The missing Beatles bass and the one track that Paul McCartney refused to play on

The Beatles perform 'Rain' and 'Paperback Writer' on BBC TV show 'Top Of The Pops' in London on 16th June 1966
(Image credit: Photo by Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns)

When the Beatles went into Abbey Road Studios to record the ‘Paperback Writer’ sessions on 13th April 1966, they were looking to experiment with a new bass sound. At the time, the group were said to have been listening to Wilson Pickett, Marvin Gaye and other Stax recordings, where the bass content was a lot stronger and often at the forefront of the mix.

So when the Fab Four arrived at Abbey Road they had some new instruments to try out. John Lennon had a Gretsch 6120 and Paul McCartney a Casino guitar and a Burns Nu-Sonic bass, though surprisingly there is only evidence of George Harrison using the bass for this session, and it hasn’t been seen since.

George Harrison during the Paperback Writer sessions

Photograph from the Burns Guitars archive. (Image credit: Burns Guitars)

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Nick Wells

Nick Wells was the Editor of Bass Guitar magazine from 2009 to 2011, before making strides into the world of Artist Relations with Sheldon Dingwall and Dingwall Guitars. He's also the producer of bass-centric documentaries, Walking the Changes and Beneath the Bassline, as well as Production Manager and Artist Liaison for ScottsBassLessons. In his free time, you'll find him jumping around his bedroom to Kool & The Gang while hammering the life out of his P-Bass.