By the time I bought my first Fender bass guitar, I had taught myself how to play the instrument, I had played and owned a hand full of Japanese-manufactured instruments, and my goal was to finally graduate to a top brand bass guitar. As I scoured every guitar shop in town looking for a bargain, plus knowing my budget was small, I finally found what I was looking for. I had managed to purchase a used 1971 Fender Musicmaster bass guitar.
The Musicmaster was the bottom of the line Fender bass guitar, but it was that elusive brand name I had wanted. The guitar was a short scale, which was geared for beginner players, but however basic it was, I could see potential in making it my own. It wasn’t long before I began personalizing it.
This bass had a natural wood finish, and I was never sure if it had come from Fender that way or not. I had known that Fender did offer a natural wood finish at that time, but there was a dark spot in the wood that stood out, which was not something that Fender would normally allow. I would speculate that perhaps a previous owner stripped the paint and then refinished it that way, but the job was done very smoothly and professionally, leaving doubt in my mind.
I went to Boehm Audio, a used guitar and electronics store on Union Street in Waterloo, where I bought a Fender brand humbucking pickup from a Fender Telecaster bass, and a set of tuning pegs from a Fender Precision bass. After removing the original pickguard from my bass, I routed out a larger cavity in the body and similar larger hole in the pickguard that would accommodate the larger pickup. After removing the small original pickup, I soldered up the new pickup and installed it into the bass. After removing the tiny original tuners, I replace them with the P-bass tuners, which made my bass look a whole lot better. With a set of new strings and a Canadian flag sticker, I was rockin’.
I had this bass for the next few years, and it sounded a whole lot better after my alterations, but with it being a short scale bass, it wasn’t long before this bass felt too small for me. My time was near for a full size quality bass guitar. I was ready.
Tim’s modified Fender Musicmaster bass guitar, as seen in 1974.