1963 Fender Bass VI, Black Refin

By Fender

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Super cool player grade Fender Bass VI from 1963 with the desirable slab Rosewood Fingerboard, this instrument has had some cool mods prior to coming into us as well as a cool looking old Black refin.
A rare model by pre-CBS Fender standards, the Bass VI was released in 1961 and designed to be played E-E like a guitar but an octave below. Early examples featured 3 Stratocaster style pickups with individual on-off switches. Despite the popularity of other six string Basses and Baritones in the early ’60s namely the Danelectro UB2 the Fender Bass VI would take a while to become a popular model for Fender with approximately 300-400 Pre-CBS instruments produced. It’s design cues can be seen in other Fender models released at this period with the Jazz Bass, Jaguar and Jazzmaster all sharing the similar offset body shape and the six string models all using the same floating tremolo design.
The pre L-series serial number on the neck plate: 95244 dates the instrument to 1963, the first year the Bass VI would feature the newly designed ‘Sawtooth’ Jaguar pickups and a fourth Bass Cut switch was added. The Alder body has been fully refinished in black, the belly contour is a little exaggerated suggesting it may have been enthusiastically striped at some point. The neck pickup route has been enlarged to accommodate the Humbucker pickup.
The neck date stamp, 6 JUL 62A is still clear, although this is an early for a ’63 instrument, interestingly slab Rosewood necks with JUL 62 A stamps show up on other 1963 Bass VI’s reinforcing the fact that the Bass VI wasn’t the fastest selling model for Fender. The slab Rosewood fingerboard has been refretted and a brass nut fitted. The correct single line Kluson tuners work well. The neck finish looks good in daylight and under backlight with expected areas of wear evident. The black and gold reproduction Decal has 1 DES and 2 PAT. numbers.
The electronics had been modified prior coming in to us, there is a double white Humbucker in the neck position and two correct Fender ‘Sawtooth’ flat pole piece Jaguar pickups in the middle and treble positions. The pickups function correctly with individual on-off switches and a fourth Bass-Cut switch. Pots are both CTS but date codes are unreadable. The original tortoiseshell celluloid Pickguard has been modified to accept the Humbucker but is otherwise in great condition. The correct Jazzmaster style bridge and tremolo unit work well (trem arm not included) and also feature the mute plate, another feature to appear in ’63.
Overall, the instrument has plenty of character, the combination of black finish with Tortoiseshell ‘guard and dark Rosewood fingerboard look fantastic and we can forgive the addition of the humbucker. The tortoiseshell pickguard is a lovely chestnut colour with some nice 'flaring' in appearance. The finish has various nicks and dings and was certainly applied some time previously, this combined with the well played, smooth neck gives the appearance and feel of a well loved near 60 year old instrument.
Player grade Fender Bass VI’s don’t come to market often due to the relatively low numbers produced, this example plays well and sounds fantastic. Currently strung and tuned E-E they can also be set up A to A or B to B in baritone tuning, There is nothing quite like the of low rumble of a Bass VI with some splashy Reverb or slapback. The two single coil pickups have all the character and delicateness to be expected of early Flat pole piece Jaguar pickups. There is a volume increase with the neck pickup selected but not as muck as we would have expected. In the neck position the humbucker helps to give the notes an additional clarity, especially helpful when tuned E to E.
The instrument ships with a modern gig bag.