“Frankenstein” – John Entwistle’s monster bass

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The Who’s John Entwistle is considered by many to be the best bass player in the history of rock.  Of the many basses Entwistle played during his career, the the most interesting has to be the bass guitar known as “Frankenstein.”

Entwistle crafted Frankenstein in 1967 out of the remains of five smashed basses, using the body of a ‘65 Fender Precision bass with an original sunburst finish, (refinished in the mid ‘70s to Fiesta Red/salmon pink).  Other parts came from a Fender Jazz bass, and three dead Fender Precision basses with “slab” fret boards, which were only produced in 1962 and 1963.

It took Entwistle just two hours in his hotel room with a Phillips screwdriver and a soldering iron to put together his monster creation, after which he ran around the room screaming, “It’s alive! It’s alive!”

Frankenstein appears on The Who albums “Tommy,” “Live at Leeds,” and “Who’s Next.”  By 1973’s original Quadrophenia tour, however, Entwistle had begun experimenting with Gibson Thunderbird and Alembic basses, and Frankenstein wasn’t as frequently used.

Entwistle died in Las Vegas on June 27, 2002.  In May 2003 some of Entwistle’s belongings were sold at a Sotheby’s auction.  Frankenstein was purchased for an amount reportedly in excess of £50,000.  No telling how much it’s worth now.

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7 thoughts on ““Frankenstein” – John Entwistle’s monster bass

  1. I saw John Entwistle perform as a solo act at a musical event called Ithycoo Park 99 in 1999 here in Coffee County Tennessee where I live. I am sure he performed with the same bass guitar pictured above. I saw The Who perform in Nashville with Roger Daltrey’s brother playing bass and Ringo Starr’s son on drums. For me as a 60 year old—the best rock concert I have ever attended! Incidentally, the one year only Itchycoo Park 99 evolved into the annual Bonaroo festival.

  2. Neck, pickups, and electronics were from 1966 slab bass or basses. ‘Slab’ refers to the uncontoured body of these rare English market ’66 Fenders, not the fretboard. A search of “Fender ’66 slab precisions” should yield a wealth of detail. Long live Frankenstein!

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