In this week’s edition of “Why you should always check to see if there are any hidden guitar gems lurking in your house”: A lost Fender Precision Bass, believed to be one of the first imported into the UK, is going up for auction.
The vintage bass guitar is set to be sold to the highest bidder later this week in England after laying dormant for more than half a century, having been stored away underneath its late owner’s bed since the 1960s.
But this isn’t any old P-Bass: it is reportedly one of the first examples of the instrument ever to be imported to the United Kingdom from the US.
The first commercially successful electric bass guitar, the flagship Precision Bass was first produced in October 1951, before undergoing a handful of revisions throughout the decade to fine-tune the template.
One of its most enduring updates occurred in 1957, when the Big F equipped its premier bass with its now-familiar split-coil pickup, Stratocaster-style headstock, bridge-mounted strings, and one-piece pickguard. In other words, the P-Bass as we know it today.
Two years later, Jet Harris of The Shadows became the recipient of the UK’s first-ever P-Bass import, which was drafted in to replace his damaged Framus.
Around the same time, a bakery van delivery driver from Hull named Trevor Parker had set his sights on acquiring one of Fender’s ‘57-style low-enders in anticipation of the launch of his new band, The Rascals, in 1962.
Intent on getting his hands on a Precision Bass – models that had been hard to get a hold of in the UK – he went into his local guitar store with the hope of acquiring one: a tactic that proved to be successful.
“Desperate to get one for the 1962 launch of The Rascals, Trevor rather optimistically dropped in to Pat Cornell’s Music Shop in Hull and asked if they could import one from America for him,” Graham Paddison of auctioneers David Duggleby told The Northern Echo. “It took a while but they got one – this one.”
With this eye-catching new instrument, Parker and The Rascals kickstarted their music career, achieving notable success by supporting a young Elton John, sharing the stage with The Moody Blues, and gaining popularity in the region.
At the turn of the decade, though, Parker called it a day on his Rascals career, and decided to hang up his Precision Bass soon after marrying.
But between '62 and '69, Parker made the P-Bass his go-to instrument, and his affectionate use of the guitar is reflected in its condition: the bass carries the natural wear and tear one would expect from a workhorse stage instrument, and then some.
That’s all part of the charm of this lost rarity, though, which boasts all original components. Its seven-year stage stint is etched into the sunburst finish, with the maple neck, rusted hardware and battered hardcase also showing signs of significant wear.
Since 1969, the guitar has been stored away, and now – six years after Parker passed away – it will be sold in Scarborough, UK, this Friday (October 13). Accompanied by photographs and recordings of The Rascals, the lot is expected to fetch up to $6,000.
Parker’s P-Bass is the latest in a long line of lost instruments that have been rediscovered and sold for significant sums of money. Last October, an 85-year-old woman based in New Zealand discovered that the dusty old acoustic guitar she had been living with for 60 years was actually an 1870s Martin worth $15,000.
In an even wilder tale, an unnamed resident in the UK found an old 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard that they sold to Joe Bonamassa for a reported $190,000.
The list doesn’t stop there: in May, a ‘59 Burst from South Africa named Sunny turned up at Vintage ‘n’ Rare Guitars in Bath, England.
To find out more about this particular Fender P-Bass, head over to David Duggleby.