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Played a 51 RI today.....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Zigmundfloyd, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. Zigmundfloyd


    Jun 27, 2007
    I really want a single coil tele so I went to GC (which I avoid whenever possible) and played a 51 RI P today.

    I expected a heavy bass with a chunky neck, it was neither. I have a 78 P with a chunkier neck. The vintage mandolin frets were a bit weird, might take some getting used to. Seems like wider frets are easier to fret accurately?

    Given all I have heard about MIJ quality I was a bit surprised. The jack plate (disc) was falling out, (because it was hanging in GC it could have been some bozo tripping over or yanking out the cable, or maybe not), and there was huge gap, 3/16" between the pickguard and the body right below the 1st string. It's as if it wasn't located properly before being attached. Hmmmmmmm.......

    The pocket was straight and tight, it played well, felt pretty good, and I left thinking "maybe."

    Anyone have one of these, or played one? Any other options? Gotta be single coil, and not say "Sting" on it.

  2. alexit


    Feb 21, 2006
    The jack plate is definitely due to GC neglect, pickguard maybe. I've tested a few, and really dislike the tone - there's lots of hum and no way to "clear it up," could have been the amp setup I was playing, but it had more growl than P-bass punch.
  3. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    You, apparently, have played the only one I've ever heard of having quality control issues.
    Single coil P's are definately a different beast than the split P's: wider frequency response, and clearer and cleaner. I have both a 4 string 51 reissue, and a 5 string version I built from Warmoth wood bits, and Nordstrand custom wound pups.
  4. jsamans


    Mar 11, 2007
    Fall City, WA
    The tone takes some getting used to but in a band setting you will find that it cuts through the mix extremely well, and uniquely so. I think it has a fantastic tone, but like a lot of things that is subjective.

    Mine has a tiny bit of a neck gap, and I am not a fan of the "school bus yellow" fake butterscotch blond finish. I do really like the neck, the frets didn't really bother me. I put a Wilkinson bridge on mine, it is still two (brass) saddle, but it lets you twist them to dial in the intonation a little better.

    All in all, I think it is a great bass -- it really shines sitting in the mix. I have rounds on mine (my '57 RI P has flats) and it's great for blues and rock. You can really alter your tone pretty drastically depending on where you hit the string and/or whether you use a pick.
  5. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    While the stock pickup is nice, the SD SCPB3 *kills*
  6. Zigmundfloyd


    Jun 27, 2007
    Nice basses Chef, you added a J pickup?

    I like the growl myself, I'm a Ric man with a pick usually but have been looking for a different bass for fingers
  7. For your options Zigmundfloyd, I 'd suggest trying another example of the same bass

    I just got one on Monday. 2 tone burst. Pretty much flawless. Frets ends finished nicely, no neck gap or issues with the pick guard or jack. Very nice bass especially for the price. Haven't quite figured out how to rest my thumb yet though. Maybe I'll add the pickup cover like Chef did.
    BTW: Nice mojo Chef, with the cool bases and the diamond tolex Ampeg.
  8. bass.player


    May 30, 2006
    I have one (the butterscotch blonde) and mine is absolutely flawless except for the neck pocket. But who knows it might have been like this back in '51 as they also copied the imperfections of this bass. Just look at the tuners for example not alligned on the back of the headstock.
    I really like the colour, better than the butterscotch on todays Fenders.
    I changed the pickup for a SD QP single coil which makes it a bit more usable in my bands. The stock pickup sounds nice though.
    I love this bass, cannot put it aside since I got it....
  9. that 5 string '51 makes me green with envy everytime i see it..what kind of tones do you get with it,Chef?
  10. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    Very true. My 51 P is a thump monster. It's temporarily set aside because my band is enamored of my '50s P, but its day will come again.

    Ugly yellow, great neck (and I prefer the small frets). I have strung it up with LaBella nylon tape wounds and (currently) GHS Brite Flats. It may get a set of TI Jazz Flats in the near future. I have two other Fenders (the '50s P and a Jazz fretless) strung up with them and they are excellent.
  11. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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

    The single coil P was wound to SD SCP3 specs, the Nord Fat Stack Single was wound "hotter than normal" to match.
    So, the single coil P sounds like you'd expect; broad freq response, big lows, clean clear highs, very present mids. The J type pup is very "J at the bridge like," but bigger and hotter.
    The dual stack pots let you tailor all kinds of inbetweens.
  12. I got one just recently and have been captured by it's charms.

    I love the neck - one piece maple; the width and profile suit my hands. The small frets are cool, but functionally it is not different than playing my other "jumbo fret" basses. The narower radius is also cool.

    The tone - killer. THE P Bass sound: rich and deep. The classic tone that set the standard. Sits beautifully in the mix. Even the slap (which I use very sparingly as a little accent here and there) sounds good, like a "vintage slap". I also like the simplicity: volume, tone, the rest is in your hands.

    The colour; meh, it is a little too yellow but it will be interesting to see how it ages - this one is a keeper.

    No issues with the pickguard but the jack cup is a little loose, seems to be a common flaw. Everything else is top notch build quality.

    This has become my favourite bass. Not only does it look, play, and sound great, I think it's very cool how the simple basic bass that started it all, established the sound, fits so well over 50 years later.

    Highly recommended!
  13. main_sale


    Apr 26, 2004
    Cape Cod
    I've got two of these basses now and like them alot. A nice upgrade is these Wilkinson brass compensated saddles for the bridge. They are small money and return great results.

  14. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Last time I looked, basspartsresource.com was out...where did you source those?
  15. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    To repeat what may be common knowledge: the Fender American Deluxe four saddle bridge drops right in. There's one in my '51.
  16. hallo


    May 1, 2007
    Staffs, UK
    Got one a few months ago, I must have been a lucky person as mine is sunburst and not the deep blonde colour. Love the tone out of it, haven't touched my Jazz or Bison since. No problems with mine at all except the scratchplate has a hole in it for a 'one' screw thumbrest which seem impossible to find nowadays. Anyway never had any problems what so ever adjusting to the frets, if you like the tone then I suggest buy it.
  17. jsamans


    Mar 11, 2007
    Fall City, WA
    It's showing in stock there now -- top row middle. I got mine from them a couple of months ago. It's a nice piece of hardware.
  18. shooter_mi


    Sep 29, 2005
    It's a single coil pickup, that's what they do. They hum when you're not playing and they sound best cranked when you do play.
  19. Glenn D.

    Glenn D.

    Aug 20, 2002
    Fort Collins, CO
    Agreed. I copper taped my Sting and installed the Qtr Pdr. I love the sound, feel and look of this bass. I just need to pick up a mint pickguard and I'm done.

    Glenn D.
  20. I was about to buy one. Cancelled my order to get a sterling. Anyway, the shop brought it in and it was one of the most awesome basses i had ever played. Stunning neck, built like a truck and ultra light. Unfortunetly i could not afford both. shame
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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