Guitar Of The Month

In 1961, Fender debuted a new model called the “Fender VI Bass Guitar.” It was to be something different and notable for the brand. Today, it is commonly referred to as a Bass VI. While a six string bass was new to the Fender line, the concept was not unique. Since 1956, Danelectro, a New Jersey based company, had offered a six string bass called the UB-2. The release of the Fender Bass VI was aiming to compete within this market which offered a very desirable sound for studio musicians.

Unlike a baritone guitar, the Fender Bass VI was tuned EADGBE like a guitar, but an octave lower. Its scale length was 30”, in between the scale length of a guitar and a bass. This was the common discussion surrounding the Bass VI; it was too much like a guitar for a bass player, yet too much like a bass for a guitar player. Heavily influenced by the Jazzmaster, Fender’s new bass guitar featured a sleek offset body style and a tremolo unit, both of which had become recognizably Fender. It featured three single coil pickups, a hexagonal control plate with three switches, and volume and tone knobs. In 1962, after Fender released the Jaguar, the Bass VI incorporated several of its features. A mute was added along with an additional toggle switch for tone. Throughout its 14-year run, the Bass VI underwent some more cosmetic changes, including fingerboard binding in late 1965, as well as the addition of block inlays in 1966.

While Fender’s six string bass guitar is on more albums than you might know, the instrument was sadly not wildly popular among live musicians. Rather, it found its home within the walls of the studio. The Bass VI can be heard being used by the likes of Jack Bruce, Hank Marvin, John Entwistle, Jet Harris, Robert Smith, and last but not least, George Harrison and John Lennon. The music that these remarkable instruments made was undeniably some of the warmest sounding, beautiful tones heard on albums of its time.

During its original run, the Bass VI retailed at $329.50 for the standard three-tone Sunburst finish. If you were interested in a custom finish, customers paid an additional 5%. This 1963 Bass VI featured in Burgundy Mist Metallic, one of the rarest custom colors, would have retailed for $345.97 when new. This 1963 model is a great example of the second variation of the Bass VI, with the Jaguar mute, Jaguar-style pickups, and 4th switch. This rare Bass VI is now sold but we have a great 1974 model in Natural. This is the only Natural Bass VI we have seen! It was certainly a custom order and comes with the original purchase receipt!