Fender Bass VI Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1964)

Fender  Bass VI Electric 6-String Bass Guitar  (1964)

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Item # 7968
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Fender Bass VI Model Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1964), made in Fullerton, California, serial # L61006, Lake Placid Blue lacquer finish, alder body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

The Fender VI (that is its original official name, though it is universally called the "Bass VI today") was the company's big instrument unveiling at the July 1961 NAMM show, but it never lived up to the sales department's expectations despite being a very well-engineered and useful instrument -- as 6-string basses go! This extremely striking looking and sounding example is thus a relative rarity; a pre-CBS era Fender Bass VI in a custom color finish.

Although favored by some professional users in the 1960s, especially session players, the Bass VI never really took off as a general sale item and was only ordered by dealers in very small numbers. As a result they often appear now with a wide spread of date markings, as it seems that more parts were produced at times than were needed to fill orders and would end up stockpiled awaiting assembly. This bass is a perfect example; the neck has a date stamp of May 1963, and the pots are stamped 304-6426 indicating the bass was likely assembled in mid-late 1964. The L-series serial number is also in a range typical for this time.

With the transition-style Fender logo decal on a matching color headstock, this VI mostly has typical features for a mid-1960s model. The pickups and electronics are similar to Jaguar practice, with a magnetic "claw" fitting underneath and simple and effective on/off switching for each. These replaced the original Strat-like pickups in 1963 and at the same time a fourth "strangle" switch that cuts lows was added to the wiring rig, allowing a more guitar-like tonality. The body features a striking Lake Placid Blue lacquer finish with a 3-layer white plastic pickguard, a new feature in late 1964 replacing the earlier green-tinged nitrocellulose piece. The rosewood fingerboard is clay-dot inlaid as it had been since the summer of 1961; by the beginning of 1965 this was changed to pearloid dots.

Custom-color Bass VI's like this one are quite rare; although as a high-end instrument the model is found in a comparatively high proportion of solid-finished examples, production numbers were so low they are all among the most seldom-seen of '60's Fenders. Despite being spotted in the mid/late '60's with artists as diverse as Glen Campbell, Jack Bruce, the Beatles (quite a bit, actually), Brian Auger's Trinity, Fleetwood Mac and the Soft Machine the instrument was regarded by most as a very expensive novelty. This superb Lake Placid Blue example is not only a serious rarity but a great sounding and playing Six-String Bass with an amazingly wide range of tones from its three pickups, and even a vibrato arm to play with, if you dare. A supremely cool example of one of our favorite instruments.
 
Overall length is 44 3/4 in. (113.7 cm.), 14 in. (35.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 1 5/8 in. (4.1 cm.) in depth, measured at side of rim. Scale length is 30 in. (762 mm.). Width of nut is 1 1/2 in. (38 mm.). This lovely Bass VI is in excellent playing condition; there has been some restoration work to the finish but all parts are completely original and the instrument unmodified. There is not a lot of play wear overall but the lacquer finish looks to have been exposed to moisture long ago; there are filled-in and touched up areas mostly to the lower edge of the body and adjacent spots on the top and back. This work was carefully done to a very high level and is stable but as the finish ages the fade is inconsistent, so some difference is noticeable on close inspection. This bass is a great player; the flip-up mute has no foam installed but that can be added if desired. A super cool looking and sounding Fender-this one will definitely stand out in any crowd! Very Good + Condition.