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70s jazz, vintage or high end?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by momo, Mar 9, 2006.

  1. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Just wondering, several people rave about the great 70s style jazz basses from sadowsky metro, lakland, lull, etc. However, origional 3 bolts regularly sell for much less than 2k. I am getting to the 2k bass purchase within the end of the year, and I would like some info on why one would be better for me than the other.

    Origional - I like the idea of the investment quality of 70's basses. My P has gone up in value, where as if I would have gotten an MIA for nearly the same price at the time, it would be worth hundreds less today. The drop off for highend bass is quite steep. Also, studios seem to always like my bass (vintage voodo, I realize) and that is a bonus, as I like to do as much studio work as possible.

    Highend new - Great options and excellent playability, but do they really get "that 70's" sound? Are they worth it if they are just going to loose value?

    I play all kinds of music, but much of it is as a steady sideman. Nothing flashy, just good solid money earning support.
  2. Obviously, your investment return will be higher on the original Fender than it will on the hi-end "copies".

    HOWEVER: Be very careful about mid to late 70's jazz basses. Some of those suckers can top out at over 14 pounds, and no investment is worth the neck spasms that will cause. Also, very heavy basses with very thick poly finishes (some are) don't always sound that good. Kind of twangy and brittle without that good thump that one likes in a Jazz Bass. Play before you pay.
  3. No doubt someone else would naturally say it, so I'm going to be first.

    Play the various instruments and buy the one that you feel most suited to.

    IMHO buying a bass for its resale value isn't all that much fun. I really need to be feeling something with my bass. I would never buy a bass just to keep it in its case under the bed, waiting for those $$$$ to add up. But that's just me.

    If you're a working musician, your bass is a tool of your trade and should be able to handle all the situations you may find yourself in. You really want an instrument that you won't mind a few scratches on.

    If you're an investor - go for a vintage.

    If your a player - go for what makes you feel connected to your instrument.

    2 cents
  4. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    The advantage of a new bass is.... well it's a NEW bass. Something without all of the possible dramas involved with owning a 30 year old instrument. On the other hand, if the 3 bolt bass is still around, it's probably won't be a problem. I have two 70's jazz basses that I play all the time. Before I purchased it, I got rid of my boutique bass which was of better quality, but with a few tweaks, I have a bass that sounds great and I think sounds better.
  5. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    I don't mind the dings of the old bass, and I wouldn't just put it under the bed. This is to be my main gigging insturment. I think the play some till I find one I like is a good idea, but for 2k or so, I could have lull or even valenti build me one.

    Tough call. any more advice?
  6. Well, for 2K a vintage bass would need to have some mojo IMO.

    Just considering the build quality, souped-up electronics and bells and whistles that you can get with a modern instrument, a vintage Fender would want to be pretty sweet to get me to pull the trigger.
  7. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005

    Yea honestly, I love my '70's P-bass...But I only paid $600 for it because my friend just wanted to get rid of it and he didn't play bass. I don't think I'd pay $2k for a vintage Fender after playing My Geddy for $699 an MIA for $1k if you have $2k to spend on a bass... you love vintage Fenders, and want to make an investment, then be my guest, they are like Gold! They will always be worth something.
  8. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    If it's your main and only tool, then I would try to get the best of both worlds.

    I would look for a vintage 70's Body on Ebay, then have someone like Jack Read build you a nice neck for it. This wya you'll stilll get some mojo from an old resonant body and still have a graphite reinforced neck with very low auction which will be more playable then a vintage instrument. The whole project should cost you about $1200 - $1500 tops US.

    You can start with these:



    this one you'll have stuff the holes then add a nice top.

  9. lamarjones

    lamarjones Supporting Member

    Aug 27, 2002
    Raleigh, NC
    I got an F bass (loaner, getting a new one built now) and a 71 jazz, among others, but these two kind of near the same ball park. The vibe on the 71 is nuts, its just bad ass. Only reason I don't use it as much is cause its a 4 and I am pretty much a 5 guy. But if I am jamming without one of my regular bands, I will show up with that or an R bass usually.

    So.....if you can swing a 70-73, chances are it will definitley have the vibe (I waited and waited, and got mine for 1000, but that don't happen too much). If you are concerned about weight, try for this time period. But, I am not sure what my point is, except I totally would vouch for a 71!
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    A couple of things that I've found. First, depending on what '70's J Bass sound' you are going for, a lot of that has to do with having some sort of preamp (ala Marcus Miller). If that's the aggressive 'funk' sound you are going for, add the cost of a preamp to the cost of the Vintage bass, and also decide if you want to actually mod a vintage bass like that. Also, +1 on the weight of some of those 70's J's whew!

    For the 'hi end', be careful of the models and brands... since most hi end J Basses are meant to cop a more 60's thing. As I've posted before, and from many bassists trying and hearing my 'hi end' 70's J type bass, the Celinder Update is by far the best sounding brand/model that I've ever heard if you are looking for that 'Marcus-type' 70's J Bass on steroids sound. I also understand the Atelier's (if I have that spelling correct) do a good job also.

    Check out the soundclips on the Celinder site in the 'Soundroom' section of the site.... the actual playing is looped from what I understand, but the bass sounds are real, and IMO accurate from my experience with these amazing basses.

    The other advantage of 'new' is that you can get a 5 string if you so choose.
  11. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    Want a 70's Jazz...Here's one for sale, just like the one I bought earlier in the week, although I paid less.

    Get it now, it will be $4,500 (or more) in three years.


    The 72 I bought earlier this week (pic in the sticky post on top) has MAJOR MOJO. The story about recent 70's Jazz Bass prices here in the big ****ty is also there.
  12. birminghambass

    birminghambass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2002
    Birmingham, AL
    If you do decide to go the vintage route I wouldn't one buy without playing it first. 70's Fenders vary greatly in quality and tone. My 72 Jazz weighs 8lbs and the action always feels high and tight regardless of setup. My friends 73 weighs 12lbs and is a slap machine with super low action.
  13. This whole nostalgia for the '70s Fenders is very odd to me. I'm old enough to remember when a lot of people did not like those basses, complaining about tone, feel, weight, workmanship, and just about everything else that matters in a bass. Yet now they're "vintage"? I guess either they magically become wonderful, or they weren't quite as bad as people said. I'm inclined to the latter explanation myself, but I've never found any of those '70s Fenders particularly remarkable or worth vintage bucks. (Then again, I don't really worship at the vintage Fender altar in the first place, so discount what I say accordingly.)

    All of which is to say that I personally would get a Sadowsky before I'd spend comparable money on a '70s Fender. This isn't in any way a knock on those who love their Fenders from that era, just my $0.02 (which doesn't even buy a jawbreaker these days :) ).
  14. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    +1.. those are the 'post CBS' Fenders that we all hated back then. To be fair, I have a feeling the ones that are still around are mostly pretty good. I think there was more a problem with consistency back then, versus bad design, etc.

    However, I'm with you, the new hi end versions are mostly amazing. Also, there are a lot easier ways to get a return on investment than a 'vintage' bass. Buy a bass that sounds great... use a well thought out investment portfolio if you are wanting to make money!
  15. burk48237

    burk48237 Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Oak Park, MI
    A big +1 from me on that too! I suspect the current nostalgia for 70's Jazzes is based on three things.

    1) The classic Fender 70's Jazz tone: Larry Graham, Verdine White come to mind. But we often forget that many of those records were recorded with Neve consoles on Analog equipment with "live" rhythm sections.

    2) The "modded" Fender Jazz tone: Marcus Miller, comes to mind. It always blows my mind how many guys will show me their excellent sounding 70's Jazz and I come to find out that the only thing that is stock is the body! Badass bridges, new pickups, pre-amps, hip-shot tuners are common on many of those basses getting the "70's Jazz sound" with pickups and pre-amps that weren't available till the late 90's!

    3) Resonant bodies: I will be the first to admit that the wood available for production basses in the 70's was probably equal to the woods you see on "custom shop" products today. Also a thirty-five year old piece of Ash or Alder finished in nitrocellius lacquer will be naturally more resonant due to aging then a brand new piece of wood.

    In summary, Fender did make some great basses in the 70's. But to echo Richard's comments they made a lot of crap then too. I remember working at a dealer in 77 and sending back almost half of a Fender order because of serious construction issues. I can't tell you how many 70's J's I've seen hanging in a guitar center where the neck pocket had a bigger gaps then front teeth of an avid Nascar fan. If you chose to go vintage, either check the bass personally or buy from a reputable dealer that is able to give you quality detailed pictures. In the 2K range I'd look at a Sadowsky UV metro, or a Lakland Daryl Jones (which I love in the four, but can't get with the fivers neck profile). The Cellinder like Ken Mentioned excels at that Marcus tone but might be on the high end of your price range.
  16. Coop Soup

    Coop Soup

    Aug 24, 2005
    But didn't they stop the nitrocellius lacquer finishes in '67? I'm not saying... I'm just saying.
  17. tkozal


    Feb 16, 2006
    New York City
    "This whole nostalgia for the '70s Fenders is very odd to me. I'm old enough to remember when a lot of people did not like those basses, complaining about tone, feel, weight, workmanship, and just about everything else that matters in a bass. Yet now they're "vintage"? I guess either they magically become wonderful, or they weren't quite as bad as people said. I'm inclined to the latter explanation myself.."

    I would generally have to agree with you. For years I cared not for Fender in the mid 70's to early 90's. I seemed to deliberately stay away from them. But that Peavey T-40 I bought as my first "serious" bass is still worth roughly what I paid for it, and if I would have bought a Fender, it would be worth easily twice what I would have paid. Why? I have no idea, other than they're FENDERS.

    I have played some really bad 60's and 70's stuff. I was amazed over the years at how their prices continued to climb. Several years ago I sarted to play more classic rock rather than the jazz stuff I was playing before. I already owned several Fenders, a 1996 62 J RI, a Marcus Miller. Both very nice; each with its limitations. I ended up buying an American Deluxe J also, but back to vintage.

    I played numerous 70-78 P's hanging around stores in NYC, and several had a really great sound, the "mojo" discussed earlier. On a whim I bought a 73 P. The compliments I get on its sound are quite startling. Numerous of the P's I played, or tried to play, were beyond any redemption, or verification as to what they really were.

    I bought the 72 J after playing it extensively, it literally felt alive. The staff was mad I was taking it away: "No, don't go!".

    I would also add I consider these oldies as rock basses only, I would not use them on really anything else.

    I would like to get a Sadowsky, and I probably will someday, but its the idea of waiting, rather than this fun Fender stalking process, that has kept me waiting (even longer) to order a Sadowsky. I have rarely seen them used.

    But I have enough J basses, now time to look at an EUB.
  18. Sufenta

    Sufenta Trudging The Happy Road of Destiny

    Mar 14, 2002
    The Signpost Up Ahead.
    The prices on that site seem pretty high. They want almost 3K for that '73 P!
    My '71 P, and especially my '65 J, both have all the vibe/MJ one could ever want. That said, my main bass is a '99 Cote Continuum Jazz (BE maple neck, BA II bridge, passive LF p/us). It has all the style and feel of the '65 but with more modern components and 1/7 the $.
  19. If you do decide on a new high end bass, you might want to add Atelier Z and Celinder to that list. Recently several people here have commented that the Atelier Z in particular nails the heavy ash/maple '70s sound and vibe. Bass Boutique's Website currently lists a used 4-string and a new/discounted 5-string.
  20. momo


    Oct 22, 2005
    Huntington Beach, CA
    Thanks for all of the ideas guys. I am starting to think about another option, with moded and refin'd 70's jazzes going in the 1k range, and used lulls going for about the same, I am considering getting both.

    By the way, I tend to like the passive sound, so I don't know if I would be going the active or added preamp route.