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Do some basses just need 20+ years before their good?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by liveburning274, Feb 24, 2016.

  1. liveburning274


    Mar 25, 2008
    Peoria, IL
    Maybe in the 70's Fender threads and comments inspiring this, but I feel it's worthy to ask.

    Does it just take 20-30 years of aging of woods, wires and pots to bring an average instrument into it's prime? Or is it just simply more desirable and we are all seeing a mirage of tone-heaven?

    Option #3: Things were just made better back then.
    spaz21387 and Icemanaroonie like this.
  2. tfer


    Jan 1, 2014
    Nostalgia is expensive.
  3. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010

    It depends on the bass. I think they all do get better with age to some degree. Especially if they're well taken care of.
  4. wmhill


    Aug 20, 2012
    upstate NY
    MTD basses endorsed artist Bartolini pickups emerging artist TECAMP bass players gear endorsed
    Nope..... they are not gonna get any better than the day you take em outta the box (a good set up and decent strings not withstanding)
  5. No....a vintage POS is still a POS.
  6. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    More like 40 years of the really bad ones getting destroyed, parted out and modded beyond recognition. The good ones have survived more or less intact.

    On top of that, the market for 50's and 60's instruments has priced it's self out of reach of average players. But those average players still want something old and cool. So instruments that wouldn't have gotten a second look 20 years ago are now "vintage" and wanted.

    I dread the day early 80's Fenders start going up in value. They were even worse than the 70's ones.
    TalHaz, Hizzoner, Scottkarch and 12 others like this.
  7. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    Beware the closet queen! Sometimes it was just not used, sometimes it was a turd, and still is.
    gebass6, TalHaz, spaz21387 and 12 others like this.
  8. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    Turds do not age well, I don't know where you heard otherwise.
  9. /\/\3phist0

    /\/\3phist0 Life: It's sexually transmitted and always fatal Supporting Member

    I hear Dino turds bring a pretty penny, and still look exactly the same as the day they were "born". Oh, and they polish up nicely.
    Incidentally, cowpies make good fuel for fire, much like turd basses, coincidence? I think not.
  10. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Not at all. Have owned dozens of basses that were incredible upon completion
    SemiDriven likes this.
  11. Murdoc_420


    Jan 20, 2016
    I'm glad I don't remember the 70's
  12. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    I saw a 2 knob strat with the word "vintage" attached to it. It was appalling
    spaz21387 and SanDiegoHarry like this.
  13. MobileHolmes

    MobileHolmes I used to be BassoP

    Nov 4, 2006
    I think there are quite a few factors at work with older instruments, to a greater and lesser degree
    1. They were made better. Maybe not better (in fact, tolerances are way tighter now) but it is possible that the wood was better then. Certain species are no longer available, and my understanding is the drying processes were different as well

    2. Aging. Maybe. If you have a think finish, probably not, but a thinner nitro finish seems to let the wood continue to air out to some extent. It may (probably) be all in my head, but I have a 9 year old warmoth J type with a nitro finish on it, and it seems livelier lately than it was than it was new

    3. Sorting-LZ 4005 is right on the money here. You have to figure the worst of the older instruments probably are out of circulation at this point.
    AlexanderB likes this.
  14. arbiterusa


    Sep 24, 2015
    San Diego, CA
    I built acoustic guitars. I bet the process is the same.

    You take the parts off the line, prep, glue on bridge, make nut, etc. Put it all together and string it up.

    Within about 48 hours it will have pretty much the tone it will have until the top wears out, which could take a couple hundred years if its really good wood.
  15. barginkov


    Feb 1, 2012
    L.I. New York
    I think a bass will either sound great from day one or if it sounds just ok from the beginning , it will still sound just ok 50 years later.
  16. Turnaround

    Turnaround Commercial User

    May 6, 2004
    Toronto Canada
    Independent Instrument Technician, and Contractor to Club Bass and Guitar - Toronto
    Aging of instruments is like the aging of wine. Sometime it's an enhancement, sometimes it's a detriment, and sometimes it makes no difference.

    A local winery I was visiting found a case of Riesling in the back of their warehouse that had been sitting there for 9 years. When the wine was first made it was rather poor and the winery sold all of it off cheap. But they missed this one case. When they later discovered it they were just going to dump it in the drain - it was a poor year for Riesling. But the executive wine maker stopped the dump and tried a taste. He discovered to his great surprise that the wine had aged beautifully and was quite exceptional. I bought most of that case and have to say it was amongst the best Rieslings I have ever had. And I've had a lot.

    I have handled many "vintage" instruments in the course of my work. Some are old, beat up and really poor. Some are immaculate and still poor instruments. But a few have shone, beat up or otherwise, and I am not convinced they started out as being superior instruments. Some of us get better with age, some just break down. I like to think of myself as the former.

    Regardless, wood goes through changes as it ages. So do the magnets in the pickups. Whether those changes are for the better or not is unpredictable. And the quality of change can be a matter of taste. And buying a "vintage" instrument may be just as much about it's rarity in the market, or it's connection to history, or any number of other factors, as it is about the quality of the instrument.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2016
    barry irwin, MVE, ShirazBop and 9 others like this.
  17. TMARK


    Jan 10, 2012
    Richmond VA
    gebass6 and birminghambass like this.
  18. Old Blastard

    Old Blastard

    Aug 18, 2013
    Beats the hell out of me. My E series Jazz Bass Specials have sounded great to me and have played great since I bought them in 1985/86. They were mocked as "MIJ Crap" until a few years ago. They haven't changed THAT much. People have, though.
  19. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv

    I often wonder how many people that are hating on 70's Fenders have actually played one. The ones I've played were all good basses.
  20. andruca


    Mar 31, 2004
    Madrid (Spain)
    20-30 years is not vintage. It's plain old.
    SanDiegoHarry likes this.

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