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

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

This item has been sold.
Item # 7967
Prices subject to change without notice.
Fender Bass VI Model Electric 6-String Bass Guitar (1964), made in Fullerton, California, serial # L31925, Candy Apple Red lacquer finish, alder body, maple neck with rosewood fingerboard, original black tolex hard shell case.

The "Fender VI" 6-string Bass (and 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 over the next few years never quite lived up to the sales department's expectations. Despite being a very well-engineered and useful creation (as 6-string basses go), the Bass VI was very expensive and somewhat complex for a specialty instrument, and Danelectro had pretty much already created and conquered that market niche.

This extremely striking looking and great 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 occasionally ordered by Fender dealers, and 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 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 August 1962, but the pots are stamped 304-6410, indicating the bass was likely assembled for sale in early 1964. The early L-series serial number is also in a range typical for this time frame.

With the transition-style "Fender VI" logo decal on a beautiful matching metallic red headstock, this VI mostly has typical features for an early/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 was added to the wiring rig, cutting lows and allowing a more guitar-like tonality. The body features a striking Candy Apple Red lacquer finish topped with a 3-layer green-tinged nitrocellulose pickguard, a classic Pre-CBS feature which was discontinued in late 1964. The rosewood fingerboard is clay-dot inlaid as it had been since the summer of 1961; by the beginning of 1965, this would change to pearloid dots.

Custom-color Bass VIs like this one are now quite rare; although as a high-end instrument the model is found in a comparatively high proportion of solid-finished examples, total production numbers were so low they are all among the most seldom-seen of 60s Fenders. Despite being spotted in the mid/late 60s 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 Candy Apple Red example 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 even a vibrato arm to play with, if you dare. A superbly original and 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 is a very clean and original example, with some light wear but no repairs or alterations. The all-original Candy Apple Red finish has virtually no fade and only some small chips and dings, most notably on the back. All hardware is shiny and complete except for the snap-on bridge cover, which as usual has gone missing. The flip-up mute bar is still in place but the foam is long gone-it can be replaced if desired but many players find it more of an annoyance than advantage! This is a great looking, sounding and playing Bass VI-one of the nicest Pre-CBS examples we have had, with its original no-logo black tolex HSC. Excellent Condition.