1987 Fretless Fender Jazz Bass Special

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jak360, Jun 24, 2008.

  1. jak360


    Jun 23, 2008
    Hi guys,

    I'm new here and looking for some help. I have a friend with a 1987 Fretless Fender Jazz Bass Special in gun metal blue. She says it was made special order for her and that it is very rare. We can't find any appraisers around here to look at it (the curse of living in Iowa). I've been trying to find similar fenders online to compare prices but I'm not having any luck. Does anyone have any info on how common that bass would be or what price it might go for?

    Any information would really help

  2. is it made in USA, mexico or japan? could you post the serial #? the condition is important. has anything been changed? tuners, bridge, p-ups etc... i work at a little vintage guitar store so i might be able to help. sounds like a cool bass.
  3. Groover


    Jun 28, 2005
    Ohio, USA
    Never seen the gunmetal blue, but the common colors are pearl white, silver/green, black, candy apple red, red, burgundy mist, and sonic blue. (don't quote me on the color names, but those are indeed the colors).

    A fair price range is between $400-$600.

    I hope that helps.

    (those would be MIJ)
  4. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis
    That is about right. The fretless version of this bass is fantastic! Some one is about to get a great player.:bassist:
  5. JTE

    JTE Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    OK, history of the MIJ Jazz Bass Special...

    Basswood body, it was available in black, a metalic grey, Candy Apple Red, a metalic white pearl, and a funny looking burgundy. I don't recall ever seeing any blue ones in the catalogs we had (I was a Fender dealer from 1977-1988). And I don't know of any being custom made for anyone at the time either. They all have basswood Precsion-shaped bodies, rosewood fingerboards, black hardware, a Precison and a Jazz PUP. Controls were a three-way toggle switch, and volume control for each PUP, and a master tone (actually Fender's TBX control). The earliest ones had black finish on the back of the neck and headstock and rather chunky, Precsion-style necks. Later versions had the back of the neck and the back of the headstock finished in a clear coat, and had narrower, more Jazz Bass-style necks.

    People who used them at the time included Duff McKagan (and FMIC recently introduced a reproduction of them as the Duff McKagan Signature) of Guns 'n' Roses, Preston Hubbard with The Fabulous Thunderbirds (from the "Tuff Enuff" period), Richard Cousins with Robert Cray (during the "Smokin' Gun" period), and whoever was playing bass for Greg Allman solo projects at the time.

    My experience is that they're great playing basses, but the sound is pretty nasal and middy. I got a CAR fretless one in December 1987. I loved how it felt, but I changed the PUPs within two weeks or so to Duncan 1/4 pounders. I also put a new bridge on it at that time (a Schaller roller bridge). Then I eventually gutted the controls and put in a master volume/blend/master tone set up. That got replaced with a Duncan Basslines pre-amp. Then the rosewood board wore out and I had a big chunk of ebony put on. That helped the sound more than anything else I'd done to it. Then I had a new body built, and it finally stopped sounding like a transistor radio.

    Some folks like that midrangey sound (and I despise the mid-cut "smiley face" sound) but everyone of those basses I've played has that nasal honk that doesnt' sit in the mix but blares over it.

  6. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    I have an 85 fretless (has the painted black neck) in the weird burgundy color which I bought for $400 about a year ago. I'd say that would probably be about what you could get for it, although I think they're going for a little more lately since fender reissued it in the MIM duff sig which is selling for $800 and people figure they can get a little more for the MIJ originals.
  7. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    also, your best bet for a price check is usually completed ebay auctions since thats a good guage of what people are willing to pay for things
  8. pics!

    also, I'm in Iowa too! Where you at in IA?
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Andy Fairweather-Lowe plays a gray one on the Roger Waters "In The Flesh" live DVD.

    They are great basses, and are undervalued, making them great values on the used market.
  10. jak360


    Jun 23, 2008
    hey everyone, thanks for your help!!

    ok, so to answer your questions,

    yes, it was MIJ

    serial number is E609129

    she thought when she bought it it was gun metal blue, she told me today it is a metallic light olive green color.

    it has a slight nick on the back that is really hard to see unless you're looking for it, other than that its in excellent condition, she didn't play it a lot

    as for comparing prices on ebay, i've found some 87 fender jazz bass specials, but so far i haven't found any that were fretless...not sure how that would change the price.

    i'll get some pics up tonight

    oh, and we're in ames, ia...where are you at??
  11. gre107


    Dec 25, 2005
    That was actually my first bass. Pearl White. Should have never sold it primarily for nostalgic purposes.

    They are good basses though.

  12. Ames also!

    another TB'er in Ames? HOLY POOP :hyper:
  13. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    The green discoloration is due to the aging of the clearcoat. While you predominantly see this on nitro finished basses, poly finished basses do this as well. I had a white/blonde Fender from 1983 that showed very pronounced poly clearcoat yellowing...It would be a good bet that the bass in question is the metallic grey/silver color originally (which in some light looks blue).
  14. I have the pearl white fretless '87 and recently have checked Ebay regularly to see what they've been going for. Found one that went for $660 usd.
  15. jak360


    Jun 23, 2008
    ok here are the pics, it is definitely green. this is my first time taking pictures of a guitar...so sorry if they're not focused on exactly what you need to see. i'm still kind of wondering what all of your opinions would be on the availability of fretless models like this...seems like they aren't as common from what i've seen... anyway, thanks again, you guys have been really helpful!!

    Attached Files:

  16. jak360


    Jun 23, 2008
    i have a bunch of pics but its making me resize them so i'll add more later

    Attached Files:

  17. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    they pop up about half as often as the fretted models on ebay. i had a friend years ago who had a jazz bass he bought off some guy that was a jazz special fretless neck on an american jazz body, great sounding bass. that bass was the reason i picked up my jazz special. is the back of the neck/head stock painted black on yours? i think it was done on the earlier models and then stopped later, or it might have been the other way around.
  18. jak360


    Jun 23, 2008
    yeah its black, here's the back

    Attached Files:

  19. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I've played a few of these, for some reason fretlesses seem to pop up fairly regularly. IMO these basses are GREAT. One of my favorite Japan Fenders.
  20. Altitude

    Altitude An ounce of perception, a pound of obscure. Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2005
    Denver, nee Austin
    ...and me, in the late '80s. I had one of the pearl white ones with a black finished neck. Someone had replaced the stock pickups with an EMG P and a Seymour Duncan J before the bass got to me. I think Guitar Ressurection in Austin did the replacement, because some years later I took the bass in there and they recognized it. It eventually sold on consignment when I was in college, needed rent money, and had moved on to my Yamaha BB1600. Whatever that divey place is called on 45th street where you can buy real books, that's where I sold it.

    I recall it as a nice enough bass. I doubt I would pay $400 to $600 for one now, though, as I recall it may not have cost much more than that new.