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A Good Jazz Bass Vintage?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by basstastic, Jan 14, 2002.

  1. Okay. I have some money to replace my current Jazz Bass. And I noticed that my idol Dirk Lance has started gigging a vintage Jazz Bass along with his 5-String SSIIs. I was wondering, are there "good years" for Jazz Basses. I have seen that there are like "64" reissues. Is 64 a good year. What years should I look at if i want to buy one. Feel free to call me a copycat.

  2. I believe it was a '62 and a '74 reissue. the 62 rocks, that is for sure. Ive played a '68, that was amazing. If I were doing I'd try to get one before 1970.
  3. The ones before 1970 costs a fortune, but I love my Elrick New Jazz Standard, it's not vintage, but I love it, once I play it, can't put it down. When I wanted to practice for 1 hour, turns into 3 hours until my hand is numb.
  4. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Usually, when people talk about "vintage" jazz basses, they are referring to pre-CBS basses (basses made while Leo Fender owned the Company and before he sold it to CBS at the start of 1965). This is why you see Fender recreating the '62 and '64 jazz basses, why Dan Lakin modeled the Joe Osborne model after a 1960 jazz bass (before the tone controls were changed from stacked vol/tone to vol/vol/tone), and why Roger Sadowsky models his vintage-style jazz basses after L-series Fenders, which corresponds to the letter "L" (standing for Leo) before the serial number.
    If you're interested in a GOOD bass from this period, expect to spend thousands, if not in the 5-figure range. If you want a really poor example of a bass from this era, expect to spend thousands all the same. Although basses from later in time are now being considered "vintage"...my '77 fits under this category...they often are of a poorer quality and are not held in as high a regard as the pre-CBS basses. The good things about his is that many manufacturers are currently making basses that approximate the tone of these instruments, but are also taking advantage of modern technology to build a BETTER bass than was built by Leo Fender 40-50 years ago:quarter-sawn wood, lightweight tuners, graphite reinforcement, upgraded hardware, etc.
  5. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    Consider the Sadowsky Ultravintage bass or any Sadowsky bass. I have a jazz model and love it. I just ordered a PJ4 from him.
  6. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    if you dig vintage tone only a vintage fender will do. precbs' are warm and have a full midrange with a sweet high end. to me the 62's to about mid 65 sound very similar. the playability is different on every bass you'll play though. the earliest precbs jazz' have a neck width of 1 3/8" instead of the now standard 1.5". if you dig super fast necks those are the way to go. i personally dont care too much for 68-70. a 66 is a whole different beast and has a great yet different sound. the pickups are hotter and have a great slap sound while the precbs' dont.

    you can find stripped early jazzes for a lot less than a boutique jazz. if you find one with a straight neck you have a winner. if you shop around, you can find a stripped but all else original 62-64 in the 2000-3000 area. a stripped original 66 is in the 1500-1600 area.

    you also probably wont ever have to worry about its value depreciating either like you would with a new boutique jazz.

    however, the advice i'd truly reccomend is to not buy one because dirk lance plays one, but because you wouldnt be satisfied with any other jazz. most people probably wouldnt justify the price difference in a pre cbs jazz and 62 reissue. its a fine line. i own a 62,but would be equally satisfied with a 62 reissue if i had to sell the 62 today.
  7. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    I disagree. If you like L-series Fenders try a Sadowsky vintage with alder body and rosewood board. Great vintage tone with much better pickups, shielding, and electronics (read: better S/N) than a vintage Fender. The preamp makes it more versatile.

    True. But you had better know your vintage bass specs inside and out, up and down, backwards and fowards. There are very talented people who are equally unscrupulous passing off forgeries as vintage Fenders. Unfortunately, an honest dealer might sell you one because s/he is unaware of it because they have been duped. If you do go for an old vintage Fender, make sure to have it checked out by someone who makes this their business.

    Most important, have fun in your quest.
  8. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I have 1968 and 1978 Jazzes... very different basses. I prefer the 78.

    As Jim said, it's extremely easy to get screwed on a vintage instrument unless you know what you're doing. That means you have to spend the time to really know those older basses (lots of time, some people's careers are based on this) or deal with someone you really, really, really trust. And you could still get screwed;)

    Most people don't buy these basses to play, they're investments. If that's your bag, cool. Otherwise, if you intend to play the bass, keep in mind all that that entails. The paranoia alone is priceless when you take one of these on a gig.

    You could get a vintage inspired bass like the Sadowsky or Lakland or... here's what I'd do: look for a reissue. Lots of them out there and the prices are right. I saw a used 62 reissue today with stack knobs for a fraction of the price and it was a player, too.
  9. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    There are definately some years that are more desirable than others, and this is reflected in the prices that basses from those years command. However, that is largely an issue of collectibilty. This does not guarantee that every bass manufactured in that year will be a good one. I have definately tried dogs from the pre-CBS period, and I've also tried some great basses from the late 70's.

    I think you can use years as a guide to which bass to buy, but ultimately you have to assess each bass on it's individual merits. Don't buy a bass just because it was manufactured in a certain year, and (equally) don't dismiss a bass for the same reason.
  10. Tapp


    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    I own a '74 and a '73 both maple boards with light ash bodies. Yes they have wide neck pockets but they both play and sound wonderful. I've played pre-cbs's that almost play themselves and others that were "plain".

    It helps to have a good luthier too; esp if you buy refinished or in need of work. I had G.A.S. for a black block Jazz and bought my '73 (refinished) off E-bay pretty cheap. Turns out that someone tried to level the frets and did a very poor job so the neck never felt or looked straight. A local luthier restored the neck and the thing plays like butter. I hardly ever have to tune the thing; and it stays in a gig bag.

  11. shirojiro


    Jan 24, 2001
    San Francisco
    I was in the market for a 70's era Jazz bass and was ready to spend around $1500 to get a nice one. Then, I found a MIJ '75 reissue in natural finish with a rosewood board (the combo I wanted), and I bought it for $475.

    It's really a great bass. It's not as broken in as a real one, but it plays great, and the sound is fantastic. The construction is super solid.

    I gig with it without fear, and I can replace the pickups with Ultra Jazzes if I want and not feel bad about screwing up a vintage bass.

    Sure, I'd love to have a vintage bass, but for my purposes, a reissue is probably a better choice. I'm not a collector, and I have a day job (I'm a surgery resident), so for rehearsals and gigs, a less expensive instrument is more than adequate.

    If you really like the 60's Jazz basses, I would not only check out the MIA reissues, but the MIM 60's Jazz as well. I've heard nothing but good stuff about that bass.

  12. DanGouge


    May 25, 2000
    I recommend the Fender reissues as a good alternative to the originals. I got mine (a 62 reissue) used for a fraction of the cost of an original or even a new Sadowsky or Lakland or Lull bass. I love the feel and sound of my bass and I don't have to worry about gigging a $5000+ instrument on a regular basis. Sadowskys are great if you have the money (I've been lucky to play a few). On the other end of the scale the new "60's" Jazz basses Fender builds in Mexico are among the best they've built outside America. I played one and initially thought it was American built. It sounded and played that well.
  13. i2k


    Oct 31, 2000
    How about Geddy Lee Jazz bass. It is a vintage re-issue, right ? Is it really good or not ?
    I'm interested on the Osborn control (stacked vol/tone). It should gives more tone choice than vol/vol/tone. Anyone has the schematic ?
  14. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    The Geddy Lee has a vintage vibe, but it has some differences too.

    First, there is no production Fender from any era that has the same neck profile as the Geddy Lee. It is modeled after Geddy's own '74 pawnshop prize, which has had the neck shaved down by a luthier.

    Second, it has the 60's Custom Shop reissue pickups, which don't sound exactly like the mid 70's pickups. To my ears, they have a little more upper midrange sweetness, and aren't quite as hot as the 70's pickups.

    Great bass though. It's the only one of my 4 bangers that sees much action.
  15. i2k


    Oct 31, 2000
    I see that Ged jazz bass has a smaller (or thinner ?) neck profile. Is it stable enough ?
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    I've had no problems with stability on mine. Never even had to adjust the truss rod, it still has the factory setup.
  17. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I think 2002 is a great vintage for Jazz Bass. Take a look at the new American models. Beautiful, and I'll bet they sound better than the old crud.

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