Original muting foam on 1963 Precision - revealed!

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Pilgrim, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I realized that after a number of years here reading regular discussions about the foam mute used by Fender in their 50's and 60's basses, I had never seen a thread with pictures of an original foam setup. Well, it just happens that I own one.

    This bass is a 1963 P according to the serial number. My parents bought it for me in 1967 and I had it repainted a Ford Metallic Gold around 1972. All the hardware is original, and the flatwound strings have been on it since the repaint, so they're at least 43 years old.

    The bass:


    And I've kept the foam which was under the bridge cover. I left it on until a couple of years ago, when I carefully peeled it off and put it in a large prescription drug bottle which is fairly airtight. It has seldom been exposed to sunlight and is in very good condition. It's a fairly dense foam, similar to heavy duty weatherstripping.

    The foam strip is 3.25 inches long. Here are three photos of it - the view of the back shows shiny spots which are the adhesive. The adhesive still works and I was able to re-mount it on the bridge cover.

    The foam:




    And here it is installed in the bridge cover, in a position matching the marks left from the original installation. You can see the depressions in the foam left by 30 years of contact with the strings.



    And here it is, installed on the bass. I threw in one shot with flash to help you see under the cover. Yes, it's a little dusty looking in that shot. I suspect the foam is also shedding a bit.



    SO - from now on, if you want to know what type of foam Fender used under bridge covers as a mute in the early 60's, you have a visual record of the material and the placement inside the bridge cover.

    You're welcome.
    31HZ, J_Bass, bassface69 and 52 others like this.
  2. Looks Foamy
    Raman, Cheez and Garret Graves like this.
  3. dmk

    dmk Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2005
    San Diego, CA
    Wow! Very interesting from a historical point of view. Thanks for taking the time to post these photos.
    Ronzo and ErikP.Bass like this.
  4. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Mmmm.... foamy.
  5. That's a beautiful bass.
    The foam's nice too.
    oldandbold likes this.
  6. JustForSport


    Nov 17, 2011
    Very nice looking bass!

    How do those flats sound now? What kind are they?

    The foam looks like maybe OEM automotive or appliance weatherstripping used around that time.

    Thanks for sharing.
    Bill Whitehurst likes this.
  7. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I had a very strange moment of nostalgia when I saw the photo of your bass and then I remembered that we had a Pinto that color when I was a kid!
    Lance Bunyon and Pilgrim like this.
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Those flats are old enough that I don't know for sure. I put up a thread once asking if anyone recognized the color of the silks and the best answer I got was that they were probably Pyramids.

    I agree that the foam is more dense than the standard foam rubber you'd buy for a sleeping mat or for craft use. It's definitely more like heavier duty weatherstripping foam. I haven't laid hands on this stuff at Home Depot to check, but this ($3.27 a roll) looks like a similar product, in a 3/4 inch thick version which is a pretty close match to the thickness of the foam Fender used:

    MD Building Products 3/4 in. x 10 ft. Black Sponge Rubber Foam Weatherstrip Tape-06593 - The Home Depot


    Believe it or not, the flats sound pretty much like any good flat that has been on the bass for a few months. I sometimes even turn down the treble a bit. the bass sat in its case tuned to full tension from 1973-1996, so the strings weren't being played during that time period.

    This is one reason I take the stand that flats are good forever. If they don't break, they're good...and I've never had one break from playing, only when winding a new string onto a tuner.
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2016
    Raman, roswell1965, Axtman and 6 others like this.
  9. Willicious

    Willicious Supporting Member

    Feb 24, 2008
    Bend, Oregon

    Gorgeous bass, man. What color was it originally?
  10. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Great info, thank you
  11. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    IF I recall - been a long time - it was some kind of white, which I think was Olympia White. it was all chipped up and I didn't like the chips, and in 1972 it was just a beat-up looking bass. I still don't like beat-up finishes, and I take very good care of my instruments. I am a NON-relic zone. I am a fan of Oly White with tort, and I may do a short-scale tele-bass in that combination.
    Willicious likes this.
  12. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    The weather stripping Fender used (and still uses for pickup height adjustment) is black 3M foam weather stripping.
    lowplaces, Pilgrim and iiipopes like this.
  13. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    Great pics. And that color is SEXY!
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I'm confident you're right. It always looked like that kind of foam to me.

    Thank'ee. I kinda like it myownself. Goes great with tort. It's not quite a Fender color, but it's kinda in between the colors Fender called Firemist Gold and Shoreline Gold.
    Rob Leonard and Tbone76 like this.
  15. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    It is. I purchased some, and it matches the foam on the bottom of Jazz Bass pickups (which Fender has used since the beginning). The only problem with it is that it does melt and decay (as I'm sure many have seen on older Fender basses). 3M now has the grey type of weather stripping as well, and it's totally different.
  16. Jay Corwin

    Jay Corwin Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    Sanborn, NY
    I made my own out of weather stripping from Home Depot as well.
  17. I have a roll of this I use for various things. It looks almost identical to what the OP photographed. If you let it sit in the sun for a few days it will even begin to have the "broken down" vintage look of the old foam.
  18. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Great bass!
    LeFunk Machine likes this.
  19. Bob_Ross

    Bob_Ross Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 29, 2012

    Yeah... what ^^^these guys said. I think I need to change my shorts.
  20. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Well, geez, thanks. I didn't really start the thread to show it off, just to show that it really is an original. The neck on it is about a 1972 (truss rod broke 48 hours before a 2-day gig, so I replaced the neck quickly) and I had it re-painted. Aside from that, it's original down to the screws.

    I wish I could tell you guys what the color actually is, but I'm working by memory from 40+ years back. I do believe it was 1972 when I had the paint and neck done, but it could have been a couple of years earlier for the paint.

    There are some good Ford color chip charts at Torino Paint Colors but there were a lot of browns and golds available for the period 1968-72, which is definitely the era in which this bass was painted.

    What surprises me is that the weatherstripping foam is still firm and not crumbling at all after so long. Must be because it has been out of the sunlight.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016

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