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When the Fender Precision bass was introduced in late 1951, almost immediately it had a dramatic and lasting effect on how music was heard and played. Compared to an upright acoustic bass, Leo’s creation was small and portable, and its feedback-resistant solidbody (like the Fender Telecaster that preceded it) enabled players to perform at higher volumes. Because guitarists were able to adapt to this instrument more easily than the upright, they could obtain more work, and this was another important factor in the P bass’ success.
Other than the custom color, the olympic white 1965 Precision featured this month is typical of that year’s fully evolved model. It has a comfortcontoured body (following the lead of the Stratocaster in 1954), a split hum-cancelling pickup (replacing the original single-coil in 1957), tortoise pickguard and rosewood fretboard (1959), pearloid fretboard dots (replacing clay dots in 1964), and a transitional headstock decal (replacing the “spaghetti” logo in 1964).
This month’s P bass is resting on an early ’70s Ampeg B-15 S. This 60-watt amp is a variation of the classic B-15 Portaflex, but with twice the power of the ’60s studio workhorse. Unfortunately, it never became as popular as its predecessor because most bassists of the early ’70s insisted on 100 watts or more—the mighty Ampeg SVT was a favorite—for their live gigs.
If you want to dig into the history of Fender’s Precision bass, check out The Fender Bass: An Illustrated History by J.W. Black and Albert Molinaro, and How the Fender Bass Changed the World by Jim Roberts. The fascinating history of Ampeg is covered in Ampeg: The Story Behind the Sound by Gregg Hopkins and Bill Moore.
Dave ’s Guitar Shop
Dave Rogers’ collection is tended by Laun Braithwaite and Tim Mullally and is on display at:
Dave’s Guitar Shop
1227 Third Street South
La Crosse, WI 54601
Photos by Mullally and text by Braithwaite.