AF’s Weblog

August 16, 2011

Fender 60th Anniversary Precision Bass Limited Edition Review

Filed under: Bass — Tags: , , , , , — audiofanzine @ 4:23 pm

We don’t turn 60 everyday, and we don’t always have the opportunity to celebrate the advent of our species to this planet: the “Homo Sapiens Bassistus-Electricus.” Although Leo Fender was not the inventor of the electric bass, he found out how to make a great success out of the forgotten concept developed by Audiovox 14 years earlier. And this allowed our favorite instrument to conquer the international music scene to end up in your hands — you lucky, spoiled kids who have been pampered for 60 years.

Forgotten Fatherhood

 

bass fiddle model 736

Yes, the bass guitar was born in 1937 — not 1951 — from the hands of the man who had already conceived the fist electromagnetic pickup for a musical instrument (launched in 1932 and originally used to amplify zithers, pianos and Spanish guitars). A forgotten genius, a good Samaritan took pity on double-bass players who always had to travel alone because of their bulky instrument: in those days, once the double-bass was in the car there was no space left except for the driver. The poor bass player had to drive by himself and “enjoy the road” alone, unlike the other members of the band who generally traveled together in the same vehicle. The name of the great inventor was Paul Tutmarc and even though he was more than one decade ahead of his competitors in the electric-music market, his business was a failure. He could never apply for a patent for his electromagnetic pickup at the end of the 30’s because Bell had been controlling the exploitation of induction since 1875, when Alexander Graham Bell applied for his telephone patent. And the instruments Paul Tutmarc developed were only locally successful (his company was based in Seattle) and quickly forgotten. Nevertheless, he developed the first electric double-bass: the 1933 Bass Fiddle in cello format; and its little sister, the Bass Fiddle “Model 736” (1936), which had a more compact size (about 1 meter long) and was the first bass to be held horizontally.

As a consequence, Leo Fender was the inventor neither of the electric bass nor the electric guitar. The first amplified guitar is officially attributed to Georges Beauchamp in 1931, just before he founded the Ro-Pat-In Corporation with Adolph Rickenbacker. Called “Electro Spanish Guitar,” the instrument had a hollow body and featured a piezoelectric system.

 

Les Paul The Log

The first solid body guitar was “The Log,” a prototype designed in 1940 by Les Paul that was never marketed.  So, give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s!

However, this doesn’t reduce the genius of the man from Fullerton who understood better than no one how to convert technological innovations developed by others into successful businesses — thus paving the way for electric music genres.

 

Leo Fender literally created the electric guitar market and was the first entrepreneur to venture a mass production strategy in a very small industry. His success is well deserved considering that he succeeded where most of his predecessors failed. Without the success of the 1950 Broadcaster guitar (quickly renamed “Nocaster” and later “Telecaster”), Gibson’s bigwigs would have never recalled Les Paul who gave his name to the first solid-body guitar of the manufacturer (1952). The same thing applies to bass guitar: without the success of the Precision Bass, launched in 1951, Gibson would not have developed the EB-1 (1952) and Rickenbacker its Model 4000 (their first bass guitar) whose design was motivated by the success of the ’57 Precision Bass.

Now let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

As a summary, my personal opinion about the timbre of this lady is that it sounds like an excellent Precision Bass. I hope the simplicity of my judgment will be understood among fans of this classic: you can run to your dealer and try it out. Players who don’t especially like Leo Fender’s standard or who prefer a Jazz Bass, won’t be converted to a new religion. But give it a try anyway, trying it out is free! Personally, I had a lot of fun playing this bass, which will nevertheless make you a bit nostalgic: how many technological improvements in 60 years! Intelligently upgraded old recipes will always succeed. With the same philosophy in mind, Fender also offers a 50th Anniversary Jazz Bass that makes me curious. The price of this lovely Precision Bass is somewhere between 1,350 and 1,500 euros with the case, a strap and all accessories you need to adjust the instrument. I wish a beautiful summer to all readers!

Advantages: 

  • Original finish
  • Simple and effective
  • Overall weight and ergonomics
  • Good value for money
  • Sold with case
  • Isolation of the electronics and dual pickup
Drawbacks:
  • Lack of some accessories I really like
  • Lefties are punished…
To read the full detailed article with sound samples see:  Fender 60th Anniversary Precision Bass

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December 10, 2008

Test: Squire STC-Shaped Guitars review

Squier has been making low-cost guitars based on Fender designs since 1982. Because their early guitars have now become collector items for some, Squier is seeking to regain some of that magic with their Classic Vibe Series. This latest series was launched to capture the “vibe” of classic Fender designs as opposed to trying to be exact reproductions of vintage models.

Vue générale

The Classic Vibe series is composed of: a 50’s Telecaster, a 50’s & 60’s Stratocaster, a 50’s Duo-Sonic, a 50’s Jazz Bass, and a 50’s & 60’s Precision Bass. In this review we’ll be taking a look at the 60’s Stratocaster, 50’s Telecaster, 50’s Duo-Sonic, and the 50’s Precision Bass. All have MSRP’s at around $499 and street prices of around $299 (the Duo-Sonic is slightly less expensive with a MSRP/Street of $479/$279).

The first thing you’ll notice is that the instruments are all carefully packaged. Once out of the box you’ll get struck by the beauty of the finishes. They certainly look classic. But not only do the models in this review have impeccable finishes, they feel great too. And with the exception of the hardware (Squier’s constant weak point) everything else seems to be right on the money. Here the choice of less expensive hardware is justified as being “vintage” or “classic”. And while some “classic” hardware choices seem to be appropriate (or at least not an issue), some less “vintage” hardware (like enclosed tuning machines) would have been most welcome. But of course that would have jacked up the cost, and considering the price of these models, and their many other strong points, we’re ready to overlook most hardware choices.

The main hardware flaw was found on two of the models (Telecaster & Precision) both of whom had side mounted input jacks. These jacks were very loose regardless of how much I tightened the screws. This problem affected only those instruments with side mounted jacks. The other models tested (Strat & Duo-Sonic) had more or less solid input jacks. Another curious detail is that they all had rather tight knobs compared to their Fender counterparts. I myself like looser knobs to be able to adjust them with my pinky as I’m playing, but this isn’t necessarily a problem for others, and even denotes a certain solidity.

Let’s take a closer look…

Conclusion

Crafted in China but backed by Fender, these guitars and basses have the possibility of being inexpensive quality instruments “IF” Fender/Squier quality control does its job. Nevertheless, as anybody who has bought Chinese made instruments knows, it’s largely hit or miss. To be sure you’re getting a well made instrument (and yes it is possible to get some real quality stuff from China) you need to test the instruments yourself (or at least make sure the store you’re buying it from has a return policy). This is key because only then will you see if there are any flaws. So go to your nearest guitar store and check these Classic Vibe instruments out. When well made, they are really great inexpensive quality instruments. There will still be one or two hardware issues but they are easily changed, and considering the price of these instruments (average MSRP/street of $499/$299), you won’t feel scared or hesitant about making modifications. But do yourself a favor, go check this series out!

Beautiful Finishes
Sound
Workmanship
Price
Duo-Sonic ultra quiet
Intonation on the Telecaster

Duo-Sonic: intonation and neck issues (probably a bad test model)
A few hardware issues: side mounted input jacks on Tele & Precision
A little noisy (Telecaster, Stratocaster, Precision)
Only 3 saddles on the Telecaster & Duo-Sonic

Read the full Squire STC-Shaped Guitars review here.

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