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1969 Fender Precision... need some advice and help

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Thumb n Fingers, Aug 29, 2017.

  1. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I'll try keep it somewhat brief, but thru a series of friends I was asked to set up the bass below. I'm no professional by any stretch, but I can get a pretty good set up going on just about any guitar or bass that happens my way. It appears to be a 1969 Fender Precision with a "no-name E-bay purchased neck" added to it. Setting it up was a snap, but got me wondering how closely restorable is this bass to original condition? The investment the owner said he has in it was about $200.00 back 10 years ago, so he would perhaps be interested in spending some money on it IF he could then resell it for a marginal profit. I'm trying to steer him in the right direction and just information gathering at this point.

    Right off the bat, it's missing the ashtray over the bridge and the pickup cover plate. Pickups and knobs are all in fine working condition. The finish is, well, driven hard and put back wet so to speak, but nothing too bad for a bass that is as old as I am and has certainly been loved hard.

    The original neck was in the case with the bass. The tuners were pulled off and put on the new neck, as well as the button string tree. Somewhere, before the current owner had this, someone stripped off all of the frets. it appears that they tried to fill in the fret lines with wood putty, as it's dried and mostly crumbled out at this point. It also appears that the truss rod is stripped.

    So, what to do? I'm curious as to the authenticity of everything, so input is requested. I'm also looking for direction to perhaps get an era appropriate ashtray and pick up cover. What can be done with this stripped truss rod and is the neck salvageable? I'm sure I can refret it. Like I mentioned above, I'm just fact finding right now to help guide a friend of a friend with advise on what to do with this.

    P.S. after the set up, this thing plays like a dream. The replacement neck is dimesionally identical to the original and somewhat thinner than I thought they would be. I'm not familiar with P basses this old, so I'm curious about that too.

    Thanks in advance for any and all replies.
    20170825_204355.jpg 20170825_204402.jpg 20170825_204409.jpg 20170825_204417.jpg 20170825_204433.jpg 20170825_204657.jpg
    Savage Hippie likes this.
  2. joel406


    Dec 27, 2013
    Take it to someone that knows how to replace the truss rod.
  3. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    Yeah, that's kind of the plan. I can do the fret work, but I don't trust myself on the rod. Just still gauging if it's going to be worth it to do.
  4. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Should totally be worth doing. I'm pretty sure there are TB rules about talking money and being a supporting member but just look around the internet for what similar basses are selling for. I would absolutely do it.
    Aqualung60 and Thumb n Fingers like this.
  5. Callused Finger

    Callused Finger

    Feb 22, 2007
    New York
    That original neck is so nice! I do wonder about the lack of fretboard at the heel. The replacement is garbage and in my opinion offensive to put on an old body like that.
    With that said it's all about the neck so hoping you can get the original repaired.

    Have you attempted to remove the truss rod nut?
    Ghastly and Thumb n Fingers like this.
  6. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I agree completely about the replacement neck on this bass. It just doesn't do the rest of the bass justice, although it does get it to a playable condition, which was the initial desire of the owner (before it ever made it to my hands). And I agree that something looks off about the fingerboard of the original at the heel of the neck. No meat there at all. I'll get a better look at it again over this next weekend, but I wonder if somewhere down the line, after the frets were pulled, someone tried to plane or sand the fingerboard down for some reason... just taking a WAG on that.

    I have not really messed with the truss rod at all; the owner claimed it was stripped and I haven't had time to delve into it yet. The little experience I had with truss rods was back in the 80's with a local luthier. I forgot more than I learned about replacing/repairing them. I'll do some homework on that, but I'll likely farm that project out to someone more capable.
  7. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    Completely understand that. I'm not looking for prices or to resell... that's the owner's thing to do or not. The owner's (he's a guitarist, not a bassist) initial desire was to get the bass into a playable condition so he could use it. After checking it out, I did a quick search and saw what same year P-basses were going for in various conditions and put the ball back in his court. He gave me carte blanche to do whatever I wanted with the old neck, but I'm proceeding cautiously and just fact finding for him, as I think restoring it would be preferable to what he's got on there now.
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  8. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    Maybe the best thing to do here is find a very experienced luthier and have the fingerboard and truss rod replaced, might cost a few bucks but totally worth it IMO. If it were mine that's what I would do. I have a very nice '69 P so I say its worth the investment to return it to (almost) original.

    Either that or get a nice replacement from All parts or similar and call it good
  9. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    For sure, are the electronics original?
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  10. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I believe so. I should have taken pics when I had them out and cleaned them up, but forgot to. To the best of my knowledge, they are the originals. Or old enough to have about 48 years of gunk in them. But they are completely functional.
  11. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I'll probably convince the owner to drop the $57.00 or so for the Fender vintage ashtray and pickup cover, just to make it era accurate. I'm going to see what I can do to clean up the bringe and tuners and see if I can get the chrome to shine again on that. If not, and depending again on the owner, I may look for era appropriate replacements.

    As for the neck, I'd like to get more info on that hfingerboard and the lack of meat at the heel. If we can keep the original fingerboard, I'd rather push for that route. If not, maybe replacing it is in order.
  12. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    It would be worth more with a new fingerboard and truss, however there are some fine replacement pieces that would serve him well too.
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  13. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    I guess that's one of the things I need to find out... is it worth more with the original fingerboard or a new one. I guess there's really no way to tell if it's ever been replaced if it's done right though, so probably a moot point.

    Same thing with the bridge, pup cover, tuners, and ashtray... if the replacements are the same dimensionally and accurate to the originals, why not just go new?
  14. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    It may have been leveled at the heel due to a "ski jump". Just a thought that if the rod was maxed and broken they then tried to level the board. Not sure what the options are to restore the neck, that's way out of my wheelhouse. But I imagine some investment would be well worth it.
    irjason, oren, 4stringsjack and 2 others like this.
  15. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    My thought as well. Like it was planed/sanded to get to level. Maybe I'll remove the new neck and install the old one temporarily just to see if I can deduce what was going on there.
  16. Gougedeye

    Gougedeye Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2008
    Central Washington
    Seriously, if the guy wants to spend some money, send it to a guy like Mike Lull or any reputable builder and have the neck properly restored. Those post Fender, 1st generation CBS basses, are fetching pretty damn good money these days. Do it right and you'll end up with a quality player, likely worth the effort.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  17. beans-on-toast

    beans-on-toast Supporting Member

    Aug 7, 2008
  18. bluesblaster


    Jan 2, 2008
    An original ashtray bridge cover would either still have the foam mute inside or the residue from where it was glued on, replacements are common but most people take them off anyway. mine were missing and I never replaced them.
    Thumb n Fingers likes this.
  19. burpgun


    Jun 29, 2015
    Not sure if it's a helpful recommendation here, but the man who runs fixed warpedneck.com is completely legit and helped me get a very troubled Ovation Magnum neck back into fighting shape. I had a broken truss rod, terrible bow and the finger board was ripping off unevenly. He squared it up for less than $200 and it's still perfect over a year later. I also have a '75 Precision with a very light twist (perfectly playable, but setup is not perfect) and he expressed full confidence that neck could be improved too. Just an observation.
  20. Thumb n Fingers

    Thumb n Fingers

    Dec 15, 2016
    Right on. That's why I'm pushing him to not let this be just a servicable bass, but restore it to something of value.
    Westsailor likes this.
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