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FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / 1951 P-bass just came up for sale

Previous 20 Messages  
Danny Nader


You should have been there!
Nov 15th, 2017 11:45 AM   Edit   Profile  


Can you send me this document? Thanks!



Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 15th, 2017 05:10 PM   Edit   Profile  

Danny...it belongs to bassist and so it's probably best if you get it from him. His email is in his profile.




Nov 15th, 2017 06:00 PM   Edit   Profile  

Another one bites the dust!!!! Here is the new description of the ebay relisted 1951. 1951 Fender Precision Bass with matching Tweed Bassman amp Set!

This is the earliest example of an original 1st year production Precision Bass & Bassman Amp we have ever encountered, the P Bass has its original see-thru Blonde finish covering its “slab” body dated 11/17/51 & she certainly has been enjoyed for most of its life, its fat maple neck is dated 6/57 & appears to have been replaced under warranty by Fender as many early necks had quality issues,
notice the the 6/51 is now 6/57. I sent extremely detailed pics to Craig who has the bass of the route at the nut of 51 neck and 55 neck. I guess he looked it over closely. Apparently an honest man still a nice bass and amp!!!!

1951 pbass

(This message was last edited by mrbassist at 08:12 PM, Nov 15th, 2017)


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 15th, 2017 06:08 PM   Edit   Profile  


Under very very close reexamination, the penciled year date on the butt of the neck now looks to be a "7" instead of a one.

This new revelation for me does take away a bit of the luster of this bass.

I hate to say this but a 51 body and a 57 neck makes this a "parts" bass.

Oh well.




Nov 15th, 2017 06:41 PM   Edit   Profile  

George I'd still buy it but at a much reduced price, none of the electronics are right either.also the 51 didn't have bakelite pickguards but some kind of paper fabric infused bakelite???
I really like the amp though!! I have 2 of them but not white and not in that condition

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Nov 16th, 2017 03:44 AM   Edit   Profile  

The changed out neck would explain the visual appearance of the string alignment on the bass.
The whole thing has a certain question mark about it,as I see it.
The pots are clarostats but different somewhat in pattern to the ones usually seen on this era of P-Bass.
The wear pattern in the finish around the edges of the body would need some explaining in reality.
I don't think it's a fake. But I agree with George that it is a parts bass.



Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 16th, 2017 07:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

I agree with all the comments.

Like most or all of us, I do feel the disappointment that happens when something too good to be true turns out to be too good to be true.




Fender power to the people!
Nov 16th, 2017 07:07 AM   Edit   Profile  

I am glad these come up from time to time.
Not only do I enjoy the history and disscussion,
it's also about as close as I will come to having a birth year bass.
Whatever the story behind this one, it is obviously a much loved player.


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 16th, 2017 07:15 AM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks to bassist, Detlef, maybe a few others,
there has been a concerted effort over the years to document each and every one of these historic planks from 1951 and the work has not gone unnoticed by those of us who love the history of the appearance of the world's first successful attempt to build a production electric bass that would gain and keep traction among working musicians.

Stating the obvious, we now know what happened to #0395.


(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 09:20 AM, Nov 16th, 2017)


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 16th, 2017 07:16 AM   Edit   Profile  

How exactly do you price a 51 P-bass with a replacement neck?

I can't think of ever seeing a case like this so there's nothing to compare the instrument to.


(This message was last edited by edmonstg at 09:19 AM, Nov 16th, 2017)



Nov 16th, 2017 07:32 AM   Edit   Profile  

George, usk,
I just noticed no D stamp on the neck, does anybody remember when Fender stopped doing that??? I know 51 and 52's had them. also the neck has the earlier decal on it, that being said I have a 55 neck with the earlier decal and no D stamp....


Newberg, Oregon

Fender...never say never.
Nov 16th, 2017 01:14 PM   Edit   Profile  

No help from me on this one.

As you know, the "D" embedded in the butts of many early bass necks remains one of those interesting quirks from Fender's distant past that still needs work (research).




Nov 16th, 2017 02:20 PM   Edit   Profile  

so far the earliest I've found is a 7/53 without a D stamp.



Bass is the place . . .
Nov 16th, 2017 05:05 PM   Edit   Profile  

I've seen a '53 P bass neck dated 7-28-53 without any sort of D stamp.

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Nov 17th, 2017 04:58 AM   Edit   Profile  

The presence of, or the absence of a "D" stamp on the neck and body of the early instruments,guitars and basses alike,is no indicator of originality of course.
The best calculated opinion regarding the "D" stamp
is that it related to the use of a specific set of tooling templates,in as much as the sets were likely kept complete and separate to ensure fit requirements.
Remember that these were early days indeed for Leo Fender,he could not,at that time even be able to retain his workforce as it was,on a full time schedule,rather he called people in when he had a large order requirement.
The tooling philosophy was that he initially would hand make a guitar and then take it to the tool and die people Race and Olmsted. They said that they would produce for Leo "pre-production" or "short run" templates which he would initially use
for his first batches,maybe up to 500 units;a lot in the early days indeed.These first templates were likely made of brass,which meant they would not withstand long production runs,and they would wear more quickly.Anyway,that was not the point at hand.It was in the first run period that Mr. Fender was able to "fine tune" and "tweak" the instruments' production.When he was settled on things,he went back to Race and Olmsted and ordered up the production templates reflecting the tweaks and changes made. This seems a good explanation.Often is the case that the first year of "production" shows variances in features albeit small mostly,occasionally noticeable (early Jazz Bass necks are worth a mention here,the profile having settled down into the definitive shape by 1961,a cutter change resulting in the change again by 1963).
In this case we discuss here,the era indicates a time when there may only have been two sets of templates.Hence the results of one set were marked accordingly.And that was stamped on the resultant work produced by them for subsequent matching.The other set results not being stamped.
I have long believed this explanation to hold water.
With the bass under discussion we have a '57 date with no "D" stamp on the neck.
Now,the profile of the '57 Precision neck was one of a large,soft vee;probably the most playable they ever produced.
This neck under discussion could be a replacement neck cut from the early template,and dated when that occurred-'57 in order to fulfill the customer request.I would have to examine the profile along with other features to check other things.
It's possible.
But I don't know,I wasn't there.
Here's another observation to consider.
On many of the early instruments,and noticeably on the early P-Basses,the appearance of the frets and their positioning is worth comment.
Often when placing the instrument upright and square and viewing it,you might be forgiven for thinking that the fret slots,although parallel to one another,are all "slanted" slightly,and thus do not appear to be square to the necks' centreline
and not square with the straight cut across the body end of the neck,that cut being a straight one,like the Telecaster guitar as well.
This is because that is the case.
I can only offer the obvious answer and say that it was/is a function of Leo's very first fretslot cutting saw/s which utilised an arbor with the appropriate number of slitting blades (circular) fitted and spaced with accurately machined parts to achieve the correct placement of the slots.
The task was completed by attaching the neck to a "swing arm" jig that followed the 7-1/4" radius arc to match that of the fingerboard The neck at the bottom of its' "swing" would pass across the rotating slitting blades that were just visible above the flat surface saw table.The result was a set of parallel fretslots cut to a radius commensurate with the necks' all about .050" deep.
But that neck had to pass across the saw blades with its' centreline exactly,or as close as could be at right angles to the saw blades/arbor.
This meant the neck must be fixed to the swing arm
exactly,and the travel of the swing arm be consistent.
It is a very good bet to say that this exactitude was somewhat lost a lot of the time.
Pushing more on one side of the swing arm than the other would create the error we see in the necks.
Fastening the neck just a tad out of true would have a similar effect.
But it was all within tolerance!
The frets were in the right place from one to another,and the playability was there in tune.
At that time,for those days.

Take a look at the neck we have been discussing on here,and this slight misalignment appears NOT to be present.
That tells me it was likely cut on one of the later fret slot cutting saws,which seemed to eliminate the problem described.
So,"squinty frets" if present,are an indicator to me of an old early bass.

Also,thinking about the "curve" or "scoop" or call it what we will at the headstock behind the topnut
on the bass (and guitars).
This was NOT routed.
This was achieved with a small radius drum abrasive mounted on a shaft,motor/belt driven.
The face of the headstock had already been rough bandsawn to approximate thickness when it was initially cut from the blank (see Forrest Whites' film,showing Fred Fullerton doing exactly that).
At the profiling stage the neck was fixed to a simple wood slide with two screws, and was passed
face down over the radiused abrasive roller,the travel of the neck being inhibited by a simple mechanical stop.The whole shooting match was mounted to a simple table,slide,cutter,and all.
The larger the radius of the abrasive roller,then the "flatter" the appearance of the "scoop".
The early "scoop" was very curved,but removed quite a lot of wood in an area that could do with as much strength as was available.The later "straighter scoop" offerred a less attractive effect,but was much more practical in leaving more wood present.
Measuring the depth of the early headstocks at the "curved scoop" it can sometimes be noted that the headstock is even thinner just at that point.

Pictures of this very operation at the factory are present in one or two books,one being very early taken at the old factory,another being much later probably mid sixties- Smith page 90 - Fullerton etc.

Many of Leo Fenders' old machines,slotters,sanders,etc. are in the safekeep of G&L in Fullerton.They were shown and described in an early video of the G&L factory.

Uncle Stack-Knob

edit for some detail & spelling.

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 12:02 PM, Nov 17th, 2017)

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Nov 17th, 2017 11:09 AM   Edit   Profile  

Here is a video that was made when a band toured the G&L factory at the end of the eighties.
It is interesting(to me) to watch the old original sanding and slotting machines still in use at that point.
Amazingly the "tour guide" is none less than Dale Hyatt.
Watch around 15.00 on.


old machines still in use at G&L



Nov 17th, 2017 01:28 PM   Edit   Profile  

that video is fascinating, can you tell at around 8:30 or so if those machines were the ones that put the radius behind the nut? Also on sept 13 51 Leo received the body template for the P bodies, does that include the routes in the body and the screw hole placement, or just the body edges. My reason for asking is the sept. bodies are routed different and the holes are in different places than the Oct, Nov bodies if so then the 51 Oct bodies would need a different template????

uncle stack-knob
Contributing Member

united kingdom

Nov 17th, 2017 05:22 PM   Edit   Profile  

No they are not. They are machines used in the process of milling the underside of the G&L rosewood finger boards, which are the same as a post mid 1962 pre-cbs board,known commonly as the “curved board”. Dale Hyatt explains this to the onlookers.
The date Leo Fender took delivery of things such as tooling or dates which appeared on invoicing may have differed slightly from the reality of their introduction in use.
Do you think that it may be possible that the templates received when you say would be the ones used for the later Oct. and November bodies and on?
Prior to that, pretty much the initial templates?

(This message was last edited by uncle stack-knob at 07:29 PM, Nov 17th, 2017)


New York City

Nov 17th, 2017 06:43 PM   Edit   Profile  

Great video. Thanks USK!

Wish you could hear more of what Dale Hyatt was saying. Helps a little if you listen with a headset.

I heard him say that some of the machinery itself is hand made, one of a kind. Fascinating to see the neck and fingerboard shaping, etc. I wonder if any of those machines are still in use.

At the end I think they actually called Leo Fender and were arranging a meeting for lunch.

Amateur and flawed as the video is, I love seeing completely raw footage like that. It's a real glimpse of the past.



Nov 17th, 2017 06:57 PM   Edit   Profile  

It has crossed my mind but I don't know how Leo defined a template....If its just the route of the totally blank body. then no these would be the ones that all of the bodies were made. If drill holes are included in the template then there are a lot of differences including no route under the bridge and a volume cavity route that is 3/4 of an inch longer than the later basses, also the 3 september basses pickguard hole differences and the strap knob on the horn was placed differently on all 3 of them....almost just done by hand with a drill... this is how I know 0017 is the one in the California video, also the wood grain on the neck. It looks like all the necks are made the same. I just don't know enough or as much as you do about the early manufacturing process...any more help would be appreciated.

Previous 20 Messages  

FDP Forum / Fender Bass Guitars and Bass Amps / 1951 P-bass just came up for sale

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