“This is the ‘Humbug’ bass from probably around late 1963. Bill was playing another Star Bass before this one – a red sunburst with a larger body. The red one is known as the Star Bass, and this one Bill dubbed the ‘Humbug’ bass because he thought the stripes in the wood made it look like a certain kind of British candy.
“It’s a super-important bass for the simple reason that Bill used it during a center period of the ‘60s when the Stones were recording a lot at RCA Studios in Los Angeles. Some of the Stones’ biggest hits, like Satisfaction, were recorded with it. That woofy, rolling bassline on 19th Nervous Breakdown? That's this bass.
“It’s a rare instrument, too. There are a lot of basses like this one floating around, but very few have the same features. Back in the ‘60s, Framus was a bit of an odd company; they would never follow a format of ‘There’s a pickguard with these knobs on it,’ and so on. It was almost like whatever they had lying around, they’d just slap it together and make it. Bill’s ‘Humbug’ bass had a natural top and back and painted sides, but a lot of those instrumens have black back and sides, or natural sides with natural backs.
“Bill liked both ‘Humbug’ bass and the red Star Bass. He switched around and used a few things during the mid- and late ‘60s. When the Stones were rehearsing for the Hyde Park show where they were going to introduce Mick Taylor, he was using a Fender Mustang bass. At the actual show, however, he went back to the ‘Humbug’ bass. I asked him why, and he said because it was so lightweight.”