Who bass legend, John Entwistle, was a very good friend of The Bass Centre's - from our early days in Wapping High Street right up to his untimely passing in 2002 - and his personality, wicked sense of humour and astonishing talent will always be sorely missed. So, with the new British Bass Masters Series "Frankenstein" Bass, we are proud to pay tribute to the most iconic, influential and - damn it, yes! - THE greatest bass player of all-time.
Renowned for using a LOT of basses, one instrument stands out from the rest of John's incredible collection, if only because of its unique origins. The beast affectionately dubbed "Frankenstein", famously assembled from the remains of a number of "dead" instruments, was his main stage & studio axe from 1967 to 1971, the golden era during which The Who released their classic albums "Tommy", "Who's Next" and "Live At Leeds" and cemented their reputation as one of the World's greatest live rock 'n' roll bands.
In 2003, a year after his death, as testament to the reverence in which John and this particular bass are held, the original Frankenstein went under the hammer at Sotheby's in London, for an astonishing £62,400 ($100,000)!
Sporting a gorgeous salmon pink finish - as its namesake was eventually refinished in the mid 70's - our Frankenstein model may not have been brought back from the dead, but it does feature period accurate looks, cool retro features, an authentic growling tone, a super fast, satin finish neck... and a considerably more affordable price tag!
The Bass Centre Frankenstein Bass Features
|body ||Lightweight, balanced basswood body with classic Salmon Pink finish and mint green pickguard |
|neck ||Satin finish Bass Centre "Super Slim Sixites"® maple neck |
|FINGERBOARD ||20 fret maple fingerboard with black dot markers |
|pickups ||Vintage voiced split single coil |
|bridge ||Standard roller bridge |
|hardware ||Chrome "ashtray" bridge cover / Chromed brass dome top control knobs / 4 bolt chrome neck plate |
|strings ||Bass Centre Elites |
|extras ||Premium quality Bass Centre padded gig bag included |
"It's Alive! It's Alive!"
Throughout his life, John Entwistle was renowned for his eclectic choice of instruments, but few of them are as celebrated - and none quite as unique - as the "Frankenstein" Precision Bass that was his main weapon of choice for the Who's stage & studio work from 1967 to 1971.
Ostensibly, Frankenstein appeared to be a 1965 three-colour sunburst Fender Precision with a maple neck (serial no. 13081), but its origins are far more arcane. Just like Mary Shelley's renegade scientist, Entwistle actually brought life to this unholy beast himself, from the remains of a number of dead basses - including two rare 1966 UK only limited edition "slab" body P-Basses - during down time on The Who's 1967 US tour.
I had a day off in San Francisco once and spent it screwing a bass together from five smashed Precisions including a couple of slab ones, of which they only made about 20. I took the pickup and scratch plate from one of the slab Precisions, the neck from another, machineheads from a Jazz Bass, the body off a sunburst Precision and the tailpiece from another... Two hours with a Phillips screwdriver and a soldering iron and I was running around my hotel room screaming “It’s alive! It’s alive!”
The scavenged bass was used prominently (through his awesome Hiwatt rig) for the next four years, a period during which The Who conquered Woodstock, became renowned as one of the World's most incendiary live acts and released their breakthrough rock opera "Tommy" as well as the stone-cold classics, "Who's Next" and "Live At Leeds", one of the all-time great live rock 'n' roll albums. So when you listen to John's fluid, melodic lines driving "Pinball Wizard" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" or his corrosive, snarling solo on the Leeds' live cut of "My Generation", that's Frankenstein you're hearing, in all its feral glory.
Although Entwistle retired the bass from onstage work in the mid 70's, at which point he had it refinished from sunburst to salmon pink, he remarked in a 1994 interview with Bassist magazine... “I have about 35 Precisions, all with different colors and from different eras, but I always go back to Frankenstein.”
Many of John Entwistle’s belongings and personal effects were auctioned off after his untimely passing in June 2002, including his incredible instrument collection. Frankenstein itself went under the hammer at Sotheby’s Auction House in London in May 2003, where it was expected to fetch something in the region of £5,000 to £7,000 but, after heated bidding, the storied bass eventually sold to an anonymous American buyer for £62,400 ($100,000).
Of course such a high price tag isn't so surprising when you consider that John's legacy and influence as a musician remains so strong — in 1999, Musician Magazine crowned him "Bassist of The Millennium" and, in a 2011 Rolling Stone reader's poll, holding his own against a whole new generation of amazing players, he was still voted the #1 bass player of all-time.
Quite simply, John's effortless cool, unique personality and his truly groundbreaking reinvention of the role of the bass in modern rock music make him one of a kind and, with The Bass Centre "Frankenstein", we are proud to pay tribute to an amazing musician, a genuine, gentlemen rock 'n' roller and a good & valued friend.