We recently profiled the amazing session guitarist Bob Bain in our May 2017 issue. Bain has recorded hundreds — if not thousands — of iconic, historic, and popular tracks for artists (Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald), television shows (Peter Gunn, Batman, The Wild Wild West), and the movies (The Pink Panther, Jaws, Rosemary's Baby), and he still performs today at 93 years old!
Bain's '53 Tele is notable in that Bain did what Leo Fender himself hoped players would do with the iconic plank — he modded it to meet his individual performance needs. Looking for a single guitar that could cover rock, country, jazz, pop, and most anything his session calendar called for, Bain added a humbucker in the Tele's neck position, and he also installed a Bigsby.
GP was able to talk to the Fender Custom Shop's Master Builder Paul Waller and Vice President of Product Development Mike Lewis to get some insights into the building of this incredible Telecaster.
As you studied Bain’s Tele before crafting the “Son of a Gunn,” what were some of the elements about the original that you feel made it so playable and/or sonically brilliant?
Waller: The two main elements of Bob’s ’53 Telecaster that make it unique are the Bigsby tailpiece and the very early produced PAF humbucking pickup. Bob bought the guitar in original condition at a music store. He made a down payment and monthly installments until he was able to take it home and call it his own. Being in the spring of his career, he was traveling and working a lot. He really needed a versatile electric guitar that would corral all the sounds required in the business.
Did Bob share any cool