SEATTLE (CelebrityAccess) One of the world’s first electric bass guitars recently sold on eBay for nearly $24,000.
The bass, the Audiovox #736, was designed by Paul Tumarc in 1936 (that is, not by Leo Fender in the 1950s. Fender’s Precision Bass is widely considered incorrectly to be the world’s first electric bass guitar).
The Audiovox was built by a tinkerer and used in a family band, built in Tutmarc’s basement and one of several guitars he electrified. It was marketed in a Seatllte highschool yearbook, according to the Seattle Times. There are only four Audiovox 736s known to exist and this one was stored beneath a bed of a couple living in a Snohomish County mobile-home park.
“We’re retired and old,” Bev McKnight, 79, told the paper. “We could use the money.”
Her husband, Dale, 85, said he bought it in 1947 when he was in his teens. The bass originally sold for $75.
Two of the Audiovox 736s are with collectors and the third is on display at Paul Allen’s Museum of Pop Culture.
“The guitar shows some minor signs of wear but is in overall good condition. It plays fine and the original pick-ups still work fine. The guitar is all in original component configuration,” Tutmarc’s grandson Greg wrote in the eBay listing. “Of the three Model 736’s known to exist, the one in the EMP museum is a painted model, the one held by [a private] collector is finished, ‘unpainted varnished wood as this one is. The wood appears to be black walnut.”
Tutmarc, who had to take his own car to gigs while the rest of the band rode in another one because his standup bass took up so much room, worked on the electric bass with Bob Wisner, a radio repairman, and they rewired a radio to create the amplifier.
“The result surprised Tutmarc. He expected increased volume, but was unprepared for the ‘new dimension’ in sound,” the Times said in a 1972 article. “Always before, the sound of a plucked guitar string has quickly expired. Amplified, the sound lingered as a piano note does when the foot pedal is depressed.”
Peter Blecha of Vintage Guitar Magazine recently did an expose on tracking down the rare instrument.
The bass went for $23,850.09.