Steve York 1957 Precision Bass

A spectacular 1957 Fender Precision Bass which has played with some of the biggest names in music.

My friend Ben, who owns the cool SG Bass I spoke about a few weeks ago also owns this amazing Fender Bass, which is easily the best Precision Bass I’ve ever played. I usually can’t play P-Bass necks, but this one is as thin as a modern Ibanez bass, with a perfect nut width that is right between a P & J Bass. Ben was kind enough to send the story of his beauty, so here it is…

Fender Precision bass ‘Gloria’

By the 20XXX serial number the online fender decoders date the bass as – Your guitar was made at the Fullerton Plant (Fender – Pre CBS Era), USA in the Year(s): 1957

The Fullerton factory opened in 1946, Fullerton California with the first major electric solid body guitar production began in 1950 with the Broadcaster (later known as the Telecaster). Sold in 1965 to CBS who in 1985 sold Fender to a group of private investors the plant was not included in that sale and was subsequently closed.

The bass has been refinished and has the name of a past owner written on the back in decorative script. Steve York.

A quick google search led me to his official website and I was gob smacked at all the artists he was associated with. A studio and live monster! He currently lives in Mexico but he used to live in the UK and lists a 57 P bass as one of his favourite instruments from his career. I contacted Steve soon after receiving the bass and enquired if this was indeed the same bass. He replied very generously and is a great guy – giving me lots of history on my new bass. Turns out it was his and he sold it in the early 2000s, as he was preferring the sound of more modern boutique and active basses for today’s digital recording processes.

He bought the bass in London in 1976 when it had already been refinished in a ‘chocolate brown’. Steve knew the previous owner was Greg Ridley from a band Humble Pie (Which also featured Steve Marriott of Small Faces fame and a guitarist named Peter Frampton).

Interesting, Steve recalls that he had bought a 58 P in California around that era that still had the original finish but it wasn’t as resonant and sold that to Greg prior to obtaining this 57 P.

Steve’s ex-wife was an artist and refinished from the chocolate brown (thankfully) with an airbrush and reference photos. I would guess inscribing the back at the same time. The refinish is nice and now has aged quite a bit itself from the 70s.

The neck definitely hasn’t had a refinish and the lacquer is spectacularly checked, crazed and ambered. No doubt due the extensive stage work the bass has done – 55 years of smoke, bars and rock and roll will do that to you I guess.

The neck did have a refret around 1990 but I doubt it would have been as playable as it is today without it.

Also the original pickup died so Steve put another in – hence the lack of the raised A pole pieces particular to a 57 P. This pickup has no noise and when recorded the bass sounds incredibly rich and resonant – both deep yet zingy, hence I am not overly bothered it isn’t original.

The bass weighs in at 3.9kg which makes it comfy for long shows and next to some 70s era fender basses I’ve played – like a feather, especially when this includes the metal pickguard of the era too.

Steve played with an amazing array of artists and this bass was used with many of them – especially live during that era. I saw the bass featured in videos on his site. One especially prompted me to dub my new acquisition ‘Gloria’.


You can see this bass being played directly behind the singer. Also Steve backed ‘The Goodies’ live for a version of Funky Gibbon for a Policeman’s ball charity gig in 1976.


Steve still plays music and was pleased to hear that his road warrior mainstay bass wasn’t going to be sitting inside a plexi cabinet of a collector. I’m pleased to own a bass that may well have been used with any number of these artists that Steve worked bass with over the years.

• Robert Palmer
• Dr John
• Marianne Faithfull
• Elkie Brooks
• Laura Branigan
• Eric Clapton
• Pete Townshend
• Mick Jagger
• Ringo Starr
• Manfred Mann
• Gary Moore
• Bo Diddley
• The Drifters
• The Platters
• The Coasters
• Martha & The Vandellas
• Shangri La’s
• Chuck Berry & a bunch of others

The sound of this bass is unbelievable. Sits perfectly in the mix all the time and to me perfectly sums up what a rock bass should sound like. As I said, it records effortlessly and engineers dig it because their job is made pretty easy dialling in a mix with nice sounding Fender P bass. I generally play live through a SVT and the two combine great for that classic sound that’s all over countless records. The neck pretty much plays itself, so I can totally appreciate why this was Steve’s go-to workhorse bass for so long.

I been in possession of this bass for coming up a couple of years now- I cannot foresee parting with the bass, now I’ve played it. Although hopefully this relic will power on for 50+ years and live on with another lucky guardian after me.