Early version (1968–1971)
The Telecaster Bass was introduced in May 1968 being essentially a straight reissue of the original 1951 Precision Bass design (which was in fact influenced by the Telecaster guitar), with a large pickguard, small Telecaster-shaped headstock, single pickup, and separate chrome control plate. Early versions had a two piece maple-capped neck with no "skunk stripe" on the back of the neck and some also had the rare paddle style tuners that were most commonly seen on the Jazz Bass. The pickguard on the 1960s Telecaster Bass was slightly more slender and employed more mounting screws than the originals of the 1950s. There were also three different headstock decals in the early version. The earliest had a regular silver Telecaster guitar logo with the word "bass" added underneath. Only prototypes are known to have this decal. The earliest prototypes were partially constructed from leftover 1952 Precision Bass parts. The second decal was the larger Black (gold outlined) Telecaster Bass logo (bass being in the same style of script as Fender). The third and most commonly used decal had the silver Fender script with the words Telecaster Bass written in a sans-serif type font underneath.
In the early 1990s, Fender Japan reissued the '51 Precision Bass, which is in essence, a reissue of the first-version Telecaster Bass. The earliest "Made in Japan" versions vary slightly from the current "Crafted in Japan" model. For example, the early 1990s version uses the larger, more historically accurate string ferrules that were used in the 50s.
Second version (1971–1979)
In 1971, the Tele Bass was modified in some aspects. A new neck plate with Micro Tilt system for a more precise neck adjustment. The old-style pickguard was redesigned to eliminate the control plate, and the single-coil pickup was replaced with a larger, more powerful, humbucking unit. The Telecaster Bass was produced alongside the contemporary Precision Bass through all the 70s. The decal logo had changed from silver to gold, with black outlining.
It was the final version of the Telecaster Bass, which was discontinued in September 1979 and reintroduced in 2011 as a part of the Modern Player series, featuring two Modern Player Wide Range Precision Bass pickups, three-ply parchment (Sunburst model) or single-ply black (Butterscotch Blonde model) pickguard, three knurled “chrome-dome” control knobs (neck volume, bridge volume, master tone), vintage-style bridge with four brass saddles, open-gear tuners and nickel/chrome hardware. Available in 2-Color Sunburst and Butterscotch Blonde.
Reissued Versions: Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass TB and Classic Vibe '50s Precision Bass (2007–present)
The Fender Telecaster Bass was re-released in April 2007 by the Fender's subsidiary Squier, as Squier Vintage Modified Precision Bass TB, which is based on the second version of the Telecaster Bass, featuring a similar Telecaster Bass headstock, pickguard and humbucking pickup.
Squier has also issued a '50s Precision Bass model in the style of the original Fender 1951 Precision Bass as part of their 'Classic Vibe' series. It comes in two finishes: A Butterscotch Blonde with a black pickguard & a Lake Placid Blue metallic with a white pickguard. Both have maple fretboards as well as contoured edges & front & back comfort contours, making them similar to the 54-57 Precision Bass design. The pickup on these models is a single-coil similar to that at the bridge position on a Telecaster guitar.