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Fender Honeyburst AM Special P-Bass, lightly modded

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by WoodyJ, Dec 1, 2012.

  1. WoodyJ


    Jul 29, 2008
    Smyrna, GA
    I was fortunate to score one of the FSR "hand stained" honeyburst American Special Precisions at the GC "Guitarathon" a few weeks back. I didn't need it but I loved the finish and the neck profile and the huge discount on a USA Fender were too good to pass up.

    The only thing I didn't care for was the maple fingerboard. I usually like maple fingerboards a lot but I thought the honeyburst finish would look better with rosewood. So I bought a nice take-off one on the 'bay.

    Being an old guy, I also have a thing for the taller vintage style nickel reverse tuners and found good deal on a brand new set, also on the 'bay.

    I already had a new set of TI Jazz Flats that needed to go on this bass. I had thought about going with a black or tort pickguard, but the parchment one has grown on me and nicely highlights the wood grain on the body and neck. Anyway, I am happy with the changes and the bass sounds great.

    Here are the before & after pictures:




  2. Dang Woody!! I still have the maple board on mine, but the RW looks sweet!!

    I must admit that I have went back and forth with the PUP covers Black, then White then black and finally settling on White...:D

    But in all seriousness, I hope you're loving yours like I am mine! It is one hell of a Precision!!

  3. R&B

    R&B Both kinds of music: Rhythm AND Blues! Supporting Member

    Now that is a honey! (wolf whistle) Love the new look and especially the figuring in the rosewood.

    The body looks like you've dressed the finish with something--these basses look a little parched in the store--what pray tell did you use?
  4. WoodyJ


    Jul 29, 2008
    Smyrna, GA
    Actually, nothing so far...that's the way it looks. The last pic in the first post shows it best.

    Fender's "hand stained" finish has a very thin satin clear lacquer topcoat over what appears to be stained bare wood with no undercoat.

    The finish probably could made more glossy by using a good automotive polish like Mother's or Meguiar's. I did that on a Wine Red Highway One Jazz I used to have and it looked killer. The Highway Ones had a very flat, not satin, finish but must have had an undercoat filler because the wood "grain" was completely smooth unlike these hand stained ones.
  5. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Looks lovely...

    I too have a thing about the old vintage machines.

    I'm old though.

    How does it play and sound?
  6. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    When you say you added "a take-off RW fingerboard" what do you mean by that? Exactly.
  7. WoodyJ


    Jul 29, 2008
    Smyrna, GA
    There are a couple of ebay sellers who buy brand new Fenders, disassemble them and sell the parts separately. In many cases that is more profitable than reselling the whole guitar.

    The neck came from a new 2012 AM Special that was "parted out" this way. It was cheaper for me than buying a new neck from Fender, plus I got to pick the one with the nicest rosewood grain as there are good pics of the necks posted on his auction site.

    I'll eventually sell the original neck that still has the factory tuners in place which should allow me to recover what the new neck cost. There are lots of guys out there building parts basses and these Am Special necks are killer. :)
  8. atomicdog


    Jun 18, 2011
    It' a beauty. Nice job.
  9. WoodyJ


    Jul 29, 2008
    Smyrna, GA
    Hi, Bob. I'm old as well but I'm very immature for my age. :cool:

    How does it sound? Some background: I've had over a dozen P-basses since 1973, still have eight of them including a "real" '57 goldguard, a '65 and a '68. The '65 is my main recording bass but it is a bit of a mongrel because it has a Warmoth Jazz neck and a Lollar pickup. But, it is the best sounding Precision I've ever played, period.

    I was hanging out with one of my musician buddies several weeks ago and we stopped by a local Guitar Center since we were in the area. Hanging on the wall in the bass room was this unusual looking Precision with a satin, stained woodgrain finish that reminded me of a early '60's P-bass that someone stripped the paint from. It didn't look like any other P-bass in there, so I picked it up. The tag said it was an American Special FSR Hand-Stained Honeyburst Precision. Ah, a "factory special run", that explained the unusual finish.

    Dang, what a great neck profile and it was a good weight, not heavy at all but feather light, either. But the price tag said $1099. Yikes, that's almost American Standard money. I hung it back up. But I couldn't get it out of my mind in the days that followed.

    Fast forward 2 weeks later and GC is running TV ads for their annual 'Guitarathon' sale which featured an image of a P-bass exactly like the the honeyburst one I looked at, priced at $699. So, I jumped in the car and drove over to that GC (there are two others a lot closer to where I live) to see if it was still there and if the price really was $699 now.

    It was, and it was. So I bought it. Didn't really need it, but it was one of those instruments that had been in my head since I hung it back on the wall 2 weeks earlier.

    So, with all that said, how does it sound?

    In stock form through my old Fender Showman studio rig, I was freaking amazed at this thing, even with the Fender roundwounds in place. It was already set up perfectly, too.

    After the mods and with the TI flats in place, I A-B'd it with my '65 and honestly, I can't tell much difference in the sound at the same amp settings. Whatever pickup comes in these (I believe it is what came in the 2008-2011 AM Standards) is fine for my playing style. The neck profile is perfect for me, 1.65" nut, a bit thinner from front to back than a normal Precision. It feels like a slightly wider AVRI Jazz neck, it's very fast. The tone control is very cool, as well. The bottom line is that if my bass is typical of this model, IMO the hand-stained honeyburst Precision is the best value in Fender's current lineup for a USA made bass. The last time I looked, they are on sale at $799 now from the online retailers.

    I believe that the super-thin finish contributes significantly to the sound as this one resonates like crazy. Unplugged, it's the loudest electric bass I own and that usually translates to a better sound than one with dead wood.

    Try one out, I think you may be pleasantly surprised like I was. :hyper:
  10. Flyingfrets


    Dec 25, 2011
    I am NOT a Fender fan in the slightest, but that finish (especially with the rosewood fingerboard) are seriously tempting me to reconsider. Never seen another one in that finish. Congrats! A real looker!
  11. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK

    Thanks for the background info, good stuff.

    Looks a keeper for sure.

    I've only the one P, a humble MIM standard (light modding), but I love it to bits.

    Looking to maybe add a RW 57 (my birth year) or a 50s classic but will keep my eyes peeled for a similar FSR, if we get them this side of the pond.
  12. KrisHayes


    Sep 30, 2012
    These are a great deal and play very consistently between basses. If I were in the market for a USA P, this is undoubtedly where I'd go.
  13. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Beautiful I'm looking at those Honey Burst myself love the new look.
  14. Looks great. Although, I think a tort guard would look amazing.
  15. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    I played one of these yesterday at GC. I didn't plug it in but I could tell that it was a very nice bass. Nice neck, nice body, and the unplugged tone was very good.
  16. The thing that I IMMEDIATELY noticed about mine was the tone. The wood, with the light hand-rubbed finish, is a tone monster.

    I tend to equate it with my early 80s Ovation Magnum. Same situation with the finish.

    Honestly, I own several really nice Ps.....and this one is very quickly becomming my "go to" Precision..:hyper:
  17. Jwood

    Jwood Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2011
    Richmond, Va
    Thats killer! I really dig the vintage tuners, I think they'd look really good on the maple neck too.
  18. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Vote for the maple here too! Maybe an anodized gold PG as well but beautiful bass either way...

  19. BassmanM


    Feb 17, 2011
    Hamburg, Germany
    Very nice. I like both versions.
  20. Very elegant looking bass, thanks for sharing.