When Vanilla Fudge helped pioneer the progressive-rock movement in the latter half of the ’60s, bassist Tim Bogert played more than one Fender Precision – and usually installed Telecaster Bass necks on them.
Bogert preferred the chunkier feel of the Tele Bass neck, which reminded him of ’50s P-Basses. And for him, one instrument, in particular, became a favorite for nearly three decades as he used it during stints with the Fudge, Cactus, and Beck, Bogert and Appice. Like many dedicated musicians, through the years, he refined it as parts became worn or when he felt the need to experiment. From the top down, it epitomizes a perpetually viable piece of gear.
The maple neck, for example, is its third, and was bought from a parts supplier that let Bogert search its inventory until he found one that looked and felt right. It has a plethora of birdseye figure markings, and he installed a brass nut and had a ’50s Precision Bass decal added to its headstock.
Sharp-eyed Fender aficionados will note the lack of holes on either side of the pickup, where an arched handrest/pickup cover would normally be installed. Nor are there holes on either side of the bridge. That’s because the body is also a replacement!
“It’s a body Fender gave me in the late ’80s,” Bogert recounted. “The earlier maple body had been chewed up over the years, and I asked for a new one; I’ve always liked a maple neck and maple body.”
“The only original parts left on the bass are the tuning pegs, bridge, and neck plate,” Bogert said. “I was always f***ing around with it!”
The two small chrome caps on the pickguard cover a spot where switches were once installed to control a two-pickup setup he used with a previous body. “One was an on/off, the other was a pickup select,” Bogert recalled.
Though not an original part, he considers the bass’ pickup it’s “…most important part, because it came off a ’57 Fender I got in ’68 or ’69, when we played the Hollywood Bowl with Jimi Hendrix.”
The finger rest, which was installed between the pickup and the bridge instead of the typical location on the pickguard, helped him manipulate the strings.
“In ’65 or ’66, when I started working with the Pigeons, we would do these crescendos. But the volume on Fenders back then would drop off really quickly if you tried working the Volume control. So instead, I would brace my thumb on that rest and work the strings to make the crescendos smoother. I learned to do that very precisely.”
In the late ’80s, he acquired a new body for the bass and installed the original bridge and ’57 pickup. But because by then he had begun playing basses with more than four strings, the warhorse was mostly relegated to storage. Today, he primarily plays contrabass.
In the late ’90s, Bogert sold this vital piece of prog-rock history to New York music producer/collector Randolf Pratt, who also owns Fudge guitarist Vince Martell’s Gibson ES-335 (VG, April 2011).
This article originally appeared in VG September 2011 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.