Story time. So, my best friend and I bonded over nerding out on guitar gear in the 7th grade. His name is Tyrell. Tyrell and I have been bros for like, what? 15 years? And that's hanging out or having a chat every single day since middle school.
I mean, if we used Snapchat our streak would be like 10,000 days.
But Tyrell and I have a weird friendship. One time, we both went on vacation to the same exact place and stayed in beach houses on the same beach, on the same street, a mile apart from one another, and didn't tell each other.
On the fourth day of my vacation I was like, "Oh by the way I'm in Panama City." And he was like, "Huh, that's weird, I've been in PCB for four days." It's that kind of friendship where you tell each other everything, but sometimes tell each other nothing at all, and it's always alright. You know?
Anyway, since way early on in middle school, we both had this silly obsession with short scale or "Junior" sized instruments. I don't know why. He had a mini Les Paul and I had a mini acoustic, and we would always joke about starting an all miniature band.
Tyrell gravitated toward the bass in high school and I always wanted to be a hotshot guitar slinger, so I bought an electric and pedals and an amp. We've played in bands and in churches with each other all this time—he's the bassist over at my home church now, and I call him up when bands that hire me have a need for bass as well.
Why is it that all my stories are so long? Ok, I'll get to my point.
I started touring with a band when I came home from college and when they needed a bass player, I filled that role for a bit—just out of necessity—as Ty was still away at school. I bought a bass and an amp. I kinda loved it.
My bass at the time was a short scale, too, come to think of it. I bought it because my hands are on the small side—fit for the guitar but four bass frets is a stretch. I got a 1978 Fender Musicmaster. Here's a pic:
When that ended, I traded my '78 Musicmaster for a '66 Super Reverb amp and I picked the guitar back up, but there's a tiny part of my brain buried deep inside that still loves holding down the low end and locking in with the drummer, sitting back and not being in the spotlight crankin' out guitar solos and being a hotshot.
Ok, tying all this together… I'm sorry, I can't tell a story without writing a freaking novel.
So when it comes to tiny instruments, short scale basses are a lot more popular than short scale guitars, and I can honestly say that every mini Strat that's ever been made totally and completely sucks. They're hard to keep in tune unless you tune them up to A, and then they're just a six-string mandolin or a ukulele at that point.
There is a Ry Cooder performance on YouTube where he's using an A-tuned mini Vox guitar, and it's amazing. But I'm no Ry Cooder. Here ya go, check it out. A 12-string, no less.
So I play a Les Paul Junior and that's been my main guitar since high school, I adore mine—I wrote about it last month, here. But a Les Paul Junior isn't short scale or miniature at all. It doesn't count.
Among mini basses, there is one that is exceedingly rare. Fender only made it for two years in the early 90s, and you could only get it in Japan. It's called the Fender Mini Precision Bass MPB-33, and it's 33" long overall, with a 22" scale. For comparison, a normal P-Bass has a 34" scale.
Being that Tyrell is a P-Bass player who loves novelty instruments, the MPB-33 is like, holy grail. I had been looking for one at a decent price to surprise him with for years and last Christmas I finally found one. I got it for a great price and it was a total shock to him. Here's the bass:
As you can see, the Mini Precision Bass is tiny. It's about the size of a tenor ukulele, I think. This one came straight from Japan, it was in decent shape, and I got a great deal on it. Tyrell was stunned and it was my joy to bless such a solid buddy.
That bass, the mini P-Bass, is the smallest Precision Bass Fender ever made, and it's among the smallest guitars period that Fender ever made. It's not the most rare mini guitar—that title goes to the silly half scale Les Paul Gibson made in 1955, seen here. But the mini P-Bass is exceedingly rare, rarer I'd say than any other tiny bass.
Ok, so now that I've laid the foundation, wrapping this story up I promise…
After finding Tyrell the holy grail of novelty basses, I had to find one of my own. Only, it took so long to find his at the right price—I'd never find another. I vaguely remembered that in 2004-ish, when Tyrell and I were just starting to really get into the guitar, Fender had a series of Junior instruments to match the ones Squier has always made.
Then one day, watching Vulfpeck videos as I am wont to do, I saw it: The Fender Standard Precision Bass Junior, made from 2004 to 2005 in Mexico. It's the weapon of choice for one of my favorite bassists, Joe Dart. You can see it here and here. If you don't listen to Vulf, you're missing out. Dart mutes his for that motown sound.
So I took to looking for a Fender Standard Precision Bass Junior, 2004-2005, made in Mexico. And last week I finally one. Today it arrived. It plays and looks and sounds incredible. So anyway that's the story. Tyrell has the. most rare novelty bass and I have what might be the second.
Here are some pics, click to expand. The other bass that's pictured for comparison is my Squier Standard Precision Bass E-Series, made in Japan in the late 80s. Japanese Squiers are also kind of hard to find. It is an insanely great bass, but the Junior is my new fav.