Used Bass Guitars
Fender: 1952 P-BASS(Item ID: 1952 P-BASS Serial#: 0419)
1952 Fender P-Bass (SN. 0419)
While perhaps not as significant as the advent of internal combustion engines or the Large Haydron Collider, the arrival of the solid body electric bass was a pretty big deal in the music world. In the years preceding, bass players were relegated to lugging upright basses around—and any touring musician will tell you that this gets old fast when one is crammed in a bus or station wagon full of gear and stinky band mates! Beyond its compact nature, the revolutionary solid body electric bass enabled those who dwell in the low registers to actually be heard with relatively little risk of the feedback associated with mics.
Paul Tutmarc of Seattle Washington is credited with the invention of the first electric bass in the 1930s; however, his design was met with little commercial success and quickly faded into obscurity. Subsequently, most of the music world credits Leo Fender with developing the first viable electric bass. The Precision Bass was introduced in November of 1951, and was so named as its fretted fingerboard allowed players to hit notes with precision. This particular P-Bass came into existence within the first six months of production, as indicated by the dates on the neck (3-13-52) and the body (4-25-52), which are also both initialed T.G. (Tadeo Gomez). As Fender is known to have used their numbered bridges and neck plates somewhat indiscriminately in the early years (i.e., the serial numbers are not sequential), it would be nearly impossible to determine how many basses were made before SN. 0419; yet, when one considers the timeframe, this P-Bass is still literally one of the oldest electric basses in the world!
This beautiful bass eventually found its way into the hands of Rich Nanista, a very active Atlanta-based player, who purchased the bass s around 1984 from Strings West, a vintage dealer based in Oklahoma. Sadly, Rich passed away some years ago, and his family has recently decided to sell the bass. Scans of the bill of sale and an appraisal from Strings West (dated January ’85) indicate that the bass was in near mint condition; however, following our own inspection and a recent appraisal from noted vintage guitar dealer, Walter Carter, it is clear that this instrument was refinished and modified at some point. Though we cannot accurately determine if this work was done prior to 1985, we suspect that these modifications predate Rich’s acquisition of the bass.
Most significant among the known modifications is the replacement flat-pole pickup of unknown origin (we believe that it may be an early Seymour Duncan), and the replacement pots, which date to ’66. The control cavity has also been shielded with aluminum. The nut appears to be an ebony replacement with a wider string spacing than one would typically find on a P-Bass of this era—though there are slightly later examples of the P-Bass with similar-looking nuts made of phenolic resin, a hot pin test confirms the nut is wooden. The installation of the nut required some slight enlargement of the nut slot, but the bass still intonates properly. Upon receiving the bass, we observed and subsequently repaired two headstock cracks stemming from the tuner bushings. Finally, there is also a minor unaddressed body crack associated with the input jack, but it appears to be stable and poses no major structural threat.
Modifications aside, this P-Bass has true personality and a resonance that conveys that ever-elusive vintage mojo. Despite its lack of contouring, the Ash body is lightweight and well-balanced; and, meanwhile, one finds single pickup to be surprisingly expressive. For some vintage enthusiasts, this bass would be a prime candidate for a professional finish restoration (for instance, by a group like MJT Aged Finishes), but it is otherwise a wonderful player’s guitar that is ready to hit the stage or studio. Most importantly, P-Bass number 0419 is most certainly a piece of history that harkens to the dawn of all the electrified music that we hold so dear.
As stated above, this body and neck of this bass were refinished some decades ago (presumably in the ‘70s, or possibly early ‘80s). Of course, this is a significant strike against originality and collectability! The finish work was fairly well-executed, particularly for the time; but, under scrutiny, one would see the hallmarks of a non-original finish (e.g., pitting and unevenness in areas where finish tends run/accumulate, like cutaways and body cavities). Yet, in the ensuing years, the finish has developed its own pleasing patina, having aged to a buttery vintage white, with the just the right amount of gentle crazing to imply a life well-spent making music in the hands of someone who truly cared for the guitar.
We note the presence of a grey primer beneath the finish, which makes a good deal of sense given that Ash is an open pore wood, and thus doesn’t receive paint as well as a closed-pore wood like Alder. Incidentally, this is why most all of the earliest Fenders (which had ash or, in some cases, pine bodies) were finished with translucent finishes, like sunburst or blonde. This primer is evident in areas along the edges of the guitar, where the outer finish has just simply worn away, as well as areas surrounding the fair number dings and dents on the guitar, most of which are concentrated on the edges of the body. The wear in these areas reveals that the primer and outer finish are actually quite thin, as there is raw wood exposed—this is most visible at the waist of bass-side back edge.
The refinished neck has various points of wear to note. Most significantly, there are several areas where the finish has either chipped out or flaked, leaving exposed wood—this is mostly concentrated on the treble side. Even so, the finish is stable overall. While this does translate to a slightly irregular texture, the neck is still quite comfortable and doesn’t come across as overly-rough, like a neck that has been heavily dented. On a much less significant front, there is some finish worn away along the edges of the fingerboard, which would be consistent with regular use, and which makes for a slightly rolled feel.
Finally, the original Bakelite pickguard has what appears to be the factory original lacquer coating, which has checked with time. We do note that there is some minor lacquer chip-out around the screw holes, and the accompanying original finger rest has been stripped down to raw wood. GOOD+ CONDITION
• Refinished double-cutaway Ash slab body
• Refinished (gloss) maple neck
• Maple fingerboard with black dot inlays and original frets
• Non-original ebony nut
• Non-original flat-pole single coil pickup
• Additional single coil pickup (likely in need of a re-wind)
• Original bridge with phenolic resin saddles
• Original black Bakelite pickguard with flat-head screws
• Original nickel reverse-geared tuning machines
• Original nickel bridge and pickup covers
• 34” scale length
• 1 11/16" nut width
• 8.29 lbs
• Letter of value from Carter’s Vintage Guitars
• Non-original ‘60s hardshell case included (used)
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