Leo Fender and the History of the Electric Bass

A guy who goes by the name “davey4557” on Youtube has posted a short but amazing video on the history of the electric bass and Leo Fender. While it is very cool to see the progression of Leo’s basses, I had serious gear envy after realizing all the basses in the video belong to Davey.

Davey says he’d like to do a movie on the life of Leo Fender. We hope it happens.

Check out Davey’s Youtube channel.

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Share your thoughts

  1. Henri LeBlanc

    A very noble effort in paying tribute to CLF, but a few things were missed, or not properly represented.

    1) No explanation of the significance of active electronics in the StingRay. The ‘Ray was the first mass-produced bass with an active circuit.

    2) Leo considered his G&L MFD basses to be the pinnacle of his work, and there is no mention of them at all in this video. Of his designs bearing the Fender name, the assertion that he considered the Jazz bass his masterpiece is correct.

    3) Having 21 frets presents a 3-octave range from the low E to the highest fret on the 1st string; not 2 octaves as stated erroneously twice in the video. The only way to truly get 2 octaves (per string) on the neck is 24 frets, and Leo was never behind such an instrument, although Fender has released a few models with 24 frets over the years. The now-out-of-production J24 is such an example, and also sported an active circuit.

    All of that said, I do enjoy how the US-made JB-2 is the final bass presented, since I use one as my main workhorse. It really is the ultimate evolution of the passive 4-string instrument (arguments favoring the Warwick $$ passive model notwithstanding). While I am not offended by one word that cannot be uttered on TV in this video, the addressing of the above matters and elimination of that word would make this video an exceptional primer on the history of the electric bass guitar.

  2. Stani

    Great video.

    Loved it. Hope to see more

  3. Mark Mercer

    leo did not invent the Bass Guitar, Lea Paul did not invent the electric guitar. A tool maker in switzerland, Adolf Rickenbacker (uncle to WWI ace Eddie Rickenbacker)was one of several credited with invention of the electromagnetic pickup. 1932 was the first public performance at the starlight room in Wichita Kansas.The first E Bass was Walnut one piece. Leo won about 6 engineering awards for his mass production techniques. The “skunk stripe” and lack of angled headstock, were to keep costs down and speed manufacture. There is so much more, the “see through” strat. The precision was designed to appeal to Upright Bass players. The Jazz to appeal to guitar players (due mostly to the string spacing at the nut).production for electric bass started with the “amp peg” (mic on endpin) and the “polytone pickup”

  4. This belongs in The Smithsonian!!! :)

  5. Great video on the history of Leo Fender’s bass guitars. When I started playing bass, I had a brand new 1972 Telecaster Bass (only later did I realize it was a reissue early Precision) that I loved playing. Unfortunately I no longer have that bass, but I sure wish I had been smart back then and kept it.

  6. Dennis

    All technical and technological comments duly noted,
    I truly enjoyed the video. Just being able to see some of the prototype basses of Leo Fender was enough to get my attention and approval to this video

  7. Upon a second veiwing there are two issues i feel i must bring up … 1)when he jazz was introduced in ’60 she only had 2 knobs not 3 … 2)if memory serves the first G&L was the L-1000 … a refinement of the StingRay which was a further refinement of the Precision(and i’m a Jazz player lol) … i remember having an ’82 L-1000 with a natural body and an ebony fretboard … after my ’77 Jazz my G&L was my ‘go to’ bass … I miss them both … snf snf … currently using an OPL MM5 and an Ibanez SR-505 but i would give my left foot for either my Jazz or my G&L! … wonderful piece … i can see you respect the history!

    • john Thomas

      4 knobs A volume and tone for each p/u. They were called stacked or concentric.

  8. Luke Jason

    Those are all cool bass guitars. I would love to make that movie for him. I’m going to college to be a filmmaker and that would be an awesome film to do.

  9. Clifton

    Thank you very much for posting this!! Awesome stuff!

  10. Informative. I have a beef with bridges. I have a Musicman Bongo5 ( HH DD for those that care) and I’m disgusted that a bass touted as a new design blah blah, still has the same POS bent mettle bridge design from the 50’s. Sure the saddles are a tad flash but really, what a joke…

    Considering I’ve been bagging Fender for ever because of this cop out of a bridge design, I’m very happy to see that Leo himself acknowledged the poor design and fixed it. 30 years ago. Thanks to this video, I’ll now continue to bash Fender the company at every opportunity, as well as Musicman, but not Fender, the man.

  11. Thanks for the video. It s just good to know a bit of History sometimes…

  12. john Thomas

    Paul Tutmarc – 1935. The Audiovox company Paul owned, sold the 736 bass fiddle. A 30.5 ” electric bass w/ piano strings. It sold many but not enough to catch on