Do I really need a vintage instrument or just another modern bass.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Drkwdsman, Jun 19, 2020.

  1. Drkwdsman

    Drkwdsman Supporting Member

    Dec 3, 2004
    First, I don’t need anything, but my brain has me thinking ahead.

    I will turn 45 in January and was thinking about asking for a 1976 Fender P or Jazz as a gift.

    First, it does not have to be perfect bc I will play it. So no closet queens are necessary unless in my price range.

    I have never dove into the vintage market, but see where it might take some experience so my other thought would be just get an American Geddy Lee and call it a day.

    For all I know 1976 was not a good year for Fender.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. luciens


    Feb 9, 2020
    As someone who was around when vintage '76 - '80 Fenders were your only choices for an actual Fender.... I would say do NOT buy a vintage Fender as a main player. As a collector, sure, but not as your meat-n-potatoes instrument.

    Reason being, today you can buy from Fender an exact or near exact replica of a 70's P or J, at several different price points and configurations, all of which will be cheaper to buy and significantly (to enormously) better made. With better materials, better wood, better neck/body joints, the works. If you go with a MIM or CIJ, you can get the cost down even more and still have a great Fender bass, that will play and sound exactly like the vintage version.

    So these days, there's really no reason to spend the extra money on a vintage Fender as your main player. As a collector, of course, or if you're just nostalgic and have the financial means, that's an entirely different story. But as your #1 that you drag to gigs, no, doesn't really make sense.

  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i think luciens 's assessment is a fair one. i'd go a step or two further: no vintage ax (fender, et al) is as well made as the modern versions at any price point. CNC machines are the difference. in the history of mass-produced EBs, especially those with bolt-on necks, inconsistency is the enemy of the player. CNC has reduced the rate of dogs-on-the-rack --- and the fender instruments certainly tell that story!

    if you're thinking about an ax with a bolt-on neck = buy modern! they are parts basses. you'll at least get the advantage of the best, most consistent parts. the price of "old" is for collectors to rationalize, not players. it's an opinion. good luck with yours! :thumbsup:
    TrustRod, lowdownthump, wmmj and 17 others like this.
  4. And I

    And I

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
  5. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Regardless of vintage, any bass should be assessed by how you connect with it. Why buy a vintage bass if it doesn't resonate with you? Why buy any new bass for the same reason. It's pretty basic.
    wmmj, bhoff5150, Mili and 10 others like this.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    There was a gradual decline in quality control and materials at Fender from 1966 to 1986.
  7. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
    I’ll go 3 steps further. The asking price for today’s fenders is grotesque. It is amazing how they have increased their prices in the last 2 decades with no significant improvements in quality. For their efforts to increase “variety“ in their guitar and bass lines, they rename, reshuffle, kluge together parts, and float the never-ending “vintage” mantra. Today’s fenders are trying to ride the wave of yesterday’s fame, which was greatly assisted by lack of much competition in the 50s and 60s. IMO, fender is a basic guitar mass-manufacturing business with a very focused marketing department.
    wmmj, Grapevine921, bpc and 10 others like this.
  8. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    Get a Mike Lull P or Jazz. They're some of the best "Fenders" around.
    wmmj and imabuddha like this.
  9. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I'd rather have a '76 StingRay than a '76 Fender.
  10. Reedt2000

    Reedt2000 Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2017
    Central New Jersey
    Come on folks, it's TB, the answer is clearly "you need a vintage instrument AND another modern bass"!

    wmmj, equill, bpc and 21 others like this.
  11. 4andnomore


    Nov 14, 2008
    No one NEEDS a vintage instrument. IMO Fender hit its peak around 2010-2012 AVRIAv and American Standard series. The primary exception being Fender Japan which has consistently delivered a high quality product.
    TrustRod, wmmj, wizard65 and 6 others like this.
  12. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    If you control for inflation the same model Fender instrument made in the US is less expensive today than it was in 1965.
    lowdownthump, wmmj, Robert B and 15 others like this.
  13. eKay


    May 8, 2014
    I’d never buy a vintage instrument online, sight unseen. I might buy a new one online. I have a 78 jazz that is a killer, but if you want one like that and not just for the vintage vibe, you’ll have to feel it for yourself and try a bunch of them. If someone was getting me one as a gift I’d prefer new, especially if it was coming from someone who wasn’t also a player. Oh, and happy 45th!
  14. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    I have a 1963 Precision and a 1964 Gibson EB-0. They're good instruments, but there is nothing about them that is superior to a good instrument made today.

    I have a Gretsch Thunderjet that's better finished and can be adjusted to lower action than either of the old ones, and I have a half-dozen other basses that I generally prefer for gigs. All of the other basses cost under $800, and most under $500.

    If you are buying for playability and good value, buy something new or gently used. "Vintage" instruments are for collectors who have spare $$ to throw around. You can buy excellent basses slightly used, and they are much better values.
    TrustRod, TN WOODMAN and Haroldo like this.
  15. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    I'm older than you, and I was thinking about asking for a modest villa in Tuscany as a gift. ;)

    As noted in a recent thread here about so-called "Birth Year Basses," the vintage thing doesn't hold much appeal for me. I know it's a radical notion to some folks, but some consumer goods manufacturers have actually improved their offerings over the years. I take no position on whether or not '76 was a "good year" for some particular bass, but imagine for a moment if – by some combination of unknown, quantifiable measures – a 2008 Fender Standard Precision Bass (MIM) was actually superior to a 1976 USA Fender Precision. Would you still decide to pay a premium for the '76?
    wmmj, equill, mikewalker and 2 others like this.
  16. JIO

    JIO Be seeing you. Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    This is the accepted knowledge related to CBS's ownership of Fender. I own an awesome '66 P & J and played a very good '77 J that I considered buying at one point but just didn't need another J. Point being not every instrument made during that time period was of poor quality. Geddy Lee, Aston "Family Man" Barrett and a few others have proved that. :)
  17. The Deep

    The Deep

    Jul 21, 2017
    Nailed it.

    I have often thought about picking up a vintage Fender as well. At some point, I decided to put together my own “vintage Fender” using quality Fender licensed parts along with a pure nitro finished body from MJT. Relic to taste and you’re done. You can make a far more accurate reproduction to the actual spec of the era than FMIC has ever turned out themselves.

    The thought of buying a vintage Fender faded fast after this experience, as the biggest draw of a vintage Fender-to me anyway-is the worn in feel, particularly the neck. This can be easily achieved with a good quality relic job. I never looked back.

    Owning a vintage Fender for collecting purposes or nostalgia is another matter entirely.
    bassrique and TN WOODMAN like this.
  18. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    @Reedt2000 is correct, that you need both a contemporary and a vintage instrument to become whole.
    If you are looking at that year Fender because of birth year there's nothing wrong with also looking at Rics or Rays unless you are already committed to the Fender. Play it first to make sure it loves you. There is definitely a cool factor with instruments as they age but there are quality fluctuations with any big brand so play as many as you can. You should also consider getting a new amp or if that is out of range add a new pedal. Buying more stuff enhances your overall experience. I don't have a birth year instrument but I have a couple '73 P and they are a joy to play.

    I don't know you and don't take this as anything but tough love...
    This is at Norman's Rare Guitars in Tarzana and also on Reverb and you'd be a big'ole idiot not to get this. You have really no idea how much your life force grows when you bring a maple neck fretless P into your home. Even your kids and neighbors will see health benefits from the healing, wonder-working power.
    wmmj, DeepThoughts, getrhythm and 9 others like this.
  19. sawzalot

    sawzalot Supporting Member

    Oct 18, 2007
    Ok so I don't even need to read the thread--OF COURSE you need another vintage bass!

    But, in line with what the others in the thread have said, don't buy a bass just because it's old. Buy it because you connect with it and it is something you love in some way.
  20. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    This should be a sticky. There isn't "A" vintage bass or "A" new bass. There isn't even "A" 1976 Jazz bass. One of the nicest basses I ever owned was a '74 P bass. I only got rid of it because the original owner wanted it back. I owned a newish Bossa bass that was killer too. I had 3 Geddy Lee CIJ basses, all a little different.

    The internet is great for a lot of things, trying out a bass isn't one of them.
    TrustRod, sonojono, ELG60 and 6 others like this.