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James Jamerson's P-Bass in the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by St_G, Jan 24, 2018.


  1. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    A9DF18CB-2325-4C63-AAF4-77472026D8D1. 8A7C1694-423F-485C-B7E5-F6A6A76408ED. I was at the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum (which is a VERY good museum devoted primarily to the session players and hired guns behind the best recordings of the 20th century) and they had Jamerson's Precision bass.

    Well, they had one of them...

    It looks like the bass he's pictured with in all the contemporary pictures of the Motown era. But...

    Check the pics. The sign does NOT specify that this was the instrument played on any specific record (while many other plaques did), but it definitely looks like an instrument that received a fair amount of use at some point. What stood out to me was the strings: they look old, but they're clearly round wound. Don't know if this was just a rando backup bass that he kept strung with rounds, or a mistake by the museum to string it up with strings different from those associated with the artist.

    After all, while James's "LaBella flats that were never changed" are famous among bass nerds, it's hardly common knowledge in the real world.

    Could really go either way.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Jan 24, 2018
  2. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Massachusetts
    Yeah....color me skeptical that it was even associated with him at all.
     
  3. Kmrumedy

    Kmrumedy

    May 12, 2004
    Montreal, Canada
    I thought the original one was stolen?
     
  4. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State

    It was, & it still has not been recovered.
     
  5. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    That seems an extreme position to take, but I concede it's a possibility.

     
  6. What does the museum say about it's authenticity? Would seem unlikely they'd claim it was Jamerson's without verifying it.
     
  7. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    That would explain the careful wording of the plaque. Plenty of other instruments specified that they were played on such-and-such session or song, while this one didn't.

    It was really just the rounds that made me tilt my head, though. I don't doubt that he owned SOMETHING with rounds, but he's definitely, in my mind at least, most associated with flats. And specifically, flats on a burst P with a tort guard.

     
  8. Could depend on the shape it was in when the museum got it; might not have even had strings.
     
    Trouztrouz likes this.
  9. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    nixdad, JakeyBran, ICM and 3 others like this.
  10. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Totally possible. In that case, I'd argue that they chose incorrectly what to use.

    I do want to reiterate that I really, really liked this museum. They clearly have a ton off reverence for the undesung heroes of pop music.

     
    Mr.Ace and GHOST AT like this.
  11. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Maybe. I saw that auction once I got home, and it might be the same bass ( no way for me to compare SNs) but notice in all the pics, that one has flats.

     
  12. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Strings have been changed for some reason, but the wear patterns & pickguard damage appear to match up.
     
    Morrighan, JIO and St_G like this.
  13. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Massachusetts
    That article says that all but the G are flatwound. In the pictures the OP posted they're all clearly roundwound.
     
  14. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Bottom line - not the long-lost "Funk Machine", and probably not even one of his primary back-up basses.
     
    funkytoe, ICM, JIO and 1 other person like this.
  15. fourstringdrums

    fourstringdrums Decidedly Indecisive Supporting Member

    Oct 20, 2002
    Massachusetts
    Though yeah the damage does match up.
     
    St_G likes this.
  16. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Obviously underwent a string & overall cleaning between the auction & the museum.
     
    St_G likes this.
  17. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    Good detective work, everyone. I love the power of nerds on the internet.
     
    Mr.Ace likes this.
  18. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    Not the Funk Machine. Not his bass. Debunked by the family also.
     
  19. St_G

    St_G

    Jan 22, 2013
    Memphis, TN
    The museum never claimed it was used on any recordings.

    Where/when did the family debunk this as being his bass? I missed that.

     
  20. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    James Jr knew his dads' basses intimately. He was aware of this auction last year, and made his declaration. JJ had three Ps, a black '57, a sunburst '61 and a sunburst '65-66. None had roadwear as seen on this, and all three had the chrome on the pickup cover worn off and even the brass underneath was indented from where he anchored his middle and ring fingers. The '61 had telltale pickuguard chips missing, and the '66 had a completely different pattern. It's been discussed to death on my FB Jamerson page. ;-)
     

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