Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fender Precision Slab Bass

Post World War II saw a marked increase in the popularity of the guitar throughout the world. My take on this is due to United State soldiers, especially those from the southern USA who brought their guitars with them to play and sing songs that reminded them of home. Britain was especially accepting of this cultural exchange. 

This was a time that Brits were not only listening to country music, but rhythm and blues, that was introduced by Black soldiers. 

Big Band music would shortly fade away, due to economics and “combos” of four or five players made dance music. 

Skiffle Music became popular, as did R&B and American Rock &  Roll.

The Marshall Plan aka the European Recovery Plan designed to rebuild Europe by lending money to nations resulted in debt to the US. This debt resulted in tariffs placed on US products imported to Britain. Subsequently American guitars and amplifiers were available in the UK, but they were very expensive.

There were a few ways around this problem.  

The most common method was to import guitars from European countries. This was a boon to manufacturers such as Hagstrom, Hofner, Framus, EKO, Italia, Crucianelli, Selmer and others. The other way was for British manufacturers to build guitars and amps. 

Marshall, and Vox amplifiers found their beginnings and built amplifiers based on their own unique variations of the Fender Bassman. Later Watkins, Harry Joyce, and Hi-Watt entered the scene. 

Steve Curries Slab P-Bass
One last method was when an major American company wants to test market a product to see if it will sell. This was the case with a special British-only version of the Fender Precision Bass. This guitar was known as the Fender Slab Precision bass and it entered the UK in 1966. 


(Fender would test market some gear in later years in Japan and Europe.)

The original “slab” bass was the 1950's Precision Bass, which had a Telecaster-style headstock and one single coil pickup that was not split. The 1966 Precision Slab bass looked exactly like the 1966 US version of the P-Bass, but it did not have the body contours. This instrument was only available to the British market.

There were only a handful of these instruments. The estimate is 25 or 35 bass guitars. Most all of them went to well known British players.

John Entwhistle of The Who was among the first to receive a slab bass. Steve Currie of T. Rex purchased a slab bass, as did John Sprigate of The Glitter Band. Chip Hawkes of the Tremeloes can be seen in early videos with his Fender Precision Slab bass.

Based on their rarity, the Precision Slab bass is very collectible, but seldom seen. The Fender Custom Shop at one time offered  a reissue of the Precision Slab Bass

It came only in Olympic White, a black pickguard, a maple cap neck, and the original-style split P-bass pickups.







 
 

16 comments:

MSDos5 said...

Nice work on this piece, I haven't kept up with this blog lately. Steve Harris of iron maiden played one also :-)

Marc said...

Thank you. The Slab is an interesting and not too mentioned bit of Fender history.

Marc

Jimi said...

I´ve heard they used leftover bodies from Precision 1.
Saw one which had the through-body-routings in the back filled, sprayed over white. Anyway collectible and rare.

JOHN said...

I HAD ONE OF THE 1966 SLAB BODY PRECISION BASSES NEW.
BOUGHT FROM PAN MUSIC WARDOUR STREET.
I USED IT WITH MY BAND THE MADDENNING CROWD GIGING ALL OVER THE PLACE.
I STILL HAVE PHOTOS OF IT.
I SOLD IT WHEN I WAS HARD UP TO AMEN CORNER. FOR THEIR BASS PLAYER CLIVE WILLIAMS.
I WENT WITH IT TO TOP OF THE POPS AS REQUESTED.
CLIVE WILLIAMS WAS NOT THERE BUT ANDY FAIRWEATHER LOW SAW ME AND TRIED IT AND LIKED IT.
I WOULD LOVE TO HAVE IT BACK.
FROM,
JOHN PRESLEY.
NOW IN BURNHAM ON SEA SOMERSET.
johnpresley@tiscali.co.uk

lrak vilkingson said...
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lrak vilkingson said...
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Albert Vickers said...

Nice pick job on that slab. 47 years playing bass I never did get my hands on that fender Slab bass. Just too much money! Still I have my 66 P bass, a Maverick Nemisis, etc etc but I would love to play that slab just one,
On the 4

Martin said...

I have one. Serial 13870X. Bought it 7 years ago in a small shop in Denmark for about EUR 3000. Owner knew it was special, but not what exactly it was. It has unfortunately been stripped, but is otherwise original.
Best part is the wide neck, the heavy body and the very precise tone. Very different from my Jazz'es. And then of course the thrill of owning it.

Anonymous said...

Martin,
I am collecting all Data on Slabs/Hybrids.
Would it Be possible to contact me?
Oliver (senmen@web.de)

Albert Vickers said...

After posting here in October I bought a bass body that turns out to be a P Slab! It was in a badly done stripped back to the wood. Think it was gonna be someones re build and it must have just slipped away till I bought it from France. It came with neck plate and serial number but no neck. I planned to rebuild it. I also have a beautiful 1966/7 Hohner Jazz bass made in West Germany, and 3 tone burst. Hohner was the first guitar I bought more than 50 years ago!

Anonymous said...

Albert, Can you give me more Info in your Slab body? See email above
Thank you
Oliver

Albert Vickers said...

Hi, and thanks for asking. I don't know what to tell you though as you need to be specific?
I have parts off of a 63 single coil P Bass and a 66 P.
I am v.new to re builds.
My age and disability lead me away from playing last year and I converted a Strat and a Telecaster to 30"short scale bass'.
I have read so much on the P basses, but what is real and what is false is hard to know. I think Fender is a mine field so I wanna go slow.
I have soo many questions myself :-)

Anonymous said...

Albert,
So Do you have a 66 Slab Body with neck plate?
I would love to see photos of it!
Oliver

aka ziggybass said...

Yes I do, but I am not having much luck posting photos to you. Seems you are ring fenced by 'norply'.
I am friends with many mates from famous 60's bands and they are easier to contact.
By the way Frank Allen of the Searchers has played a slab P bass for years. As far as I recall it was rebuilt by a Swedish Luthier and just gived to Frank in the 1980's + - ! It was re finished in 3 tone burst! He wont sell it :-)
Give me an email address I can wite to easily and I will keep you in the loop regard the 2 single coil and the 66 re builds. I wish you good luck. Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Albert,
Plse try sending to:
senmen@me.com

Oliver

Albert Vickers said...

Ok Oli I got the mail adress. Thanks for making the effort. I will try a test email later. Right now I am coping with a re finish in Nitro.

Regards from malaga Spain :-)

this is refusing to send and I am getting error messages (again) will keep trying.
My email is mulesspain@gmail.com