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Microphone Month

Guitar of the Day

The “experts” keep proclaiming the retro movement to be over. Well, when manufacturers stop building reproductions of the finest classic instruments and players stop buying them, maybe then we’ll agree. Until then, if ever there was a bass guitar that totally embodied the early days of rock and roll and the very first electric instruments, it’s the Fender Classic Series ’51 Precision Bass – almost universally known as the “P-Bass.” Before Leo Fender created the bass guitar, all of the bass parts on singles and albums were played on huge, unwieldy upright basses, which were notoriously difficult to record, let alone play, as they had no frets. If you didn’t have darn near perfect intonation, you simply couldn’t play bass. With the advent of frets, almost all guitar players could double on bass if required. The ’51 P-Bass reissue has a premium ash body with a wonderful Butterscotch Blonde finish that lets some of the ash grain show through, one vintage-style single-coil pickup and that unmistakable trademark Fender 20-fret maple neck and fingerboard with the classic thick “C” shape and historically accurate gloss polyurethane finish.

What really sets this bass apart is the look of the original P-Bass headstock shape, which is almost like a Tele headstock on steroids (later P-Basses had the larger, standard Fender headstock, as seen on Strats, Jazzmasters, and so forth) and the unusually shaped, black, single-ply pickguard. The bridge is a faithful recreation of the 2-saddle original and all the hardware is chrome-plated. The look, feel, and vibe of this bass are classic Fender, and it’s so totally accurate that other players will wonder just where you managed to find this treasure. Ultimately, the ’51 Precision Bass is a superb reminder of Leo Fender’s innate genius when it came to designing electric guitars and basses. Considering the fact that he wasn’t a guitar or bass player himself, you have to wonder where these inspirations came from. The ’51 P-Bass is a celebration of well over half a century of Fender bass history and tradition, yet despite its custom shop looks, it’s priced to be within reach of virtually every bass player!

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