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Featured Inventory Archives 1999-2012

Gruhn Guitars John Cowan Bass

"Whitey" - John Cowan's 1962 Fender Jazz Bass


In the spring of 1974, shortly after John Cowan joined the New Grass Revival, he went to the Doo Wop Shop in Louisville and traded in his Dan Armstrong plexiglas bass for a white 1962 Fender Jazz Bass.

"Whitey" accompanied Cowan on NGR tours through all 50 states and 44 countries. At one point it was stolen from the stage at the Illinois State Fair but returned three weeks later.

Whitey has been through a lot of changes and setups over the years, including Schaller tuners, brass bridges and nuts, Schecter pickups, active EMG pickups, Bartolini pickups... A few years ago he began bringing it back to original condition, starting with the original tuners. The original pickups had been lost in 1980; the current pickups were custom wound by Seymour Duncan, with the bridge pickup wound to the same specs as pickups used by jazz great Jaco Pastorius.

Two years ago, Cowan decided he wanted to play a fretless bass, and because of the difficulty of singing lead vocals and playing fretless, he chose to make his most familiar instrument fretless. Nashville luthier Joe Glaser converted Whitey to fretless. That's the way it was the last time we offered it for sale, but Cowan decided he couldn't part with it. He put frets back in and took it out for one more spin on the road.

In a letter that accompanies this bass, Cowan writes, "This is a mighty, powerful, proud piece of Leo Fender's handiwork. The reason it looks the way it does is because it was played for all it was worth every time I had the good fortune to have it in my hands." In a postcript, he also talks about the autograph on the front. "This bass has one autograph on it. It is Mr. Gregg Allman's. If that needs an explanation you may not be a musician anyway." Whitey has recently picked up the signatures of Elvis Costello and Garry Tallent (of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band).

This instrument (inv. BF2718) is in well-played condition. With a heavy duty padded gig bag, it is SOLD.

This instrument is SOLD

For further appreciation...

Close of body

Allman signature

Tallent signature

Fingerboard

Headstock

Back of Headstock

Back of neck

Back of body