Fender Bass VI Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1961)

Fender  Bass VI Electric 6-String Bass Guitar  (1961)

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Item # 7966
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Fender Bass VI Model Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1961), made in Fullerton, California, serial # 70246, sunburst lacquer finish, alder body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, molded plastic hard shell case.

This is the earliest pre-CBS Fender Bass VI we have ever seen, well-played with some moderately heavy wear but no major alterations. The neck date penciled on the heel is 10-61 and the pots are dated even earlier, stamped 304-6120 and 304-6135, all indicating the bass was one of the first of the new model to be assembled from the first production batch. Further evidence of that is the headstock decal; it simply reads "Fender", as the full "Fender VI Electric Bass Guitar" logo was apparently not ready yet when this neck was needed! 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 production as usual did not get underway until the fall of that year; we have never seen a production example dated earlier than October.

Besides the prototype style decal, this VI has the standard features of the first model. The pickups are specific to the instrument, much like Stratocaster units with chrome surrounds specific to this model. The body features the standard 1961 blended 3-color sunburst, with a clay-dot rosewood fingerboard and tortoise-celluloid pickguard.

These early VIs are quite rare; later on in 1963, these Stratocaster-styled pickups were replaced with Jaguar units, and a fourth "strangle" switch added to the wiring rig. This is not only a serious rarity but a great sounding and playing 6-string bass with an amazingly wide range of tones from its three pickups, and a vibrato arm to play with, if you dare. This bass is also a dead ringer for the one Jack Bruce played with the Graham Bond Organization and early Cream, except his was even more worn in than this one in 1966! A very 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 bass has been well-used and shows a lot of general finish wear, but remains a nicely original instrument. There are dings and dents all around, including a fairly large scrape on the top to the upper cutaway horn, a large area of belt buckle wear to the back, and a lot of armwear to the top edge. The back of the neck is fairly well worn as well, especially in the lower positions, and it maintains that classic "played in" Fender feel. It has been professionally refretted but there are no other alterations, and all finish and hardware is original. This is a fantastic sounding instrument with a great feel and really conjures up that "early Cream" vibe in spades. Very Good + Condition.