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Old School: 1963 Fender Precision Bass

Andy Brown with the 1963 Fender Precision Bass on the day he bought it
Andy Brown with the 1963 Fender Precision Bass on the day he bought it

The 1963 Fender Precision Bass marked some changes to the long-running standard in electric basses. Earlier this year, Fender reintroduced the ’63 Precision Bass as part of their American Vintage line. At that time, the company shared some of this instrument’s unique history:

“The year 1963 marks an important moment in Precision Bass history, because that’s when a comfortable new round-laminated rosewood fingerboard first appeared on the bass that started it all.”

Bassist Andy Brown shared his ’63 Precision with us, adding to the collection of ’63 Fenders we’ve shared in our Old School series. (Be sure to check out the Jay Fortier’s 1963 Fender Jazz Bass and Mark Anderson’s 1963 Fender Shoreline Gold Precision.)

Here’s Andy’s story about this beauty of a bass:

How long have you owned it?

Since September, 1977.

How did you come across it?

A friend needed some money to go to Germany and heard I was looking for a bass to replace my Columbus bass.

Stock or customized? Give us all the specs!

Andy Brown's 1963 Fender Precision Bass, pre- and post-strip downIt’s completely stock. I’m not sure about its original color, but when I got it, it was covered in a thick varnish. So when I retired her, I stripped & French-polished the body. The photo at right shows the pre-stripped condition (left) and post-stripped (right).

I’ve had to re-source a pickup cover and thumb rest as the originals got lost, but the replacements were genuine Fender parts.

It’s had a re-fret since I’ve owned it, and I need to replace the nut as it’s broken on the G. But I have a replacement.

Any special characteristics?

The tuning keys are standard Klusons, but reversed, so to tune up, you turn the keys towards you. I believe it was a short-lived experiment to counteract tuning slippage.

What’s your favorite story about the bass?

Probably the fact that it has appeared on a prog rock album by a band in the 70’s (Hiroshima by Wishful Thinking).

Wishful Thinking with Tony Collier on the left playing the '63 Precision Bass (1970)
Wishful Thinking with Tony Collier on the left playing the ’63 Precision Bass (1970)

Do you use it on gigs?

Not any more, I retired her when I bought a Squier P-Bass, back in 1985.

What else do you want to share about your gear?

I play through a Behringer DI box/emulator, into a Behringer BX120 BassStation and a BOSS bass chorus.

Any other vintage gear? (just a list, please)

Only a Columbus Jazz Bass copy, picked up from a charity (thrift) shop for £10.

What did we miss?

Nothing really, other than the fact that it is a beauty and I’ll never sell it.

Oh, and I still have the original case in an attic, but she is kept in an aluminum flight case now.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve been playing bass since 1974, playing in bands in pubs and clubs around the south of England, gaining a good name amongst other musicians/bands in the area and playing most kinds of music.

I won a national lyric writing competition in 1976, so I also play a bit of guitar (for song writing purposes) I’ve had several basses since I started but I’ve always kept hold of the ’63.

I currently have six basses (including the ’63) although I’ve recently sold two that I no longer used. I also have several electric, acoustic and semi-acoustic guitars.