Yesterday at my friend's music store, I met an old friend of his who visited with their bass. After greeting them, I ended up in a different part of the store. So as they took out their bass to play with my friend for a little while, I heard the sound before I saw the instrument. Listening for a few minutes, I knew that it was a vintage Precision Bass and guessed that it could be pre-CBS. The hollow resonance, quick decay, and slow, big bottom was unmistakable. Since business intervened, my friend couldn't play for long. Casually I walked into view of his visitor as they talked with someone else while playing, and saw that my guess probably was right: the vintage tortoiseshell pickguard with metal shield peeking out where its missing point once was; the body paint wear and deep, fine checking; the hardware patina and yellowed gloss neck; and what I thought might be a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard... just beautiful. What wasn't there was a string mute. So the quick decay of fretted notes that I heard was intrinsic to the instrument and its heavy strings and setup, and to its owner's playing. When I mentioned this to my friend, he said that it was a 1965-66 Precision Bass. Eventually I spoke to the owner, saying that I could help with an early Jackson 5 song that momentarily they tried to play with the other person, a guitarist. I declined their kind offer to demonstrate the part on their bass, but I grabbed a bass from the wall and showed them the Jackson 5 bass line. In addition to meeting a nice person and fellow bass guitarist with a fine, old instrument, later I was encouraged when I realized that I formed my opinion about that instrument with my ears first, not my eyes. Though I believe that not all old guitars are good ones, when I hear a good one I am reminded that there ain't nothing like the real thing.