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'73 Jazz with a rough life

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ntenny, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. Delurking with some curiosity about one of my basses.

    Away back in 1991 or '92, I was a starving student with GAS for a fretless, and thanks to the kindness of some friends and a certain amount of living on ramen, I managed to come up with a 1973 Jazz that had been defretted and, um, *inventively* refinished in a striking black semigloss coat of spraypaint. The defret was more or less competent, the pickups were replaced with EMG Selects, and the finish, such as it was, had been beat to heck. If you wanted to find a way to destroy the resale value of your bass while keeping it in decent working condition, you'd pretty much do exactly what that previous owner had done; but of course nobody thought in those terms about CBS Fenders back then.

    Well, I've got the bass opened up to replace the EMGs with the new HC Aguilars, and I thought I might as well pull the neck, clean everything up a little, and confirm that the neck stamp matched the 1973 s/n date. Behold---no neck stamp at all, which I guess is not unheard of, but what's really interesting is that the neck pocket has *five* holes, not four; the extra looks like it's in about the right position for the third bolt of the 3-bolt neck pattern (see attachment). I don't think the fifth hole has ever had a screw in it.

    The wiring was a hack job, with big blobs of solder and some missing ground wires. I'm surprised it worked as well as it did---there was quite a bit of hum, but it wasn't intolerable.

    I'm pretty sure it didn't leave the factory fretless; the lines are fretwire or some similar piece of metal, and the edges of the wood aren't extremely clean. I'm assuming the neck does match the body, though, based on s/n, decals, pot dates, and the unlikelihood of anyone faking a CBS Fender in the 80s and then half-destroying it!

    In a few places, a little bit of grey-blue shows through the black. I'm not sure if it's the original paint (Lake Placid blue?) or some kind of primer under the black.

    So I'm trying to decide what to do here. On the one hand, it seems like an obvious candidate for a professional refinish someday when I get around to it; on the other, it's been this way for as long as I've known it and it doesn't seem to have hurt the sound any. And what is with that fifth bolt hole, anyway? Did they drill bodies for both patterns during the transition to the 3-bolt necks?


    Attached Files:

  2. That other hole is where they hook the body to paint it. It's not even close to where it should be for a 3 bolt configuration.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Wherever you go, there you are.

    Post some pics so we can see the entire bass. :)
  4. satellite4


    May 23, 2011
    SF Bay Area
  5. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    How does it sound when you play it at a gig or in the studio?

    Have you any desire to restore this instrument? This is not a trick question...
  6. Energy


    Jun 20, 2006
  7. That neck pocket is in a 4 bolt config.

    The 3 bolt microtilt had a metal plate at the bottom of the neck pocket that the bolt threaded into.

    Restore that puppy to its former glory. Strip that rattlecan crap off it and have it professionaly redone and refret the neck.
  8. Well, the old pickups are out and the new ones aren't in, so at the moment it sounds pretty quiet. :) The EMGs were...mostly harmless, except for the hum. As far as I can tell, the bass itself sounds, well, like a fretless Jazz. Anything that's *wrong* with the sound is probably best addressed by fixing the player rather than the instrument.

    I don't want the frets back, certainly. The body finish...I'm torn. The reasons to do it are obvious, but I've had it in this "custom" scheme for twenty years and there's some charm to the "been through three wars" look, too.

    How much does a professional refinish cost anyway?

    Thanks for the clarification on the neck pocket, folks. I attach another couple of photos---I don't think I have any good ones from before I took it apart.


    Attached Files:

  9. OK, a friend and I got the pickups installed last night, and I spent some time today debugging grounding issues. Here it is in working form, Aguilars installed, in the company of the coolest amp ever.


    Attached Files:

    Duder likes this.
  10. Looks perfect, I would not change a thing!
  11. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Oh dear, the dreaded "filed down the frets" fretless conversion. Luthiers everywhere shudder, but if it works, it's all good. You may eventually have to re-level the board if it shrinks a little and leaves the fret tangs proud of the surface, until then flog it like you mean it. Looks like a fun project.