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Fender Relic vs. original jazz bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Boogie Boy, Feb 10, 2003.

  1. Boogie Boy

    Boogie Boy

    Jan 26, 2003
    IYO, how would you rate the quality of the '64 Relic? I want a nice "vintage" bass but don't want to spend outragish amounts of cash. I could live with a refinish ('62-67). I plan to gig with the bass anyways. Any help would be.....helpful. Thanks.
  2. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I've played a bunch of Relics, Closet Classic & NOS Custom Shops. IMO, They'r very nice basses. totally out play, out sound & completly destroy juat about any regular production Fender on the market. I've never compared them to the origonal of that era. I've played so many Frankenstein of thoes years & unless you really know what to look for, you might be buying a fake.

    I'd go with one of the Custom Shop Fenders or if you have alittle more cash to spend, I'd get a Sadwowsky.
  3. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    It really depends on what you're talking about. As far as an investment value, a vintage Fender will retain, if not increase, in value over time. A relic will immediately drop in value and should not be looked at as a long-term investment. As far as tone, while the Custom Shop instruments sound and play great, they haven't been played for 40 years, the wood hasn't aged for 40 years, the fibers in the wood and the finish hasn't vibrated for 40 years, etc. You can only get that response with time. However, on average, I would bet that any Custom Shop '64 off the line would equal, if not exceed, the craftsmanship of any vintage bass. The exacting tolerances and precision of modern woodworking tools allow bodies and necks to be mass-produced to within a thousandth of an inch, allowing for much tighter neck-to-body joints, better nuts, properly seated frets, consistent neck profiles, etc. As far as tone and investment quality go, you can't beat the real deal. However, if you're looking for a "player" that will give you the look, the feel, and the sound at a far greater value, then go with the Custom Shop....or a Lakland, Lull, Sadowsky, Parts bass, etc. Rock on. :bassist:
  4. RichBriere

    RichBriere Guest

    Jan 1, 2003
    Upstate NY
    As an employee of Fender for fourteen years (I'm not any longer) I used to run into this question all the time and have been amazed at the Pre-CBS thing for years. So many folks assume that if it's old, it's good.........and that simply isn't the case. I've seen some 30--40 year old Fender basses that were then, and still are,..............."less than acceptable" instruments. Given the choice, I'll take a Custom Shop Relic over an old bass with an unknown history nearly every time.

    Bass-ically Yours,
  5. I have tried out a '62 reissue custom shop jazz and various vintage (63, 74, 75) jazzes.

    I can't make a true a/b comparison on tone (they all sounded great) but I can say that the reissue was much easier and more fun to play 'off the shelf'. It depends if you want a player or an investment IMHO
  6. WildBill


    Jul 7, 2002
    :bassist: :bassist::bawl: :bassist:
    Hey look its an EMO band
  7. boogiebass


    Aug 16, 2000
    Consider a Jaco Artist model, if you can find one. Fender's best production Jazz, imo. Besides costing way less than a relic, you'll find its sound, fit and finish to be on a par with the custom shop stuff, for the most part.
  8. Well, I can say I have one of the first Jazz Relics that came out in '95 or was that '96. Got a real good price $1500 w/case. Came from out of state, bought unseen. Still sealed in Fender box. Now, My first impression: "I finally got back my '63 Jazz, or close to it." Felt good & sounded great, even had that smell. But alas, the 12 fret wasn't right. A high fret can easily be fixed, but a low fret? Instead of sending it back, that would take forever if at all, I chose to have it replaced by a local Luthier with the right fret, $50.00. I paid it rather that going thru the hassle of dealing with Fender. But my concern is, they should have paid closer attention to an item such as that at the Custom Shop, don't you think? Don't get me wrong, Fender would probably have fixed it in California, but I'm in North Carolina. The local Fender dealer wouldn't touch it, I didn't buy it from him. Oh well, it still is better than any other new Jazz bass I've played.:meh:
  9. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    I kinda went through the same thing about a Jazz.
    "Outrageous cash"? Have you priced a Relic lately? They're about the same price as a real vintage bass, but the real vintage's value continues going up from there, while the relics value drops and will never be anywere near as valuable.

    With that in mind (and since I also have an old P bass), I went for the real deal and bought a 1970 sunburst Jazz. The tone is killer!
  11. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    The 60's Relics I've seen new have been about $2500 or so. To get a 60's Jazz in the same condition as a Relic, you could spend anywhere freom $5,000-$10,000. But For me, I really can't tell if a 60's Jazz is original, orig. frets, orig. finish, orig. etc so it's a gamble (in my case).

    If you can find a 64 Jazz that a player, Stripped finish, fretjob, maybe different p/us' Now that's a bass you might consider obver a Relic.
  12. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Well yeah, it depends on which year you go for. A nice pre CBS goes for gold, but a Relic isn't a pre CBS either (nor a CBS), nor play like one.
    You can find nice 66-71 Jazzes for near the same price as a new Relic.

    I bought my vintage '70 Jazz for less than a Relic...and the finish looks nicer than a Relic (kinda more like a closet classic).
  13. AJ Love

    AJ Love

    Oct 8, 2002
    Madison WI USA
    over the years I have tried out and owned dozens of Fender Custom Shop instruments and I must say that I don't think the quality is consistent...some are very nice basses some just plain aren't....I've played a few that were really not very good basses at all

    imho a CS Fender is nowhere near the quality of the best of the Pre-CBS basses, and certainly nowhere close to the quality of a Sadowsky or a Fodera
  14. Boogie Boy

    Boogie Boy

    Jan 26, 2003
    OK. The mention of Sadowsky caught my attention. The Ultra Jazz Bass looks like a fabulous guitar. Any comments? I might be better off with one of those. They have looks, great reviews and are probably built better (or as good as) any Fender out there.
  15. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    If you try an Ultra Vintage Sadowsky, IMO, you won't want to hunt for a good 60's Fender.
  16. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    The best thing about the Ultra Vintage Sadowsky package is that you get trad. styling, modern improvements, a great ole school passive tone, and a phat active tone that doesn't necessarily sound "active". In other words, the difference is just a better passive tone with a little more mojo. Also, if you can't affort a new one (which would be a great investment), or can't find a used one that fits your needs, you could start with the ultra vintage electronics package, drop it in another jazz bass, and plug-and-play. Keep in mind that the last option will not even be CLOSE to the real thing, but if money is an issue, it will get you started until you can save enough for the real deal.
  17. fclefgeoff

    fclefgeoff Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2002
    I'd say try a Modulus Vintage Jazz. Very solid bass, IMO.
  18. NeedMoreBass

    NeedMoreBass unregistered

    Feb 14, 2003
    Seeing how I have owned every bass mentioned here so far I think I can give you a pretty honest opinion. First of all, there is nothing that plays like a preCBS Jazz Bass(I've owned at least 15, had 2 bad ones, and that was only because they've been under somebody's bed for 40 years). I've owned 2 relics and they were ok, but were definitely missing the richness of a well played '60's bass. Also have owned 4 CS Jazz basses other than relics and 1 of those played pretty good. I've owned 2 Sadowsky Ultra Vintage Jazz Basses. Like I'm sure other people have, I saw it on his website and "This is the sh_ _!" Boy, what a disappointment. The first one I had played awful, I figured maybe it was a bad bass which happens sometimes. So I bought another, it was WORSE!! Couldn't wait to dump those. I have owned a couple of the Sadowsky Vintage 4's with alder bodies and Brazilian(yes Brazilian) rosewood fingerboards and they were real nice, very resonant. Another surprising Jazz bass were the ones made by Fender exclusively for Mars Music. I installed a set of DiMarzio Ultra Jazz p/u's(same as the Sadowsky p/u's) in mine and then ran it through the Sadowsky Outboard. Very nice!! If you can find one well worth checking out. The best thing I can recommend for the most bang for the buck is a preCBS refin. Usually run around $2000 and if you're patient you can get one in real nice shape. I'm playing a '64 now I paid $2300 for, all original with the exception of the body being refinished in Fiesta Red which is my favorite color anyway. No neck wear and plays like a dream. Sometimes I use a Sadowsky Outboard preamp and it sounds INCREDIBLE!!

    I've had A/B'd side by side my preCBS with all of the basses mentioned above and the preCBS is the real deal. Of all of them I have to say the Sadowsky Ultra was the biggest disappointment, regardless of price. The preCBS with or without a Sadowsky Outboard is #1, the Sadowsky Vintage 4 is #2(buy a used one, the market is full of them), and the Fender Mars edition with DiMarzio Ultra Jazz p/u's running with or without the Sadowsky was #3.

    Hope this helps.
  19. JimS

    JimS Supporting Member

    If you plunk the $ for a an old Fender, you had better know your stuff inside-out, up and down. There are many fraudulent copies and modded old Fenders and you must be an EXPERT to tell the differences. So have it checked out by a pro if you go that route.

    Me, if I had the choice: NO BRAINER: Sadowsky Ultra Vintage.

    Then again, I have my 5th Sadowsky instrument on order. And I've played lots of stuff. My money is where my mouth is.
  20. KPO2000

    KPO2000 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Sep 5, 2001
    I own a stripped and stained '64 Jazz (all original except for the refin) that coincidentally I also paid around $2300 for) and a Sadowsky Vintage 4 and they are both fantastic basses. I have played a few CS Relics here and there and they have done nothing for me. Nice basses though, but nothing special to me and no bargain when you can find used Sadowskys for $1800 and up these days.

    I haven't tried a Sadowsky UV yet, but like NeedMoreBass, when I first saw them, I thought they would be "it" for sure. Having spoken to a couple owner/sellers, I'm not sure anymore though. I still can't wait to try an Ultra Vintage Sadowsky myself someday though.

    I think if you shop around a bit and am patient, you can find a sweet deal on a good sounding refin'd Pre-CBS J bass and/or a used Sadowsky 4.

    Good Luck!