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Buying a "real" 70's Fender Jazz Bass vs. a new "Original" 70's Model

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassheart365, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Bassheart365

    Bassheart365 Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2014
    Northern California
    "A good bassist determines the direction of any band." - Ron Carter
    I grew up listening to Jazz basses in the 70s, and loved the way they sounded. I see a lot of Fender Jazz basses from that era now for sale. But I see Fender now makes an "Original 70's" Jazz bass, that is essentially a replica. Besides owning a true "vintage" bass, is there any reason to buy a Jazz bass made in the 70s versus the "Original" 70's model? Sorry if this has been asked before.
  2. caasi91


    Sep 18, 2009
    SF Bay
    I’m sure there’s tons of threads if you search deep on this site.

    I’ve played vintage Fenders and while they are very special for their historic representation... the reissues and remakes are consistently better quality and less valuable/rare than an actual piece of music history.

    You’ll hear this a lot on this site: Have you sat down with both?

    Id be paranoid live with an OG Fender. YMMV
  3. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    I have a 1975 Jazz bass that I bought new. I love everything about it and wouldn’t sell for any amount of money.

    With that said, it is heavy. How heavy? It warps space/time. It can’t be photographed since light can’t escape its surface.

    I suspect the reissue versions are not as heavy.
  4. There's also more consistency with the reissues. Fender basses from the '70s have a lot of variability from piece to piece. I own a nice, lightweight 1973 Jazz but sold an 11-plus-pound 1974, for example. My AVRI '74 reissue isn't a feather, but it isn't punishingly heavy, either. If you go for a vintage piece, I would urge you to play it before you buy.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  5. I'll also mention that I played an Original '60s (not '70s) Jazz at GC last summer and I am still mad at myself for not buying it. The quality was very high, and it sounded amazing.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  6. Paulabass

    Paulabass Supporting Member

    Sep 18, 2017
    Every day of every decade Fender makes good, and not-so-good basses. An authentic 70's may suck, as could a reissue. You have to compare bass v. bass to make that call.
  7. True to some extent, but you can't deny that quality control was extremely iffy in the '70s. I own a number of '70s Fenders, and have sold a few too, and I'm here to tell you that they vary much more than contemporary basses.
    AlexanderB and jd56hawk like this.
  8. BLDavis

    BLDavis Old enough to know better.....too young to care! Supporting Member

    May 21, 2009
    Ellenboro, NC
    If you dig the idea of playing a really cool slice history then go for it. I owned several basses from "73-75 and liked them all. Would I take a bass worth thousands of $$$ to night club and play for tips plus beer? NO WAY IN HELL!
    To me, the American Standard basses made from 2008 on have better, more comfortable necks. And without as many dead spots.
    I do miss the '70s bridge pup position though. Is that an option on the re-issues?
  9. Bassheart365

    Bassheart365 Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2014
    Northern California
    "A good bassist determines the direction of any band." - Ron Carter
    My understanding is Fender's "Original 70's" Jazz bass has the same pickup spacing as the original.
    Bluzman99 likes this.
  10. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Technically that's true. However the ratio of not-so-good basses vs. good basses was MUCH higher in the 1970's.

    The only appeal of owning a 70's Jazz is the indefinable appeal of playing "the real thing". Fender makes a far superior product today than they did in the 1970's. Better manufacturing equipment and processes, and much better quality control. And weight... oh man! I had a '78 Jazz bass that weighed 12 lbs. And that kind of weight was pretty common in the mid-late 70's. Just try to find a 12 lb. Jazz bass made today. I don't think they exist.

    The weight was really the only issue with my '78 Jazz. Well, that and a neck pickup that failed. Fit and finish were excellent. IMG_2561.JPG
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2019
  11. What is it about the 70's J that you like? The bridge PU position? The blocked and bound board? Natural ash bodies that weigh more than a doubleneck guitar? 3 bolt neck plates? Or the mojo of a vintage axe?

    As much as I would like to someday own a genuine '75 Jazz (my birth year) I too would have issues with playing it in bars and clubs; my '77 Ibanez likewise only goes out for church duty for similar reasons of monetary and sentimental value. A GL sig will probably be as close as I get to the real deal, though I've had period copies from Ibanez and Hohner (and I wish I still had the Ibanez!).
    Bassheart365 likes this.
  12. Bassheart365

    Bassheart365 Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2014
    Northern California
    "A good bassist determines the direction of any band." - Ron Carter
    Loved the slap tone that players like Marcus Miller and Larry Graham got on their jazz basses.
    I Can't Dance likes this.
  13. jd56hawk


    Sep 12, 2011
    The Garden State
    Only one thing...were the Jazz basses you listened to in the 70s actually 70's Jazz basses or were quite a few 60's Jazz basses?
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2019
  14. IF the 10 to 20-grand price difference is no problem, try both, buy the one you like.

    Me? I'd buy the new recreation, load it with a period-correct Seymour or Fralin pickup set, and take the 20 grand for other things . . . . . .
  15. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    IMO the best Fender I've played is my Mike Lull Precision.
    Bassheart365 likes this.
  16. Bassist30

    Bassist30 Supporting Member

    Mar 19, 2004
    I have a original 60's jazz bass and it is an amazing instrument, Not every bass made of the same model are great. You will find that with even vintage instruments. You should try before you buy. But if you can't I think the original 70's although not as rare or expensive, you have a newer instrument and can return it within a certain time period.
  17. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Whoa...10-20 grand??!! There isn’t a 70’s Jazz out there that runs over $4k. And even then, most 70s Jazz basses can be had for under $2 grand. The Fender American Original 70s Jazz Bass and a real 70s Jazz are around the same price.
  18. I stand corrected, smcd. I'm afraid it shows my disinterest in vintage Fenders that I lumped the 70's pieces with the 50/60's. Thanks !

    I was buying basses in the 70's and I remember new ones I tried in the stores back then. Which still makes me say I'd rather have the recreation because of those memories.
  19. Low_blow


    May 14, 2005
    In my opinion, most vintage Fenders are much better sounding, especially in a band setting. I did have a '75 J (medium weight) and a '81 S-series Precision (medium weight, too, it also had an aftermarket Jazz bridge pickup installed). They both did sound great even with very old strings. Yes, modern Fenders are assembled better (tighter neck pockets, fretwork, etc), but, as for the sound, a GOOD '70s era Fenders is a better instrument. They just have more 'soul'. Also I tried installing different pickups (Fralins, Lollar, Fender RI, etc), but always returned to original pickups or vintage creamy Dimarzios, they give more edge to the sound (ceramic) and are hum-cancelling... Everything is IMHO, of course.
  20. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    The reissue won’t sound or feel quite like the real deal. Whether that’s good or bad depends on you. Different build techniques, old growth wood vs. new, worn in feel vs. new and shiny, different neck radius (American Originals are 9.5” vs. vintage 7.25” - which makes a huge difference in feel). And as bad of a rap ‘70s Fenders get, I agree with Low_blow... NOTHING sounds like a vintage ‘70s Jazz. Those old ‘70s plain enamel wound pickups have a growl that I’ve never heard out of any modern or reissue pickup. Even vintage pickups that have been rewound don’t quite sound the same as the vintage original pickups. There are tons of lightweight Jazz and P Basses from the early-mid ‘70s, but most got to be 10-12 lbs. by ~1976 and after. But 8.5-9.5 lbs. was the normal till about ‘74/75 (with exceptions of course).

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