Fender Precision Bass

The Fender Precision Bass (often shortened to "P-Bass") is a model of electric bass manufactured by Fender Musical Instruments Corporation. In its standard, post-1957 configuration, the Precision Bass is a solid body, four-stringed instrument equipped with a single split-coil humbucking pickup and a one-piece, 20-fret maple neck with rosewood, pau ferro, or maple fingerboard.[1]

Fender Precision Bass
Fender Precision Bass.jpg
ManufacturerFender
Period1951–present
Construction
Body typeSolid
Neck jointBolt-on
Woods
BodyAlder
Ash
Poplar
Basswood
NeckMaple
FretboardMaple
Rosewood
Pau Ferro
Hardware
BridgeFixed
Pickup(s)One single-coil (1951–1957, occasional reissues)
Usually one two-piece split-coil humbucker (1957–present)
One split-coil humbucker and one Jazz Bass single-coil ("PJ" configuration)
One split-coil humbucker and one humbucking Jazz Bass pickup (1995-2009)
Colors available
Various 2- or 3-color sunbursts
Shades of blonde
Various shades of white, blue, red, green, etc.

Its prototype, designed by Leo Fender in 1950, was brought to market in 1951.[2] It was the first electric bass to earn widespread attention and use, remaining among the best-selling and most-imitated electric basses with considerable effect on the sound of popular music.

BackgroundEdit

The double bass, as a very large instrument, is often regarded as physically cumbersome and difficult to transport compared with smaller instruments. It was also becoming hard to hear in large bands or those that used amplified instruments, and it requires specialised skills to play that are distinct from those required to play the guitar.

The Precision Bass was designed to overcome these problems. The name "Precision" came from the use of frets to play in tune more easily than upon the fretless fingerboard of the double bass. The electric bass, however, lacks the distinctive acoustic qualities of the double bass, offering a more solid, harder-edged sound with more sustain. The bass guitar became more dominant and transformed the beat and rhythm of pop music from jump blues and swing to rhythm and blues, rock, soul and funk.

Acceptance of the electric bass was initially slow, as upright bassists looked at this new instrument with similar contempt, as guitar players did with its solid-body sibling, the Telecaster. It was vibraphonist/drummer Lionel Hampton's band that was among the first to incorporate the new instrument, with subsequent help by the endorsement of Elvis Presley's bass-player Bill Black, who was beginning to use a Precision Bass during the filming of Jailhouse Rock. It was reputed that Black became so frustrated over his initial inability to get used to playing it, he angrily threw it on the floor. Fender also delivered an early Precision to Los Angeles session bassist and arranger Shifty Henry. Monk Montgomery became the second jazz player to popularize the "Fender Bass"; first, while playing with Lionel Hampton; and then with his brother, guitarist Wes Montgomery. By the end of the 1950's the "P-Bass" was finally gaining acceptance with both rock'n roll and country bassists, as well as guitarists who would double on the instrument; most notable, was Carol Kaye, a jazz guitarist, who as a bassist, became best-known for her work as part of the consortium of L.A. session musicians, known as The Wrecking Crew.

Design Alterations and VariantsEdit

 
A patent sketch for the Fender Precision Bass

The original Precision Bass of 1951 shared several of its design features with the six-string Telecaster guitar, the main difference being its double cutaway body. The 1954 release of the Stratocaster with its contoured edges for comfort, was inspired by the Precision bass,[3] which in kind, also received the same style body contours. In 1957 the headstock and pickguard were redesigned to resemble the Stratocaster, with a rounder neck heel replacing the original square shape. A redesigned pickguard was made of a single layer of gold-anodized aluminium with 10 screw holes. At the same time the original single-coil pickup was replaced by the Precision split-coil design with staggered pole pieces, connected in a humbucking mode. However, Fender never emphasized this, as the Seth Lover patent on the humbucking pickup had not yet expired.

In 1959 a glued-on rosewood fingerboard featuring "clay"-style dot position markers replaced the 1-piece maple neck and remained standard until 1966/67, when the CBS-owned Fender companies began to offer a separate, laminated maple fingerboard capped on a maple neck. Rosewood fingerboards were then made of a veneered, round-laminated piece of wood and pearloid dot markers replaced the "clay"-style inlays introduced in 1959.

 
A Patent Sketch for The Original Fender Precision Bass Design

In 1960 the aluminum pickguard was replaced with a 13-screw celluloid design having 3 or 4 layers of black, white, white pearloid or brown "tortoise-shell"). In that same year the newly designed Fender Jazz Bass was released.

The original Telecaster-derived design, with a few updates, was reintroduced in 1968 as the Telecaster Bass. Within a few years, however, it had evolved into a model distinctly different from the contemporary Precision Bass, alongside which it was marketed through 1979.[4] Two artist-designed models use the Telecaster Bass body style; the Mike Dirnt Precision Bass, using today's standard single split-coil pick-up, and the Sting Precision Bass, using a single coil pick-up as did the earliest design.

 
1958 reissue Precision bass

Since 1969 the 1-piece maple neck option has been fitted to many Fender basses and the rosewood fretboard offered as alternative. Some Precision Basses made in the 1970s were also available with an unlined fretless rosewood, ebony or (usually) maple fingerboard, popularized by endorsees Sting and Tony Franklin. Fender briefly offered a fretless P Bass in the mid-1990s as a part of the first-generation American Standard line but dropped this variant at the end of the 20th century.

In 1968, The headstock graphic was changed to a new "waterslide" design. In 1977, the "Precision Bass" wordmark was changed to a smaller, sans-serif design.

 
1956 Precision bass
 
A Black Precision Bass

Active Electronics Models Join the LineupEdit

From 1980 to 1984 various models of the Precision Bass were given new active pickups and a high-mass brass bridge. The Special (1980) featured a split-coil pickup with white covers, gold hardware, a 2-band EQ and an active/passive toggle switch. The Elite (1983) had one (Elite I) or two (Elite II) split-coil humbucking pickups, TBX tone circuit and a Schaller fine-tune bridge later used on the Plus Series models of the early 1990s. Some models were available with solid walnut body and stained ebony fretboard.

Precision Bass Lyte models were made in Japan and came to the market in late 1984. They had a smaller body shape and a modern C-shape maple neck with 22 medium-jumbo frets. They had an active P-J pickup configuration with a 2 band eq and pickup pan knob. They were produced until 1995.

The later 1980s and 1990s saw the introduction of the Precision Plus and Deluxe Plus basses in 1989 and 1991, featuring Lace Sensor pickups, fine-tuner bridges, 22-fret necks and passive or active electronics on certain models. The limited-edition Custom Shop 40th Anniversary model of 1991 was a luxurious version of the Precision Plus Deluxe bass with gold hardware, a quilted maple top with no pickguard, highly figured neck, 3 stacked knobs and an ebony fretboard with side dot position markers. Only 400 of this model were produced. Some P-Basses with J-style bridge pickups used the Jazz Bass control layout—2 volumes and tone—and a side-mount jack socket. Others had the front pickup volume control moved forward to leave room for a top-mounted jack socket. Other variants include dual stacked control knobs similar to that of an early 1960s Jazz Bass or a 3-way pickup selector switch (as used on the Tony Franklin Signature and Plus Series P-Basses).

Model Additions and Name ChangesEdit

In 1983, Fender introduced the Standard Series with a new Billet truss rod system, updated die-cast tuning machines, Chrome hardware, white pickup covers and a single-ply white pick guard. The Headstock graphics were changed to reflect a blend of new and vintage. The Fender logo remained underneath the string guide but was changed to silver with a black outline. The "Precision Bass" wordmark was changed to a boldface font similar to the early 1960's model but remained to the right of the Fender logo. From 1984 to 2000, this would be referred to as the American Standard Precision Bass. The most notable visual change was the return to black pickup covers. The model was revamped in 1995. In 1996, a special run of 500 instruments were sold as the Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Precision Bass to celebrate the company's anniversary. This model had gold hardware and a "Fender 50" stamp on the neck plate.[5]

In 1984, Fender introduced a lower cost Standard Precision Bass model made in Japan. The Standard model would be made in Japan until 1990 when Fender shifted operations to its new Mexican factory which produced the model from 1991 to 2018.

The American Deluxe Precision Bass was added to the revamped lineup in 1995. It had an Ash Body (offered until 2006), 18-volt preamp with 3-Band Active EQ and an added Humbucker in the bridge position.

The American Series Precision Bass was introduced in 2000 and discontinued in 2008. From 2003 the S-1 switching system allowed the pickup coils to be switched from series to parallel, offering a wider tonal range, but this was discontinued in 2008 with the second generation of American Standard Series instruments. 2006 models bear a special "Fender 60" badge on the back of the headstock to celebrate the company's 60th Anniversary.

In 2002, Fender added a new lower-cost American passive model series known as the Highway One. The Highway One Precision Bass featured 70's styling and thin satin lacquer finish. In 2006, it was updated with a BadAss II bridge with grooved saddles and a Greasebucket tone circuit. The series remained available until it was discontinued in 2011. [6]

The American Standard, American Deluxe (featuring a J-style humbucking pickup in the bridge position and an active 3-band EQ with an 18V power supply), Highway One and American Vintage series models were manufactured in Corona, California.

Following the success of the Aerodyne Jazz Bass, Fender briefly produced the Japanese-made Aerodyne Classic Precision Bass from 2006-2008. This model retained the basic shape of the classic Precision but had dramatically thinner contours. It had a basswood body with figured maple top and cream binding, Precision and Single-coil Jazz pickup combination and matching finish headstock.[7]

In December 5, 2008, the American Standard Precision Bass was updated with CBS era-style decals, a 3-ply parchment pickguard and a tinted maple neck with rosewood or maple fingerboard. Other features included a high-mass vintage bridge, Hipshot lightweight staggered tuning machine and a return to the knurled chrome flat-top control knobs. Models produced before 2003 came for a period with aged white Stratocaster control knobs.

As of March 23, 2010, all American Deluxe Precision Basses came with a N3 stacked-coil Jazz Bass pickup in the bridge position, a 21-fret tinted maple neck with compound rosewood or maple fingerboard with white or black pearloid dot markers, an active/passive toggle switch, a high-mass vintage bridge, Hipshot lightweight vintage tuners, a stealth retainer bar for the A string and a bold CBS-era headstock decal. As of March 23, 2012 the American Standard Precision Bass (except the 5-string version) came with a Custom Shop 60's P-Bass split-coil humbucking pickup. The 2012 color chart listed 3-Color Sunburst, Olympic White, Black, Candy Cola, Jade Pearl Metallic, Charcoal Frost Metallic as available finishes during that period. As of April 19, 2012 the American Standard Precision Basses are loaded with the Custom Shop '60s Precision Bass split single-coil pick-ups, a 20-fret graphite-reinforced maple neck with compound rosewood or maple fingerboard with white or black pearloid dot markers and a high-mass vintage bridge. It be bought as a 4 or 5 string bass. and were again made available in 2011; the 2004 color chart listed Aged Cherry Sunburst, Butterscotch Blonde and Tobacco Sunburst as available finishes during that period.

The Road Worn Series 50s P-Bass (introduced in 2009) features a distressed alder body with nitrocellulose lacquer finish, a 1-ply gold anodized pickguard, a synthetic bone nut, American Vintage hardware, a split-coil humbucking pickup and a 1-piece maple neck/fingerboard with 20 vintage frets.

Fender offered the Made-in-Mexico Blacktop Series from 2013-2014. Like Most of the other instruments in this series, the Blacktop Precision Bass was given high-output humbuckers. It also had a Hi-Mass Bridge, Vintage Jazz Bass Style Knobs (Volume, Volume, Tone) and a C-shape neck with 9.5" Radius. [8]

In May 2016, Fender brought back the American Elite Precision Bass to replace the American Deluxe series.[9] The new model featured a Precision neck pickup combined with a 4th-generation Jazz noiseless pickup, 18-volt active circuit with 3-band EQ, passive bypass switch, Posiflex graphite support rods in the neck which. The 21-fret neck profile was a modern “C” shape at the genuine bone nut, and changed along the length of the neck to a modern “D”-shaped profile at the updated neck heel, with a compound radius of 9.5 -14".[10] Fender produced this bass until 2019.

In January 2017, Fender retired it's American Standard line to be replaced by the American Professional Series. The Precision Bass was updated with new V-Mod pickups, upgraded tuners that featured increased sustain and better tuning stability, Narrow-Tall frets and a ’63 P Bass profile neck. [11] Fender ceased production of this model in 2020.

On June 19, 2018, Fender announced that it would be upgrading the build quality of its Made in Mexico Standard Series by replacing it with the Player Series instruments. The Player Precision Bass received new Alnico V pickups, modern C-shaped neck with a contemporary 9.5" fingerboard radius, synthetic bone nut, new Fender standard open-gear tuners and a choice of Pao Ferro or Maple fretboards. [12]

Fender updated the Elite Series on November 5, 2019 when it announced the arrival of the American Ultra Precision Bass.[13] The Ultra retained similar features to the Elite Series model but now had updated body contouring and sculpted neck heel, Modern "D" Neck Profile with a compound radius of 10"-14", new Ultra Noiseless pickups and a redesigned active/passive preamp. New finishes offered were Aged Natural, Mochaburst and Ultraburst with rosewood fretboard and Arctic Pearl with maple fretboard.[14]

In October 2020 Fender introduced the American Professional II Precision Bass. Updates included a V-Mod II pickup which had varying amounts of Alnico in each pickup pole for a more balanced sound, new sculpted neck heel (similar to those seen previously on the Elite models), Super-Natural neck finish, Posiflex graphite rods for added neck stability and tapered-shaft turning machines. Fender also added new finishes were also added to the lineup: Dark Night, Mercury, Miami Blue and Mystic Surf Green. Finishes that remained in the lineup were 3-Color Sunburst, Black and Olympic White.[15]

Squier ModelsEdit

Fender initially revived the Squier sub-brand to produce lower-cost guitars and basses in 1982. The first model the brand produced was the JV Series which was made in Japan. This later became known as the Squier Traditional P-Bass and was retired in 1996.

The current basic model is the Affinity Precision Bass. This model was introduced in 1996 and was made in China. In more recent years, the Affinity Precision Bass PJ (named for it's Precision-Jazz pickup configuration) was added to the lineup. The wordmark on the headstock graphic refers to this model as a Squier P-Bass.

Squier introduced the Vintage-Modified Series in 2007 to slot between the Affinity Series and the Made-In-Mexico Fenders. The Squier Vintage-Modified Precision Bass Had a Duncan Designed™ PB101 Split Single-Coil Pickup and late-70's style headstock graphics. The Squier Vintage-Modified Precision Bass PJ was added in 2013 with Fender-designed Split Single-Coil Precision and Single-coil Jazz Pickups.

2020 saw the introduction of the first ever Fender-produced Short Scale Precision. The Squier Mini Precision Bass has a 28.6" (726mm) Scale with 9.5" Radius and 1.5" Nut Width. Similar to the previously introduced Mini-Strat, the body remains faithful to the shape and contours of it's full-size counterpart but is scaled down to correctly match with the neck.[16]

5 String VariantsEdit

Fender made an American Deluxe 5-string model with a split-coil neck pickup, a humbucking bridge pickup and a 3-band active EQ between 1998 and 2007. In 2008, Fender first produced a passive American Standard Precision Bass V with a single passive split-coil Precision pickup (3 poles toward the neck, 2 poles toward the bridge) and single volume/tone. In would remain in the same configuration when Fender transitioned to the American Professional Precision Bass V model in 2017 and the American Professional II Precision Bass V in 2020. Squier also produced a Standard version sporting two J-Bass pickups with alnico magnets. The company has also built a Korean-made Squier ProTone Precision V with dual humbuckers and gold hardware in the mid-1990s. In the mid 2010's, Squier produced the Vintage Modified Precision Bass V with the basic passive P bass single pickup and single volume/tone.

ArtistsEdit

Artists known for using the Precision Bass include James Jamerson,[17] Peter Cetera,[18] Donald "Duck" Dunn,[19][20] Pino Palladino,[21] Steve Harris,[22] Mike Dirnt,[23] Tony Franklin,[24] Duff McKagan,[25] Sting,[26] John Lodge,[27] Dee Dee Ramone, Roger Waters,[28] Dallon Weekes, Dusty Hill, Carol Kaye, Geezer Butler, Robert Trujillo, Jason Newsted, John Cale,[29] Randy Meisner, Roger Glover, Tom Hamilton, Roy Estrada, Kenny Gradney, David Brown, John Paul Jones, Frank Bello, Jeff Ament, Andy Bell, John Deacon, Cliff Williams, Tom "T-Bone" Wolk, Timothy B. Schmit, Colin Greenwood,[30] Jean Millington,[31] Adam Clayton, and Mio Akiyama.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Shop Fender | Electric Guitars, Acoustics, Bass, Amps & More". shop.fender.com. Retrieved 2018-08-13.
  2. ^ Wheeler, Tom, American Guitars: An Illustrated History, interview with Leo Fender, Harper Perennial, NY 1992
  3. ^ "VINTAGE BASS WORLD". Retrieved 2016-12-03.
  4. ^ "VINTAGE BASS WORLD". Retrieved 2016-12-15.
  5. ^ "Legedary Lows: History of the Fender Precision Bass".
  6. ^ "Highway One Precision Bass".
  7. ^ "Aerodyne Classic Precision Bass".
  8. ^ "Blacktop Precision Bass".
  9. ^ "American Elite Series".
  10. ^ "American Elite Bass".
  11. ^ "American Professional Series".
  12. ^ "American Professional II Precision Bass".
  13. ^ "American Ultra Series".
  14. ^ "American Ultra Precision Bass".
  15. ^ "American Professional II Precision Bass".
  16. ^ "Squier Mini Precision Bass".
  17. ^ "James Jamerson - Bassist". Archived from the original on December 12, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-30.
  18. ^ Administrator. "Peter Cetera's Bass Gear Rig and Equipment – Chicago". uberproaudio.com. Archived from the original on September 9, 2017. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
  19. ^ "Fender Duck Dunn Bass Guitar". Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  20. ^ "Donald "Duck" Dunn "Duck's" Gaggle: The Basses of Donald Dunn". Retrieved 2015-05-13.
  21. ^ "Pino Palladino P bass". Fender.com. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  22. ^ "Fender Steve Harris Precision Bass Signature". Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  23. ^ "MIKE DIRNT ROAD WORN® PRECISION BASS®". Fender. Retrieved 16 April 2017.
  24. ^ "Fender Tony Franklin Precision Bass Signature". Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  25. ^ "Fender Duff McKagan Precision Bass Signature". Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  26. ^ https://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/sting-talks-fender-p-basses-technique-and-jamming-jaco-pastorius-644627
  27. ^ https://www.bassplayer.com/artists/the-moody-blues-john-lodge
  28. ^ "Fender Roger Waters Precision Bass Signature". Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  29. ^ https://werksman.home.xs4all.nl/cale/equipment/bass_fender.html
  30. ^ "Colin Greenwood Equipment". Archived from the original on 2018-09-10. Retrieved 2018-09-10.
  31. ^ Johnson, Kathleen (2017-05-30). "Fanny's June Millington". Vintage Guitar® magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-16.

LiteratureEdit

  • Peter Bertges. The Fender Reference. Bomots, Saarbrücken. 2007. ISBN 978-3-939316-38-1.
  • Martin Kelly, Terry Foster, Paul Kelly. Fender: The Golden Age 1946–1970. London & New York: Cassell. 2010. ISBN 1-84403-666-9.