James Jamerson Bass Sold at Auction

James Jamerson Bass

If you’ve been online recently, you’ll know the most talked about story in the bass community in the last month has been the auction for a bass previously owned by James Jamerson.

Owned by the Motown genius from 1962 until approximately 1968, the 1961 Fender Precision was reportedly given to fellow Detroit bassist Billy Hayes around that time. Hayes used it for gigs with artists like John Lee Hooker. Incredibly, he left it completely the same as when Jamerson gave it to him – including three of the four original La Bella flatwound strings that Jamerson used.

There has been some controversy among readers as to the validity of the bass’s actual heritage, with many saying it wasn’t his bass or that if it is, Hayes didn’t have the right to sell it.

The bass was auctioned by Heritage Auctions with bidding starting on May 29th and final auction dates of June 17th and 18th. Bassists from every walk of life at least gave the auction a shot with many bids coming in between $500 and $1,000. (The lowest bid was a mere $31.) The new owner of a piece of history won the relic with a winning bid of $68,750.

That’s some serious money, but it’s also one of the last musical ties to Jamerson, who was a victim of theft in his later years. His most used bass, dubbed the Funk Machine, was stolen long ago, as was his Ampeg B15 amp.

Do you think that it’s a fair price?

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  1. Sydney J.M. Harris

    great player……..my inspiration back in the day along with Jet Harris (Shadows)…..i would have thought it would have fetched more, however somebody has an iconic bass, which will gain value over the coming years!

  2. Stu Weissman

    maybe some of the auction proceeds could have been given to the Jamerson family’s GoFundMe causes. Not that anyone was obligated to, but just sayin….

  3. Chuck D Wagner

    That is a serious amount of money. Will it appreciate in value? Or depreciate in time as those who remember or know who James Jameson was pass away. As it is said … only time will tell. Either way it’s s nice piece of kit with a good story behind it. Ultimately it is worth what anyone is prepared pay in the day.

  4. Guy Allen

    Motown should have bought it and put it in a museum.

  5. Wait a sec Jamerson clearly owned this bass, Party borrows it for untold # of years sells for huge price and offers nothing to Jamersons family WOW what a way to show appreciation

  6. Gary

    Anything is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.

  7. Randy S.

    Well, folks, it’s the player much more so than the bass. That being said, I miss my ’66 P-Bass…

  8. Daniel Richard

    If I could afford it, I would have paid $1,000,000 for this bass. His other bass may never be found that makes this one THE bass! IMO. There are lots of billionaires in Amurka so, one of them could have easily purchased it.

  9. Larry Nuesch

    The price sounds about right. Donald Duck Dunn was interviewed on NPR about 10 years ago, it was revealed that his 1959 PBass (which he always said was a ’58) had an estimated value of $50,000. Given the no less historical significance of Jamerson’s work, $68k. I happened to have owned a ’59 myself. Bought it used with a case when I was 15 in 1965 for $75.00, sold it in 1967 for $50.00 and bought a ’67 Hofner. Wish I had it now ….

  10. Bob Rogers

    It would have been a fair price for the Funk Machine. Probably not for this one.

  11. Stephen Croes

    This is a great site, commemorating one of the greatest bass players in history.