Good Years for Fender Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Alexander, Sep 7, 2003.

  1. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    I saw a really awesome older jazz bass in a local luthier's shop recently and have had it in my mind to try and go after one. What were the best/worst years? Any to stay away from or be drawn to particularly? I don't necessarliy want the most expensive, I just want something nice I can play out with. In my experience, instruments begin to really start sounding nice after 20-25 years, so I'm curious. Thoughts anyone?
  2. I would say pretty much anything from 1962 to 1975. the earlier the better unless you dig the block inlays of the 70's ones.
  3. Although 1960 to 1965 are considered the most desirable, there are good and bad in every year. Fenders are very inconsistent. I have a friend with two 1961 Jazz's and one is magic, one is just OK. Marcus Miller plays a '77, which is not considered to be a good year, so that reinforces my point. Dont worry about the year, just try heaps of them and eventually one will stand out head and shoulders above the rest.
  4. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Overall, the basses were inconsistent, but the most collectible and prized basses are from the early '60s...what is called the pre-CBS years. When Leo owned the company, quality was pretty good, but they didn't have the precision CNC machines that are used to make basses today. When CBS bought the company and took over their first full year in '65, they simply weren't interested in the time it took to create precision-fit parts with the technology of the times. Profit was the driver behind the business, tolerances started to slip, and quality went with it.

    Which basses are more desirable will also depend on your playing style. A slapper probably won't get much mileage out of an alder body/rosewood fingerboard '63 P-bass, and a die-hard ole school fingerstyle player would probably turn his nose up at an ash body/maple board '77.

    If you're really interested in a old bass, there are deals to be had with basses that have been refinished or are not 100% original. However, you'll still be paying thousands for them, and their collectability/investment value will be reduced. However, for a fraction of the price, you could get a Lull or Lakland that has been precision made with modern technology, has been expertly set-up with a perfect nut and perfect frets, and you won't have to worry about the neck twisting into a pretzel! :D Just some things to think about....
  5. Alexander


    Aug 13, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Ironic you say that since I saw the jazz bass in Mike Lull's shop alongside creations of his own. He builds beautiful basses.
  6. doc540


    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    I've only owned one so I'm not qualified to give an objective comparison of models from various years.

    This '69 model still serves me well although Yuris at the Blue Guitar in Sandy Ego had to plane the heel of the neck 25 years ago. That little tweak did the trick.

  7. DOC 540. i noticed you mentioned planing the heel of the neck. ...ive got a great 69 also but the only thing is that i am prohibited from lowering the strings enough on it to make it a real good slapper. it has what i think they call sweep.... the 5 frets or so where the heel bolts to the body are swept up just slightly. i dont want to plane the front of the board if i dont have to cause of the binding.
    is what you did what i should have done to mine to make it more playable with a low action. its medium now. thanx
  8. I couldn't have said it better than Marty.

    Mike ;)
  9. doc540


    Jul 28, 2003
    Beaumont, Texas
    groov, back in the early 70's I had trouble with a slight bow in the Jazz neck (thinner than a PBass) which the truss rod couldn't completely cure. The Blue Guitar being honest-to-gawd luthiers knew how to plane down the "heel" of the neck closest to where it bolts to the body. I don't know how the dealt with the binding issue, but their work was exceptional.

    It's worked fine since, and I've always preferred a super low, comfy action.

    Here's another little chronicle about just how great Uris and his crew are:

    I called him 20 years after they'd done that neck work, and told him the first five or six frets were worn (I've always used Roto rounds). I asked him how much he'd charge to just refret the top of the neck. He replied, "Oh, with binding I'll do them for $10 per fret".

    I said, "Fine" and shipped him the neck and fifty bucks.

    A few weeks later he returned the neck. He'd refretted the entire neck and done a perfect job.

    You just can't beat service and quality like that!

    The Blue Guitar Workshop
  10. slugworth

    slugworth Banned

    Jun 12, 2003
    So. Calif.
    The new Jazz Basses are well made. I've noodled
    around with a bunch of them at the local GC.
    They feel right and sound quite nice.
  11. doc, maybe ill look em up. was your problem with your neck the fact that the frets nearest the neck pickup, like the first five or so, were slightly swept upward not allowing for a nice low action? on mine i can only get so so of a low action due to this. i do need to get it lower.
  12. to check the truss rod to see how much adjustability is left. A lot of times the rod will be at or near the end of its adjustment range. Also, the neck on my '72 was twisting; I've heard that this was a fairly common problem on older Jazz Basses. I would also suggest that you be sure and do your homework and KNOW how much a given instrument is worth in your area. I see a lot of places that try to charge "collector" prices for "player" basses.
  13. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I think Firestone's or Pirelli's look much better on a Jazz...:D

    God, I couldn't resist !
  14. lo note........i hear ya. there is some adjustment left on the truss rod. ...but because the 5 frets closest the neck pickup are slightly sloped up. when i do a setup on it it. i can only get down to @.035 at the 8th fret when pinching with a capo between nut and 1st fret , gage in at 8th fret, while simultainously pinching down on last fret (near neck pickup). the neck is not twisted. matter or fact there is almost no fretware and the bass overall is basically mint and original.
    i would think to shave the fretboard down in that area would do it , then refret the heel end of the neck. but because of the pristine condition of this bass, im trying not to do that, i believe it will affect the binding and make it look shaved, so as the binding would show a taper.
    i have a shim in the neck pocket now. but when i heard what doc (above) had done to his i got curious??
    if this bass was a player/ showed any signs of use i wouldnt care as much about the asthetics. but i do want to if possible cure the problem so as i can retain the value of the bass while being able to lower the action to slappin heaven. kinda like having your own cake and eating it too i guess....
  15. Warhawk


    Jan 31, 2003
    Canton, Ohio
    As others have said, the best bass is the one that feels and sounds right, no matter whether it's a Fender, Rick, Gibson or that $100. Korean guitar off in the corner that noone has taken the time to get to know.
  16. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    If you are thinking "old fender" consider the reissues. The '51 P, '57 P, and I think the '62 Jazz are all reissued. These are made in Japan, but the ones I have played have all been consistently high quality. And for the money, it is hard to beat the Geddy Lee signature Jazz. I love the way it feels and sounds I just don't like the look. Darn that personal taste.
  17. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    Groovking, your fret hump is a pretty common problem w/ bolt ons. The frets that hump are right over the 'bolt' area.

    A lot of people recommend a proper neck planing w/ a refret for the offensive frets.

    I've had success w/ an alternative treatment called 'heat pressing.'

    Peter Stokes at Broken Neck Guitar Repair is the man to go to. It'll cost you at least a $100 but he'll do it right.