When did Fender begin to dominate the bass market?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GretschWretch, Mar 3, 2014.

  1. I'm not completely satisfied with the thread title, but what I am driving at is when did Fender become the most visible bass, as in
    live and televised performances, on album jackets, etc.? Except maybe for country music I don't think it was in the fifties, and the British Invasion displayed a Fender presence but not a Fender dominance. When did a Fender become the bass you would "expect" to see?
  2. M0ses


    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Literally since the absolute beginning. They didn't take over the bass market. They created it.
  3. shrigg

    shrigg Beta Tester for AudioKinesis Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2007
    Traverse City, MI

    /end thread.
  4. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    Back in the day, even if you showed up with a Hofner, the charts said "Fender Bass".
  5. Okay, you guys are offering the "conventional wisdom" to the thread title. Try responding to the content. As in "visible"? Well into the sixties, Fender had lots of competition by that measurement.
  6. Right, but they were already dominant by then. As the poster above said, Fender created the market. And that was starting in 1951. By the '60s, "Fender bass" was synonomous with bass guitar even though there were other brands out there. Hey, I got a Hagstrom in 1965, my first bass. But only because I was a kid and couldn't afford a Fender.
  7. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    No they didn't. There were plenty of companies putting out basses, but none of them realistically ever competed for visibility, studio use or just general widespread popularity until the mid-late 60's.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    They actually did try to compete at their level. It's just that Fenders were undeniable as the most versatile basses going and there was just no stopping it.
  9. OnederTone

    OnederTone Aguilar Everywhere Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2002
    Thornton, CO

    Why are you asking questions that you think you already know the answer to?
  10. This is where you're on the wrong track. I don't think Fender had any meaningful competition in the '50s. By the '60s, you're right that the "British invasion" bands were using some other brands. That's because they had to shop for bass guitars in Europe. Look at Elvis' bass player, Carol Kaye, the Beach Boys, Duck Dunn, Jamerson ... Americans used Fender.
  11. I don't get the question.

    When was Fender NOT the the bass you would "expect" to see?

    Fender invented the affordable mass-produced electric solid body bass. They were the most likely brand to see in a professionals hands since day 1.
  12. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    I don't know the correct answer but a few weeks ago I was wondering the same thing. I ended up googling hit songs and found which songs were the most popular each month in the 60's. Then I tried to find some youtube clips of those songs and I was shocked at how many bands DIDN'T use fender basses. I saw a lot of Gibsons and Rics and some Vox and Mosrite and others but the Fender basses just weren't in many of the clips until later in the 60's. Once you got to 69 or 70 in the youtube clips it seemed like everything was Fender. So my guess is sometime around 1968 give or take a year was the tipping point where the majority of basses being played by the big names were Fender basses.
    Not exactly a scientific answer but at least an attempt to kinda get a feel for it.
  13. JennySuzuki


    Dec 18, 2013
    I watched the American Masters biopic of Les Paul, "Chasing the Sound," the other night, and he mentioned that Gibson came to him because Fender started putting out these amazing electric instruments, and Gibson realized they needed to catch up, and make a better instrument, and fast. They may arguably have succeeded in the standard guitar market. I don't think they succeeded so well in the bass market.

    We consider a 34" scale to be standard for bass guitars because that's the length Leo Fender figured out with his borrowed physics textbook, so that length produces the sound we expect from an electric bass guitar. Heck, even the shape of many other people's basses mimics the shape Fender chose for his.

    So yes; the dominance by Fender started at the very beginning of the instrument's popularity, even though it can be argued that Gibson produced an electrified bass (which they never marketed) before Fender did.
  14. Gizmot

    Gizmot Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    Nashville area
    Fender was one of the first but in the 50's, Rickenbacker, Gibson and others were there too. Musicians and engineers got used to using Fender and they became dominant.
  15. WalterBush


    Feb 27, 2005
    Yuma, Az
    Full disclosure, I'm a certified Fender technician working in a music store that carries Fender, Yamaha, and Ibanez products among others.
    Union cards as late as the early '70s (at least in the SF Bay Area) had a place to check mark which instrument you showed up with on a particular night. They read, "Fender Bass", not "electric bass guitar."

    I have no idea when that changed, but Fender's always been the go-to bass for working professionals.

  16. Looks like you've done some of the same research I did which prompted my initial question, which a lot of people are responding to tangentially. Youtube videos and illustrated reference books show there were lots of other basses in play besides Fender. Even in college (1967-71), of the five bassplayers I knew, only one had a Fender. Of the local bands when I was in high school, NONE did. "When did Leo get it right?" is not the question I am asking. His substantial contributions are conceded.

  17. I agree with everything you say, Jenny, but you appear to be posting from a post-1970s perspective; hindsight. We see the 34" scale as the standard now, but can anyone name a maker between the '51 P and he Ric 4000 that used long-scale?
  18. I had one of those cards. But no Fender (sigh).
  19. Matt Dean

    Matt Dean Supporting Member

    Jan 2, 2007
    SF (North) Bay Area
    ...not exactly an answer, but when I started playing in 1972, my first two basses were not fenders (Gibson and Ric). My first Fender P was bass #4.
  20. GBassNorth


    Dec 23, 2006
    Fender was a great man with a great product, can't take that away from him. But I'd challenge folks to do a little research on their own and look back at the video evidence of the times. So far, with very few exceptions the vast number of vintage top line performances I've found on YouTube did not use Fender basses in the early and mid sixties. I did see a lot of hollowbody basses, a ton of Gibsons, some that might have been Gretch, some Rics, and of course a Hofner, but very few Fenders. I will be the first to admit its the opposite of what I was expecting.