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NBD: Classic 50's Precision, impressions / comparisons to my '76 Precision...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sbpark, Feb 23, 2013.

  1. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Today was an unexpected NBD! I was just looking around, searching the want ads here on TB, Craigslist, and also calling around to a few shops seeing what they had in stock. I was looking for a Classic 50's or a Road Worn Precision, but kept coming up empty handed, as nobody near me had either in stock, and nobody was really budging on the price of a new RW. Then I remembered a fellow TB'er who I spoke to recently that had a Classic 50's for sale, so I PM'd him, he still had it, so I drove up from San Diego to OC and picked her up!

    She's a 2-tone Sunburst, with a 2-piece body. Feels pretty light at 8.8 lbs compared to my exactly 10 lb. '76 Precision. And it also has the obviously wider nut width (1.75" for the 50's vs. 1.625 for the '76), and both have a 7.25" fretboard radius. I would have to say I almost prefer the chunkiness of the 50's neck over the '76, but that's not to say I don't like the '76. And going back and forth between the two isn't even a concern. The difference is noticeable, but not in a way that causes any problems. I have average size hands and feel fine on both necks. What I notice isn't even as much of the difference in nut width, but more the difference in thickness/chunkiness of the two necks. The bass plays REALLY nice, set up was perfect and I didn't need to tweak anything on it. I have my '76 P set up pretty much close to Fender factory specs, and the 50's P was spot on as well, with maybe SLIGHTLY lower action than my '76.

    Fit and finish is really nice. I could care less about the whole nitro vs. poly debate. The bass looks sweet, the neck joint is super tight with no gaps. Overall really nice looking!

    So how does it sound? Well, all I have to compare it to is my '76 P, and to be honest, the '76 sounds better. Don't get me wrong, the 50's sounds good. It's very punchy, a bit brighter with less low end than the '76. In all honesty though I think my '76 is a monster! When you strike a string the whole thing just resonates and vibrates like no other guitar or bass I've played! But the 50's also has a maple board as opposed to rosewood, and the pickups are different. (The 50's has whatever comes stock in it, and the '76 has a '62 'Original' RI pup). Both basses have the same exact bridge on them, and the '76 is strung with Chromes 45-100, and I don't know what's on the 50's. LaBellas possibly? Seems like similar gauge with black silk at the string ends. This is not a bad thing, since what's the point of having two basses that sound the same?

    I will also be installing the covers and tug bar on this one. I just dig that look a lot. I'll be breaking out the drill after I post this!

    So all in all it seems like this is a really nice instrument. Not as aggressive or growly as my other bass, instead it's more tame and refined, but as mentioned above, there are many factors that can contribute to that, plus I've only had the bass for a few hours, so I need more time to play it and see what kind of tones I can get out of it.




  2. DudeLeap


    Feb 11, 2013
    Solid find bass looks mint. I haven't played one of those in a good 5 years but I remember loving the fat neck.
  3. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Congrats on a cool new bass. Play the HECK out of it!
  4. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Some additional thoughts after playing the bass for a bit...so it's not as weak or mild as I initially stated. It is just 'different' than my '76. Once I got it dialed in a but (well, all I really did was raise the pickups just the tiniest bit and drilled the holes for the tug bar and covers) she was done. This bass has a much clearer sound, and I'd still say punchier, more mid-range while the '76 definitely has more growl. Both are great, and although I prefer the '76 on it's own, my guess is that the 50's may fit better with a band and cut through a mix better, but again that's just my gut feeling.

    There has been a debate over these, or at least comparison with these and a Road Worn. Yes, they are essentially the same instrument minus the difference in finish and aging/relic'ing. The neck on the 50's is a tad sticky, but in the past I have easily fixed this with a green scotch brite pad or some 0000 steel wool (the scotch brite pad is more aggressive, so you might want to try the steel wool first and then switch to the SB pad if you want more). With that said, i think this is what is one of the major differences and things that sell people on the Road Worns. The necks just have an amazing broken-in feel compared to the new, sticky, shiny necks on the 50's, but it still isn't a deal-breaker for me. I'd still go with the 50's over the RW unless the situation presented itself with a screaming deal on a used RW. I also wouldn't hesitate to pick up a Classic 50's if a screaming deal presented itself, as in this case. They do apparently use lighter bodies on the RW's, but I think there are obviously still gems out there with the 50's, as mine is a 2-piece body and total weight is under 9lbs (8.8), and the Road Worns seem to be in the low 8's.

    Bottom line is I wouldn't hesitate to purchase wither the Classic or the RW, but I am more partial to the Classic since I am just not a fan of relic'ing, but the RW's play like butter for sure. I'd rather save the money and get the 50's, and drop in a different pup down the line if I see fit and take some steel wool to the neck, but again that's not 100% necessary, but may be to some.
  5. R&B

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

    Congrats!! Great bass, light, very punchy and a nice neck as sbpark stated. Easy to play with the La Bella 760FS strings. Sweet two piece body with lovely fine graining.

    A little history. The original owner, a fellow TBer, purchased her brand new in Nashville in 2011. I was the second owner. So far as I know she was never gigged. These basses are just a tremendous value. Glad you liked the setup, if you lower the pups you will lose a little punch and gain a mellower tone IME. Looks great with the ashtrays and tug bar. I miss her already, yet look forward to her replacement, the incoming '57 AVRI. Couldn't keep both. :crying:

    Enjoy!! :bassist:
  6. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Nice to know the history of her and what strings are on there! I really like them, and they feel just a tad stiffer/higher tension than the 45-100 gauge Chromes on my other bass, which is a good thing! I actually raised the pups a bit to try and coax a bit more growl out of her! Thanks gain!
  7. I just acquired a 57 AVRI and own one of the MIM 50s P basses. Both are white but, of course, the AVRI is nitro and the 50s is poly.

    Both are solid, playable basses but the AVRI is definitely superior. it's the lightest bass I've ever owned and is wonderfully resonant. The old adage that if a bass sounds good unplugged it's going to sound great plugged in is proven true to me with the AVRI.

    I've got some GHS flats on it and even the slap tone with those is great, that sort of chunky old school slap sound.

    Hope you enjoy yours as much as I am enjoying mine!
  8. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    It better be a better bass given the cost difference, and I'm sure it is! I never hold much stock in the belief that a bass that sounds good unplugged will sound great plugged in. I could care less what it sounds like unplugged, because it's an electric bass! The 50's is much louder unplugged than my '76, but plugged in the '76 is just a monster. Go figure.
  9. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Nice bass. Love Precisions. They do so much for being so minimal.
  10. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Just thought I'd post an update after a couple days with the Classic 50's...I'm liking this bass the more I play it, and am really digging the feel of La Bella flats that came on it. I have Chromes on my other bass, and love them as well, but am kind of liking the slightly higher tension of the La Bellas (I play with my fingers only, and you can really dig in without the strings, especially the E string buzzing or bottoming out and still have pretty low action). Still enjoying the feel of the chunky neck even though I can play a bit faster and smoother on my '76, it's not a problem at all going back and forth between the two.

    The heavy poly on the neck seems to leave my hands sticky after playing it for a while. I dont grip the neck like a baseball bat with my left hand, and am referring more to my fingers I guess. I had the same issue with a Squier CV tele I had and a couple passes with a green Scotch Brite to just knock of the top layer of stickiness easily solved that problem.

    Initially I was already considering in the back of my mind a pickup swap, but have changed my mind on that. It's not as aggressive or growly as the '62' Original RI pup in my '76, but it can get tones that are similar to am upright bass (sort of) if I just roll back the tone and volume a bit on the bass, and cut out some mids while boosting a bit of bass and treble (I'm using a PF500). Kind of has a nice, woody sound if that makes sense. And this bass surprisingly also has a lot of sustain.

    So far no regrets with this bass. A used Road Worn would be nice to add later on, but in all honesty if you can pick one of the Classic 50's up used for a good price I wouldn't hesitate at all.
  11. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    yep, these are great basses.
    and, yep, mine sounded softer and more vintage than my '72 ash/maple P, which weighs 10+lbs.

    Then, I put a G&L MFD P-pickup in there, and now it's gonzo.
  12. R&B

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

    sbpark--if you do ever have regrets, give me a shout! I can always try to sneak her back in past the sentries. :p
  13. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    This bass is a real beauty. Never had the pleasure of seeing one in the wild, but would greatly enjoy the oppty. to compare it to my beloved RW.
  14. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Haha! You'll get first dibs, but I am going to guess that once you get your '57 AVRI you'll had no need for this one anymore!
  15. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    here are a few pics I took yesterday...




  16. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin' Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Another fan boy here.

    Mine has TI Jazz Flats and a Quarter Pound.

  17. CLMSHQ


    Apr 17, 2007
    Danielson, CT
    I had my 50's Classic P since 09' new...I Love playing it...Have though of selling it a few times, but just do not have the heart to do it.

    It was a steal for a well made player.

    It Loves Flats.
  18. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
  19. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    Dang, that bass is RED!!! I dig it though, and bet a red RW would look awesome!
  20. sbpark

    sbpark Supporting Member

    May 26, 2010
    I do dig the honey blonde! But for some reason it always seems like sunburst is what ends up finding me. My banjo is sunburst, almost every tele I've had has been sunburst, now two basses, and actually had a MIJ sunburst precision years and years ago when I didn't even play bass!