60s Fenders in the 70s

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by pil101, Mar 17, 2023.

  1. pil101


    Jul 8, 2000
    I was just wondering, for those players who were around during that era, did people in the 70s seek out Leo Fender era instruments from the 60s due to perceived better quality after the CBS sale? If so, was there any mark-up on used 60s instruments in the 70s?

    Just something I was thinking about today…
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  2. jimmydean


    Mar 14, 2009
    No ! I Paid $260.00 for a 1969 PB in 74 or 75 . I think it cost $375-400 new in 1969 . Nobody was thinking about pre-CBS quality at that point , if they did , they would have bought everything in sight in the early 70's .
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  3. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 Life is short, buy the bass. Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I started in music retail at the great great House of Guitars in1976, players definitely sought out pre CBS instruments even back then. Prices of course were nothing like we see now.
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  4. pil101


    Jul 8, 2000
    fair point. Cool to hear about your experience. Hope you still have your 69!
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  5. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    It was common knowledge in the 1970s that quality control suffered when CBS acquired the company. However, I don't know that anyone sought out the earlier instruments or were willing to pay more for them. Our choices were limited to what brick-and-mortar stores had in inventory, so "era" was less important than playability, condition, and looks.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
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  6. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    Yes, I bought a new P bass in 1970, beat it for a couple of years and sold it, a few weeks later it was back in the paper as a 1964, I know because I called but otherwise yes, 70's especially later in the decade were known as basses to avoid. I was not bass savvy at that age at all but I knew why he did it.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
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  7. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    Pre-CBS instruments were absolutely sought out by folks that were "in the know" in the 70's. Prices weren't as high as today, but among used Fenders, the pre-CBS ones definitely fetched higher prices.

    I was in college in the 70's, and in the town where I went to college, there was a guitar store (in an old house, on the 2nd floor - the 1st floor was a record store), which specialized in "vintage" instruments. They were very focused on what year your Fender or Les Paul was - eras of instruments were very much a thing back then, and with Fenders, it was all about pre or post CBS. A 64 Fender was worth considerably more than a 66, though some people gave a year or two "grace" - Fender's quality didn't slip horribly the day the company was sold, things took a little while to get worse.

    Amplifiers were also the same thing - a black face Fender was worth a whole lot more than a silver.

    One thing 70's Fenders have going for them is that there aren't as many of them around as there would have been if they were good - they didn't sell well, and people readily messed with them, so the supply of them today is relatively scarce. Of course, that doesn't make them better instruments, but someone with nostalgia for that era is competing for a smaller number of instruments than if they had been good and sold well.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
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  8. bobyoung53

    bobyoung53 Supporting Member

    I bought a brand new 1970 P bass with case on layaway for 250 bucks, this was not a deal and it wasn't a huge store either. That was about the going price, bought a new Rickenbacker 4001 in 1977 for 429.00 and those cost more than Fenders back then.
  9. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    In the 80s when I bought my 76 P I had an awareness of "pre-CBS," but for players like me it wasn't a real concern. I was buying a used bass to gig with, and when I found it I had no idea what year it was, nor did I care. I definitely wouldn't have been willing to pay more for an older instrument with more wear at that time.
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  10. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I worked in a music store for a while in the '70s and visited many others back then. '60s basses were just used basses. They were priced and sold accordingly. There was no special interest in them that I ever saw. I never heard the term "Pre- CBS" while working at the shop.
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  11. basted


    Jul 22, 2017
    Hobart , Tasmania
    I bought a new 73 P bass in 1974 for $435. A lot of money back then when wages were low. At the time it was just a new bass with no post CBS concerns. A great bass. I kept it for 25 years.
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  12. allen_m

    allen_m Supporting Member

    Dec 31, 2008
    Tulsa, Oklahoma
    I know it’s a long shot but that store wasn’t in NE Oklahoma was it?
  13. Slightly off topic, but I recall one evening back in 1985 as I was looking in the 'for-sale' pages of a reputable music magazine (I was after a Precision), seeing lots of 'Pre-CBS' basses for sale (both Precision and Jazz), all in the $800-$1000 range (AUD)

    I remember liking what I saw, but also remember thinking they were too expensive:
    • I was a man of very limited financial means and $750 was about as much as I was prepared to pay for any bass guitar.
    • Some of these basses were older than I was at the time (21). Further, I'd recently seen a brand-new CAR Precision Special with matching headstock and maple board for $1200 up close in a music shop, and because I was young and inexperienced, thought the shiny new Precision Special was a much more desirable bass than the old two-tone sunburst '57 P, or the olympic white '62 P in the 'for-sale' adverts. I distinctly remember thinking at the time "why on earth would I pay that much for a 20+ YO Fender when a brand new one is roughly the same price?"
    Had I known then what I know now...
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
  14. shastaband

    shastaband Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 2006
    Bought a used 1966 Precision with case in April 1973 for $200. It’s the bass in my avatar. Still have it after 50 years (as well as 5 newer Precisions). It was just a used professional bass I could afford. I had no knowledge at the time of pre or post CBS instruments.
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2023
  15. Ricky Rioli

    Ricky Rioli

    Sep 29, 2020
    When I discovered musical instrument magazines in 1986, "pre-CBS" was a very big thing. So if "pre-CBS" was no kind of a thing in 1979, it had one hell of a rise in 1980-85
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  16. Grinderman


    Dec 21, 2013
    Los Angeles
    If 19-year-old me knew in 1987 then I suspect someone must have known in the '70s.
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  17. pbass2

    pbass2 Supporting Member

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Kinda funny - I have a MIM Fender "70's Precision" reissue, which aside from the fact it's not entirely accurate (neck binding w dots for example), it's a better bass than the actual 70's ones I've personally had my mitts on!
  18. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    i bought my first p bass (sunburst/rosewood) in december of 1969, brand new. it retailed for $273 + $79 for the hardshell case. the dealer (Westchester Music in SoCal) sold it to me for $300 w/HSC & tax.
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  19. GregT


    Jan 29, 2012
    Southwest Missouri
    The term pre-CBS was well used even in the early 70s where I grew up. The prices weren't inflated at that time, they were considered used basses. We were definitely aware of the quality decline after CBS bought Fender. To this day, I have never figured out why Fender can't simply build them to that quality nowadays with ease. There really was no magic involved although it sure seems like it.
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  20. Templar

    Templar Supporting Member

    Sitting here bored to tears, waiting for Fedex to appear so I can sign off on a package. My TLDR $0.02 on the topic...

    Hard to believe, but in the early 70's, only 50's Fender P basses had any extra value to the "vintage crowd", especially the 57-59 maple/ano ones. The only Jazz basses with any vintage value were the uber-elusive stacked knob ones from 60-61. The few in existence were mostly already in the hands of vintage dealers by then. And many of those were "NFS", or had stratospheric for-sale prices. Even the biggest vint dealers might have one or two, but were reluctant to sell them because those stacker Jazzes attracted looky-loo customers to the stores. Same went for first-year '54 Strats and original Broadcasters too, which often served better as "museum" pieces to lure store visitors (especially wealthy rock stars), than to sell them outright.

    Early 60's Fender guitars, and L-series pre-CBS Fenders were viewed as just utility pieces, even among players who perceived that the "new" CBS-era Fender quality was in steady decline. Early 60's custom color guitars were still having their zany wild factory paint jobs sanded off by the "natural wood" hippie types.

    But all that changed in the mid 70's, virtually overnight when Guitar Player magazine did a big spread on George Gruhn and his vintage guitar shop in Nashville. In that huge article Gruhn laid out his whole business of selling vintage guitars to the stars. With that one GP issue the word was out!....now everyone upped the price of every older used guitar they had, even the ones that nobody wanted. That marked the beginning of the end of an era....the era of being able to scour a universe full of hapless pawn shops and little unenlightened music stores where the old gems could be dug up for cheap money. Within a few short years any pre-66 Fender guitar became "collectable", and values began soaring.

    And here we are today....Vintage Mania is still going strong, having reached heights that no one would have believed possible 40 years ago. Ironically, the once-viewed "horridly built" guitars of the late 70's that helped fuel Vintage Mania in the first place, have magically morphed into highly sought after "vintage guitars".