Old School: 1965 L Series Fender Jazz Bass with 60’s Precision Neck
This time around, we’re checking out a unique hybrid of a bass, thanks to Gary Shea, who shares the story of his 1965 L Series Fender Jazz Bass with a 60’s Precision Neck. Gary calls this bass “The Palomino,” and he’s been happily playing it for nearly 50 years.
Here’s the story behind the bass, in Gary’s words…
How long have you owned it?
I bought it used in 1970, so 49 years.
How did you come across it?
I had a ’68 Fender Telecaster that I bought new at Manny’s music in NYC. The bass got stolen in ’70, in Boston. I had removed the pickguard (which didn’t get stolen) as I gouged a hole in the body and wanted to add a second pick up. I’m still looking for that bass.
I went down to Manny’s again and found this ’65 Jazz bass with a Precision neck, painted Lake Placid Blue, for $140.00.
Give us all the specs.
The bass came with a 60’s Precision neck and clay dot fret markers. I’m not sure if it was ordered that way originally or what. I prefer a P neck over the J neck, so that was very cool.
I sanded off the finish and gave it a coat of polyurethane in my student apartment. I noticed the Tele pickguard fit the body so I cut it to length with a hot butter knife on my gas stove, sanded the end, and put it on.
I added chrome knurl knobs to look like the Telecaster.
In ’75, I met Michael Tobias when he worked at Red Rhodes’ shop in Hollywood. He sold me a Fender Jazz Bass decal which I added to the headstock. The headstock came with a nasty crack behind the E-string tuner. I filled it with Elmer’s wood glue when I got it and have never messed with it since.
In ’84 I added a Badass bridge. The original chrome bridge cover, which I still have, fits over it, but I prefer being able to play along the string everywhere from the neck to the bridge.
Any special characteristics?
It sounds like no other. Powerful and clean. It’s an alder body and all very simple to use. Over the years my thumb has worn a half-inch hole in the body over the first pick up and big gouges from my fingernails, that I keep long for picking.
I call it “The Palomino” for its golden color and white pickguard.
What’s your favorite story about the gear?
I was recording the third New England album with Todd Rundgren producing. I brought a ’76 Bi-Centennial Thunderbird, an ’80 Music Man and a replica of the Jazz. I asked him which bass should I use. He said, “which one do want?” I said my trusty Jazz bass and he said cool, let’s do it. It always gets a great sound live or in the studio.
I recently sent some bass tracks to friends in LA using my 60th anniversary P bass. They immediately said hey, where’s the jazz bass? Busted.
Do you use it on gigs?
Yes. I recently took it to Japan but it made me too nervous No more airplanes.
What else do you want to share about your gear?
My gear is simple: just a Digitech Dropbox and sometimes a Sansamp.
Any other vintage gear?
My vintage basses include an ’80 G&L 1000, two ’84 Aria SB Elite Pro II basses (both with upgraded EMG pickups and Badass bridges, as opposed to the Cliff Burton single pick up), and an ’87 Samick acoustic/electric
Tell us a little about yourself.
I have played in the groups New England, Alcatrazz (with Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen), Cooper-Shea and have a new release coming soon under the name Rock Island Orchestra.
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 [email protected].