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Good birthyear P-bass for 1980?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smo, Mar 19, 2013.

  1. Hi all,

    I'm thinking of hunting down a birthyear Fender Precision for myself, for 1980.
    Now I've heard round the traps that 1980 wasn't exactly a highpoint for Fender basses, but I was hoping some of you here could point me in the right direction?

    So what were the good P's to hunt for?

    And how can I identify them from any other bass manufactured in 1980?

    And lastly, what's a fair price for a 1980?

  2. Anyone?
  3. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    You'll have to search around for a keeper that is trully one built in '80 and not an 81/82. 1980 is when things started turning around at Fender, and Bill Schultz had the production line updated and they started building things much better. But they were also using-up old stock as well.
    One thing for sure is heavy norther ash was still the lumber they were using so most is on the heavy weight side.
    Common thing you'll find is '78 serials, but you'll have to look for neck stamp, pot stamp, pickup bottom stamps to determin when the bass was actually built.
    Another P Bass model made that year was the Precision Special. and the serials for those are pretty specific on the year it was made.
  4. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    How many different types of P-basses were there in 1980? I'll tell you; two. The standard version, and the Precision Special, which had active electronics, gold hardware, and some of them had walnut necks, IIRC. That's it; Fender wasn't making 50 different models of anything back then. There's no way to know which ones are the good ones, though this was near the end of the CBS era, so they are generally thought of as weaker than most other eras (though I'd take one over anything built since as I just liked the mid-late '70's Precisions best). They can be heavy, and the neck pockets weren't always tight.
  5. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I started playing in '71 and started in music retail in '76. There was defiantly a decline in the quality of product Fender was putting out. In general the closer you got to '79 the worse they were. There was a distinct up tick in '80-'81. Neck pockets got tighter, tooling a bit crisper. I think 800-1000 for a '80 would be a fair price.
  6. Wow!
    So they're really that ******?

    I heard bad stuff, like neck pockets that were super loose etc. Shame....
    So you guys are saying avoid buying sight-unseen bases from this time period huh?
  7. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I am not saying all 70's Fenders are crap there are certainly some great ones. I'd say it's always a good idea to have the bass in question in hand before forking over your hard earned cash. If buying on ebay or a online dealer I'd want to know their return policy.
  8. swamp2


    Feb 27, 2008
    I have a '79 Strat that pretty much validates a lot of the bad late 70's quality stereotypes. The finish cracked off in big chips. It weighs a ton. I had to shim the neck pocket to keep it from shifting around.

    To be fair it does have a nice neck.

    Any new US Fender is a far better instrument, IMHO. But, it has character!
  9. Musky


    Nov 5, 2005
    Unfortunately for you Bill Schultz didn't actually take over at Fender until 1981, so any 1980 bass may have the quality control issues that some of the late 70s ones did. You definitely need to try anything you buy.

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