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Old School: 1958 Fender Precision Bass

When we first met Phil Smallwood, he mentioned to us something about his old gear. The next day, he showed up at No Treble HQ with a 1958 Fender Precision Bass.

We tried to figure out a way to ask him if we could borrow it, but opted instead to get some photos and the story behind it so we could share it all with you.

Check out the photos of this beauty and read Phil’s story about it…


1958 Fender Precision

How long have you owned it?

I’ve had it about 8 years now.

How did you come across it?

A friend of mine told me about it being traded at Melody Music in Leesburg, Virginia. I didn’t waste any time to go see and bought it that day.

Stock or customized? Give us all the specs!

Everything on the bass is how it came from the factory except the finish. It was refinished by Bill Callaham of Callaham Guitars in Winchester, VA.

What’s your favorite story about the gear?

It is difficult to take this bass out and play in public due to musicians wanting to play it or borrow it for a gig.

Any notable bassists who play this make/model/year stand out to you?

Way too many to mention. This was and still is the standard by most bass players in the music industry.

Any special history or story behind this bass?

To the bset of my knowledge, it was played by older gentleman who was in many bands in the Washington, DC area in the ’60s and ’70s. His family sold the bass after his passing.

Do you use it on gigs?

Not usually. I like to break it out for jams on an occasion.

What else do you want to share about your gear?

Everyone needs one these in their closet. it is a beauty.

Any other vintage gear?

Yes: 39 Gibson-54 Telecaster, 2 Black Face Fender Twins, Black Fender Bassman, 61 Martin Archtop Electric and a few other pieces.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I own a booking agency with offices in Winchester, Virginia and Nashville, Tennessee. I grew up in the ’60s and worked in a music store in sales and as a guitar teacher while in high school. I played music in the ’60s and ’70s before becoming an agent. I love to collect vintage instruments.

If you own any vintage gear you'd like us to spotlight in "Old School", we'd love to hear from you! Drop us a line at

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Share your thoughts

      Aaron Chesler

      Some of the old Fender basses do have a distinct sound. Not the more well defined sound of the newer basses, but the “growl” and old school thump is very cool. I own a 1960 J bass and it sounds great. My friend who is a studio bass player always tells me that the sound is the best he ever heard. A lot of low end growl. I own a lot of basses, but a few of the old ones sound just right. Can’t explain it. I take mine out on every gig!! It’s well worn.



        Got a 64 jass bass, the few bass players that I know here in the Midwest call that lo end growl “nark” like bark!
        Seems to fit…..



        Got a 64 jass bass, the few bass players that I know here in the Midwest that own pre cbs bases call that lo end growl “nark” like bark!
        Seems to fit…..
        No mention of the confidence and tone that comes from aged wood and old stock in the posts? Gotta play one for some time before you know the difference!

how about a ‘sound’ file?!?!?!?!?!?

Mark Harclerode

I have played a few vintage basses by Fender (Jazz and P)- some are cool, but most sound a little weaker than the modern ones. Nice bass though. Yes there is some mojo to be had, but at the end of the day, you aren’t going to notice an iota of difference in a band setting.

Gary Pate

Gary Pate

I bought a ’58 p-bass in high school 1968 for $325 w/ hang tags and a fender 600 amp and OHSC. I played it on the road for 10 years and sold it in ’79 to a famous bass player