FDP Home Page / FDP Forum / FAQ's

The FDP is made possible by the following companies and individual members like you.
Please use the links below to show them we value their sponsorship.

WD Music

Amplified Parts

Jensen Loudspeakers

Yellowjackets Tube Converters


Musician's Friend


Guitar Center

Advertise here

Antique Electronics Supply

Apex Tube Matching

* God bless America and our men and women in uniform *

* Illegitimi non carborundum! *

If you benefit and learn from the FDP and enjoy our site, please help support us and become a Contributing Member or make a Donation today! The FDP counts on YOU to help keep the site going with an annual contribution. It's quick and easy with PayPal. Please do it TODAY!

Chris Greene, Host & Founder



Find musicians
in your area!
  Search the Forums  

FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / 1959 Fender Proto type Jazz Bass

Previous 20 Messages  
uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 14th, 2016 12:26 AM   Edit   Profile  

It most likely is a prototype.This has been discussed in the past.
The flare pattern on the shell guard has always been a key reference.
A while ago a prototype appeared for sale in a Tokyo shop/dealer outlet?
Somebody here linked to photos and an article that appeared at the time.
The individual said that at that time the bass was offered for sale,at a huge amount of money.
I recall at that time saving the pictures of that prototype in the shop in Japan.
This instrument that was at the custom shop for a day presumably for some kind of inspection or verification appears to be the same bass as the one in the shop in Japan.
At the time of that "discovery" in the shop a thread started on here,and could be resurected maybe from the archive.
The issue with the prototype question,if there is an issue at all,is that Leo Fender hardly saw any need to announce the existence of a "prototype" as such.
Clearly to him,this was just work in progress.
The point of interest to collectors of course is the control layout,which surprises many,and confuses a few,as it pre-dates the twin concentric control layout. If the twin concentric layout had worked to better satisfaction from a player standpoint at the time,and maybe from a practical production standpoint at the time,who knows,then it could be that the "stack-knob" set-up would have become standard fare for the Jazz Bass.

Anyway,we must ask,"How many of these early pre-production" models were constructed?
From all I have ever heard it could be around four or five.On early one was definitely given to
I believe Speedy West,and the family offered that bass for sale some years ago.The pickups on that model had been replaced with standard ones by I believe Seymour Duncan,as was explained at that time of sale. The bass was finished in a medium brown shading,no yellow or red or black.It had the large,crudely achieved routs for the early type pickups.This in itself is interesting.The covers for the original "prototype" pickups look unique but in one photo I believe the bridge pickup cover? has unstamped markers for six pole pieces.....
So they were definitely one offs,and NOT modified Jazzmaster pickups as many think based on the appearance.

Another FDP'er on here commented that at one time he happened upon a prototype Jazz Bass in a L.A. shop that had just been re-finished in white,I believe he said,and was being worked on.
There have been odd reports of sightings,one again mentioned on here that occurred at an estate sale some years back.

Overall,there is an interest in these no doubt.
From the article put out by a young Japanese fellow who kindly put the photos up a while back,
it was possible to see that when he was playing the bass,there was a restriction present in placement of the right hand/thumb/fingers,mainly due to the size of the neck pickup. Maybe another point that determined that different pickup design was required.
I will check again but the proto metal cover at the neck pickup position may well have been longer to accomodate the dimensions present.
If so,even if a small amount,this would add a unique feature.

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 03:51 AM, Jul 18th, 2016)

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 14th, 2016 12:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

Of interest Taos, is this prototype your bass by any chance?




Jul 14th, 2016 01:04 AM   Edit   Profile  

I wish I was the owner but unfortunately I'm not the owner. I just found this picture via Jason Smith's (master builder of Fender Custom shop) instagram posting. And the red rear pick up volume knob caught my attention which I remember the pic in Klaus Blasquiz's book.

I remember that the proto type jazz bass owned by Speedy Wes's family was on sale on ebay few years ago. It has replacement neck, pick ups, pick guard, electric, etc. So it was just a modified original body and sold around $50k.. I wonder how much this one would be if it's on sale.

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 14th, 2016 06:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

In Richard R. Smiths' book "Fender the sound heard round the world",he shows a photo "circa 1959" in which a group of musicians with Leo at the factory play various instruments;such things as a Jazzmaster with maple neck,and other appointments.Also annotated,"prototype Jazz Bass"
(a three control model,in sunburst).

It was rumored that the original asking price was very high for this bass, seven figures!
Who knows......


P.S. If you wish to put up an e-mail address in your profile that you are happy with,I can send you the pics I have from the Japan shop.


edit here for photo source reference.

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 01:56 PM, Jul 18th, 2016)



Jul 14th, 2016 11:35 PM   Edit   Profile  

Seven figures is very high for a vintage guitar but since it's a historic piece of electric bass history, it could be worth for.

I really appreciate your kind offer but I'd rather keep my email private. I think I already have those picks which were taken from the dealer/shop in Japan.

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 14th, 2016 11:52 PM   Edit   Profile  

All understood Taos,thankyou for raising this interesting topic here,we love discussions like this.



Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Jul 15th, 2016 05:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

I want to join USK in my appreciation for putting this thread on the FDP.

I do want to register an alternate opinion (my opinion only, which my also be shared by others) that it has not yet been firmly established this Jazz bass is "historic."

For sure, it's oddball appointments make for interesting discussion and speculation and has one wishing that something else will come along to put us closer to knowing the truth about Fender prototypes of the Jazz bass.




Fender power to the people!
Jul 15th, 2016 06:52 AM   Edit   Profile  

Leo could have saved us a lot of trouble,if he had documented the development more.
I suppose it seemed like no big deal to him, at the time.
Just another idea that might or might not pan out.

If he had taken the time to document that, we would be missing some interesting disucussions, now.

Contributing Member


The Plankster of Love
Jul 15th, 2016 12:47 PM   Edit   Profile  

Great thread... can someone please tell me: I thought I had heard, eons ago, that Fender gave a prototype Jazz to Joe Osborne - or did he simply have one of the very first market models?


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Jul 15th, 2016 03:45 PM   Edit   Profile  

I think it was the latter but not sure.




Jul 15th, 2016 11:42 PM   Edit   Profile  

Found an article regarding Joe Osborne's 1960 jazz bass.

“I never had but one bass, really,” Osborn explained in his gentlemanly southern drawl. “Roy Buchanan and I were both playing guitar in Las Vegas with this Country singer Bob Luman. At some point, we needed a bass player in the band so I was elected. I went down to the music store, and all there was at the time was a Fender Precision. This was about 1958, so electric bass was fairly new. That’s the bass I had a year later when I was working with Ricky Nelson, and that’s the one I used on ‘Travelin’ Man’.

“The record was so big that they wanted to do a world tour. Fender wanted all their new stuff to go on that tour, and that’s how I wound up with a Jazz Bass in ’61. They weren’t in the stores. I believe it had to be a prototype because they call that a ’62 Jazz bass. Mine was actually made in September of 1960, a few months before I went to work with Ricky. That’s the bass I used to record everything else.”

Although he called his 1960 jazz bass as prototypes, it has stack knobs. It would be first production year Jazz bass.

External link


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Jul 16th, 2016 04:11 AM   Edit   Profile  

USK has done considerable research over the years as to when in 1960 the stack knob Jazz basses began to appear in the stores. He may want to share some of his timeline with us.

Joe O has been a hero of mine for decades but he is mistaken when he calls the Jazz bass he played a "prototype."

In saying this, it has also been my experience that over the years, I have on occasion heard some refer to the stack knob as a "prototype" of the later three-knobs that took over in late 61 and early 62. Personally, I don't belong to this group because I have never felt the stack was ever meant by the Fender company to be a prototype.


(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 07:53 AM, Jul 16th, 2016)

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 16th, 2016 07:40 AM   Edit   Profile  

Over the years,It seems that in all innocence and good intent,interviewers and authors have misunderstood their subject matter for a variety of reasons.Poor research tops the list usually,or in the case of some magazine articles you end up with a situation whereby the author devotes the bulk of the questions and discussion to the trivia
aspects of the interviewees career,and seemingly misses the point of why they were doing the article in the first place;likewise inexperience leads many of them to behave in a somewhat intimidated and sycophantic manner "in the presence of stardom or so called fame".
Lastly we have the intentional "dumbing down" approach that defeats all purpose.

Such an example of misguided information shows itself in the Herbie Flowers article where his bass is discussed,and seemingly the author pretty much accepts the line put over to him by Mr. Flowers.As much as we all regard and love Herbie,let us just say that poetic licence must be handed out by the shedload on that one.
However,it all gets published and the word goes out,and to the bass playing masses pretty much accept it as gospel.
In the case of Joe Osborne,there seem to be chronological errors there,and I point the finger at the author for not correcting these points with him.
His bass was not a prototype;it was a standard production Jazz Bass for that period/era,with the twin concentric controls.
Herbie Flowers' bass was at one time Fiesta Red,and he later had it painted/refinished by an English repairer/builder.The switch on that bass was not original to it,likewise the white guard,which appeared at the time the bass was painted metallic blue.Note the absence of any clear coat on the Herbie Flowers bass,and the subsequent ageing/wear characteristic common to that.Fender always sprayed a clearcoat over metallics.At one point he added a precision bass pickup to the bass,but then discarded it.
Now that info comes from other studio musicians that worked alongside him,one or two I have spoken with on the topic.In truth,not a jot of it matters to Herbie,who said once that basses don't become collectable,they just get old,or words to that effect.
However,that bass is another topic altogether.


(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 09:43 AM, Jul 16th, 2016)

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 16th, 2016 09:31 AM   Edit   Profile  

In terms of the Jazz bass timeline,we have discussed this many times before on this forum I am sure.
To precis:
In 1959 Fender had pre-production/prototype models
to hand that exhibited three controls,and two large squat looking pickups reminiscent in appearance to the Jazzmaster guitar pickup.
But of course the pickups were specific to the bass.The neck pickup being longer than the bridge pickup. The neck pickup exhibited the "multipole"
magnet arrangement i.e. the pole pieces sat between the strings alignment and not directly beneath them.As such the neck pickup had five polepieces.The bridge pickup however displayed four polepieces and these sat directly beneath the strings.Clearly this was an extention of the '57 P-Bass pickup thinking with the poles sitting where they do,an attempt to reduce the attack characteristic of the note played,an issue which plagued early speakers in combination with the single coil P-Bass pickup.
The chromed metal handrest cover in the neck position was accordingly longer,and this is apparent when comparing later models alongside.
It could be that feedback from initial players who tried this model out or "tested" it for Leo,may well have commented that the access to the strings with the fingers and thumb of the right hand was affected by the dimension of this pickup and its' chrome handrest/coverplate.
However,a change of thought clearly occurred,and although a catalogue picture for the new model actually utilises one of the pre-production multipole models for subject matter,which is also confirmed by the makeshift decal evident,it can safely be said that 1960 saw the Jazz Bass with its' new twin concentric controls now being offerred for sale.Advertising matter announced the bass in spring of 1960.
To achieve that,necks and bodies were obviously being cut and manufactured prior to that date.
Simply put it explains why dates earlier than the Spring of that year crop up on necks,and also on bodies.An argument exists on behalf of some misinformed that dates this early could not have been written on neck heels and in body cavities due to the production managers' ban on workers handsigning/dating anything as a result of one worker having written profanities as a joke,and causing the ban.Certainly that applied in the greater part of 1959,and the expression "no date neck" or "no name neck" are common to those components that carried no writing.A few were annotated "O.K." and as we know are called "O.K. necks".
All fine.But with the new model Jazz Bass it was clear that handwritten dates and initals were back on the cards.
The earliest Jazz bass body date I have seen so far,is simply "'59" .
The earliest neck date I have actually seen is "1-60".
Now,those multipole models may well have had earlier dates,and may have been displayed on the necks and bodies.I would like to see one first hand.
The initial bass with its' twin concentric controls was clearly a response from Leo Fender to achieve a slice of the jazz music market,something that had not worked out with the Jazzmaster guitar,response for which, from eminent players,to Mr.Bob Perine was that ,he said,they liked the quality and so on,but it was a solid body,and was heavy by comparison to their beloved Gibson jazz archtops.
Leo later described the Jazz Bass as the "Cadillac model" as compared to the stalwart Precision.So it had to have the extra features and characteristics to meet that title.Two tones with two volumes was a matching idea for the two pickups.
But there were issues.The controls interacted somewhat,and as such Leo Fender overcame the issue with a wiring setup that utilised the two resistors of 220k each one at the output from each volume control joined at their other ends to the otput wire to the jack.That meant there was a price to pay in the sense that the overall output
of the bass was reduced somewhat,not as much as some may say,but somewhat.
The capacitors used were Cornell Dubillier ZYW1S5 .05 mfd. 150 v.d.c. C-D they were the tubular paper/wax type.

Toward the first few months of 1961 these caps were no longer used,and were replaced with the familiar and probably more reliable for the time,brick red ceramics still being .05mfd.The rest of the wiring remained the same as previously.
Toward the end of 1961 a significant change occurred as the twin concentric arrangement was phased out,and a new three control arrangement was introduced,reminiscent of the original 1959 multipole pre-production models.However,the pickups on production models were never multipole,remember;they were the familiar eight pole slim looking units that we know today.
So the feature of the early pre-production models that became introduced was the THREE CONTROLS and never the original style pickups.
From then on the Jazz Bass stopped being a "Stack-Knob".
It is possible that some Stack-Knobs had their controls "upgraded" to the three control arrangement as and when Fender offered it.
One thread on here years back discussed exactly this topic,and someone stated the case of this happening with a bass he linked to in a band video.
As to how many left the factory as stack-knobs is still hard to determine.I still reckon around 1700 or so.

Confusions that exist:
As with other models,Fender elected to re-issue the well known models of their instruments in what was to become known as the "Fullerton re-issues".Indeed they carried on as Fender went back to its roots and freed itself from the clutches of C.B.S.around 1984.
In order to market these models they chose a date for each that gave them the ability to change features subsequently and yet still retain the date annotation: e.g. "the '62 Jazz Bass".That stretches things a bit,as I have never yet seen a genuine 1962 Fender Jazz Bass with original twin concentric controls.Fair play to Fender though,they were not,in the mid eighties,looking at a market that also included the amount of detailed scrutiny that their products receive today.The magic of those re-issues,if there is any,and to many there is,rests in the straightforward manner they set about finding the old guitars and copying them.Intentional differences were included. The marker dot spacing (a production necessity, they said) was one.The use after a while of a 9-1/2" fingerboard radius
(modern player preference they said) which reverted to the initial re-issue 7-1/4" vintage correct.Also the re-issue was wired differently.
Rather than the two independent outputs from each volume connecting to the jack via the two resistors,the volumes linked one to the other and then out to the jack with no resistors.Capacitors became of two different values with a .03 mfd on the bridge tone and a .05 mfd. on the neck.
The overall sound was good,plenty of volume and character still present,albeit different in some way perhaps to an original.

So: late '59 -- multipole three control pre-production models.

Early 1960 -- twin concentric "standard eight pole" models CD caps.

Early 1961 -- Same as above but cap change to .05mfd. ceramics.

By end of 1961 -- Three controls V.V.T.

Many other small things,and some large (neck profiles) are also significant.

If asked,what would be the best all round model you would own,I would say the mid 1961 stack-knob.(for whatever reason,and without regrets I sold the one I had).


P.S. For rarity,the rarest model must surely be the three control multipole pre-production Jazz Bass,as Taos has so kindly mentioned and linked here.
Second most rare has to be the late 1961 three control Jazz Bass. So few were made before 1962 came along.

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 12:03 PM, Jul 16th, 2016)

Danny Nader


You should have been there!
Jul 16th, 2016 11:46 AM   Edit   Profile  

And Uncle Stack Walks In!


uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 16th, 2016 01:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Hello Danny,
Sorry for the verbiage there...!
I must sound like the repeats channel on your local T.V. station.



New York City

Jul 16th, 2016 05:59 PM   Edit   Profile  

"Sorry for the verbiage there...!"

Hey USK!
Not that I have a right to any kind of say about these threads, but as far as I'm concerned, you can use all the verbiage you want! Your posts and George's and ones from the other knowledgeable folks here makes for great reading. Not that I'll ever even be in the same room as some of these rare basses, much less get to hold or play one, but I love hearing all this detailed info. It's fascinating. Please keep on keepin' on!


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Jul 17th, 2016 04:49 PM   Edit   Profile  

The latest Uncle Stack Knob "clinic" is a masterpiece. I almost feel like an expert at this point.



Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Jul 17th, 2016 04:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

One other point on this whole "prototype" business, I think that if USK believes the bass in question to be one of several prototypes put out by Leo in 59, I could also lean that way myself.

I've never seen any "hard copy" evidence of these basses being prototypes...I've already said this...but the oral tradition that has followed these few basses over the decades has a lot of followers, and some fairly substantial circumstantial evidence, to suggest they just might be what so many think they are.


uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Jul 18th, 2016 12:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

I see where you're coming from George.
I see it like this; These few multipole proto basses were not production instruments in my opinion.As to how many ended up being made in the course of Leos' "investigations" maybe what? four?or five? Changes of direction had occurred before for Fender with the introduction of a model,or with one of its' features. A example of that would be the first production run of Stratocaster guitars,that were promptly put through the bandsaw as the tremelo was an unmitigated failure.The result was a brainstorming re-think that resulted in the well known unit we see today.
Now,I don't think that the first manifestation of the Jazz Bass was in any way a disaster;Remember that Leo Fender was firmly established on many fronts by 1959/60 and as the genius who produced the solid body electric bass guitar.He already had the Precision Bass out there doing its' thing.
So I feel that there was "no pressure" in introducing the "cadillac model" Jazz Bass,and that his driving influence at this point with the instrument was to provide a wider range of tonality,with pickups and wiring layout/controls being the subject in hand.
It could be that he thought that the three control arrangement was in fact making a better job of things... but that he thought the twin concentric set-up was a better tone offering,despite issues that resulted in the resistors at the output stage.
As ever,I'll bet he relied very much on feedback from the players,both those that were familiar to him and those making regular purchase at their favoured store.The result could well then have been a "use 'em up" approach to the existing control appointments,and then a change to the three control set-up we know now.
I have to say that just from my own personal enquiries,I have,todate,never come across anyone,or any account,of a three control multipole Jazz Bass having been purchased from a dealer/store back in the day,either before or after the twin-concentric model introduction.Ever. If anyone does know of a genuine case then it would be interesting beyond doubt,and would love to know about it.But as said,to date,nothing emerges.


Previous 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / 1959 Fender Proto type Jazz Bass

Reply to this Topic
Display my email address             Lost your password?
Your Message:
Link Address (URL):
Link Title:

Moderators: Chris Greene  Iron Man  reverendrob  

FDP, LLC Privacy Policy: Your real name, username, and email
are held in confidence and not disclosed to any third parties, sold, or
used for anything other than FDP Forum registration unless you specifically authorize disclosure.

Internet Application Development

Copyright © 1999-2018 Fender Discussion Page, LLC   All Rights Reserved