At what point does an original bass become a parts bass and vice versa?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jazzyvee, Oct 7, 2016.

  1. jazzyvee


    Aug 11, 2012
    United Kingdom
    I've read on this and other forums where people have bought, for example, a new or used Fender bass then changed loads of the parts pickups, put on a badass bridge, new electronics, new pickguard, lightweight tuners etc, maybe put on a different neck or some other things and still call it a Fender bass.

    Another person building a parts bass may put all those same genuine fender parts removed from the Fender bass onto a warmouth body and may in fact have more genuine fender parts on their bass but it wouldn't be considered a fender.

    What is the difference?

    ps: I'm only using fender as a reference example I don't have any grudges with their instruments.
  2. Rib 13

    Rib 13

    Jun 20, 2006
    depends who you talk to and how anal they are about vintage or newer a business, usually the collector industry wants everything factory so even changing pickguard screws, or an extra screwhole anywhere on the body, can (marginally) devalue an instrument to some of those truly meticulous folks .....players, on the other hand, tend to be a lot more forgiving and will attach terms like "All original except for pickups", etc to strengthen the value just for conversation purposes or to prospective buyers if the item is for sale
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
    M.R. Ogle likes this.
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    body or neck changed, parts bass.
  4. yeah it's about retaining the wood bits really
  5. Nev375


    Nov 2, 2010
  6. Hamish MacCleod

    Hamish MacCleod Supporting Member

    Jul 13, 2014
    South America
    In my mind [and its an opinion, not gospel] if the body and neck are original I'd call it genuine. What if a guy buys a '61 neck, then finds a '61 body? I'd still say its a '61. '61 body and a '64 neck? parts bass, but not your average parts bass [I'd still call it vintage]. YMMV.
    P.S. What does said bass sound like? Probably more important to me than anything else. I'm not a collector.
  7. dave64o

    dave64o Talkbass Top 10 all time lowest talent/gear ratio! Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 15, 2000
    Southern NJ
    Interesting question. The same question can apply to bands, too. ;) :D

    I have a parts bass that I guess can be called an SX because it has the original SX body and I replaced the original fretless neck with a matching fretted neck. But the neck plate is the only remaining non-wooden part from the original bass. I would say it's an SX only because it still says that on the headstock, but I spent about 4X the original cost of the original bass in replacement parts (and the majority of those parts were bought used!) so it's a lot more than just an SX. It's definitely not something a collector would ever be interested in, but it sounds amazing.

    Yes, I realize that what I did was NOT cost effective, and some would tell me I was an idiot. But I did it because I wasn't able to sell the original fretless version locally and to pay for packing material and shipping would cost me about as much as I could get for the bass in its original form. That seemed pointless so I spent a few years scrounging parts until I found what I needed to turn it into the bass it is today. I love that mutt! :D
    jamro217 and cheechi like this.
  8. GnarwhalNick


    Jan 18, 2011
    Is AC/DC still AC/DC?
  9. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009
    I'm in the process of building a P-bass with a loaded MIJ Fender body (bought in the TB classifieds) and an Allparts neck. Since Allparts made the necks for Fender Japan to begin with, I still consider it a Fender bass. However, if I had used a Squier, SX or GPX neck, I'd probably think of it as a parts bass.
  10. Ghastly


    Oct 18, 2015
    City 17
    That' s interesting to hear. I didn't realize this.
  11. MrRobert


    Jul 7, 2011
    Costa Mesa, CA
    Yeah, same here. Can anyone confirm this with evidence rather than hearsay? I want this to be true, by the way...
  12. Gaebrial


    Mar 8, 2016
    Looks like the definitive answer- it is a paradox. Case closed.

    On a more serious note, I have wondered myself. I felt weird getting anything other than a Fender P-bass, as it just seemed... wrong to get another interpretation, even if it was better. But then what is really a bass? Reflexively I would think the body, but it is just a plank of wood, and a nearly identical plank of wood processed in a different factory would sound nearly identical; there are not "Fender trees" and "other trees" (or "Squier trees", to kick a wasp's nest). The wood isn't anything particular to fender, and the shape does not have any practical effect on the tone. Is it the neck then? This case is more convincing, as a good neck can make or break a guitar. A guitar that is good has a good neck, and a bad neck makes a bad guitar. I decided a while ago that a guitar is a neck that has a body, not the other way around.

    But can you say a P bass with a J neck is a Jazz bass? Does the different style of neck change the tone from a P sound to a J sound? No, it is simply a matter of ergonomics (or a loss of a tiny bit of wood mass, for all those anal tone-sniffers). What does, by far, change the tone the most? It is the pickup. Put a P-style pickup in any remotely similarly constructed, wooden, 34" scale plank of wood, and your ears will greet those pleasant P tones with the same gusto. But reason would tell you that any plank isn't a P.

    But can you have a P bass that doesn't sound like a P? Sure, if you swap out the pickups, or eq it, or the pickups are wired incorrectly, or play it differently than the "standard" way to play, or any number of things that would violate the notion we have a a P sound (think of people talking about the "ric sound").

    So what is a P bass, and what is Fender P bass? I think the answer is that a P bass is an aesthetic, one that combined the visuals, construction, and sound. A fender P bass is one which follows the original aesthetics as they were first conceived bearing the Fender company's stamp of approval.

    As pointless as it is, I still like to match the aesthetic with the brand. Fender (or Squier, as I see Squier as lil' Fender) P bass, Gibson or Epi Les Paul, etc. It seems, too, that the more distinctive the aesthetic, for me, the more I would want that stupidly expensive, highly irrelevant stamp. Ric's are like that for me: they are so distinctive, that, despite the complaints about them, I would want a Ric ric and not one of the lawsuit ones from the 70s or even a professional, hand-built one. I am sure they are particularly happy about my complex.

    Lately, though, I am coming under the influence of Shakespeare, who said, "That which we call a bass / By any other name would thump as sweet". I'll reproduce the passage below:

    'Tis but a brand that buys my currency;
    Thou art thyself, though not a Fender.
    What's a Fender? It is nor pickup, nor wood,
    Nor tuners, nor bridge, nor any other part
    Belonging to a bass. O, be some other price!
    What's in a bass? that which we call a bass
    By any other name would thump as sweet;
    So a bass would, were it not a Fender call'd,
    Retain that dear perfection which he owes
    Without that title. O bass, doff thy name,
    And for that name which is no part of thee
    Make all thy tone.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
    BBQisgood, Lesgo, ThuzzleFump and 7 others like this.
  13. KohanMike

    KohanMike Gold Supporting Member

    It always amazes me when a post comes up that addresses exactly what I'm doing at that time. A couple days ago I decided to buy a guitar to convert into a bass. I have ten basses that have been modified one way or another, one of the first was done about 2 years ago, a blue Rondo Hadean bass uke, but I wasn't happy with how it came out. I play it occasionally, put on a set of strings that turned out to be a poor choice.

    Then two days ago I discovered a Chinese knockoff Rickenbacker 325 guitar after salivating over a real one at Guitar Center that was way out of my price range, $3000. I bought the knockoff for $296 and will make it into the bass the blue one was not, and will use the blue one for parts on my other Rondo basses.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2016
  14. DigitalMan

    DigitalMan Bring Back Edit/Delete Supporting Member

    Nov 30, 2011
    Bay Area, CA
    I think it is a bass-by-bass call. IMO some signature or specialty (tribute/era) basses become parts basses more quickly simply by changing the aesthetics in any significant way. Other basses are platforms where mods are the norm. Vintage basses are a whole category unto themselves. Boutique basses are modded less often and while they tend to retain their identity, they lose their value rapidly when they lose their virginity.
    bolophonic likes this.
  15. Mosstone


    Jun 20, 2009

    Well, that's what I've been hearing for years, anyway... I haven't found any confirmation from Fender. But I wouldn't expect to, either.
  16. Billyzoom

    Billyzoom Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2011
    Bay Area
    George Washington's original axe has been in my family for generations...the handle and head have both been replaced six times. ;)
    ed morgan and Tanner5382 like this.
  17. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Body and neck.
    gebass6 likes this.
  18. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    May 24, 2006
    Swap out either the original body or the neck and it's a parts bass in my world.

    (Basically the things that normally have a serial number associated with them.)

    Everything else I'd consider a mod.

  19. ThudThudThud


    Jun 4, 2010
    XLunacy likes this.
  20. funkymonk13


    Aug 22, 2014
    I wouldn't agree with that. Even if allparts made the necks for fender Japan, if it didn't go through their factory it's not a "fender" neck.

    I'm looking at it from if I bought that bass from you as a MIJ fender and then took off the neck to find "all parts" written on it I'd be pissed. It's not an original fender "produced" instrument. And by produced, I'm saying it could be anything from them modifying the neck, doing qc on that neck, having paid for the neck, or simply christening that neck a "fender" neck.

    Btw I'm not saying you would sell it as such, or even that your wrong, it's just my view on it.

    I agree with some of the others, if the neck and the body are original from the factory i'd consider it an original fender bass. Although if I was trying to sell something I would disclose any changes I made to it.

    If geddy lee changes the neck on his jazz bass with a replacement neck, I'd still consider that "geddy lee's jazz bass", although I wouldn't consider the bass original. So if it was on sale, I'd be looking at it more from the fact that it's his bass, not that it's an original 70s jazz.
    lfmn16 likes this.
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