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Review of Fender Custom Shop NOS '59 Precision Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by AndyMan, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. AndyMan

    AndyMan Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 17, 2000
    Columbus, Ohio
    Hello Everyone--

    Andy Russ writing from Columbus, Ohio.

    I received my Custom Shop '59 NOS Precision Bass and I'd like to post my review.

    First off, I've been playing bass since '77, and have always played classic rock and blues, so I've always been a Fender man.

    I have owned dozens of basses, from Pre CBS Fenders to Stingrays (the real ones), to G&Ls, to Warwicks (Thumb 4,5,6; Dolphin Pro 4--which I still own). I have owned 2 Fender Custom Shop basses--The James Jamerson Tribute P bass and a '64 Relic Jazz.

    I order my '59 NOS with some mods or "preferences": I wanted a maple neck with straight grain and with a vintage tint; swamp ash body with white blonde finish and specified a light weight piece of swamp ash; gold anodized pickguard; and a black tolex case. There was a slight upcharge for the CS to select a straight grain maple for the neck and a light piece of swamp ash for the body.

    Delivery time: 6 mos from order. Not bad.

    The bass is simply superb. It weighs 8 lbs 2 oz. It is featherweight and extremely resonant. It has an uncommon "singing tone." Despite what others have said, I can hear a difference between maple v. rosewood neck, alder v. swamp ash, P v. J. On another bass related board, 2 people said I was full of s**t and challenged me to prove it, so I did. They posted MP3s of various configs of Fender basses and challenged me to a "blindfold test" and I nailed them all. Why do I mention this? Because I believe that there are certain instruments out there that have that elusive tone quality and playability that is inspirational. I believe I have found such an instrument.

    I realize that this statement will not go unchallenged, and perhaps that is a debate for another thread. I make mention of it to offer proof that the Fender CS makes truly outstanding instruments, I would say on a par with the original Pre-CBS ones.

    The frets on this bass a perfect, and I have set extremely low action without any fret buzz. The finish is perfect, and as I said the quality of the wood selection for the neck and body is superior. The neck is as straight as an arrow.

    So in essence, even though this was a "team built bass," it was a one-off.

    To get a visual image, (I'll post pics later), it looks the US Vintage '57 Reissue in White Blonde w/ gold alum pickguard.

    The sound: this bass honestly is inspiring. It plays like butter, and cuts through the mix. Tight lows, sweet mids, a non-harsh top end. It pumps it out. The pickups are the '59 NOS variety (i.e., no raised A pole pieces). As far as I know, I have the only bass in this configuration.

    The maple neck and swamp ash combined with the '59 pickups pump out low notes like a vintage P Bass which are "tempered" by the maple and swamp ash and the result is a tone that starts heavy, begins to blossom, but is almost instantaneously compressed in a natural way due to the tone woods. The result is that the note "sings."

    I would highly recommend anyone who is a devoted Fender player to consider Custom Shop instruments.

    Should you wish the name of the retailer, please email me off list.

    So, I am very, very, happy with this bass.

    Andy Russ
  2. Aaron J

    Aaron J

    Jul 16, 2003
    Cincinnati, OH
    Wow, sounds like a great instrument. Congrats. I am looking forward to seeing pics. I only have experience with rosewood/alder P basses, so could you post those sound files if you get a chance; I'd be really interested in hearing the tone of that bass.
  3. NJL


    Apr 12, 2002
    San Antonio
    congrats, but we need pics!!!!

    :D ;)
  4. RS


    Aug 27, 2000
    Cleveland, OH
    Sounds great! If you live in the Cleveland area I'd love to check that beast out in person.
  5. buzzbass

    buzzbass Shoo Shoo Retarded Flu !

    Apr 23, 2003
    Good for you, it feels great when you've found "the one". Doesn't it ? But we still need pix :)
  6. GRoberts

    GRoberts Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Tucson, AZ USA
    Simply awesome post. Congrats! We need MP3's!!! and Pics!
  7. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    My wife was kind enough to allow me to buy the same bass for Christmas! Mine is a 3-color sunburst on a single piece of alder and has the rosewood board with flame maple neck (and the blonde tolex case).

    I'll just echo Andy's remarks regarding wood selection and craftmanship. Absolutely superb. This thing is just stunning looking and plays very well.

    I haven't done anything to it setup-wise yet and I'm still happy. The stock Fender strings are not my cup of tea (to say it nicely), so I'll be changing them at some point and then I'll set her up real nice (but straight out of the box ain't bad!). In the meantime I'm still just enjoying the minty freshness, pickup cover and all!

    As for any downside, besides the pos strings, there is a dead spot on the G string at the 7th fret (D)! Now we all know about the dead spot with Fenders (usually at C#), but I'm really hoping a string change and a little setup will get rid of, or at least move, this dead spot. And I'm being nit-picky, it's not very noticeable.

    Also, the neck profile feels just a bit thicker feeling than a guy's actual '59 (I've had occasion to play it twice) and even feels slightly chunkier than my G&L L-1000 (also 1.75" at the nut), but those basses have been played for 20+ and 40+ years, well broken in, so I can't really say it plays like buttah yet but man, what a great starting point! This thing will be fabulous in a few years (especially with how much time I find myself playing it!).

    And the upsides are just too numerous to mention. What a fabulous instrument!
  8. AndyMan

    AndyMan Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 17, 2000
    Columbus, Ohio