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What if Fender named the Precision differently back in 57?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by EmaTheMirror, Feb 15, 2021.

  1. EmaTheMirror


    Oct 9, 2009
    London, UK
    Yet another useless "what if" thread to waste some time and guess in hindsight :laugh:

    Besides the J/P iconic status as a duo, we can say that the P has a true "iconic" status-quo, and also comes up to most people's minds as "the bass that started it all".

    Yet, when we picture said bass, we mostly refer to the 57 split-coil P version, which was quite objectively a fairly different instrument in its third iteration (with the 54 in between): besides ergonomics, the electronics were different and in a slightly different spot, the hardware was different (the 4-saddle bridge and stringing method was a major change for things to come too) and the visuals changed quite a bit too, with a tactile impact given by the different pickguard/control plate, rounder horn contour and a different headstock.

    Probably not quite as different as a 57 P vs J, but some might even argue that.

    So, my thoughts were: if Leo Fender decided to brand the new bass in 57 as a different model (say, the "Noiseless" bass :roflmao:) just like he later did with the J, would we still perceive the split-coil as the iconic bass it is nowadays? Would it rather be the 51/54 version instead? Granted, the "new" P replaced the previous different design and didn't join it as a second option like the J did, I'm aware of that.

    I know this thread is a time waster, but I am really wondering if marketing had a substantial role in writing the history of electric bass in its early days. What do you think?
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2021
  2. satjhmo


    Nov 16, 2020
    I'd imagine that by 1957 the Precision was starting to gain traction (apparently it took a while to get going, being unique at launch) so it wouldn't have made sense to change the name. And since the steam bass was still popular at the time, the "Precision" element of it was still relevant.

    If the name had changed, then I'm sure there's a debate to be had about value opportunity, asset retention and investments etc but that sure isn't for me :).
    BBassBassington and EmaTheMirror like this.
  3. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    If Leo had named the first bass the QXP44, That's what we'd all be calling it. It was a game changer with any name on the headstock.
  4. Bassmike62

    Bassmike62 Punch'n Ooomph provider Supporting Member

    Names don't matter as much as innovative ideas. Leo got it right.
  5. Warpeg


    Jun 20, 2005
    My understanding is that folks generally just referred to Precision Basses as "Fender Basses" back then. I'm not sure that any different name on the headstock would have mattered.
  6. The Fender GameChanger Bass.

    Or Fender ThirdTimeLucky Bass.
  7. EmaTheMirror


    Oct 9, 2009
    London, UK

    I think my main useless question/doubt was quite different, by the way:

    What would be the legacy and current perception of the single coil P and its popularity, had the split coil been an add-on marketed differently than a Precision?
  8. I would say it was the bass that changed it all, not necessarily started it all. It was the first successfully mass-produced bass, though not the first electric one.
  9. NigeJ


    Jul 23, 2019
    The Fender Accurate......
    detoxxx, barebones, Dr Zee and 5 others like this.
  10. bassdude51

    bassdude51 "You never even called me by my name." Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Yeah, I kind of wondered about that also. When Fender went from the single coil to the split coil pickup, perhaps the name should have been changed too.

    Very simply to Precision Bass II. (Roman numerals for number 2.)
  11. EmaTheMirror


    Oct 9, 2009
    London, UK
    Well, yeah... Thinking of it, the Telecaster and Stratocaster were named differently and were both produced at the same time. I was wondering if the 51P and 57P would be regarded similarly nowadays, perhaps with a reverse popularity with the 51 more celebrated, had it happened for the bass guitar too.

    The fact that it didn't actually has its points and makes sense, if you consider the novelty, the fact that Leo thought of it as an upgrade rather than a "deluxe" version and the bass was a good decade behind the 6 string counterpart and basically referred to as The Fender Bass. So, yes, not quite there for diversification.

    And thinking of it, Leo's spirit was rather innovative and forward thinking, paradoxically speaking - at least compared to the actual status of Fender as a company.
  12. "Accu Sonic" had been tossed around because of the frets taking the guesswork out of fretless uprights I guess.

    Leo was concerned about marketing, but less so of his passion for engineering and practicality.
    Wambemando likes this.
  13. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    The Bassocaster
  14. satjhmo


    Nov 16, 2020
    Interesting, which was the first electric solid-body bass? I assume something from Dobro or Hofner.
  15. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    The “Before G&L Musicman”.

    The “Tort.”
    dkelley likes this.
  16. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    instrumentalist and EmaTheMirror like this.
  17. Apparently Audiovox in the 1930s.
    dkelley, themarshall and mindwell like this.
  18. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    When Leo invented the P-bass, there was no commercial precedent. Therefore, there was no competitive name or naming practice.

    He could have called it Bob, and today's we'd call it the B-bass. :D
    Bassmike62, design, dkelley and 6 others like this.
  19. lowendrv


    Dec 12, 2007
    Yeah , remember there was a time any electric bass was called a Fender Bass . Fender or not . Leo changed things .
    dkelley and chris_b like this.
  20. Juststanley

    Juststanley Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2014
    What IF a frog had wings?
  21. iiipopes

    iiipopes Supporting Member

    May 4, 2009
    Yes. In high school jazz band in the late 70's, several of the older charts in our library were labeled for "Fender Bass," instead of just "Bass," indicating the composer wanted the electric instrument, not a double bass.
    Bassmike62, design, dkelley and 2 others like this.
  22. 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.

    Apr 10, 2021

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