The Fender Bass – An Illustrated History

The Fender Bass - Hal Leonard Corp

The Fender Bass - Hal Leonard Corp

For the novice, picking up this book and thumbing through it, your first thought might be that the book is filled with with the same bass painted in lots of different colours. But for the true bass enthusiast The Fender Bass is a treasure trove full of interesting information about everything to do with the worlds most popular basses.

Prior to 1951 a production electric bass did not exist. Leo Fender changed all that and made a huge mark in music history when he introduced the Fender Precision bass. The design was radically different. Take the extremely large and bulky stand up (or double) bass, make is smaller and fretted with a solid body and play it horizontally like a guitar and add an electric pickup so it could be amplified. The world of the bass player forever changed in this one moment.  So much so that electric basses were often referred to as “Fender” basses.

The Fender Bass book starts with original 1951 Precision and follows its development, and the development of the many Fender bass models, over the first half century of its existence.

The book goes into great detail on everything from what features changed from year to year. It’s interesting to see how the Precision has evolved. The early Precision was similar to the Telecaster, but was redesigned in 1957. The new model had a look that more closely resembled the Stratocaster. This is fairly well known, but what I didn’t know is how the early Precision was changed with front and back contours in ’54 when the Stratocaster was released. These models had a strange half old, half new, look to them.

The Jazz Bass was released in 1960, but didn’t have the familiar three knob controls until 1962. The first two years featured two pairs of stacked knobs. The book shows early prototypes of the Jazz with three knobs and Jazz Master style pickups. These prototypes were never released.

The book also details many other basses including the Mustang Bass, Telecaster Bass and Fender VI Bass (E-A-D-G-B-E). There is little mention of Fender V Bass (E-A-D-G-C) but a few pictures.

For anyone trying to identify the differences in Fender bass models over the years, this book is a must have. Several sections of the book are dedicated to details such as head stock decals and the different serial number schemes used over the years. There are piles of snippets of historic information from everyone from Leo Fender to CBS and many the artist, like Jimi Hendrix and John Entwistle, that have helped make Fender the brand it is.

This book is must for any bass lovers and especially those that love bass history and Fender basses.


The Fender Bass – An Illustrated History – J.W. Black, Albert Molinaro, Dave Maddux, Jill Smolin – Hall Leonard Corporation
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