The Fender Precision Bass (P-Bass) is one of the most recognized basses of all time... heard on countless classic and modern recordings and instantly recognized for it's "larger than life" stratocaster style appearance. The strat design was adopted to the P-Bass in 1957; the headstock and pickguard were redesigned to closely resemble Fender's recently introduced, ultra-modern Stratocaster, with a rounder neck heel replacing the original square shape introduced in 1951. The headstock and body shape look like oversized, blown up versions of the now famous strat design.
The early adoption of the P-Bass was in part due to Bill Black's ownership of the instrument. Black was beginning to use a Precision Bass during the filming of Jailhouse Rock. Fender also delivered an early Precision to LA session bassist and arranger Shifty Henry. The upright bass was considered difficult to play in tune, physically cumbersome and difficult to transport. It was becoming hard to hear in increasingly large bands or in bands that included amplified electric guitars. With electric pickups, a small body and fretted neck, the Precision Bass overcame these problems. The name "Precision" came from the use of frets (as opposed to the fretless fingerboard of the double bass); players of the electric instruments could play in tune much more easily - they could play with "precision."
The Precision Bass produces a timbre that differs quite drastically from that of the double bass: it is a more focused, harder-edged sound, with less percussive thump and a more clearly articulated fundamental tone. By bringing the sound of the bass up in a band, the bass became more dominant in its role and transformed the beat and rhythm of pop music. The electric bass allowed driving rhythms while still outlining harmonic structures and is essential to the evolution from jump blues and swing to rhythm and blues and rock music, and today the P-Bass is still used regularly in any genre requiring the use of an electric bass guitar.