Scott Jennings' addendum to the BASS FAQ

First let me say that I commend Dennis Alstrand on the time and effort he has put into the "BASS" NOTES that appear on the R.M.B. FAQ page . But... I find that certain incorrect assumptions and statements made in this document have not only filtered down through the R.M.B. readership as fact, but have also spread among many of my non-newsgroup-savvy customers as well (I sell guitars, you see...). It's best to attempt to correct the source rather than constantly repeat myself on the same issues, right??? :-/

Drive My Car

Not so much a correction here, as an extension of the known facts:

The 1964 Rickenbacker model 4001S bass (the first lefty bass they had built) was built specifically to be shown to Paul. Its serial number and factory records indicate that it was completed in January 1964. It was offered to him during the week of their first Sullivan show appearance by F.C. Hall, then the owner of Rickenbacker, but he declined to buy it at the time ( this was the same day that George got his 1963 360/12, and John his 1963 325.). According to F.C. Hall, and his son John Hall, the current CEO of Rickenbacker International, Paul was given the bass during a visit to their factory the week of the Beatles August 29, 1965 appearance at the Hollywood Bowl. There are photos of Paul using this bass during the Rubber Soul sessions in October 1965, in spite of all historical claims that it wasn't used until the Paperback Writer session the following April.


Paul has said that he overdubbed the lead guitar on Taxman because it was easier than teaching George the part and having him play it. George has backed this up in interviews as well. Paul did not play the lead while recording the basic track.

Both of the photographs on page 184 of the Lewisohn "Recording Sessions" book are from the "White Album" sessions. You need only look at their hair to establish this fact. (Lennon's photo also shows him wearing the odd necklace that Yoko gave him shortly before he left for India...) By this time George had received a Fender Rosewood Telecaster (as did John), the Jazz Bass you see in this photo (which was built in 1967), and his Bass VI. Paul also received his lefty Jazz Bass at this time. Paul WAS THE ONLY Beatle who owned a bass prior to the "White Album" sessions, period. End of story.

As has been discussed recently on R.M.B., the only song on which George played bass was "Back in the U.S.S.R.", and he used his newly acquired Jazz Bass. The photo mentioned above is likely from this session (John also played George's Bass VI on this track, and Paul HIS 1967 Jazz Bass - 3 bass players!!!.)

Paperback Writer

George played his 1962 Gibson Les Paul (SG) Standard on this track. John reportedly played a Gretsch Nashville - basically an orange-finished Country Gentleman with a one inch narrower body... Where this guitar came from and went to is a mystery to me. I have seen photos from this session which show John playing it, but it never surfaces again. A guitar player/collector friend of mine who has been in the apartment at the Dakota where Yoko keeps Johns instruments claims that it is not part of the collection. Perhaps it belonged to another group recording at Abbey Road at the time...

Helter Skelter

Paul owned four basses at this time. Two Hofners, his Rick 4001S, and his '67 Jazz Bass. NONE OF THEM ARE STEREO!!! Where does this rumor keep coming from? Rickenbacker did/does made a deluxe version of the 4001 with binding, deluxe 'triangle' inlay, and 'Rick-O-Sound' stereo output, but that is not the model Paul McCartney owned. I've seen the photo's from the day it was completed at RIC, and I've seen his bass in person - it is the same bass, and it is NOT stereo. All this becomes meaningless when you realize that Paul used his Jazz Bass (compressed to hell... and back again) on Helter Skelter, and NO Fender Basses were stereo in the 1960's.


In 1973 Paul sent his Rickenbacker 4001S bass back to the factory to have its original bridge position 'horseshoe' pickup replaced with the newer style 'Hi Gain' pickup that did not wrap over the strings. All footage of Paul playing the Rick prior to this modification clearly shows him playing closer to the neck because he HAS to... His style changed because he could now play in a more natural position, with the picking hand over the bridge position pickup. Simple as that.

For those that have noticed my unusual interest in Paul's Rick bass, let me explain. I play left handed, and owning one of these basses has been something of a search for the Grail for me. For the last 13 years (until this past February) I was the 'unofficial' historian for Rickenbacker. I have had access to records that few have seen, and I know how few of these basses were built lefty in 1964. Exactly TWO... While researching the production totals, and finally the whereabouts of the other ONE, I got to know quite a bit about Paul's bass... I still have not located the other lefty, although I believe it to be in Japan. There is a reward...

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