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Vintage 1977 Fender Precision Help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by projectapollo, Dec 30, 2012.

  1. Guys,
    I'm looking at a 77 Precision at the GC in Chattanooga. I've been doing research on the Fender history. I'm very confused by one main point. There seems to be a real question to the quality of the CBS era Fender products in this time era. Profit over quality. This lead to Japanese high quality copies and the eventual Fender Japan deal, shutdown of the Fullerton Plant, buy out of the company, etc.

    So, what do I look for in a $1500 1977 Fender to be sure I'm not paying for scarcity vs quality?

    Attached Files:

  2. There are more learned opinions on here, but for me the immediately obvious ones are neck pocket and weight. Good luck.
  3. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    Some 70's Fenders are great, others dogs, the later in the decade in general the worse they are. That bass looks great and if it plays well a good price at $1500. Many 70's Fenders had gaping neck pocket routes, up 1/16 if a inch or more. The new Poly finishes could be wavy especially on the necks. Speaking of necks watch out for S curves and warps. Also Ash bodied Fenders from that period can be Damn heavy. In part you are paying for a 20th century bass. You could spend $1500 on a bass to day and get far more bass for your $ but it wouldn't be a vintage Fender would it? I have 4 Fenders from the 70's if that is any help, all great players but all with there little 70's Fender quirks. The neck is the big issue, if that's a-ok then you'll have a winner. All imho of course. For fun my '75 fretless parts bass, my favorite Fender![​IMG]
  4. That looks like a good deal for 1500 from what I can see in that one pic. If you're paying cash you might be able to haggle them down a little. I bought my 77 P for 1200 and it was a lot more "used" looking than the bass you're looking at.

    Quality wise, I love mine. It's beat but it sounds huge and has lovely sustain. Good luck!
  5. I would also add that this era isn't universally bad. There are some excellent ones - I hope this is one.
  6. j.kernodle

    j.kernodle Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Charleston, SC
    my 77 p bass was a great instrument one of the best P's I've owned.

    it was heavy but not ridiculous

    the main things id look for are issues that would impact playability. work frets, ski jumps (a common issue with some fenders where the neck ramps up at the body joint) if it's present, notes tend to choke out when you play past the 15th fret. check the pickup output. make sure you have enough. (grab a new American standard off the wall as a reference point). there are some great 70's p basses out there. haters gotta hate.

    good news is gc will allow a return if you get it home and find out there's a dealbreaker of an issue.
  7. All things being in good order, this is one CBS-era Fender that looks worth the money, IMHO. Then again, I'm quite partial to this color combo.
  8. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    Simy put, play the bass. Play it unplugged to hear the bass's inherent character and decide if you like it. Plug it into an amp you know well and listen. Turn the knobs while letting another ring to see what condition they're in.

    Inspect the fret seating, leveling, dressing, and any overhang. Make sure yhebtruss rod not moves smoothly in both directions. Check the neck stamp, serial number (I think by this time they were putting a serial number sticker on the underside of the pickguard as well the external serial number).

    And, because you're not really buying it as a collecter, look carefully at what else is out there on the market -not just vintage- for the same price. Use that to determine if you're paying for rarity or quality.

    I don't pay attention to the market any more but a Fullerton Vintage P seems to be about the same price range, and IME don't have the quality concerns late '70s do.

    But play the bass because all the generalizations about the while group pretty much ate moot when you're looking at a specific chunk of wood and metal.

  9. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Play it first. Honestly, 1500 seems high IMO. I've seen 77-79 P's not getting any love for that price all day on eBay. You should be able to find one in the 1k-1300 range.
  10. I drove down to take a look. I'm somewhat capable at doing setups on non problematic basses but this 1977 scared the heck out of me. Sighting down the neck from the bridge, the neck, along the G string had a definite defection bending up around the 5th fret. Less so looking down the E string. But the saddle for the E string was set to it's low limit, yet the string height at the 12th fret was very high. So, either this bass needs a much tighter truss rod to bring the action lower, or the neck is warped/bowed. I walked away from this one.

    Thx for all the advice!
  11. Ouch! Sad thing is, somebody will eventually buy it in this condition because it's "vintage"... :-(
  12. Tom Cat

    Tom Cat

    Jun 4, 2011
    Hard to walk away from something you really want, you did the right thing. Lots of 70's P Bases out there for less and good ones at that. I picked up a rough one for less than $1k and after a bit of elbow grease and good set up it's a good player.
    One more thing to watch out for in that era. Fender didn't pot their pickups (on the P Bass anyway), just coated the coil wire which makes it prone to shorting.
    One of mine was low output. Had it re-wound and both wax potted for minimal $
    My 2 cents.
  13. Kevin aka Kebo

    Kevin aka Kebo

    Nov 17, 2011
    Princeton NJ
    Owner - Kebo's Bass Works
    Heres the issue... I sold these new and quite frankly, out of the factory they stunk. Fretwork was uneven, gaps were a million miles AND they were heavy. This was a trend when HEAVY was good.... Bottom line, late 76 thru late 79 and then the early 80s non-ri models with the late 70s necks were quite good. BUT this is after a healthy set up and a level and dress. Provided you get one that is of comfy weight, has good gaps and has a proper set up (these all seem to have them now), these are quite good basses. Are they as good as the 60s basses, no. Are they as good as anyother thick skin bass, yes.
  14. Kevin aka Kebo

    Kevin aka Kebo

    Nov 17, 2011
    Princeton NJ
    Owner - Kebo's Bass Works
    One thing to remember - a bad set up and bad maint does not mean its a bad bass. It just means someone did not care for their bass. Old toasters, old cars, old watches and old instruments need love and attention....
  15. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    I had that exact bass in maple unlined fretless!
  16. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I also sold these back in the day and players walked away from them. Fenders QC issues lead to the rise of Ibanez and other manufactures. Frankly many of the late 70's Fenders sat in the store and players began to search out later model Fenders.
  17. michael_atw

    michael_atw Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Was it heavy? Could have been a poplar body. Not all late 70's Fenders were heavy. In '76-'77 they were still making them out of poplar/alder/whatever.

    As for the neck, it was at GC. 95% of their instruments aren't set up properly. Could have just easily needed a setup.

    In any case $1500 is about on the money for a nice factory sunburst from that era with the covers (if original).
  18. Kevin aka Kebo

    Kevin aka Kebo

    Nov 17, 2011
    Princeton NJ
    Owner - Kebo's Bass Works
    I've seen 76-79s weigh between 8 and 14 pounds ( no joke ). My friend Jerry Barnes LOVES the heavy ones to record with. As for the wood, as Michael said, I've seen everything. The stupidest thing I saw was a black bass that had a knot come loose at the edge. I've seen 5 piece bodies..
  19. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    My '75 Walnut P is three piece, one of the pieces is like a half inch strip LOL! Really how much could Fender have saved gluing up stock like that???????
  20. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    I had a 73' and a 78' and if you find a good one which they were they can be awesome basses. For the bass you are looking at if it is all original and in good shape 1500.00 is fair but try to talke em' down a hair since the market is soft.

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