Bass Culture: The John Entwistle Collection Review

When John Entwisle passed away in 2002, we lost not only a brilliant bass player but also a musician who was passionate about his instruments. In Bass Culture: The John Entwistle Collection, his extensive collection is displayed beautifully, and while there isn’t a lot of text around the images, Entwisle’s comments reflect the passion he had for each and every one.  This is an essential book for not just bass players, but any muso who appreciates beautiful instruments. There are a couple of things that really stand out for me…

The first point about it is that it’s not just about basses. Sure, you’ll see the famous Frankenstein Fender slab bass, the Fender Explorer Bird, Alembics and more Warwick Buzzards than you can poke a pick at, but there’s a heap of both electric and acoustic guitars as well as a lot of weird and wonderful oddities. Wurlitzer guitar anyone?!

Other than the Frankenstein, the Explorer Bird is the one I’d like to own!

Published in 2004, the forward by Rick Nielsen outlines how the book came about. Back in 1995 Entwisle had commented to Nielsen that he liked the way Nielsen’s guitar collection book had been produced, and asked if Nielsen and the guys he’d work with would do the same for him. Sure enough, a few months later they flew into London and travelled to Entwisle’s amazing old home and spent a couple of weeks documenting the collection. In fact just seeing the pictures of his home are cool! Entwisle later added captions to the instrument images that reveal snippets of information about them.

Obviously the Frankenstein bass is one of the most interesting (especially to me as I’ve tried to recreate my own) – it’s the remains of five smashed basses that Entwisle put together on a day off in San Francisco. The neck pickups, wiring and neck are from an old slab bass, the tailpiece from a Jazz bass, and the pick guard and machine heads from a couple of white Precision basses. The slabs have become the stuff of legend as Fender only made 20 of them, but it’s probably the pickups that are the key – Frankenstein has a standard Fender body. You can hear Frankenstein in all its glory on Live At Leeds.

All in all, a great book well worth picking up!

One Comment on “Bass Culture: The John Entwistle Collection Review

  1. What happened to his 1951 Fender Precision bass? I’m trying to track it down as I know the previous owner who sold it to the music store that then sold it to John Entwistle back in 1975.

    Email me at Straybassman at


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