Who remembers when the first electric basses came out?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Need Gigs, Aug 29, 2020.

  1. Hi all,
    I'm curious to hear stories from some of our more seasoned members.
    How did you find out?
    Who told you?
    Do you remember the first time you heard one on a recording? Saw one in person? Played one?
    What did your peers think when electric basses first came out?
    I'm thinking more in terms of the P bass and its contemporaries (50's) than the Tutmarc basses but the questions are of course up to your own interpretation :)
  2. chadds


    Mar 18, 2000
    Dude! I'm not that old! I do remember when a '65-'68 P was just called "used."
    MattZilla, retslock, Rezdog and 10 others like this.
  3. Bass V

    Bass V

    Dec 11, 2008
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I'd bet my soon to be birth was the result of my parents seeing an electric bass in '54 lol
  4. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Because the Fender electric bass was three years old and already gone through its first redesign when I was born, it was always a part of music for me.
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i was hatched in 1950. "rock and roll" was new in the 50s, and it was all boogie-woogie, four-on-the-floor style. in the 1950s it was common to see both EBs and DBs being used in the pop music of the day. it wasn't until the beatles (early 60s) that the DB drifted away from the images of rock music. so, IME: fender EBs were starting to supplant the DB in those early rock and pop pics/movies/TV shows/cameos by 1955-56 or so. a decade later it was all EB, all the time, for pop/rock.

    we need an 80 y.o. to chime in --- any takers?
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
    Vinny_G, Rezdog, design and 10 others like this.
  6. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    I can only add it's an honor playing a bass 8 years older than me, and I'm old.
    John Stephen and Father Gino like this.
  7. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I am 76. I got my first bass in 1958. My parents bought me a used Fender Precision and a new Bassman amp. They paid $385 for them and that was a lot of money for poor folks in 1958.

    My father was a bassist and played an upright of course. In later years he also had an electric bass but he sounded much better on the upright. I am an electric bassist who has been pushed to play upright for many years. Now I play both upright and electric bass. Most of my gigs are jazz gigs and I have been privileged to work with some great players through the years.
  8. Element Zero

    Element Zero Supporting Member

    Dec 14, 2016
    Pepperidge Farm remembers...
  9. sleddogn


    Sep 8, 2013
    is daniel boone still alive?
  10. Robscott


    Mar 20, 2017
    Tonbridge UK
    No-one's owning up to this one!
    Need Gigs likes this.
  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    The "first" electric basses came out in the mid 1930s.

    There were upright electrics from several companies and the first of what became known as an electric bass guitar was the Audiovox Model 736 from Paul Tutmarc in 1935.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2020
    nixdad, Jeff Scott, DJ Bebop and 8 others like this.
  12. TheReceder


    Jul 12, 2010
    It makes me smile to post this image whenever I can. That's me on bass... (I died and have since been reincarnated as a much less famous, balding old man) The bass is an Audiovox #736 that cost me $65, the amp is an audiovox model #936 that set me back another $75. Circa 1937.
  13. Koshchei


    Mar 17, 2019
    Peterborough, ON
    What are you expecting? This is the internet, and you're looking for bassists who were born around the end of WW2 (us life expectency male - بحث Google).
  14. i remember my first upright teacher, who is now in his early 80s i believe, talking about this.

    he still calls electric basses "fender bass," but he insisted that ampeg made the first electric bass.

    he was a classical bassist and freelanced with symphonies and such, in addition to playing jazz. to him the amplified baby bass was an electric bass.

    wish I could pick his brain about this stuff today - great topic..
    Wambemando, PWRL, DJ Bebop and 3 others like this.
  15. bassdude51

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

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    I was born in 1951. When The Beatles were on Ed Sullivan Feb 1964, I was 12. Although I was into listening to my dad's Elvis, Fats Domino and other R n R records, I was totally "bass ignorant". Probably because our record player couldn't even produce the bass frequencies. I didn't even realize McCartney played bass. At age 12, I just thought it was a violin shaped guitar.

    What got me into bass was Rick Huxley of the Dave Clark 5. He played a Fender Jazz Bass and I thought that it look really cool. Also, some of the DC5 songs featured little mini bass solos which I like the sound.

    Probably my first bass experience was when me and my cousin walked to the Ohio State Fair around 1964 and a rock n roll band was playing. What was cool was that we were on foot and no where near the fair but I could hear the bass. WOW! I could hear the bass and only the bass. As we got nearer to the fair, the rest of the instruments could be heard. But, the bass was dominate at a far distance. That made a big impression on me!

    The first bass I ever saw in person was a Gibson Thunderbird Bass being sold at Lazarus Dept. Store in downtown Columbus, Ohio around 1964. I was probably about 13. It was the most awesome thing in the world!

    The first bass I ever touched? I can't remember. It might have been a Gibson EB-2 hollowbody. Back in 1965. Belonged to a friend of a friend.

    First bass I ever owned was a Hagstrom and later on I got a used 1965 Fender Bassman amp ($300). About 1966 or '67. I was only about 15 and could not afford a Fender bass with my paper route money. The amp wiped me out.

    My first Fender Bass was a used Jazz Bass probably a 1969 or '70. Bought it used for $125 back around 1973 from an ad in The Tradin' Times and that was the way it was back then for used Fender Basses! Used prices were dirt cheap!

    I never even knew about the old '51 - '53 Fender slab bodies until about the early 80s. A friend told me about them. Remember, no internet back then! 60s rock bands didn't play slabs.

    Now, about 4 years ago, I bought a heavily used March 1953 P Bass. It is my favorite bass out of many.

    Even though I am now 69 years old, I didn't really know all that much about electric basses until the early to mid 60s. And rightly so, I was born in Aug. 1951, just a few months before Leo made the first slab body P. I was a baby.

    Even by Aug 1961, I would have only been 10 years old and not informed about electric basses.

    I always loved the Fender Bass headstock!!!!!!!!! Iconic!

    (I'm gonna exclude photos this time. I've posted the same ones too many times.)
  16. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I remember it like it was only yesterday. I was two.
    B-Mac, cholyoke, bassdude51 and 3 others like this.
  17. wraub


    Apr 9, 2004
    ennui, az
    Imagine if they'd actually heard one... you might have been twins. :D

    Gaolee and Winoman like this.
  18. bass81800

    bass81800 Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2011
    San Diego County, CA
    Yes, and here are some photos and an interesting article on these 1935 basses. Article from Vintage Guitar:

    The Audiovox 736 Electric Bass and 936 Amp


  19. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    Got to ask Keith Richards, he's been around since the advent of electricity.
  20. First Fender Guitar I saw was 1957 in pictures of Buddy Holly playing a Strat. 1958 he was on TV a couple of times during his UK tour. Shortly after that a Strat appeared in the hands of Hank Marvin of the Shadows. Jet Harris then got a Precision.
    The first Fender I saw in the flesh was a London based rock n roll band at a local dance hall. Must have been 1959/60. A Strat and a Precision, both red. The PA was a VOX AC30 perched on top of the piano.
    That’s the way it was done back then.
    My first bass was a Framus Star Bass my dad bought me about 1963. No idea what it cost.
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