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Expensive vintage Fenders - Now I get it!!! (Big pics included!)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by The Dave, May 1, 2009.

  1. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    I always figured that a new bass was better than an old beat up bass. And, I had a pretty good notion that something as simplistic as a P or J Bass couldn't really be screwed up too badly by modern production. These two ideas led me to the conclusion that it was silly to pay large sums of money for a Fender just because it was built before 1966.

    THEN, I went to the Dallas International Guitar Festival. Right after I walked in the door, I saw this:
    90% of the neck finish was gone, along with about half of the paint on the back. The neck was really wide, but much shallower than I expected. Scientifically speaking, I'm not sure what happens to the woods and things that make up a bass over the course of 40-50 years of not so gentle use. I don't know why playing a note on it seemed to resonate sweetly through its entire body - and mine. But I do know exactly what mojo is now. Here are a few more pics. Enjoy!

  2. neilshane


    Sep 21, 2007
    St. Louis
    Wow! Really beautiful basses there.
  3. Ragist


    Mar 4, 2009
    Omg... that is soo vintage gas,
    I want a pre-cbs jazz bass so much! I have an extremely soft spot for those that are worn out evenly. Though i'd guess I won't possibly have one of those!
  4. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    By the way, I'm sorry about the quality of the pics. Dallas Market Hall has flourescent lighting and a line of windows just below the ceiling. My camera had no idea what to do.
  5. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    Wow - some awesome pics there. I get the whole vintage Fender thing - my buddy's 66 Jazz that's beat to crap is a dream to play, but I gotta say, I'd never pay over 3K for a vintage bass unless I had serious cash to throw around and I wasn't gigging regularly. I'd be too paranoid to take it out to shows.

    All the mint condition, custom color stuff w/matching headstocks and whatnot are pretty cool to look at, but I've found the ones that are the most beat up and missing the most finish are the most broken in and play like butter.

    Here's a picture of the one I get to play regularly - haven't found a bass that plays as nice as this one...
  6. Dave-
    Nice way to spend some time. Thanks for sharing the pics.
    I've been to a couple of guitar shows that have had some vintage 'road worn' instruments on display but under lock and key. Here's a bass that's spent 30-40 years earning its keep on the bar circuit...and they're afraid something's going to happen to it at a guitar show. Guess if you're trying to sell something for $10K, you can't be too careful.
  7. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    Then you, just like myself, ain't buyin' none of the stuff I saw! ;)
  8. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    Good point. I guess these guys weren't too scared though. I saw a '58 Strat that looked brand new with a $50k price tag, just chillin' on a stand.
  9. Lovely axes.But guess which one caught my eye???The Bunker Bass!!!!!I'm a TOTAL bass geek.Thought Ive seenem' all.That's a new one to me.Very interesting.Anybody owned/played one???How are they???Gee....I wonder why ALL bass makers didn't follow suit??lol
  10. fu22ba55

    fu22ba55 Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2009
    I know with hollow-bodied instruments, the more they're played the better they sound.

    A brand new Guild or Martin Acoustic made with the same woods as vintage, (or a theoretical new-old-stock acoustic from the same year that was never played) won't sound as good as a guitar from the same wood that someone has played for 40 years.

    With acoustic guitars, there are a lot of glue joints, etc.. that can loosen and resonate over time... wood changes as it vibrates to the same frequencies over the years. (That's why some violins are so coveted. They've been played for years).

    But I don't know how much of that applies to a solid bodied instrument. There must be some sympathetic vibration, but I don't know if it works on solid bodies. Maybe at a microscopic or molecular level?

    (Has any guitar maker ever tried "pre-resonating" new wood before constructing? Or "pre-resonating" an entire instrument? That would be insane! A room full of amps on full bore, 24/7! Feedback farm!)

    My Jazz is a '72 and my P-Bass is a '69, and they're all "broken in" in the right spots. Like an old pair of sneakers.

    Whenever I pick up a contemporary fender, it feels like a tinkertoy. (But that's probably because the good ones don't stay in music stores for long.)
  11. Ezbass


    Apr 3, 2008
    Yeah good vintage basses are a thing to experience. I was looking for a new P bass last year and was about to pull the trigger on a MIM 50s RI when I picked up and played a thoroughly beaten up '63 P. Everything The Dave said is spot on, it sjust felt and sounded right to me and you just suddenly get it. Fortunately my wife persuaded me (didn't take much) to go for the '63 (she sees it as an investment, I just like playing it). Best bass purchase ever.

  12. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    That sound you hear is all of us "po' folk" TB'ers weeping for the chance to take even one of those babies home...
  13. BillyRay

    BillyRay Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    That blue p-bass is sex. The first p-bass is also a beauty.
  14. The Dave

    The Dave

    Jun 23, 2006
    Canyon, Texas
    This is a controversial topic in acoustic guitar circles (my other instrument). Some guys really do put new guitars on stands in front of big speakers and blast loud music at them for days at a time. In fact, there are actually machines you can buy that sit on the bridge and vibrate to simulate years of "playing in". And, some well respected luthiers offer this kind of "seasoning" with much larger and more complex machinery as a service costing a few hundred dollars.
  15. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I wouldn't doubt that it resonated like that from day one.

    I have a few recent DIYs I've assembled that resonate the same way.
  16. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Yup just like my old '69 Jazz. You can feel the notes resonate through your gut as you play.

    This CAR '65 J looked very familiar....

    Then I noticed it's from Maniacs. He's a local guy here, and I tried that bass out as soon as he got it. The neck felt great.
    The price doesn't seem too bad at 9500. A year and a half ago he was getting 9500 for 68-70 red and black with matching headstocks.
  17. powerbass

    powerbass Supporting Member

    Nov 2, 2006
    western MA
    i wonder if part of Jaco's tone was due to 1. vintage bass 2. most of the finish was worn off? I have made several basses for myself, the 2nd fretless bass i made i assembled and played before finishing - i loved the woody tone. then i sprayed lacquer on it - it looked beautiful but it lost the nice tone so i stripped the lacquer off and put on a light oil finish. from then on i prefer a light oil/varnish finish over a "dipped in plastic" look.
  18. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw

    Jaco's tone was due to Jaco.
  19. T-Forty

    T-Forty Guest

    Mar 14, 2008
    All of these basses are incredible, but the closest I will get to owning one is the 2005 American Vintage 62 Precision I just picked up.
  20. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Beautiful old basses. For those who like that vibe, and don't want to pay $10,000, IMO and IME the Alleva's will get you VERY close. Jimmy uses really old wood, and the feel is very similar (even to the point of having one of the old Fender guys spray the Nitro if you go with that option on one of his 60's inspired instruments).

    Vintage basses do have that wonderful history vibe to them, but if you are more interested in the tone and playability of one of these than the history, and want to keep it closer to $4K than $10K, check out Jimmy's work:bassist:

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