it has been in this configuration for many, many years.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
  2. That's the answer. I have owned and still do many vintage Fender P basses and Jazz basses. This is a custom job for sure!

    Vintage Fender Basses Identity

    ;) Treena
  3. I think what you have there is a P-Bass Elite.
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Elites do not have J pickups. There were two models. The Elite II had two pickups, but they were both P style.
  5. By the way, for what it's worth, remember that I have seen and owned Fender basses from the 60s and even the 50s. From the hairline cracks in the finish of the neck and general wear and tear on the bass, I would say that everything is consistent with a late 60s or early 70s vintage. And, like I said, everything seems to have aged together. So, I suspect that after it was modified, it has stayed in this configuration since, well, since the early to mid-70s or so.

    Also, after thinking about it, the pickups didn't really look "right" to me. Even the P-bass pup didn't really look like any stock Fender pup that I've ever seen. If we are talking about aftermarket pickups available in the early 70s, I would guess that they are Dimarzios. They both seemed to match each other.

    So, right now, I am leaning toward Treena's suggestion that this was a bass, purchase in 69 or early 70s, which had aftermarket pups and bridge installed, probably within months of buying the bass. Sounds like nobody believes that this could possibly be a stock Fender configuration from that time period, right?

    Thanks to all for your help.
  6. By the way, does anybody know when Fender first offered a stock bass with a p/j configuration?
  7. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    The first factory P/J would be the MIJ Jazz Bass Special (actually a P bass variant!!!), around 1985.

    The first MIA P/J would be the Precision Plus of the early 90s.
  8. was the JP90 MIA?
    I think it predated the Precision plus, but i might be wrong.
  9. This is an elite I P- bass.


    BLU Dragon,

    I still feel this bass described is a custon bass, but it would still be worth purchasing.


  10. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    That sounds really familiar to a bass that one of my former teachers owns. I think it was a JP90-all black, PJ pickups, a switch, and i forget the other tone controls. I thought it was a nice bass at the time. That's all i can say.
  11. Ya know, it's kinda funny that this thread has turned into a discussion of Fender Elite basses. It just so happens that a bass playing buddy just sent me an email telling me that he found a bass I might like. Yup. It's a Fender Elite from the '80's. He says it has a passive/active switch and a P/J configuration. He knows I like the idea of a P/J bass and also have a weak spot for old Fenders. (My main gigging axe for many years was a '66 Jazz.)However, after doing a search on this sight, I've discovered that the Elite was offered in two models, the Elite I and the Elite II. The Elite I had one P-bass pups and the Elite II had TWO p-bass pups. So, there was no such thing as an Elite with a P/J configuration, huh? :confused:
  12. So, Treena, I guess I'm confused here. I thought we have pretty conclusively determined that this is a bass that definitely does NOT have original pups. It was always my understanding that, for a bass to be of interest to collectors, it would need to at least have original pups, as well as matching serial numbers on the neck and body. For example, my beloved '66 has had some hardware modifications (bridge, straplocks, tuners), but is stock in all the important stuff (neck, body and pups). People pay big bucks for those things, even with the mods that have been made to it. However, if the neck didn't match the body, or if the pups had been replaced, then it would just be a beater bass, worth a few hundred bucks, right? And remember that the finish on the bass is pretty much gone. Say, 5% on the finish. It's certainly not a "collector's piece" by any stretch of the imagination. And I'm not a collector, anyway. I'm a player. So, other than having tons of "vibe" why would somebody want to buy it? Specifically, why would you recommend buying it? If I wanted a player, I'd get something with more finish left on it. Then, I'd just put the pups that I wanted on it. Furthermore, isn't $1200 totally out of line for something as rough and totally non-collectible as this? You can find early 70s Fenders all over eBay for that kind of money, and in MUCH better condition. Seems to me that, even if they came down to an even grand, it would still be overpriced by at least three or four hundred dollars. Right?
  13. These are Bill Bolton's Elite II.
    ;) Treena
  14. Yeah, now that makes sense to me. If it's not a collectible piece, and is even too rough to be a player, then you just have a curiosity piece or, if you prefer, a parts bass. Anyway, thanks for the clarification.

    As far as the possible Elite bass, I did get a reply from my friend who found the bass. I had sent him a picture of a really sharp looking one in Sienna Sunburst, so he would have one to look at to compare it to. He identified some differences between the Elite II that I showed him and the bass that he saw in the store. For one thing, he is certain that it had a P/J pickup configuration. On an interesting side note, I discovered that Fender DID in fact build a few Elite series basses in that configuration, but these were prototype models, and it is unlikely that any of them ever made it out of the Fender factory and into the marketplace. I'll do a little more digging to be sure, but it is most likely that my friend just got confused about the model.

    Thanks to all who replied.
  15. I am sure that he did confuse the two models, but on a side note. I have a vintage 1961 Rickenbacker that was never meant for the public, it's a proto model. So sometimes they do manage to see the public eye.

    :D Treena
  16. there's a prototype P-bass Elite in Klaus Blasquiz' Fender bass book which has a sort of PJ configuration, only the pickup shells aren't the exact P and J shape- the J shell is very narrow, both with covered polepieces.

    also there are some slab bodied P basses of the late 60's, and signs can be seen that they were routed for a J p/up at the bridge, but this was filled in- there was a feature on them in Bassist Magazine.
  17. Can you scan that picture or article and show me? I'm curious.


  18. Yeah, I heard about the picture that was in that book. For that matter, Mock Turtle Regulator, you may have even been the one to point that picture out before. I found out about the P/J Elites on an ealier BassTalk thread, after doing a search on the term "Fender Elite" to find out more about this bass that my friend found.

    Two things come to mind. First, I really need to get that book. Second, I really need to stop being a cheapskate and send TalkBass the lousy 20 bucks to become a supporting member. This board really is an awesome bass resource. Think I'll do that today.

    I would still like to know if there were ANY basses, either P or J, that managed to make it out of the Fender factory in the 60s or 70s with both P&J pups onboard. Does anybody know? Also, is it, in fact, true that the first factory P/J to come from Fender was the Jazz Bass Special from the mid-80s, as brianrost has told us? Nothing before the 80s? Really???
    So, it only took Fender a few decades to figure out that many bass players wanted both kinds of pups on their bass. Well, all I can say is that with marketing savvy like that, it's amazing that Fender is one of the survivors, after so many other instrument manufacturers folded. I don't care if they did invent the damn instrument. Companies that turn a deaf ear to the requests of their customers for many, many years at a time usually end up in bankruptcy court.
  19. Brad do you ever post on the FBP board?


    or the

    Fender Info-Base™ (F.I.B.™)

    These cats are the leading authority on Fender!

    Bill Bolton is another person who knows his buisness!

  20. Nope, never heard of either one of those sites before. They look interesting. Never had the pleasure of chatting with Mr. Bolton, either. Thanks for the suggestions, though.