The Pioneer Bass Page

Debuting in 1981 alongside the first Kramer wood neck guitars was the Pioneer bass. Clearly a refined copy of the classic Fender basses, the Pioneer sported some unusual features such as employing Jazz and Precision attributes and coil tap functions on the same basses. The body woods varied. The translucent models will be of ash and/or maple while the solid colors were mostly alder or poplar. All pickups were listed in catalogs as being JBX and PBX of unknown origins, probably Schaller. Hardware was mostly by Schaller also. All scale lengths were 34" and all Pioneers had 21 frets. Rosewood and maple fretboards were available later on as well as fretless options.

Another option on many Kramer basses back in the day was the "interchangeable fretboard." This was a carry-over from the aluminum neck era into the Pioneer Bass line. Very few of these guitars are out there, but an example is shown below.


Pioneer Bass with Removable Fretboard Option

Headstocks at first were a clear copy of Fender's basses and sometime in 1982 were trimmed down to a more "Classic" style head following in the path of Kramer's guitars of the times. Made in the USA, the Pioneer represented probably what was the best of Kramer's bass realm and today, is somewhat hard to find. There were 4 kinds of Pioneers..The Imperial, Special, Double "J" or Jazz and the Carrera.  

The Imperial was a two pickup(P&J) version of the Fender Precision body shape. The bridges on the Imperial were Schaller as were the tuners. Nuts were made of brass or plastic. The headstock was a copy of the Fender Precision bass also and sported the Kramer logo with "Pioneer series" under it. The Pioneer models also gained the "Pat. Pending" later on. Hardware was gold but also available in black on the Imperial in the following year. Controls were 2 volumes and 1 tone knobs, and although listed with a single switch for pickup select, most Imperials after mid 1982 will have this plus a 3-way coil tap switch. Most of the fretboards of the early age will be maple. Rosewood was available later on.  

The Special was a cheaper version of the Imperial with the same Fender Precision body only it had a single PBX pickup, a gold Kramer bridge known as a Kramer Track bridge, and 1 vol and 1 tone knob.

1983 Pioneer Special

The Pioneer Double "J" or Jazz bass was exactly what it was called...a Fender Jazz bass copy. Body resembled the Fender Jazz and sported 2 Jazz or JBX pickups. There was also, in keeping with the Jazz bass motif, a gold or chrome control plate holding 2 volumes and 1 tone and the imput jack. This model also had the 2 switches, one for pickup select and one for 3 way tone switching.

1983 Pioneer Double "J"

Sometime in late 1982, assumably alongside the Pacer Carrera, the all-black Pioneer Carrera debuted. It had same pickup configuration and electronics as the Pioneer Imperial. The body boasted a slightly different shape as the Imperial, however with an ever so slight bigger lower bass bout. The bass was entirely black with no fret markers and keeping with the Pacer Carrera, had an "ebonized" or painted rosewood fretboard. Also included was a black Schaller bridge and tuners, 2 vol, 1 tone and a 3-way tone switch and pick selector switch. The Pioneer Carerra like the Pacer Carrera originally had black poly-coated strings.

1983 Pioneer Carrera

tandard colors for the Pioneer were black, white, creme, redstain, blue stain, melaga purple, and 3-tone sunburst. Custom colors were candy apple red, candy blue, emerald, and blue sunburst. graphics were also available. The Pioneer Carrera lasted for 2 years into 1984 and was clearly the rarest of the bunch, the Double "J" coming in second. Additionally, in 1984, the Pioneer headstock was switched to the Banana headstock like the rest of the Kramer line. All the other models lasted until 1986. The Pioneer bass represented Kramer's only wood neck bass from 1981 to 1984.

1985 Pioneer Imperial with Banana Headstock


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