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In 1961 tortoise shell/white/black/white pickguards were standard on Sunburst finishes. White/black/white nitrocellulose pickguards were now included on most custom colors. The one piece logo was still applied on top of the finish. During the year four individual patent numbers were added below the logo. By June the interior color of the light brown tolex case began to change from gold to orange. By late year the concentric stacked knobs with two white cylindrical capacitors and two resistors changed to three heptagonal shaped knobs on three single pots with a single round orange capacitor.

Other 1961 Jazz bass characteristics: Kluson no-name riveted clover reverse tuners, strapholder on headstock back, clay dot fret markers, slab rosewood fretboard, neck butt pencil date, fifth hole on neck butt for hanging while painting, no neck pocket paint stick, body nail holes (for painting/drying),thumb rest under G string, black bobbin pickups, ground shields under pickups, pickup cavity pencil date, small panhead shaped fastening screws on chrome bridge/pickup covers and on pots assembly plate, CTS or Stackpole potentiometers, ground shield under pots assembly, cloth wiring, individual string mutes, exposed bridge ground wire, Switchcraft input jack, coarse threaded bridge saddles.

Serial numbers ranged from roughly 55000 to 72000, although there are many overlapping exceptions. For more precise dating, cross reference the serial number with the instrument's neck butt date, body date and potentiometer codes.