Peavey Foundation Bass Guitar

Kevin Ott
Peavey Foundation Bass Guitar

The Peavey Foundation bass was manufactured from 1983 to 2002, with its golden period occurring during the '80s, yet it continues to attract loyal fans today. A look at its history and features make it clear why it continues to resonate with musicians.

A Timeline of the Peavey Foundation Bass

The history of Peavey began when Hartley Peavey, who still owns and runs every detail of the company today, began taking electronics classes and tinkering with music gear in the '50s. It is now one of the largest music companies in the world with over 180 patents. Hiding unobtrusively in all of Peavey's storied success is the humble but well-loved Foundation bass.

  • 1955: A young high school student named Hartley Peavey inherits his first set of hand tools from his grandfather, and he begins studying electronics.
  • 1959: During his senior year in high school, Peavey pencil sketches a logo on a piece of paper that becomes the famous Peavey logo now seen worldwide.
  • 1961: Peavey builds his first Peavey-branded amplifier in the basement of his parents' home.
  • 1965: In the loft above a music store called Peavey's Melody Music in the town of Meridian, Mississippi, Hartley Peavey establishes the Peavey Electronics Corporation.
  • 1972: After seven years of rapid growth and astonishing success with his "quality gear at a fair price" business philosophy, Peavey's output exceeds 2,000 units per month. The company becomes the second largest manufacturer in the U.S. in the audio electronics industry. In the late '70s, it expands into everything from innovative speakers and power amplifiers to the first electric guitars made using computer numerical controlled (CNC) machinery.
  • 1981: By this time, Peavey is making guitars that are being used by everyone from Carl Perkins to the band Journey. The company makes ready to expand further into the bass guitar world as well.
  • 1983: Peavey releases the first Foundation bass, which is marketed as an inexpensive but high quality bass that is good enough to compete with Fender but at a much lower cost. Their bodies are made of maple wood with a slim neck and two single coil pickups and interesting colors such as Inca gold. Players describe the Foundation bass as Peavey's answer to the Fender Jazz bass--a full-bodied, high output "beefed up Fender Jazz," as one collector describes it.
  • 1983-2002: Peavey releases a few more versions of the Foundation, including models such as the Foundation 4, the Foundation 5 (which is a 5-string) and the Foundation 2000. Peavey discontinues the Foundation line in 2002.

Features of the Peavey Foundation Bass

As the Blue Book of Guitar Values notes in the link above, the basic Peavey Foundation bass setup had the following features and options:

  • Offset double cutaway poplar body
  • Bolt-on maple neck
  • 21-fret maple fingerboard
  • Black dot or pearl dot inlays
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Fixed bridge
  • 34 inch scale
  • Graphlon nut
  • Four-on-a-side tuners
  • Chrome hardware
  • Two single coil pickups
  • Two volume knobs, one tone knob
  • Basic colors such as Gloss Black, Gloss Red, Sunburst, or Gloss White finish and other exotic colors in other models such as Inca Gold

Why Bassists Love the Foundation

As Foundation bass player communities note, players love the Foundation bass for its bold tone that sounds as good as a Fender but differentiates itself from both the Fender Precision and Jazz. Players also love its light weight (unlike Peavey's ultra-heavy T-40 bass), its simple but durable design, affordable price, and quality USA-made manufacturing.

True, it has a no-frill aesthetic. It doesn't jump out at you visually, but the craft and quality comes out in the sound and the comfortable playing experience.

Other features that shine on the Foundation:

  • The patented neck was made out of select rock maple that resisted warping and was mounted to the body of the guitar with four screws that made the bass feel extremely solid and stable.
  • It featured a high-quality Graphlon nut and a southern ash body with double cutaways that allowed players access to the highest frets of the guitar with ease.

In the '90s, Peavey made a few changes to the Foundation that were not as popular with some players:

  • The headstock became less pointy and more rounded than the '80s Foundation models.
  • The body wood changed to alder instead of ash.
  • Later Foundation models in the '90s and early 2000s featured a 5-string bass and a fretless model.

Where to Buy a Peavey Foundation Bass

It's never easy to find instruments after they have been discontinued, but fortunately used bass guitar websites exist that sell a continuous stream of old Foundation bass guitars. The following online outlets are reliable places for finding constant listings of used Foundation bass guitars. However, you will never find a site that has hundreds or even dozens of used models as you might find with Fender Precisions. This means visiting many sites rather than combing through dozens of pages on one site.

Though they are hard to find, there's good news: you will notice as you peruse the stores below, Peavey Foundations are cheap, ranging between about $90 to as high as about $400:

  • Reverb: One of the most high-trafficked and well-run vintage guitar and bass shops, it has a regular stream of Peavey Foundation basses available to browse for a nice range of prices in good to excellent condition.
  • eBay: This virtual auction house reaches millions of people who are trying to buy and sell everything you could ever imagine, including a fair amount of Peavey Foundations, about as high in volume as Reverb.
  • Guitar Center: This household name for musical instruments features many used listings on its site. Though the selection is not usually large for Peavey Foundation, it consistently has a handful of them listed.
  • MusicGoRound: This site usually has a handful of Foundations in stock, and you can choose to either buy in-store (if the store listing the bass is near you) or buy it online.
  • BuyA: This eBay-like marketplace regularly has at least a couple Peavey Foundations in stock. The site has some interesting features, such as its "price range" graph that shows you how the price of the Foundation has gone up or down over recent weeks. You must create a free profile first, however, before you begin shopping.
  • RockNRollVintage: This will be your last stop on your search because it doesn't always have Peaveys, but occasionally a rare one comes in like an old Foundation. You must click on the "Other Basses" section under its list of bass brands and search the pages. You just might get lucky and find a Foundation.

The Lesser Known Hero of the Peavey Story

Peavey might not be famous because of the Foundation bass or regard the instrument as the diamond in its legacy, but thousands of bassists see the Foundation as one of Peavey's crown jewels-the ugly duckling of Peavey products that didn't catch anyone's eye in the beginning but eventually attracted an enthusiastic cult. If you're looking for an affordable bass that has a little something extra under the hood, check out the Peavey Foundation.

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Peavey Foundation Bass Guitar