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A friend is offering to sell me his heavily modified '59 P Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dave Campbell, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    The thing is I don"t even know where to begin in terms of bargaining with him.

    The original pickups are gone
    Replaced with a pair of EMG Jazz pickups
    Badass bridge
    Grover tuners
    Black P pickguard, cut to fit the J pickup
    70's case

    Nice maple board
    Sunburst body, beautifully worn, natural relic

    Yep, it's a bit of a mutt. But boy that thing would definitely have some vibe. I'd have to unload a few of my own pieces to make room for her in the stable, but I also don't need to spend a ton of money, either.

    Any ideas where I should start in terms of an offer?
  2. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    No, price quotes are for supporting members only. Sorry.
  3. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
    While supporting membership is a truly worthwhile status, Inquiring about the purchase price of an item the non member is looking to buy is allowed.

    With all the changed parts and routing, The main value lies in the neck. If it is a great player, it would probably sell for under $3K. Certainly under 4. Must be early '59. I think the switch to rosewood boards was complete by the end of 1959.
  4. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    It is clearly outlined in the rules (#3). This thread is going to get deleted for that reason. Sorry OP.

    The $20 offers more benefits than just price quotes, just do it.
  5. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    I just don't want to insult him if I offer $1500. I really cant spend thousands on something. However, he's got a studio FULL of guitar cases, and I'm itching to spend a day with him opening them up and seeing what's in there.

    I agree the value is probably more in the neck. Fortunately I don't feel the uncontrollable GAS like I have at other times, especially when I look at the classifieds.
    Like for example, from spending time on here I developed a hankering for a Peavey T40, and started researching them. I came darn close to hitting the trigger on a nice red one that was for sale in the classifieds.

    If anything I need to pair down my stable of 10 basses down to around four.
  6. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    I see, I see. I visit this place often enough and derive enough benefit from it that it is worth it to contribute. OK, looking into it now...
  7. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    Just subscribed!!

    That was painless.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Well a $1500 offer might get accepted, it will probably be perceived as an insult. The problem is, he might watch a bunch of Storage Wars and think he is sitting on solid gold. He might think he has a $5-10,000 bass. He definitely does not.

    Pictures would help a lot, so get some if you are serious for a more concrete idea on price. I would say Jim was pretty close saying it probably won't go for more than $3,000 maybe $4,000 depending on how it plays and esthetic condition.
  9. smcd

    smcd Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Actually, all the value of that bass lies in the neck. Everything else is gone or ruined. You should ask yourself "Am I really that desperate that I NEED to own a '59 Fender neck?" Look at the basses you'll be selling, and then consider what you'll be getting. A genie isn't going to pop out of that neck when you play it. There's no guarantee that you'll have a good sounding bass when you own it.

    This is a buyer's market. There are tons of deals out there on vintage gear. If you can't buy that bass and flip it overnight for several hundred profit, it's absolutely not worthwhile. Sell some gear, build up cash, and wait for the right bass to come along. It won't take long.
  10. dukeplaysbass

    dukeplaysbass Supporting Member

    Given the routing and missing parts (which are really not easy to come by on the open market), the big value is in the neck.

    I'm not sure $1500 is so far out of the ballpark to be insulting. The neck might be worth $1500 if in good shape. Body is maybe $500 routed. The rest of it is maybe worth $200.

    If it were offered to me, I'd go no higher than $2000. Jusy my opinion....
  11. fenderhutz

    fenderhutz Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2007
    Harpers Ferry WV
    You might want to read and look at application. You can't ask about an item you own what is a good price.

    If he is just asking about fair market value of an item that is used for sale elsewhere, that should be fine.

    That's how it's been at least in the many years I have been here.
  12. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    With the quality of new Fender (or, your favorite maker) basses, I constantly ask this question:

    Why in the hell are folks throwing good money (anything over $800.00) a heavily modified Fender with little relation to its original build?

    For $875-$1000, you could get a beautifully functioning NEW USA built Precision or Jazz with all the vibe (case candy) and superior playability than many of these beaten & abused old clunkers. Not too mention the adjustment battles to keep them playable. Only select old wines really taste good.

    It's your money and your instincts are gonna tell you what to do. But, after years of playing through dozens of used Precisions of all ages, and the money involved, when Fender is making them better now than they did then, it doesn't seem worth it...to me.
  13. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    More than price I think the real question is how much you like the bass. When you start looking at $1K or more it's important to feel really good on the instrument. A good bass should sound great and feel perfect in your hands. Playing the instruments a few minutes won't tell you that. Any new bass feels great and sounds great for 20 minutes; it's the novelty placebo effect. After an hour or two is a different story. I would also try the bass a couple times and play the instrument for a long time.

    If all this checks out than it's time to look at price. A heavily modified instrument loses a lot of its value as others have noted. To me it really boils down to how the instrument feels, sounds and looks. If it's a magic instruments in your hand, it's worth a lot, if you have to fight the neck to play it's worth zero.

    Resell value is to be considered as well. A white elephant is impossible to sell and therefore worth nothing. I am not saying this bass is one but as our taste and interest does change it's important.

    Pass that ebay (I hate to say) is your best benchmark. Even the IRS is now relying on this source to establish the value of used item donations.
  14. bassguy72


    Sep 7, 2011
    I agree with this 100%.......
  15. GreaserMatt


    Sep 4, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    You could try to replace all the orig hardware later; the biggest thing is the route(s). Would they hide under a stock precision pick guard? You could always replace the pups w/ p pickups & get a p p/g for it. Add orig hardware as you find it. It could be a nice player. Pics would help... a jazz pickup route on a '59 p bass body really hurts the value inho...
  16. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Congrats on your new membership. Now before you bite hard on this friend's bass, play it through a good amp & then go play as many new Precisions as you can before you decide.
  17. JimB52

    JimB52 User Supporting Member

    May 24, 2007
    East Coast
  18. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Offer the $1500. If he's looking to dump it, he might bite.

    $2k would be a good price even. I wouldn't go over 3k...

    I snatched a modified 1962 P bass up for $950 and a few months later a 1974 P for $600. Both have the original PU's, too.

    Really just depends on if he's trying to dump it or if he wants to keep it to try and make more off Ebay or something. Now is the time to buy LOW.

    Can't hurt to ask.

    Good luck.
  19. Dave Campbell

    Dave Campbell

    Jul 13, 2006
    Some good points made here.

    I do have some pics, and I really should add them here.

    I also agree about the recent quality improvements from Fender. I bought a nice 2008 Blizzard Pearl Precision with a flamed maple board from a TB member a couple of years ago. VERY nice quality instruments coming out now. That bass had an "accident" about a year and a half ago... it was leaned up against my truck canopy when I was packing out after a band rehearsal, and forgotten about... until I got home and noticed it missing. It had been driven over in the parking lot, and there was a tire tread down the full length of the gig bag. Lo and behold that thing survived, the truss rod is now maxxed out but the action is still decent and the fbody finish didn't really suffer. I love that bass, and feel like it's going to be with me for life. Plus, there's no way I could get the price I wanted from it with full disclosure. But those carbon fiber reinforcements in the neck are probably what saved it from certain death. Another testament to modern Fender durability.

    It's true I need another bass nice I need a hole in my head, but at one time a couple of years ago I did express an interest in the '59.

    Wish I could make these pictures bigger:




  20. chuck norriss

    chuck norriss Banned

    Jan 20, 2011
    You'd have a big project replacing all of those modern parts w originals or for less-untoward, less-conspicuous vintage ones.

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