Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1973 Fender Precision Bass Review

Aloha!

Today we are looking at a real sweetheart of a vintage bass that will have its 41st birthday in a couple of weeks – my former 1973 Fender Precision Bass.

CBS-era instruments are much maligned because Leo Fender took the magic with him when he left the company, plus the early 1980s axes were total crap, but there were plenty of really nice products that were built in the 1970s. They are still affordable, but prices are creeping up as guys like us can no longer afford stuff from the 1960s are buying the later stuff. This ’73 P bass is a good one, and is amazingly original. I cannot find any replaced parts except for the output jack washer, and the only modification I can find is where someone installed a thumb rest in a truly bizarre location.

Four pieces of ash were used for the body, and it was sprayed with a clear finish at the factory. It is in remarkably good shape with just light wear and no terrible buckle rash or ill-advised touch-ups. White is not my favorite pickguard color for a natural bass, but it is original and has not broken around the output jack like so many of these.

The neck is date JAN 5 1973 and it is B width (1 5/8-inches at the nut). The headstock has a few dings, but the decal is good and the inlays are in good shape. There is a little separation between the skunk strip and the maple, but it has been professionally filled and it feels fine. The neck is true and the truss rod works fine and it has not been shimmed. It still has the original nut, so somehow it escaped the 1970s without the indignity of having a brass nut installed.

As I said, this is a good bass, so it has been played a lot over the years, and though the frets are not worn out, they are low. Chris over at Long Beach Guitar Repair touched them up a bit and set it up with Flats (D’Addario Chromes), and it has a few years of good playing left before it needs any major fretwork.

Over time the original nickel hardware has tarnished, but it is all still functional. The tuners are a bit stiff, and could use some cleaning, the bridge saddles are a tad worn and the chrome is worn off the volume and tone knobs in spots. But, what do you expect after 41 years? The bridge and pickup covers look right, but I have no way of knowing if they are original to the bass. But, everything else looks right, so I am giving them the benefit of a doubt.

The electronics are awesome. The pickups have 1973 date codes, and the stackpole pots are dated the 4th week of 1973 too. Even the jack and cap look to be untouched. The pickups have plenty of output, and the pots work smoothly with no pops or static. I keep them dimed, anyway…

This bass even came with the original Fender case which is in good shape and perfectly functional thanks to a couple of replaced latches. It still has the original orange interior, and even has the dealer tag from Metronome Music of Mansfield, Ohio.

So, this bass still has all of its original parts and they are all in good order, and taken as a whole this thing works very well. The neck has the 1970s fat U shape to it, and really is a peach to play (I think it has a 7 ¼-inch radius fretboard, too). The tone is pure Precision Bass, and you would be hard-pressed to find one that plays and sounds as well. The only downside is that it is a tad heavy, coming in at 10 pounds, 1 ounce according to my digital scale.

This one did not stick around too long, as a local guy wanted it a lot more than I did, so I moved it along to him. But don’t worry -- I still have my ’57 re-issue plus a killer Sadowsky P, so the Precision Bass is still well-represented here.

Mahalo!

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