Most influential Basses (not Bassists)?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Ubersheist, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. I'm not a big gear head, but I do like history and engineering. There have been documentaries about the history of the electric guitar, and thousands of books on them, but not bass guitars. Usually, they have a 30 second blurb on the P-bass, or a picture or two of some older basses, and then move on back to the guitars.

    As such, I was thinking that it may be fun (and informative) to spread the Collectif's knowledge of what bass guitar designs really changed the way that later bass guitars were designed. For instance, I know that 5-string basses were around in a very limited fashion in the '70's, but I'm not sure which makers or models pushed them out of the realm of weird, rare custom basses and into production (Fender V in the 1960s?). Anyone have a grasp on that.

    I'm hoping that when people respond, they have a more info then just a maker name and/or model.

    Sound good?
  2. I'll start off with a few:

    • Fender Precision - This may be the only bass that should be obvious and not really need a post on why.
    • Fender Jazz Bass - This was the first production of a relatively high end bass. Before this one, it seems that the other producers just had a few bass models just to have them. This was the first one that had a bit more craftsmenship, and it proved successful.
    • Alembic's 5-string for Jimmy Johnson - I think this was the first 5-string bass that was really seen in public, and pushed the prominence more then the Fender V, although I could be wrong. I don't know much about this custom bass.
    • Steinberger L-series - this is the headless design that came out in the 1980s. It was active, and the makers radically changed the body, and trusted the electronics more for the tone then the body shape or size. I think it changed the way other luthiers looked at both body shape designs, as well as (and more influentially) the use of active electronics.
    • Ibanez's Soundgear series - (late 1980s?) - it seems that this line was pretty influential. They were relatively cheap (although there are higher end SRs), had those thin necks and low action. I think other designers took note.
  3. catgut


    Jan 15, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    According to Wikipedia the very 1st Bass in 1938 was neck-through. Interesting that after the Fender stuff that it went back into popularity with the fancy brands. That seems somewhat important. But really after Fender everything else is just a limb or branch off their trunk. Anything too 'out there' just doesn't seem to catch on enough to be more than a foot note. Even the Steinberger. They didn't change anything other than 'hey look what I did'.
  4. I beg to differ. I don't think Modulus, or any headless basses would be around today without Steinberger. Also, there was a time when the Steinberger bass was very popular.

    What I was hoping for this thread was to stress more on influence then popularity. Pete Wentz is/was more popular then Jaco, but Jaco's influence was far wider then Mr. Wentz's. Similarly, Fender sells a billion Squire P-basses, but they've not influenced designs as much as the early 1970s boutique Alembics.
  5. Sav'nBass

    Sav'nBass What the .............. Supporting Member

    Jan 18, 2009
    Northern Va.
    I would still go with Uberheist's list but I would add the 4 string Alembic as well.. Wasn't that one of the first active basses if not the first? Also it seems to me that the J, P, or J/P config are the most copied. I would also add the Stingray design to that list.
  6. dudelove


    Apr 16, 2010
    Greenland, Nuuk
    Just follow the history
    First came fender precision bass,not the first solid body bass, but the first solid body get recognized, later on comes the jazz bass. So on
    Anyways there are few that chanced history since, but the precision an jazz are most influential than all
  7. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    This is a pretty lopsided question.

    Fender Precision IS the influence. Nothing else is in the same league.

    (Tutmarc trolls, please restrain yourselves,)
  8. pfox14


    Dec 22, 2013
    There certainly is a lot of books and online information out there on the history of the bass guitar. First and foremost, the Fender Precision is the one that started it all. Yes, there were some unsuccessful attempts at electric basses prior to Leo's invention, but the P-Bass is the standard that all others followed.
  9. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    Well, I guess this pretty much settles it much to nobody's surprise here. The Fender P bass started it all and Jazz bass was a later major variation.

    Those are actual bass guitars and all else are nothing but posers. Sure Stingrays, and G&L basses were interesting experiments but they weren't really basses even though deisgned and built by Leo.

    Whew! I'm glad this is settled!
  10. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    sarcasm and distaste for the P and/or J bass aside, it is an undeniable truth that the electric bass as we know it is directly connected and a result of the P and J. they are the roots of the tree no matter what.

    just like the music industry as we know it is directly because of Elvis and the Beatles. Or Fords revolutionized the way we travel...not just the car itself. No matter what, these two entities popularity drove many of the inventions and breakthough's in all aspects of the industry - WAYYY beyond the musical influences- that got us to where we are now.

    The P and J influenced many of the things that led to the other basses development and evolution...
  11. catgut


    Jan 15, 2014
    Seattle, WA
    I was not talking popularity either I just don't think anything headless had an affect beyond style. Much like that Wentz kid. I remember Genesis and Rush playing their Steinbergers back to back with the keytar folks. But I guess in a world of 1 Bass influence (The P) you take all the idiosyncrasies you can list.
  12. I'm very surprised no one has said rickenbacker yet.
    They pretty much invented the pickup, then blazed trails of innovation all through the 60's and 70's.
    Not only with their sound, but with their design as well.
  13. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Fender P... a sunburst one. That's as iconic as it will ever be.
  14. Jaco Taco

    Jaco Taco

    Jul 30, 2012
    Nothing else compares to the level of influence both the Fender P and J have had.
  15. The fender P, brought the upright to a guitar form, without that we wouldn't have bass guitars.
  16. odineye


    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    Yeah. They're not my favorite basses, but we HAVE to give Rickenbacker their due. Jumped right in in 56 with neck through body, dual trussrodds, high mass bridges.

    I'd say that since then, more than a few builders have taken notice of those ideas and expanded on them.
  17. Sartori

    Sartori Supporting Member

    Fender Precision, the first successful electric bass. Obviously that's the most influential

    Followed probably by the Fender Jazz bass, which has been the model for tons of other basses after.

    After that, I'm not sure I would be able to place them in order, so, in no particular order...

    Alembic as some of the first (if not the first, not sure who holds the title) active basses, and probably the first boutique basses.

    Musicman also for early active electronics.

    Rickenbacker for basically inventing the magnetic pickup, also for neck-through design, dual truss rods, and stereo.

    Steinberger for graphite necks.

    Who made the first five string with a low B?
  18. odineye


    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    Another note for Alembic. In 1970, they started retrofitting guitars and basses with active electronics. I'd say that had a pretty big impact on future designs... even turned Leo to a new way of thinking.
  19. odineye


    Dec 29, 2011
    Bear DE
    I don't think the OP was looking to establish a hierarchy here, but to look at the history of bass inovation. And yes, Leo popularized electric bass and made them mass producible. But to say that everything else is just an offshoot??? :rollno: Why? Because they all have four strings? Sorry, there are too many, widely used differing techniques for getting four strings to make sound through an amplifier for that to hold true.

    I'm not belittling Fender here, just trying to see credit given where credit is due.
  20. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings
    Fender Precision
    Fender Jazz