JG1148 - Theo de Jong's second JG bass
Our last two JG basses are a couple of celebrity specials and represent some of the latest JG basses to be made. Certainly they are the last two conventional JG basses to be detailed on the Wal bass order sheet. This also confirms that they were the last two of the batch of basses being built in February 1978.
That period began to see the start of the transition towards what became the Pro Series bass. That "production model" carried forward many of the characteristics of the JG bass and one of today's basses shows an interesting transitional quirk.
Towards the end of the 1970 bass duties in Roxy Music were largely shared across two players. Alan Spenner and Gary Tibbs. Tibbs must have been impressed with Spenner's JG bass as, in 1978, he ordered his own.
Clearly the "horticultural" nature of the scratchplate on Spenner's bass was a step too far for Tibbs in an era still reeling from the emergence of punk. On Tibbs' bass the leather scratchplate is still present but, this time, is a tasteful plain black. Tibbs did order a whistle and bell as a this bass boasts both the dual output and the small Pick Attack switch on the scratchplate. The plain scratch plate and natural finished ash body make for a striking yet understated bass.
The photos here were first published on the (now sadly defunct) Bunnybass website and are used by permission.
Not many people have had the luxury of owning two JG basses. Dutch bass player, Theo de Jong (best known as bassist for Dutch vocal group, Kayak, and for the late jazz harmonica virtuoso, Toots Theilemans) was one of that rare breed. De Jong's first JG, JG1127, seems to have been a fretless according to the videos online of him playing with Theilemans. Wear and tear on the Wal JG orders sheet means the the order specs aren't quite clear. However, what is clear is that he liked the bass enough to want to complete the set with a fretted version - JG1148. A quick look in the neck pocket leaves on doubt as to whom this bass was destined for... Theo's name is scrawled there in biro.
This bass came to light in the wake of interest sparked by the sale of JG1117 on eBay when current owner, Frank Stropak, shared some photos on the Wal fan page on Facebook. He commented, "I took some pics of my Wal, JG1148. Passive, the bass has a very dark round organic sound, I think the pots and switches are the original ones, still working great."
We may never know the complete truth but either option seems perfectly plausible.
Again, Frank has provided us with a host of photos of the bass to enjoy and a which really showcase the beauty of his bass in close detail both inside and out.
|A handsome beast!|
|The built-in DI box...|
|A close-up of the pickup and series/parallel switch|
|Pick-up selector switch...|
|...which looks rather less "agricultural" the right side up!|
|All the controls are coloured to match in a fetching oxblood colour|
|Output and switching options way beyond its time...|
|Conundrum... Maple faced headstock but with "Pro Bass" logo...|
|And standard laminated rear to the headstock.|