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'78 P Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by dukeandrews, Jan 24, 2014.

  1. dukeandrews


    Jan 24, 2014
    Howdy, everyone. I've been a long time lurker and I just love this forum. I apologize if this is in the wrong section, I searched and couldn't find what I was looking for. I have never bought vintage gear before and now I am looking at a '78 P-Bass and need some opinions.

    1. The guy is asking $1400 for it and the finish is REALLY beat up. I love the look of it, but don't want the seller to know that. I have seen very well preserved basses from the same era going for less on ebay. Is that a fair price? Or is the finish moot for vintage gear?

    2. What are the kinds of things that I should be looking for when buying a vintage instrument? What have your experiences been with buying old gear?

    Thanks, everyone!
  2. audioglenn


    Jul 14, 2012
    $1400 for a beat up 78 P bass??!!! That's really high, IMO. For that kind of money it should be in much better shape.
    I would not buy it! You can get a much better(and maybe even older) one for that kind of money.
  3. southshoreconor


    Oct 30, 2007
    The Road
    Endorsing Artist: Fender Musical Instruments, SIT strings
    you'd have to sit and play with it. it could be so beat up because it feels and sounds f***in amazing and has been played hard for 35 years. some of those 70's fenders were killer. some were duds. i'd be weary of a mint one.

    fwiw, i have a 78 and it's a little beat up. it feels great it my hands and i paid 1200 for it a few years ago.
  4. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    FWIW I bought a 78' a few years back for $1200 and the finish was in great shape with just light player wear.
    That is as much as I would pay for a 78' with good finish...a 78' with bad much less.
  5. pnchad

    pnchad Supporting Member

    Nov 3, 2005
    for a player with no structural issues

    check the truss rod - that it turns

    as someone said above - the wear is from use - could be a keeper

    I've got a '76 P I bought new - played it for about 5 yrs straight as a pro 6 nights/wk

    if I had continued playing only that P it would be beat - we never respected those Fenders when we got them new - like $225
  6. $1400 does seem high for a beater. If it plays and sounds AMAZING, then look at it like your getting a killer deal on a Fender Custom Shop "relic". If you look at it this way, then the $1400 doesn't seem like a lot. ;)
  7. bassdude51

    bassdude51 Supporting Member

    Nov 1, 2008
    Central Ohio
    Those late 70s Fenders are not very desirable. That's right about the time CBS Fender went "belly-up" and sold off.

    My Lord, check Talk Bass classified Basses for sale. Man! You can get a nice AVRI P Bass for under $1,400 and if you take care of it, it'll be a collectable in a few decades!

    Also, I've seen Fender Custom Shop P Basses every once in a while on Talk Bass for $2,000.

    A '78 P for $1,400! Why?
  8. GM60466


    May 20, 2006
    Land of Lakland
    I's more in the $1000 range if there is a case with it.
  9. dukeandrews


    Jan 24, 2014
    Thanks everyone. I played it for about 5 minutes and I do really like the feel of it. I'll go back and check the truss rod. I was thinking in the $1000 dollar range too. It does not come with a case, though. I have another p bass hard case, so that is no biggie. I don't think its going anywhere, so I'm going to let him sit on it for a week or so, as to not look too interested.
  10. Electrophonic


    Aug 11, 2010
    I have had a few late '70s basses and have kept a '75 that I truly love. If this '78 sounds great and feels right, then try to get it under $1400. It seems a bit high for me too.

    I am a purist and prefer these vintage instruments to be as original as possible. As in pups, pots, knobs, covers, bridge and so on. You decide for yourself if that is important to you or not.
  11. As reference:

    I bought my 77 in decent shape for 1200 without original electronics. I would place it in fair to good shape, though I later came to find out it was once J-routed and refinished.

    Yesterday I bought an all original 74 in great shape that plays killer and paid 1800.

    I played a 78 in guitar center today that had a decent finish, but had a brass but installed that was too thin for the neck, the pups were bottomed out, and the bridge was setup all sorts of wrong. They had it priced at 1900.
  12. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    That's an incredibly fair price if you ask me. I'd offer $1,200 just to see what happens, but that's not bad. I have a 77' Jazz that has a modded bridge and old EMG electronics that I paid $1,400 for, and a be a up 74' P that I traded a Clement fretless for. From what I've seen its easily worth $1,500. Both I felt I got for fair enough prices. Not great, but certainly below market value.

    Like everyone has said about the 70s though, some are duds, and I'n aware I've gotten lucky. Even if the 70s arent Fender's greatest instruments they're now lower priced investments as far as I'm concerned.
  13. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef Formerly "thebrian" Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    When you're buying a vintage instrument, originality really sets the value. 100% original basses go for much more than refinished ones and/or basses that have had parts swapped out. It's impossible to say what the bass you are considering is worth unless we know how original it is and/or if it has been modified (even one extra screw hole in the body can really hurt its value). All original vintage basses that just have a lot of wear go for a lot more money than the same bass from the same year, in really nice condition, but has had the electronics and/or hardware replaced, etc..

    Vintage instruments that are in near mint condition do tend to command more money. But unlike most other antiques and collectables, for every guy that's looking for a mint condition vintage piece, there is at least one other guy that wants the battle scars. That's not the case with Tiffany lamps or vintage cars, but musical instruments are different. IME, there's actually more people out there that want the battle scars - which makes worn basses easier to sell. I personally don't care for mint condition vintage basses - I'm too worried I will hurt it! So that means I won't pay the extra $$ for mint cond.

    The color (if the finish is original) also has a big affect on value too. For '70s Fenders, the price difference between a natural finish compared to a custom color finish like Olympic White, will be hundreds of dollars. For '60s Fenders, the difference between a sunburst compared to a custom color will be thousands!

    If the bass you're considering is all original, but heavily worn, and it's a sunburst, then $1400 is very fair IMO. If it's a custom color (even black), then $1400 is a great price. And if it's a natural finish, it may be a bit too high. But in the end, if you're "feelin it", then it's worth what you'll pay for it.
  14. tjnkoo


    Apr 19, 2011
    Metro Atlanta
    If I was offering that bass at a price like $1,200 I'd act similarly.
  15. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    Mar 5, 2013
    Lost Wages, Nevada
    This is my '78 P-Bass. I paid $500 for it, but that was 25 years ago. It's all original, except for having to be refinished 2 years later (in the original 2 tone Burst), and the pickguard; still have the original bwb one, though. What's a '78 worth? That's a dangerous question, IMO, and my answer is; it depends. Condition? Originality? Unplayed case Queen, with all the paperwork? In the case of Fenders, color? Are you an obsessive collector, or just want a cool oldie to play? If the latter, then, generally the answer is,whatever you can get, if you're selling; whatever you're willing to pay, if you're buying. Personally, that seems a little steep for a rough looking righty, unless it plays and sounds like a dream. If it's a lefty, ...? Probably the same. I do like mine, though; a lot.;)

    Attached Files:

  16. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008
    You guys are lucky. A 78' P in any condition goes for $2500+ here in Australia. Early-70s Ps go for even more.

    +1 regarding condition. A mint 70s P has probably sat in its case for 40 years for a good reason, whereas a beaten-up one has been played for 40 years for a good reason.
  17. SirMjac28

    SirMjac28 Patiently Waiting For The Next British Invasion

    Aug 25, 2010
    The Great Midwest
    Please remember old doesn't always mean better not every vintage bass or guitar is a winner for that price if you can't play it don't buy it.
  18. dukeandrews


    Jan 24, 2014
    well i think it will be a no go. the guy doesn't want to budge on the price. I'll play it again sometime next week and decide. I like it, but it is pretty beat for that price.
  19. dukeandrews


    Jan 24, 2014
    it has different pots and knobs and he didn't know about the pups, so I would assume they aren't original either. so, i think the price is a little high. i'm not a cheap skate, but I'm not going to buy it just because it's old.
  20. dukeandrews


    Jan 24, 2014
    Well I talked him down to trade my Mexican fretless J and some cash. Got it for a song.:hyper: It is pretty rough, but I love the sound. Is there a thread for posting pictures? I'll post some pics as soon as I figure it out.