A tale of two basses - MIM Classic 50's Precision Lacquer

BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 13143
In a brief return from my self-imposed posting fast, and partly after a request from @fretmeister, I thought I'd share a little story about a recent bass acquisition.

Since I've owned the '64 Precision, I have begun to realise that one of the reasons I enjoy playing it so much is the neck profile. More specifically, it's the 1.75" nut width, and the wide slim (front to back) profile right the way up to the dusty end. I seem to play most of my bass around frets 3 - 12, and the profile here is sublime.

Having now got myself in a position where I'm going to be regularly gigging bass, as well as doing quite a bit of recording, I soon came to realise that whilst the '64 will be a great recording, writing and practising tool, the reality is that there will be some times when I just won't want to take it out gigging. 

I thus started the hunt for something that could do a passable impression of playing similar to, and sounding quite like the 64. I soon came to realise that since about 1973 the 1.75" nut width is a rare beast - Fender prefers a slimmer nut on the Precision these days, and the neck is chunkier front to back. I played MIM standards, American standards, an American deluxe and elite, and countless other basses that I thought might just do the job. Nothing was close to the feel. Sound was close, but not playability. 

I was pointed towards the MIM Classic 50's series as they have the 1.75" nut width. There's three types to choose from:

- MIM Classic 50's P (Polywhatever paint)
- MIM Roadworn 50's P (Nitro paint)
- MIM Classic 50's P Lacquer (Nitro Paint)

I was on the lookout for a bargain used version of any of the above. They aren't cheap for MIM basses either - new they start at about £899 and the roadworns top out at over £1200. 

One did, however pop up - a MIM Classic 50's P Lacquer - they only did/do it in Black with gold anodised pick guard. New they are around the £1100 ish mark. This one is a few years old - it's been gigged and is far from pristine, but it was on offer at £500. Bargain.

Went to look at it - neck seemed close. Took a punt. Brought it home. 

Playability

It's 1.75" alright, and it's thin front to back - I'd say it's very close to the 64. There's two main differences - this one is maple, my 64 is Braz RW, and the 64 has rolled edges whereas the MIM isn't. Both have the trad vintage frets. It does feel remarkably similar tho. Similar enough that it will more than do as a cheapie for gigging with the feel of the 64. It's about 6oz heavier, but it's negligible really.

Sound

Close. Both have Chromes on, and the 64 has had them on longer - so they are a bit duller, but not much. The MIM is a bit brighter. Maybe it's the maple board, maybe it's the pickup. I dunno. But it is a tad brighter. I think when the Chromes dull on it then the difference will be even smaller. It's not as complex in its sound as the 64, and there's less harmonic overtones to it. If anything the 64 sounds a bit more 'woody' and maybe a bit smoother. Again, horses for courses and YMMV.

Quality

Well. I'm quite shocked at how good it is. The jack socket was shot - presumably linked to its gigging background - the plug was loose in it, so I swapped it out for a spare jack socket I had in the drawer. No issues since at all. It's well screwed together. The nitro is nice - its bashed up a bit and it's dented/cracked just like a good nitro finish and I expect it to wear like one too. Anodised guard is probably a bit marmite - I don't mind it, but then I play finger style and rest my thumb on the string next to the one I'm playing, jumping around a bit and don't rest anything on the guard. If you did, it might annoy you. If you play pick, it probably won't. If you slap then you deserve all you get.

Conclusions

Early days - first gig with it will be next month. I'm swapping between the two for home practise sessions and so far, tho I still prefer the 64, I don't wince when I pick up the MIM. In fact, I enjoy it for its own qualities. It does a more than passable impression of a pre-CBS Precision. You can obviously tell it isn't - and it still retains a lot of the modern new feel, but the bits that needed to be right for me are very right. There's some nice touches - the bridge saddles are vintage style slotted so you can adjust string spacing. The tuners are reversed just like in the good old days. Means if someone else tries to tune your bass it will confuse the shit out of them. 

For 500 notes, I reckon it's a cracking bass - want something with a vintage vibe and a big wide neck with slim front to back profile and some good old fashioned P bass thump without spending a fortune? Then the MIM Classic 50's are worth it. Even more so used as they aren't US made so do lose their value a bit more when used. 

Obligatory bass porn type shots now follow:







Normal non-posting service will now resume, er, stop, er whatever..
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