66 Fender Jazz-To relic or not to relic

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by McThistle54, Mar 25, 2019.

  1. Background: Last summer I acquired an all-original (good condition) 66 J. The sound is pretty killer, so this instrument needs to be played. I've already done a fair number of gigs (but always with an eagle eye on its whereabouts between sets and during pack up) and plan on more gigging with it.

    The previous owner had it for over 40 years, and played in local "big bands" doing standards and mellow tunes. Because of that, one would think the J would have been babied, and in some ways it was (no smoky bars, not a lot of sweat/grime/gunk associated with the saloon scene). But on the other hand, the J has a fair amount of wear in all the usual places and multiple small dings on the body. It's got a lot of mojo.

    Unfortunately, the back of the neck (luckily not the fretboard) has a lot of small dings as well, though very little wear on its gloss finish, which is an odd thing. Apparently this bass was subject to a very gentle lefthand technique, but also was not lovingly placed on an any kind of decent stand during breaks between songs so it was dinged repeatedly. This leads to my reason for posting and request for feedback.

    I am thinking of doing a careful "relic job" on the back of the neck to remove the numerous divots. This will require going down to bare wood.

    Do those dings really affect my playing and is it absolutely necessary to do this? Of course not, but they are annoying and I prefer the feel of a well-worn vintage neck with little/no finish. Plus, I don't want to wait 20-30 years to wear off the finish naturally.

    So, this bass is going to be played for a few years, but as always there will come a time when it will move on to another player/collector.

    The player side of me says "make this how you like it because the finish would have gotten worn away anyway with other players, and so it may not affect the value all that much because it's not a holy grail Pre-CBS."

    The vintage collector side of my brain says "It's still a collectable piece. Leave it alone, and live with it so that it remains all original."

    I'd appreciate thoughts from the player/collectors on TB.

  2. bass40hz

    bass40hz Cigar smoker, scotch drinker, American Patriot

    Aug 13, 2014
    Sussex County, NJ
    no endorsements yet...Are you listening Spector, DR, GK, Line6?
    Do what makes you happy...if resale is what floats your boat, then you know what not to do...if playing the crap out of it and enjoying every wrong note and every paint chip and ding, you know what to do. All depends on your goals. Have fun.
    Rock on.
    Rallypoint_1 likes this.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    one cat's opinion:
    - don't relic: waste of time/effort (and maybe money) for something you can get 'free' by playing (playing = what it was made for!)
    - make the ax play the way you want: forget 'collectibility'....it's over-rated.
    - practice/play more and worry about 'looks' less.

    sounds to me like you're looking for encouragement to do what you want: do what you want!

    good luck! :thumbsup:
    Rallypoint_1 likes this.
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Do not relic. I think what you propose is significantly over-reacting. If there are "dings" on the neck try using an iron and damp cloth to expand the wood back to original. That's all I would do.

    I know you don't plan on re-selling, but down the road you will cost yourself a lot of money when you DO re-sell. A bass is only original once.
    tbplayer59 and MonetBass like this.
  5. I’d leave it as is ...
  6. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician
    The bass has its own mojo. That is what it has acquired through decades of use. You destroy all of that by giving it fake mojo. The old mojo has meaning. What you do to it when you relic it is just fake.
    Picton and Pilgrim like this.
  7. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    If you intend to resell, and it sounds like you do, don't do it. You'll destroy the value. Really.

    If it were mine, had holy grail tone (keeper, and most vintage instruments don't have that), I'd have probably already stripped the back of the neck. I like bare wood.
    lfmn16 likes this.
  8. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Suspended

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    Relicing is ADDING artificial wear and tear a bass to mimic real wear and tear. What you are proposing is REMOVING actual wear and tear.

    I would find a really good luthier and see what your options are. To me anyway, the bottom line is that a bass has to be comfortable to play. It sounds like those divots are affecting your comfort.

    And for God's sake please give those "fake" comments a rest. We're tired of your whining. Unless there are sunburst trees and red trees and orange trees, ALL basses are fake. Just grow up.

    Relic a bass.jpeg
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2019
    mdogs and kentiki like this.
  9. I appreciate the responses on this. I'm usually not this indecisive, but sometimes just tossing things out for opinions helps to get a better sense of the priorities. Plus, watching vids on people relicing necks has been enlightening, to say the least. The end result would be way out of place based upon the overall condition level. (BTW, in the pic it may LOOK like it is mint, but that's mainly because the front somehow escaped the mojo).

    It is best to leave the 66 all original and to take the long view. That neck and its divots/dings are part of its history and its own unique character, and I'm just going to play it a whole lot more to wear that neck down (though I don't have THAT many years left to play). If I want to play a pristine neck, I'll dig out one of my newer basses.

    Again, thanks for the feedback, everyone.

    66 J.jpg
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    relic’ing means adding fake wear, that would just be stupid on an actual vintage bass with a story of its own.

    if the goal is fixing annoying dings in the back of the neck for better feel, just do that.

    +1 to steaming up the dents, that’ll help a lot. then, since it’s a nitro lacquer finish, you can carefully drop-fill lacquer into what’s left to get it back to level, then sand smooth without wrecking the existing finish.

    at that point a gentle “de-gloss” of the back of the neck to just take the shine away is not so destructive and irreversible.
    96tbird likes this.
  11. Walter, thanks for the info. Clearly you have a lot of experience and knowledge in this area. My skills are just in basic woodworking, which makes me wholly unqualified to try anything like this.Too bad you are not close, as I would consider asking you to take this on. What you describe as a final result sounds much more like what I had originally envisioned when I said the word "relic." As I alluded in my last post, the YT examples of relicing made me decide against any attempts on my own. Thanks again for the feedback.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
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