The Fender Precision Bass

78 Fender Precision
78 Fender Precision bass (1983 – 1996)

When I had played the Hagström for about a year I had saved up enough funds to buy a better bass. I looked around and narrowed my options down to 1978  Precision bass and a 1968 Jazz bass.

They were both tobacco sunburst, alder bodies with maple necks and rosewood fingerboards. But the Jazz  bass  had bound fingerboard with block inlays. The Precision had its usual unbound fingerboard with dot inlays. The Jazz was pretty beat up and the Precision was pristine…

I chose the Precision.

(OMG, DID you????)

Yes, I know… Today, if given the choice again, I would have taken the Jazz. But for a 15 year old looking for his first real bass, looks meant as much as anything. Maybe even more. And besides, maybe I was just ahead of my time. Now, in 2017, it seems the Precision bass is the only way to go, for most bass players!

The Precision served me very well for 12-13 years. I played her every day and many nights, and together we grew a lot as musicians.

A couple of years later I figured out I just had to have five strings on my bass. After much consideration, I ended up getting the Precision bass converted to a fretless 5-string. A new ebony fingerboard was added on top of the old fingerboard, and a narrow Schaller 3D bridge installed. An EMG Jazz pickup was added in the bridge position, and the tone control was replaced by a volume control. It turned out quite good, in fact. However, I never felt the B-string worked as well as I wanted, so I switched to E-C tuning. In this configuration, the fretless Fender Precision was my main instrument for more than 10 years.

1968 Fender Jazz Bass
1968 Fender Jazz Bass – the bass I ended up loosing out on…

It was an amazing bass for all those years, and it’s the bass that I developed the most on. In 1996 I decided to sell it to finance a new custom 5-string to replace it. It was probably not such a wise decision, but I was still hunting the perfect 5-string fretless, and I was a bit fed-up by the narrow spacing of the bass. Frank Hovland who built me my new fretless 5-string sold it for me, and later I have seen it surface a couple of times in the local classified ad site. By now it has been reverted to a 4-string fretless, the ebony fingerboard, which made the neck a bit chunky, had been removed, and the original rosewood fingerboard with it’s filled fret lines and dot markers, have been epoxy coated. I’m sure she’s a great instrument. I wish I had the funds to buy her back, but by this time, more than 20 years later, I have enough great basses so it isn’t really required. It would be a novelty item, for the most part. But who said novelties aren’t nice to have?!


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