Throwback Thursday: The Search for a 1970/71 Fender Precision Fretted Bass

I believe anyone who has followed my career or Pedals And Effects, knows my main bass is my 1970/71 Fender Precision Fretless bass. It’s a stock fretless that has had some minor modifications done to it. I am obsessed with this bass’s tone, look and feel so much that I have always dreamed of owning an exact era specific P-bass but with it’s original stock fretted neck. This is my story of how that came about.

I was out of the country, on tour with The Mars Volta in Europe in 2012. While on tour, I always combed craigslist for basses. I not only look in Los Angeles but all of the major cities in the US. During one of my hotel room hunts, I found myself looking over the Ann Arbor craigslist. It was there that I found this “1971 Fender Precision P bass with original case, USA made – $1200 (Ann Arbor)” header. My heart started racing!

My dilemma at the time was that I was not going through Ann Arbor anytime soon and all of this excitement could be worth nothing if the bass does not weigh a lot (I prefer heavy body basses to light ones). I ask the seller if he could ship the bass, if I could pay using Paypal, and then asked him how much the bass weighed. Mind you, we are on tour and so for the few days of correspondence it felt like weeks, and I am stressing that someone in Ann Arbor might buy it before me!

The seller seems cool in our email exchanges. He tells me the bass weighs 9.5 lbs and he tells me he doesn’t like paying the Paypal fees. I ask him if I can Skype call him and he agrees. This is where I found out the history of the bass.

The seller tells me that yes, he would sell me the bass and mail it to me and that he would not sell it to anyone else.  He mentions that he was selling the bass for the family of a friend who had passed away, and that the bassist who passed away was a fan of mine and would be stoked to know that I was going to honor his bass by playing and owning it.

Needless to say, I will never sell this bass but also, this bass rules! The guy did exactly what I did to my fretless. He had swapped out the bridge for a BadAss bridge, had a jazz pickup added near the bridge and wired it as volume, volume and tone knobs. I added the pickup selector switch you see and a Hipshot D-tuner but other than that, this bass was set up just like mine!

I often mistake this Fender for my fretless when I go to grab a bass out of my rack. They are so close in color and feel. I am such a lucky guy to have found it and I have to thank my friend in Ann Arbor for holding and ultimately, selling the instrument to me. Finding out the history of the bass was humbling and the bass is a constant reminder of how fortunate I am to have fans all over the world, and for that I am forever grateful to them.