Fretless Fender Precision

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DdiggerDdigger Frets: 3

I'm a guitarist, don't shoot me...

See video of Alan Spenner playing bass for Joe Cocker at Woodstock, 2.04 gives a good shot of his bass.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POaaw_x7gvQ

Looks like a fretless Precision (and sounds like one).  Can't find anything on when Fender first made fretless Precisions.  Was this a 'homer' or were Fender making fretless Precisions then?

Thanks,

Ddig



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Comments

  • proggyproggy Frets: 1379
    I think the Fretless Precision went into production around 1970, but a lot of bass players were having their basses defretted well before then, apparently Bill Wyman defretted one in the early 60's.
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  • Not fretless. Just half dead flat wound strings and incorrectly adjusted intonation.

    At 3:37 in the Joe Cocker video, the white lines across the fingerboard at the fret positions are too wide to be just filled tang gaps. They also appear to have height along the edge of the neck.

    At approximately 6:00, in the edge on shot of the bass, you should see that the fingertips land between the fret lines and stay there. A fretless bassist would not finger the notes this way.
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • GSPBASSESGSPBASSES Frets: 1035
    edited December 2017
     Alan Spenner certainly played a  fretless Precision bass in1968, saw him several times with Joe Cocker. I believe there is promo video of Joe Cocker at the Marquee club and you can clearly see it's a fretless bass. I saw them live, and from a distance it looked like the frets had just been pulled out and not refilled.  I'm not sure if this is the bass he used Woodstock as the bass he was playing in 1968 still had the the chrome cover over the pickup. The videos you mentioned certainly isn't clear enough to say one way or the other, but if you find the video of "Something's coming on", you do get a clearer glimpse of the bass and it does look fretless. As Woodstock was in the same year I saw them at the Marquee, I see no reason to think he wouldn't have used a fretless bass at Woodstock. Interestingly enough, I didn't see the Grease band for some years after this, and he wasn't playing fretless.
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  • Great fellas, thanks for the insight.

    I'll stick with a fretted short scale for the moment, think I might try some flat wounds.


    Ddig

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  • Funkfingers, had a look back at the video, I can see what you are saying there.

     

    Had some time to kill, so did some digging…

     

    Grease Band, Chris Stainton, 1968 playing a de-fretted precision – same one as in the Marquee club film you mentioned

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=grease+band+videos+french+night+club&&view=detail&mid=26F847B0190F1B461B2A26F847B0190F1B461B2A&FORM=VRDGAR

    Some one handed playing at 3:56 and de-fretted at 6:23

     

    Grease Band, Alan Spenner, July 1969 stripped back precision

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=grease+band+videos&&view=detail&mid=D433C509EE7F4E3ABFA3D433C509EE7F4E3ABFA3&FORM=VRDGAR

     

    Grease Band, Alan Spenner, October 1969, black precision bass as used at Woodstock

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=grease+band+videos+tom+jones&&view=detail&mid=8939906FD739DA42B7EE8939906FD739DA42B7EE&FORM=VRDGAR

     

    Along the way managed to buy a copy of Joe Cocker and the Grease Band – On Air (BBC sessions 1968-69) that didn’t cost £60-80 and came across some more music I liked, but had never heard before.

     

    Ddig

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  • Agreed.

    In the Paris club footage, it is possible to tell by the way that Spenner "finds" the notes that he is playing a defretted bass guitar. The glissandi at approximately 2:20 confirm this. He uses the tang lines as a visual clue. In other words, he is cheating. ;)

    GSPBASSES said:
     Interestingly enough, I didn't see the Grease band for some years after this, and he wasn't playing fretless.

    By the Seventies, sound fashions were changing. Bass guitars with active electronics were appearing. By comparison, a defretted Precision would have sounded humdrum. Not enough high frequency detail.

    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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  • My first bass was a de-fretted Antoria Precision copy, with a Jazz pickup added and a toggle switch. I quite liked it although the tone was a bit lightweight. Looking back, it seems just a little perverse to take an instrument that was called (or based on one called) the "Precision" because it had frets and therefore the intonation would have been far more accurate than the double bass it was intended to replace ... and then to remove the feature that gave it it's name. Don't get me wrong, I lurve a fretless bass ...
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs. (Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!)
    Seriously: If you value it, take/fetch it yourself
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  • proggyproggy Frets: 1379
    My first bass was a de-fretted Antoria Precision copy, with a Jazz pickup added and a toggle switch. I quite liked it although the tone was a bit lightweight. Looking back, it seems just a little perverse to take an instrument that was called (or based on one called) the "Precision" because it had frets and therefore the intonation would have been far more accurate than the double bass it was intended to replace ... and then to remove the feature that gave it it's name. Don't get me wrong, I lurve a fretless bass ...

    You made a very good point there.
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  • martmart Frets: 2482
    My first bass was a de-fretted Antoria Precision copy, with a Jazz pickup added and a toggle switch. I quite liked it although the tone was a bit lightweight. Looking back, it seems just a little perverse to take an instrument that was called (or based on one called) the "Precision" because it had frets and therefore the intonation would have been far more accurate than the double bass it was intended to replace ... and then to remove the feature that gave it it's name. Don't get me wrong, I lurve a fretless bass ...
    One day I will get a fretless precision and get a custom decal saying “Imprecision bass”.
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  • BridgehouseBridgehouse Frets: 11292
    My first bass was a de-fretted Antoria Precision copy, with a Jazz pickup added and a toggle switch. I quite liked it although the tone was a bit lightweight. Looking back, it seems just a little perverse to take an instrument that was called (or based on one called) the "Precision" because it had frets and therefore the intonation would have been far more accurate than the double bass it was intended to replace ... and then to remove the feature that gave it it's name. Don't get me wrong, I lurve a fretless bass ...
    I wouldn't fret about it.
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  • mart said:
    One day I will get a fretless precision and get a custom decal saying “Imprecision bass”.
    I can help with half of that. The expensive, boat anchor half. :)
    I fear the Geeks, even when they bear GIFs.
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