Fender announces 60th Anniversary Precision Bass
(Dave Molter | Posted 2011-01-08)
Fender started it all for electric bassists in 1951 with the release of the Precision Bass. A fretted, downsized version of an upright bass, the new model made bass easy to play with "Precision," easy to amplify, easy to carry and easy for guitarists to double on. For 2011, fender has announced the 60th Anniversary Precision Bass -- a hybrid instrument that looks very similar to its grandfather but also has significant upgrades and some changes in body and neck design.
For starters, the 60th Anniversary P looks much like the bass that inspired it -- a single pickup, a pickguard that covers both the upper and lower horns, two chrome knobs mounted on a chrome plate rather than on the pickguard, and a maple neck with a rounder, telecaster-like headstock. But a closer look reveals that the body is contoured, with belly and arm cuts rather than the slab-style of the original Precision. And the pickup -- not hidden by a chrome cover as in the original P, isn't the single coil model associated with the '51 P -- it's the split coil alnico model that debuted in the 1957 Precision.
Other notable changes from the '51 include a high mass bridge with four individual saddles rather than only two; no bridge "ashtray" cover; a slimmer, more modern 9.5" profile maple neck; and tuning gears that operate as on current P basses, not "backwards" as on the original P. (That is, theses tuners turn counterclockwise to tighten the string; the original P tuners turned clockwise to tighten.
Finishing touches include a black pickguard, knurled control knobs, a commemorative neckplate and a Fender/SKB® molded case.
I've always liked the looks of the original P, and this models seems to be a nice upgrade that will please players who find the original slab body of the '51 uncomfortable. And, while the older single coil pickup of the '51 might produce a tad more bottom end, the split-coil P pickup produces the sound that drove many a Top 40 hit for the last 55 years.
Available in a limited production run and at an MSRP of $1999 USD (with hardshell case), the 60th Anniversary Precision Bass likely isn't for casual players. (If you want the '50s vibe but not the pricetag, Squier offers a very nice, more-traditional '50s-style Precision for around $400). However, the bass does say "Fender," and that alone may be worth the expenditure.
It's hard say who had the idea first, but Lakland also has announced two new P Bass clones, one of which has nearly identical features to the Fender 60th Anniversary Precision. And I'm sure Lakland workmanship will be comparable to Fender's, but the Lakland models carry an MSRP of $3,800.
Dave Molter is Managing Editor and Bass Guitars Editor of MusicGearReview.com. He has played bass professionally for 46 years.