Fender Precision Modification

Earlier this year, I came across a steal of a deal on Craigslist for a Japanese Fender Precision '58 Reissue Bass. After meeting the seller in a Best Buy parking lot, I knew I wanted another Fender to join my little bass family and that this one was a good candidate for some modifications.

Immediately, I was keen to replace the anodized aluminum pick guard. I have always thought the anodized aluminum was pretty cool but I wanted more contrast with this bass' light colored body. A three-ply, black-white-black was the way to go. Since this was a '58 reissue, the pickguard needed to be of the 10 screw hole versus the more common 13 hole variety. Since this was not a common pickguard, I needed to order it custom made from Pickguard Heaven. And since it was custom and I could do whatever I like, I decided to add a small notch to access the truss rod where the neck attaches at the body (not at all common on the 10 hole guard).

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Gotoh Replacement Bridge

The mass-lacking stock bridge needed to go. I needed something beefier. I narrowed my choices down to two: the very inexpensive but quite substantial Gotoh replacement bridge and the much more flexible, engineering marvel that is the Babicz Full Contact Bridge. Since the Gotoh was much less and I was going for more of an old school look, I decided the Babicz was a little too much bling.

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Let the Mods Begin

I originally planned to string this bass with flatwounds for more of a plunky Motown sound but I happened to score a set of DR Jonas Hellborg Signature strings at the Dallas International Guitar Show. How fortunate. This particular set of DR strings is really unique and there is much to say about them but that will have to wait for another blog post.

Lastly, I replaced the pressure pads underneath the Seymore Duncan Quarter Pound pickups. The last owner used sponges that compressed, leaving the pickups too far below the strings, severely cutting the output. I replaced the sponges with some of my kids' foam rubber bath toys. Nice and springy and will never permanently compress.

Wondering how it all turned out? The result is a bass that is as fun to play as it was doing the modifications. Sure, it is no replacement for my American Standard Precision Bass, but has many charms of its own. Particularly impressive is the amount of taper on the tone control. The Japanese were doing things right in the mid-nineties when this bass was made.

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Before and After