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Does anyone here own or know someone who owns a really bad U.S. Fender?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Blackbird, Mar 14, 2003.

  1. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    I'm just curious, because when people talk about getting an older but not quite vintage Fender (especially CBS ones), A lot of times people say they're going to get "one of the good ones". That would imply that there are more than a few not so good fenders out there.

    Question is, where are these basses? Has anyone owned or know someone who owns a very bad Fender? I'm sure no one would say outright that the vintage-ish bass that they picked and paid for sucks, but It's not like people are chucking them away either.

    So, anyone seen a poorly built old Fender? What was wrong with it?

    Answer if you feel inclined.
  2. I once owned a beautiful 78 Jazz bass that had a neck that had to be adjusted almost every time you picked it up. It also weighed a ton.
  3. Rod B.

    Rod B.

    Jun 11, 2002
    I played a friends '72/'73 P that sounded good, but neck was less than inspiring feel.
  4. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I bought a Fender FMT 5 string about 6 months ago that had a defective truss rod. The neck was extremely bowed to begin with. I carefully adjusted the truss rod to straighten it. After a few turns, the rod was maxed all the way in, and the neck was still extremely bowed. An authorized Fender repair shop worked on it and couldn't fix it. He said that I should have Fender replace the neck. Then Fender said they don't know when they might have a replacement neck for me. After having my money tied up with an unplayable bass for several weeks and getting the run around from Fender, I asked for a full refund and bought a Skyline JO 5 with a J-Retro. This bass is great! much better than any brand new Fender Jazz that I've played in the past 15 years.

    During this experience I made several posts on my problem and found that several others had serious problems with new Fenders. To be fair, I should say that there are many owners of new Fender basses that are perfectly happy with their Fenders.

    I've played several "new" 4 and 5 string Fender basses over the past 10-15 years, mostly MIM, American Standards, American Deluxes, and FMTs. They just don't make them like they used to. I opine that the 60's and 70's Fender basses sound better and play better than the majority of the new ones, based on the ones that I've played. However, I'd also say that the signature basses seem to be a little better than MIMs and MIAs.

    In my most recent Fender bass purchase, I must say that I found that Fender's customer service was inferior. They should have immediately replaced my defective neck, or swapped the bass.
  5. gfab333


    Mar 22, 2000
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    As a counterpoint in this thread, I'd like to say that I've played several Fender Signature Marcus Miller 4s, and they sound great. The quality and workmanship was very good. I think they were made in Japan, but I'm not sure.
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    The most common thing about 70s Jazz basses was the 3 bolt neck and I have seen a few of these - some where the neck was really wobbling and could be moved very easily - so compare this to an RB5 where the neck joint is rock solid!

    I started taking bass playing seriously in the late 70s early 80s and went looking for decent bass in the UK - Fenders were what everybody wanted and they were a high price for a college kid!

    I bought a used Mustang off a friend at a reasonable although pretty high price and I wa pleased to have a real USA Fender (no Squiers or MIM then!!) - but it was pretty bad!! The hardware was rusted, there was no tone variation - just a dull thud and intonation was pretty dodgy above the 12th fret - in fact it's like : don't even think about playing above the 12th fret!!

    So - there was only one good thing about this bass - its re-sale value!! So having the Fender bname I was able to trade it on for a good price on a Westone thunder III fretless in the early 80s which was way better - a quantum leap in quality, tone etc.

    So when I was looking for a better bass in et late 70s/early 80s, then there were loads of really bad Fenders about - poor neck joints, no tonal variation and too expensive for what you got. This was what inspired the boom in Japanese imports - so like everybody wanted Aria, Ibanez, Tokai etc as they were so much better value and better quality than the Fenders around at the time - so, the pros we saw, all had great early 60s Fenders, but they weren't selling!! :(

    I think looking back now 20 years later - presumably the really bad ones were chopped up for firewood ! ;) But seriously - at the same time the Japanese started to improve on Fenders, the big Fender "spare-part industry" also grew up so Badass/gotoh bridges, Schaller tuners, Warmouth necks etc etc.

    So I would suspect that all the 70s basses have been "improved upon" - new bridges, tuners and maybe even new necks!! So people know loads about Fenders now and how to improve them and with re-fretting, new hardware, new electronics, replacment pick-ups - then I doubt that anyof those basses now are the same as we were trying in the 80s - although they might have started out the same!! ;)
  7. Nope, I've never seen or played a bad US Fender. I own an 82 Precision Special, it's great. It's in good nick and sounds/feels great!

    My father has a '79 Strat, this is also a real nice guitar - although the finish looks like the paint was brushed on.........:eek:
  8. Turock

    Turock Supporting Member

    Apr 30, 2000
    I've never seen a really bad Fender. Sure, you could play several in a music store and prefer one over another, but I would say that is true for most any instrument and brand. I suppose every manufacturer of anything (not just musical instruments) has, at one time or another, produced an unsatisfactory item.
  9. Can't say they were really bad, but IMO from about 1975 to the late 80's U.S. fenders were'nt nearly as good as what came before and after.
  10. I think the idea of "the good ones" is that there are some that stick out, as opposed to the standard, but still quite good, USA Fenders.
  11. I dont own one,but theres an 83 P-BASS at guitar center here, and its just awful. This probably wont make sense, but it felt like cardboard. Also the pickups were very weak. Its been there for some time now, and I doubt they'll sell it.
  12. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    I owned a brand new '76 Jazz that was absolute, total piece of garbage - sold it after less than a month and bought a Rick 4001, which was way better. But my '75 Jazz (4-bolt) is very sweet, though it has new finish, new bridge, new pups and a J-Retro, so maybe what Bruce has said makes sense?
  13. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Just curious if you have a pic of your P-special. I have an 81 P-special that my uncle gave me, and have only seen one other one (a light blue one). Mine was originally white, but has faded to a serious tobacco yellow.
  14. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I've played alot of Vintage Fender's in stores that were set up properly, new strings, etc & they felt & played & sounded like POOH!!!!! and, I'm not atalking Winnie here. ;) I played one 60's Jazz, Don't remember the exact year, that was awesome looking. The price was more than 3 Sadowsky's. It was the worst thing I've ever played on. No joke, I compared an MIM Jazz & it played, sounded & felt better.
  15. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    Sorry Nino, couldn't pass this one up: After a Sadowsky setup, the bass still played like pooh?

    Could you expand on that?:)

    Also, most collectible basses aren't required to be players, condition and rarity are much more important. How much was that bass, seems like it would have to be in the neighborhood of $10k to equal three Sadowskys.
  16. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson SUSPENDED Supporting Member

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    DR Strings
    I've never had a bad Fender. I've owned my 68 (a bad year) for over twenty years. My 78 (another bad year) regularly makes bassists drool when I take it to Atomic Music just for grins. I set it up when I got it a couple of years back and it's remained that way, with low action. There is a gap at the neck pocket, I tightened the screws when I bought it and it's been rock solid. As a matter of fact I've yet to come across a three bolt neck that still moves after you tighten the screws. Pretty amazing, and you don't have to go to luthiers school to learn this "fix".

    My 97 MIA JD5's have been perfect. The same is true for my FMT V.

    Just lucky I guess.

    I think there are some genuinely bad ones out there. I also think that some people pick these basses up with the expectation that they'll somehow be what they aren't. Those people are usually playing an "ideal" or a spec list vs. the bass they actually have in their hands.
  17. Rod B.

    Rod B.

    Jun 11, 2002
    Over at the FDP, there was a thread about '97 MIA's being a magical year for Fender. Both my MIA Jazz and MIA '57 RI P are '97's. They have super tight neck pockets, no Fender dead spot, and feel wonderful. The tone is to die for on the '57 RI P. The tone was good on the Jazz, but I slapped in some Original '62 pups because it's more *me*.
  18. I remember playing an old, beat-up Fender Precision - age unknown. The neck on it was really wide and shallow - I never realized that the fretboards were made so wide. I immediately A/B'ed it with my '96 Precision and my bass played a lot faster. Since I felt uncomfortable playing it, I would classify that as a "bad" Fender.
  19. Woodchuck


    Apr 21, 2000
    Atlanta (Grant Park!)
    Gallien Krueger for the last 12 years!
    I once owned a brand new '98 Jazz Deluxe, and it had about 4 deadspots on it, and Fender's CS told me that it was part of the "Fender's mystique". :rolleyes: That's the only bad Fender I've ever owned. I have 2 MIJ jazzes (MM sig and a '75 reissue), and they're great.
  20. hands5


    Jan 15, 2003
    good 'ol USA/Tampa fla.
    Yes you're that there are some factories that are producing less than a satisfactory product.However,from reading a lot of threads in this web site as well as others Fender is producing an unsatisfactory product much too often.This is piss-poor and truly unacceptable from a company that has been in the game for as long as they have been.Whether the basses are pre CBS,CBS,MIM,MIA,MIJ there should not be a quality control issue after you've been in the business for damn 'er 50 years !:mad:

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