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1974 Jazz Bass find?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by sonicblue62, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. sonicblue62

    sonicblue62 Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    Hello fellow TB'ers,

    I have found what seems to be a great deal on a j-bass of this vintage, but I thought I would share some photos and all I know about it with you knowledgeable folks in hopes of validating my interest in said instrument (or retreating if it's a bum deal):
    Photos here:
    What seller has told me about bass (I have not seen it in person due to distance, which is the main reason for my posting here):
    1. pickguard is likely a (very old) repro
    2. one of the tuning machines is non-original
    3. nut is not original and looks to have been installed poorly (although playable)
    4. not sure if this is an original natural finish or was stripped to make it natural
    5. To seller's knowledge, everything else is original, the neck is straight, and the bass has a lovely growl. Seller seems like a straight-up guy, I just have a hard time buying anything without a chance to play it first. Does $1350 seem like a decent price to you guys? 1974 is my birth year, and I could use a vintage J, so I appreciate your input before I pull the trigger.

    Another related question: If the finish (or lack thereof) is indeed original, would I hurt the value by refinishing to perhaps match this beauty?
    The P bass had already been (badly) refinished when I got it, so I didn't figure it would hurt the value to beautify her. Should I do the same thing to the J?
    Thanks all!
  2. gbazinet


    Aug 11, 2010
    I like it, it looks cool. It's a shame you can't play it though. That's really key with those vintage fenders.
  3. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    I'd guess it's an old refin, not the factory finish.

    Just my guess, from the look of it.
  4. Runnerman

    Runnerman Registered Bass Player Supporting Member

    Mar 14, 2011
    It looks like it may have been refinished already at least once. There are some "non-traditional" wear patterns on it for sure. Interesting wear around the neck pocket for example. Would make me want to see if the neck is original. Otherwise looks legit to me....but there will be others here with better judgement.
  5. gbazinet


    Aug 11, 2010
    $1350 for a refinished bass that you can't play first might be a gamble. It's crazy how much of a buyers market it is. For all we know the vintage fender bubble may have burst and never return to the prices people used to pay (a good thing i think).
  6. sonicblue62

    sonicblue62 Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    I actually hadn't noticed that yet. The owner promised to send me more detailed pics and maybe video of bass in action later today, so that might help. Last I checked, 70's Fender J's were costing a lot more. Guess I haven't shopped around for a while.
  7. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    I believe it's stripped a long time ago. Seems it has an alder body and I think Fender never produced a bass with natural finish using alder. Notice that the wood also doesn't have any fancy look. It's very bland and uninteresting. Fender only uses very good looking ash bodies for natural finishes.
    Also I would expect a little bit more glossy look from the body therefore it also strengthens my claim that it has been stripped before.

    I think serial number indicates older than '74. Might be between 70-73.
    I have an '74 Jazz Bass also and it's serial number is 546117.

    Pickguard seems legit Fender brand. However this time it may very well be taken from a pre-CBS bass that is older than '66 because it's thumbrest is at old position at G string side. Not at "E-string" new position side. Altough I am not sure at which year Fender shifted the thumbrest from E side to other side. Need more knowledgable peoples' opinions on this one.

    And finally I think it really worths 1350$ if it really has a good straight neck with trussrod mechanism still working.
  8. sonicblue62

    sonicblue62 Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2009
    Twin Falls, Idaho
    A few different opinions so far, but very helpful. Thanks and keep 'em coming! TB takes away so much potential for buyer's remorse!
  9. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    I would definitely think it is worth it to have it refinished in your favourite colour if you think it is a killer player. And for $1350 it better be your dream bass because you can find a better example for the same price if not less than this one. $1350 should get a fairly nice 70's Fender. What is the weight? If it is under 9 pounds it will command a premium but that condition hurts it pretty bad. If it is 10 pounds or heavier, pass unless he wants to take less than $1000 for it.
  10. smcd

    smcd Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    That bass has had the original finish stripped. 100% certain. It was probably a solid color when it left the factory. Assuming the bass plays and sounds decent, $1,350 is an ok price at best. Not a deal by any stretch. Refinishing this bass in Sonic Blue won't hurt the value. The value already has taken a hit when the prior owner stripped the finish. Keep in mind it won't help, either. You'll pay $450 for a refin, and the value will stay the same.

    '74 is a dicey year. At $1,350 I'd want to play the bass and take it apart to be sure the original pots/wiring/pickup are there. If this is a private sale with no buyer protection, I would pass on this. The price the seller is asking is pretty much full retail. Save your money and keep looking. You'll do better.
  11. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    No it's not a preCBS pickguard. The G-side mounted tugbar lasted into 1973, then was phased into the E-side just before 74. So it looks like the original era correct guard to me. I'm leaning to this being a 73 also.

    Yup it's simply a stripped finish. And with that alder, would seem it was a sunburst bass.
  12. I'd offer the seller $1200.00 and get it painted Fiesta Red, aka, Coral Pink.
  13. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it

    Cool. Looks like a 3 pc. alder body...obviously the original finish has been removed. They didn't use alder on natural back then. I'd buy it and have it professionally correctly re-finished in a solid color like white or black, maybe sunburst. I'd call this a good deal.
  14. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    Thanks for clarification.
  15. LanEvo


    Mar 10, 2008
    I have yet to play a genuinely good Fender from the mid- to late-'70s. By all accounts, they were generally good until '72, then quality took a nosedive from '73 onward. So, I personally would not buy a '74 Jazz unless I had the opportunity to play it first, as chances are high that it's a dog.

    It's been converted from 3-bolt to 4-bolt neck. That can be a good thing, provided it was done properly. But it's definitely not original.
  16. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005
    Ah no. 3-Bolt introduced at '75. Before that it was 4-bolt.
  17. LanEvo


    Mar 10, 2008
    From what I've read, 3-bolt started as early as '72. By '74, all Jazzes were 3-bolt. In '72 and '73 it was hit or miss.
  18. capcom


    Mar 23, 2005

    Seems '74 is the transition year from 4-Bolt to 3-Bolt. So at '74 it can be either 3-bolt or 4- bolt.

    My '74 has 4-Bolts and shows no signs of being converted from 3-Bolts to 4-Bolts in either body or neck.

    So seems nothing to suspicious about that bass has been converted from 3-bolt to 4- bolt at least just by checking its pictures.
  19. LanEvo


    Mar 10, 2008
    I've got a Jazz with a serial number in the 36x,xxx range. Confirmed 1972 by Fender. It's got a 3-bolt neck.

    My understanding is that '72 to '74 were transition years. I'd also be interested in sorting this out!

    EDITED TO ADD: When I say "confirmed by Fender," I mean they told me my serial number corresponded to a late 1972 build.
  20. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it

    I had a '73, was a 4-bolt. Pickups were non-original so I dropped in a set of Seymour Duncan Antiquity (I not II), and it sounded great...however, the neck had the dreaded 'ramp' or 'dip' as some call it above the 12th fret, so you could never get the action even remotely low. So, try BEFORE you buy.

    EDIT: I'd have MJT to a relic refinish on it.

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