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1970's the dark ages of fender??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mixnulty, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. Mixnulty


    Jan 15, 2013
    I always read that CBS 1970s basses are poorly made with cheap wiring. I also hear that 3 bolt necks weren't a good inclusion either. I have never seen one in person, but they look great in pictures. What are some opinions in the talkbass community? :help:
  2. I have a 77 that I love. Even with its filled J route and crappy half refinish. It's one of my go to basses, but I'm sure there's some turds out there.
  3. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    IME, I always felt the early '70s basses and guitars were "better" than mid-late '70s versions (mostly due to lighter weight of the earlier versions) but I've seen exceptions to that.

    As always, each instrument has to be evaluated as an individual example without prejudice.
  4. a loaded subject here. Admittedly Fender was having a lot of QC issues (among other things) so there's more than a fair amount of hits and misses for that era.

    That said, I play a 75 fretless P that I bought for 200 bucks back in '79 and I wouldn't trade it for anything, and I've played P's from the early 60s to just a year or two old. Holds its own beautifully w/all the eras and the workmanship and weight are right there. YMMV........

    Re 3 bolts necks, I have no real opinion, mine's a 4 bolt.
  5. +1
  6. bjabass


    Jan 10, 2011
    Mountain South
    Had a '72 P bass stolen in 1989. I would trade all my current basses, one testicle and either the right ring or pinky finger to get it back.... well, maybe the basses anyhow....

    The best bass I ever owned, and that includes a 60 something Gibson EB2 and a 68 Ric 4001.
  7. My '75 Jazz is my absolute favorite bass. Nothing else I have comes close to it for some reason. And, if you check my profile, that's really sayin' something.
  8. That Sustain

    That Sustain Banned

    Jan 14, 2013
    I've seen some poor examples of late 70's era Fender basses..with the 1977-79 being the worst.

    I tend to think the American Series was worse...
  9. cfsporn


    Aug 20, 2011
    New York City
    Geddy Lee seems to do quite fine with his 70s Fender. Same with Marcus Miller too now that I think of it.
  10. ejaggers


    Aug 18, 2009
    Hurst, tx
    I bought a 72’ blonde jazz with a white PG years ago. It took a long time for me to like the bass. The main reasons are, I started out with two short scale basses prior to the jazz so playing it was a challenge a first. The other thing was, that I didn’t like the looks, or the sound. So I had a refin done in burnt orange with a tort PG. Then I liked the looks, but in the band I was in, the drummer was also a bassist, and I used his Travis Bean, which blew my jazz away. Eventually my bridge PUP went out so I replaced both PUPs with Fralins. And for the first time, that bass came alive. Now I love it. I wish I had known about PUPs years ago, because I missed out on years of enjoyment.


  11. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    It's widely acknowledged by every Fender collector out there that the 70's were the worst era for Fender. Very early 70's were good years, but as the decade wore on, Fender's quality got worse.

    That doesn't mean that "every" instrument Fender made in the 70's was bad. It means that your liklihood of finding a pig is MUCH greater in the mid-late 70's than it is in any other decade in Fender's history.
  12. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    The general opinions is Fender quality gradually decreased throught the CBS era. The production numbers were really high and there's no doubt that Fender produced some great instruments in the 70's and early 80's, which is usually considered the worst of the "dark period". Sloppy neck pockets, bad finish work and heavy ash are usually what you hear about these days. I have a 75 Precision that weighs 12lbs and has an imperfect 3TSB finish that I love to death, mainly because it's got a great maple "A neck" and sounds as heavy as it feels.
  13. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    CBS was cutting costs in the 70's. As a result the quality was inconsistent. They did make some great basses during that time as well. I own several 70's basses and love the way they play and sound. You have to inspect them carefully and make sure that you are getting a good one. I'm sure that is true for every manufacturer and every era.
  14. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yes, unfortunately.

    There are several books out there on the history of Fender, and they all tell similar stories about the CBS management screwing things up pretty good. I remember the Fenders of that era, 1975 or so, and a lot of them were less than precise, poly-glopped lifeless instruments.

    Be advised, however, that any generalization of how hit-or-s**t Fenders were in that time period is a dog-whistle for the 70's Fender owners to turn out in droves with torches and pitchforks to defend them.
  15. I've played probably 15-20 Fenders from the 70's. None of them impressed me. They weren't garbage, as some haters claim, but I would take a 2012 American Standard over any of them.

    Love the look, however. So I made my own:

  16. Tx Basser

    Tx Basser

    Jul 21, 2012
    I have a 79 Precision that I purchased brand new. (4 bolt neck) She has always played great and never given me one ounce of trouble. Every bassist in my area who has ever heard her played, comments on how great she sounds. I have allowed a few bassists/friends to play her on stage in a sit in situation or at my home and each one of them told me that if I ever wanted to sell her, give them a call.

    She does weigh 10 & 1/2 lbs but I can live with that. I have treated her like she is made out of glass and she is in excellent condition.

    I agree that some late 70's Fenders might not be the best they made but I got one of the good ones. While this photo has been posted on TB before, here she is again:

  17. slipitin

    slipitin Guest

    Jul 26, 2002
    I had an Antigua 78 precision which I really regret selling, it was a tank, but was in a really good place playing-wise by the time it left me...darn it.
  18. ClassicJazz

    ClassicJazz Bottom Feeders Unite!! Supporting Member

    Sep 19, 2005
    Delray Beach, Florida
    Hands down my '72 Jazz is one of the best basses I have ever owned/played! No effort to play it, only 8.9 lbs and man that vintage tone is awesome.

  19. Lee Bruton

    Lee Bruton Guest

    May 11, 2012
    +1 here on the 75 J, I've owned one for 38 years, my 1 and only bass, sweet thing about it is i picked it up for $400
    May changes over the years, turns out the only part stock is the body
    USCG neck
    EMG J pu's
    Badass bridge
    Hipshot tuners
    Sounds great, so I've been told
    GK amps
    Oh ya, changed to 4 bolt neck when I went with USCG, still, had little trouble w/ 3 bolt setup
  20. Here's My 74 Jazz.It has it's flaws as far as workmanship is concerned but I modded it a little bit and it plays and sounds great.Wouldn't trade it for any other Fender.