SOLD!!: 1976 Fender Precision Bass, Olympic White

  • Posted by Krishna
  • at 5/29/2009 01:56:00 PM -
The mid-70s Fender Precision bass in Olympic White with a black pickguard was the weapon of choice for the one and only Dee Dee Ramone - I remember seeing the Ramone's countless times in New Jersey and New York - and Dee Dee had as many as three identical Olympic White P-basses lined up and ready to rock - along with a couple of big old Ampeg SVT rigs.

And despite their ash bodies - you can see that Dee Dee was pretty agile even with those P-basses around his neck!

The bass I'm selling was assembled over several years as parts came my way and I had some time between other projects - and has turned out as an exceptional example of this 70s rock workhorse.

I originally acquired the neck as a project piece that had been defretted and had the fret slots filled with Bondo. I found the body a little later on Ebay - it had numerous refinishes capped with a horrendous blue spray can paint job on it and an added rout for a Jazz Bass pickup and an extra pot.

I refinished the fretboard,refretted the neck, stripped the body, plugged the added rout and began a refinish. A few pictures from this initial work are below. The router table pin marks, the ground wire rout under the bridge, the hand rest and bridge position, and the wiring rout for the pickup all identify this body as being from between 1974 and 1977.

I went as far as priming and putting a coat of Olympic white on the body, but then put aside the project for a few years.

Recently, I revisited the project and realized I had most of the parts I needed - including a 70s Fender bridge, a 1976 P-bass pickup, the bridge and pickup covers, and a complete set of late 70s Schaller-made Fender bass tuners. I hadn't plugged a small rout for an added control pot, so I plugged that and then reprimed the body.

For the finish - I applied a straight white nitro base coat, followed by a cream-tinted white coat, to replicate the aging of the color coat on 70s Olympic White Fenders. This was then followed by a few clear coats to protect the color coats. This will cause the finish to wear slightly differently than a typical 60s Olympic White Fender, where most of the yellowing happens in the clear coat. Note how the yellowed Olympic White contrasts with a plain white piece of paper!

Also note that the Jazz bass routing repair is invisible - I expect since this repair was done several years ago it will stay fairly invisible.

My observation is that the 70s polyester finishes weren't even clear coated - the yellowing happens in the top part of the actual color coat. I'd love to know if this is what others have observed as well ??

But even if that is true, this body will wear differently due to the thinner nitro finish, as opposed to the thick polyester finish that would have been applied at the factory.

The bass fit together beautifully - with a good tight neck pocket fit. Once it was set up, the frets did need some dressing here and there, but the neck flattened out almost perfectly once the truss rod was tensioned up. The neck now has about 1/64 inch of relief around 10th fret - with near perfect intonation and fairly low action.

The pickup sounds a little brighter than the pickup in my 1970 P-bass, but has the classic grey-bottom pickup sound. The pickup resistance was a little over 11K Ohms. Note that the original grounding plate and weather-stripping material "pads" are in place as well.

The tuners are correct for 1976, though I do believe that some early 1976 P-basses came with the Fender produced tuners before the switch to the Schaller-manufactured tuners later in the year. The tuners were acquired from two different sources - two of them are in near mint condition and two of them were heavily machine polished to the point where the plating is gone from the top of one of the string pegs. The ferrules in the neck are new, as is the nut.

The bridge is an original 70s Fender bridge in excellent condition, with the crease visible on the string anchor portion of the neck.

Finally, the bass comes in a rare brown-burgundy lined original Fender hardshell case. The brown-burgundy lining was used only during the 1975/1976 era - most cases were lined with the familiar orange material. The case is in excellent condition as is the exterior Fender logo.

The inside of the bridge and pickup covers bear remnants of what appear to be red or burgundy ink inspection stamps - very faint.

Ready to rock in front of my beloved Ampeg B-15N !!

The following parts are not original 70s Fender parts:
- 3-ply black-white-black pickguard
- black thumbrest
- new CTS pots, capacitor, jack and knobs
- pickguard screws, neck screws and bridge screws

All in all a really nice bass that plays great, with near-perfect intonation and low action - with a total weight just under 9 lbs with the covers on - not bad for a 70s Precision; this isn't one of the late 70s "boat anchor" Precisions (I have one of those coming up for sale soon though !!).

UPDATE: SOLD! Thanks to Eoin of the Emerald Isle - hope you enjoy the bass !!


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  1. Great looking Bass!! Wish I had the scratch,,, Although I'm sure I won't be able to put the Tele-bass down.

  2. Hi there mate,
    That is a great looking bass. If i still played in bands id buy that from you as my touring bass. Its perfect for the job.
    Your work is great,the site is great.
    Lets hope the younguns out there are watching and learn something about quality of life!

    all the best
    Tony Barber

  3. Hey Tony and Henry - thanks for the kind words - the bass is on its way to Ireland, via Tampa, FL - it was a good one for sure!
    And Tony - I'm continually surprised how knowledgeable the younguns actually are out there - seems to be a whole new generation of guitar and bass freaks coming up !! :)

  4. Is this the Tony Barber that played with the Buzzcocks by the way through the 90s? Think I saw you play in Boston when you guys were touring with the Doughboys in 1994.

  5. Hi there Krishna. Yep thats me. I remember that tour well was it the paradise or the Rat club or somthing? It was late 93,I think that was the show where Nirvana turned up on a day off and i ended up doing a tv interview for about 40 mins with kurt. it was a local station,ive never seen the footage though! BTW i just revamped my jap touring precision:virtuoso cleaner gor all my filth off of it, badass2,dimarzio p bass pups, tusq nut, switchcrafts etc... like new bass now!! I love the one you did,mine is made for withstanding oafs throwing it at airports etc though,plus the stock stuff was absolute rubbish,so it had to go... nice work mate!
    all the best

  6. Hi!

    The bass looks really great. I've just bought a 1969 fender precision with the same extra pickup cavity.I would like to make it dissapear, but the instrument is sunburst.What shall I do? Please help!Many thanx,