The ultimate in cool. The very first Fender Precision bass was released in December 1951, and was extremely Telecaster-like in many respects. By 1954, the boxy body had been graced with the contours of the all-new Stratocaster - which was introduced in 1954 - for increased comfort, but still retained the tone-enhancing through-body stringing of the original. The Precision Bass changed again in June of 1957 to the present shape, stringing and pickup configuration, so this example is one of the last of the 'intermediate' - 1954 to 1957 - series.
The finish at first appears to be totally original, but close inspection on dismantling shows it has been professionally refinished more than 20 years ago. The previous owner purchased the bass from Jacksons Rare Guitars back in 1990, and had cherished it until now, when circumstances forced him to sell the bass. The finish in the original sunburst is ageing beautifully, with age checking that matches the neck's original finish. One pot has been replaced in the 50-year life of the bass, but all other hardware is original, right down to the pickup and reverse-geared tuning machines.
The pickup and bridge covers, which were almost always removed by players as they got in the way, have long since been lost. The original single-ply pickguard has cracked from shrinkage, but is still complete and present on this vintage Fender bass. Extremely close inspection today (9th June 2008) has shown a repaired crack (along the grain) on the headstock through the line of the E tuner, and carefully wiping some of the solder flux from the volume pot (originally assumed to be original, and stated as such by the previous owner) is, in fact, a CTS replacement dating from the 29th week of 1970 (code 1377029). I have added three pictures to the bottom of the 'more pictures' page to clearly shows these.
Both body and neck are dated March '57, which tallies exactly with the serial number of -20072. Yes, it's a pre-"L". One of Leo's own! And consider this; in April of 1957, the month after this bass left the Fender factory in Fullerton, Bill Black, bassist with the Elvis Presley band (with the incomparable Scotty Moore on guitar), purchased a new sunburst Fender Precision Bass, exactly like this one. You can only wonder how close the serial numbers might be of the numbers of this bass and the example Bill Black purchased back in April '57. I'll bet they were damn close!
Super cool, with a beautiful aged patina and mojo about it. Looks and sounds awesome, and is bound to be a gilt-edged investment. And look at the weight - just 3.6 kilos (7.9 pounds) of prime vintage Ash!
Sold to Geoffrey