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1961 Fender Jazz: Refinishing Project Color?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by PolkaHero, Dec 15, 2018.

  1. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    I'm considering having my '61 Jazz refinished. It's not original anyway and a previous owner sanded (heavily, BTW) the body and headstock at some point. I had the headstock refinished with an authentic decal by a top luthier (Fender endorsed) last year. Now I'm looking at having the body refinished in what I think may be the original Olympic White finish it may have sported when new? I know Sunburst was the most common finish back in the day but seeing as custom colors were only a 5% upcharge there's a good possibility it may have originally sported a custom finish. Here's a pic of the bass now:


    That is red alder, correct? I know that only ash body instruments received Blonde (translucent) finishes so it likely wasn't that. Now check out the underside of the pickguard:


    Looks like the previous owner took off the pickguard (it has shrunk but still fits) and then sanded around that area with a few sanding marks making their way near the neck pickup. Also looks like some type of stripper runoff near the end of the fretboard that he may have used when removing the body finish.

    Here's Fender's 1960 list of custom colors:


    Is it safe to say that my bass was originally Olympic White then? Even if it wasn't I like the look of the white contrasting with the tort pickguard vs. a sunburst where the guard kind of just blends in.

    Would the headstock have matched the body or did that not happen until later? Just wondering as the PO completely sanded the headstock including the decal. I should remove a tuner and see if there's any white paint inside the mounting hole.

    If I do decide to refinish it, who do you recommend doing the work? Obviously I'm not going to ship the body out to just anyone. I may call my luthier and see who he recommends as he doesn't work with nitro finishes. I would think the bass would sound even better with a nitro finish vs. the thick varnish coating it currently has.
    DavidEdenAria likes this.
  2. saabfender


    Jan 10, 2018
    This is a oppoturnity for a Shell Pink bass like no other. Have to go for it. I don’t know much about a nitro finish making a difference how it sounds. I love the way it feels.
    Gunga Din, Gaolee, J0hn and 7 others like this.
  3. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    61 was the first year that matching headstocks came an option.

    But shell pink would be my choice of color if that were mine. Like Saab said above, the chance for something different in the original color chart.
    I've just never liked white Fenders some reason, while I love white on lots of other makes of basses.
    There was recently a 60 stack knob refin in shell pink on Reverb and just looked awesome.
    IPA, Gunga Din and PolkaHero like this.
  4. Vinnie Boombatz

    Vinnie Boombatz

    May 26, 2010
    I love Sunburst, but unless you're sending it back to Fender and having them refinish it, I'd go for a solid color. For whatever reason 95% of the time an "aftermarket" sunburst refinish just never looks right. Gibson bursts on their acoustics and Fender's burst on their electric instruments would just be left to them respectively.

    I think any solid color that's kind of "period correct" would look awesome. And although not necessarily period correct, these sonic blue basses with tort guards do look sweet.

    You could sent the body to MJT and have them refinish it in what they call "closet classic" or "closet clean" as it would probably match the wear on the neck but still not look distressed. They do really nice work and their prices are very reasonable and they are also very easy to deal with, with excellent communication.
    Speterc and PolkaHero like this.
  5. jackn1202


    Feb 14, 2018
    Austin, TX
    I love the idea of Olympic White here, I think you're on the right track. And I know you just had the headstock refinished, but it would be so cool to have it match... think about it.

    Also, Sherwood Green would be a strong second choice. I think it would go well with the tort. Might be a little out there though. I'd rock it.
    mongo2, Michael4bass, Low84 and 3 others like this.
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    AFAIK, Custom Color Jazz Basses at that time usually had the marching headstock. So, there’s that to consider.

    So many cool original colors to choose from. Black, Shoreline Gold (LOL at the chart fade on SG), Burgundy Mist, Inca Silver, Shell Pink, the surf colors.... Any one of those will be killer, if done properly in nitro. Good luck!
  7. alembicbones


    Nov 10, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Another vote for Sherwood Green here. That's what I put on my Sadowsky and I think it looks killer. A white pearloid pickguard works well with this too.

    Midak likes this.
  8. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
  9. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
    I think the Shell Pink color is hideous, lol. I also don't like green so the Sherwood Green is out.

    I figured someone would mention the headstock matching the body. I'd hate to have to send the entire bass out for refinishing if I don't have to, can anyone else confirm that custom color finishes always had matching headstock in 1961?

    Has anyone used this place for refinishing? Lay's Guitar Shop | Akron, Ohio
    Caca de Kick likes this.
  10. PolkaHero


    Jan 5, 2002
  11. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    3 TS or 3 TS or Olympic White
  12. I’m an absolute sucker for a white n tort combo. I can take or leave a painted headstock though.
    PolkaHero likes this.
  13. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Gord Miller in Vancouver.
  14. juancaminos

    juancaminos Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    USA, Phoenix, AZ
    Olympic White, or go to one of those metal flake places and do something outrageous.
  15. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    Its possible it used to be fiesta red and the white was underneath, but olywhite would look great on that bass.
  16. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I'd use whoever does it right.
    Toolmybass and james condino like this.
  17. Since you have some white left, there might be traces in the neck pocket, tuner holes
    and other body holes.
    If so, it is easier to go back white and seem more original.

    As to the matching head stock question,
    I did get to play a friend's '61 back around '64 or so.
    It was black with a black head stock.
    So, while I can't say all custom colors were matching,
    I can say that one was.
    PolkaHero likes this.
  18. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    Daphine Blue IMG_0543.JPG
  19. Blaze Barlow

    Blaze Barlow

    Mar 8, 2018
    years ago I bought a 66' jazz bass in a pawn shop..someone had spray painted it yellow..I took it apart and sanded it down to the wood..I liked the look of the natural wood so well I put a few coats of satin finish on it and that was it..
    dannydabiker likes this.
  20. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    Olympic white with tort is one of my favorite Fender combos. Fiesta red or shell pink would be my other choices.

    Whatever you choose it will be an improvement over the current refin.

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