Fender “57” Precision Bass. Upgraded specification

Upgraded Fender PB-57 MIJ (1996)

SPECIFICATION (Modification from previous, in red italics)

Body

  • Body: Fender Precision Bass MIJ 1996
  • Body Tonewood: Alder
  • Body Colour: Two tone “Tobacco” Sunburst – Black / Amber
  • Body Finish: Gloss PU(?) clearcoat

Neck

  • Neck: Fender Precision Bass MIJ 1996 (PB57-DEX2)
  • Neck Material: 1 piece maple
  • Fretboard Radius: 7.25″
  • Neck Finish: Gloss PU clearcoat
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Position Inlays: Black dot
  • Neck Relief: <0.014″ (0.35mm)
  • Strings – Bass Centre Elites – “Detroit Flats” – Stainless Flatwound – .045 .065 .085 .105
  • String Action at 17th Fret: Treble Side – 6/64″ (2.4mm), Bass side – 7/64″ (2.8mm)
  • Neck Plate: Fender original, Stainless steel
  • String tree: Fender original – Disc type

Electronics

  • Pickup Configuration: P-Bass Split
  • Body Shielding: Heavy grade, copper sheet, with conductive adhesive backing
  • Pickups: Fender Custom Shop “62” Precision Bass – Alnico V – 10.5k
  • Controls: Master Volume, Tone
  • Pots: Volume – 1 x CTS TVT (“True Vintage Taper”) 250k, Tone – 1 x CTS TVT (“True Vintage Taper”) 250k
  • Tone Capacitor: Luxe, 1961-1968 replica, “Red Dime” capacitor. (1 x 0.1µF SK)
  • Wiring: Cloth covered, 22 gauge

Hardware

  • Hardware: Stainless steel screw set, Fender Stainless steel “Ashtray” bridge cover and Fender Stainless Steel pickup cover
  • Thumb Rest: Fender “Pure Vintage”
  • Tuners: Fender original tuners
  • Bridge: Fender “Pure Vintage ’58” Precision bridge assembly
  • Jack Socket: Switchcraft mono socket
  • String Nut: Fender original
  • Controls: 2 x Fender “Pure Vintage” chrome plated, knurled, brass control knobs
  • Scratchplate: Fender “Pure Vintage ’58” Gold Anodized aluminium pickguard. 10 hole mount
  • Strap Buttons: Fender original, with black felt washers

Accessories

  • Guitar Strap – Souldier, Bass strap. Extra-wide seatbelt – Black leather ends – Silver hardware
  • Fender Pro Series Bass Case – Gold Tweed w/ Orange plush interior

I finished the upgrade to my P-Bass last year. So much has gone on in the interim, that I never got round to writing up the new specification. I’m trying out a new pair of glasses which are supposed to help my vision whilst I wait for another cataract operation. With Covid-19 – there’s a substantial backlog, so I’ve been warned this could be a long wait. The glasses only really work for one eye, and they’re so confusing to wear generally. However – what they’re good at, is bringing some level of magnification and detail to my close vision. It’s still far from ideal – but I can finally catch up on some long-neglected paperwork. (I might even conceivably manage a spot of more tricky soldering too).

The upgrades have breathed new life into my old Precision. With the new pickups and controls, the output is strong and punchy. The Luxe Dime cap seems to provide just the right sort of tone shaping to let the flatwound strings do what they do. Compared with my previous roundwounds – playing with flatwounds is a revelation, and the sound now matches well with the vintage styling. I always thought that new roundwound strings on a bass sounded quite “piano-like”. These have a duller, smoother response – but provide the characteristic, muted thump which puts the bass right into Motown and early R&B territory. It’s a fascinating amalgam of rythmn and musicality. I wish I’d tried them years ago.

Cosmetically – I just love the finished look. The plain, Japanese P-57 styling really missed a trick, and the addition of the steel covers just goes to show how the bass was always supposed to look. And that gold anodized scratchplate just tones so well with the sunburst. I always thought the black and amber finish looked a little plain. Originally – I even thought the finish showed a bit of a greenish hue. It somehow just didn’t ever look right to me. The gold finish of the scratchplate is spot on – and with it, the sunburst amber is brought to life.

After 25 years or so – the neck is still rock solid and straight – but then it’s a P-Bass. That solidity and stability is what you’d expect. There’s a little wear here and there on the frets, but there’s years of life left yet. The action has been brought down to Fender standard measurements, and with the flatwound strings – it’s an absolute joy to play, once again. (Although I still can’t work out why the “57” thumb rests were placed below the neck).

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