Semi-NBD... Univox 'Lectra
Okay, I usually don't do the "NBD" thingy... I try to give myself a week or 10 days before posting anything, and by then, that "honeymoon" feeling has either passed or I've moved on to something else. The self-imposed waiting keeps me from gushing about an axe with "new-bass-goggles"...
This time, I'm still feeling it. In fact, I'm getting more enamored each day! Pardon the shoddy pic...
Picked this up off of Craigslist a short time back (10 days, true to my word)... The seller turned out to be a TBer, though I can't recall his handle. Early-ish Univox Lectra in great shape. Apparently played a little bit years ago, then mostly cased. I believe the seller was the second owner and, having re-affirmed his preference for solid-body basses, sold this one off. I was looking for a different bass that had been floating on the list, but this caught my eye... I have a thing for Univox, so I jumped...
There were some issues at the outset, but it played and was a good price, so I knew I could work those out. I mean, it's a 40+ year old bass! The first issue, which wasn't totally apparent at first, was the somewhat noticeable back-bow in the neck. This was shadowed by they very high action and the apparently original (!!!) strings. Since it is a bolt-on, I figured I'd be shimming the neck anyway, so... When I pulled the neck off, the bow was apparent at around the 5th and 6th frets. Appears the truss-rod had been over-tightened years ago (judging by the force I had to use to loosen it) at some point in the distant past. I could relate, as I had done this same thing on my first bass (back before there were the inter-webs to tell me what a truss rod was or how it functioned!)... Removed and lubed the nut, lightly clamped the neck overnight over a caul to help with the bow. It is not completely out, but is slowly correcting under string tension. With the neck shimmed to add a slight angle, and the action adjusted, it is playing very nicely (and seems to improve every day)...
Second issue was the electronics, the switches to be precise. All of the switches were wonky, but the middle one (controlling the bridge pickup) was very stiff and did not work. I pulled the control plate and sprayed some de-ox-it to no avail. All of the electronics were rusted and aged (40+ years...) The tone is wired counter-intuitively (full on is a treble-cut) but that is typical with this model. Found some new switches at a local surplus electronics store, rewired everything, strung it up with some Chromes, and set about playing!
The pickups sound great! mis-aligned pole-pieces have never scared me (these wide pickups mark this as an early model... Later they were narrower) and the string-to-string balance is very good. The 'bass-boost' switch (really a second capacitor to cut more highs) really brings the 'murk', and the tones range from "Too-Zingy-For-Me" to "Vintage-Mud". The placement of the bridge pickup is nicely forward and sounds great soloed with just a little treble coming through. Both pickups on brings some nice mids. Alone, my favorite tones are with one or the other pickup soloed, but tomorrow will be a band rehearsal (played it with the band last week before the electronics fix, so there was some inherent funky-ness) so we'll see what shakes out!
All-in-all, I am very happy with my second Univox... Never thought I'd be a 'Beatle Bass' kind of guy!!
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