Looking like it just stepped out of a DeLorean time machine, the limited-edition ’51 Telecaster PJ Bass updates a classic design with thunderous modern tone and enhanced feel.
By Mike Duffy
Its invention gave bass players a way to be heard clearly without having to port around a heavy and fragile upright bass. But the Precision Bass that we know today, with its contoured edges and large headstock, did not look much like the original model, which featured a slab body, Telecaster-style headstock and single-ply black pickguard.
Now, through the Parallel Universe Collection, you can go back to those early days with the limited-edition '51 Telecaster PJ Bass. This time with a few modern touches.
Just like several other offerings in the Parallel Universe Collection, such as the Jaguar Strat, the Jazz Tele and Strat-Tele Hybrid, the Telecaster PJ Bass mixes and matches several elements from Fender's history.
The authentic style extends from the slab body, distinctive single-ply black pickguard to the dual-concentric volume knobs and vintage spaghetti logo on the Telecaster-style headstock — original-era touches brought into the present.
What's more, the neck recalls the time of James Jamerson, as it's based on a '63 P Bass profile ideal for funky, thumb-over playing, and the 9.5"-radius fingerboard makes for fast, low action.
But in addition to the Custom Shop '60s P Bass split-coil middle pickup, the Telecaster PJ Bass also boasts a Custom Shop '60s Jazz Bass single-coil bridge pickup to give you even more tonal options.
"A lot of people like the versatility that you can get out of a P Bass that has both styles of pickups," noted Allen Abbassi, Senior Product Manager for Fendr Electric Guitars and Basses.
To control each pickup, there is a stacked volume knob, where the top knob adjusts the volume of the Precision Bass pickup and the bottom adjusts the Jazz Bass pickup.
Other premium accoutrements include a nitrocellulose lacquer finish that lets the body breathe for true tonal character and a vintage HiMass bridge with enough heft for rock-solid sustain and intonation.
In all, the '51 Telecaster PJ Bass has the look of the bass that started it all, but several contemporary trappings.
The result is a bass that is punchy, growling, seismic and like nothing you've heard or seen before.