Fender Classic Player Rascal Bass
I like offset guitars — instruments that aren’t symmetrical, but instead look a little stretched. I also like Fender basses, and I like weird concepts. The Fender Rascal is a weird concept, originally created by Jason Smith at the Fender Custom Shop in 2013 as a tribute to the oddball, pawn-shop, short-scale budget basses of the 1960s. Everything’s from somewhere else, with parts borrowed from other Fender-family models: the body of the six-string Bass VI (which Fender insists is a bass, even if it’s Nigel Tufnel’s guitar that “can’t be played…never”), the headstock from the Coronado, the bridge from the Guild Starfire, and bizarrely, the lipstick pickups from a Danelectro by way of a Strat. I saw it and instantly fell in love with the shape, color, and overall left-field vibe…but not at the Custom Shop prices (roughly $10K!). Thankfully, the one-off proved such a hit at trade shows that Fender put it into production in Mexico, with a list price of $1100 and a street of $800. Now that’s something I can handle, with a little planning and perhaps culling of the herd.
I looked for three months to find one in person — they immediately went out of stock, backordered, or “extremely backordered” in my local stores, but you could find them online all over the place. I don’t like to buy instruments without putting my hands on them, so when I finally tracked one down at the always-awesome Gelb Music in Redwood City, I was sold…as long as it didn’t suck when I played it.
Who was I kidding? The moment I plugged it in and held it, the entire bass leaped up and said “Finally, you’re here! C’mon, lets’s go go go go!” The 30″ scale and slim neck make it a joy to play, and the single-coils almost make it a lead instrument. Not only does it have standard five-way switching like a Strat, but with a push-pull volume knob, you can also get the other two pickup configurations (neck + bridge, and all three). There’s really nothing else I’ve ever played, let alone owned, that sounds like this.
As if I needed anything else to convince me, the last four digits of my Rascal’s serial number are, miraculously, the last four digits of my home phone number when I was a kid.