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Help Identify a 78 Jazz bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bhoff5150, May 10, 2015.


  1. bhoff5150

    bhoff5150 Supporting Member

    Guys, looking at a 78 J-bass. Guy tells me it has been refinished in a Sienna Burst. I kinda like the color because it is a little unique. He also claims he installed Dimarzio pickups, but the originals will be included. Anything I should look out for on this? The nut looks brass so I would imagine that was changed. One question I have - What is the screw in the middle of the pick guard for? It's right between the neck and the neck pickup. Was this common? Anything else out of order you see please point it out. Truss rod looks like it comes out at the headstock - is that correct for a 78?

    Thanks!!
     

    Attached Files:

  2. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    You're right about the nut being replaced. The 2 metal knobs are replacements too. The screw between the P/U and the neck is normal, but the pickguard is not original. The "bullet" truss rod is correct for that era. Looks like the frets are original. Can't see anything else out of the ordinary from the pics. It's probably very heavy, most late '70s Fenders were. Also, S8 ser. #s were used from '78 up into about '82, so to get an accurate date, you'd need to get the date codes off the pots and P/Us.
     
  3. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    NYC
    No bridge pickup cover holes on that body so it is not a refinished '78 body. The neck looks legit to me. By the way (as thebrain said above) S8 ser. #s were used from '78 up into about '82, so to get an accurate date, you'd need to get the date codes off the pots and P/Us.
     
  4. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    NYC
    And obviously the brass nut, metal pots and the 2ply tort pickguard are not original too.
     
  5. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    look at the pic full size. the holes are there. theyre just filled.
     
  6. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    NYC
    youre correct, thanks.
     
  7. thmsjordan

    thmsjordan

    Jan 10, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA & State College PA
    Eschew Obfuscation
    I was selling these in the 70's and I have a few points.

    That little hole in the neck plate was for something Fender called "micro tilt adjustment" there might be posts about it here or elsewhere. As I recall, it was a way to adjust the angle of the neck without changing the Truss rod adjustment. The neck pocket looks right. These neck pockets were looser than a 45 year old Philippine hooker ...... but enough about my ex wife.

    These had what they called "Bullet Truss" rods. It is right for that year.

    The neck looks right. Definitely period there.
     
  8. Flaked Beans

    Flaked Beans

    Sep 9, 2005
    NYC
    The neck pocket on my '78 natural/maple jazz bass is pretty tight.


    (and dirty :D )
    IMG_20150425_001213. IMG_20150425_000612.
     
  9. bhoff5150

    bhoff5150 Supporting Member

    You guys are awesome!!. I'll check out the date codes on the pickups and post here a little later. He said the caps had been replaced, I'll have to see if I can get a picture of the "guts" to shed a little more light. I think the price is a little low - he's asking $1300. That's why I'm so cautious here. I'd expect a late 70's 3 bolt neck in decent shape to run between 1800-2200. Does that sound about right to you guys???

    Thanks again everybody for the input!!!
     
  10. bhoff5150

    bhoff5150 Supporting Member

    Have you had any issues with your neck pocket being wide??
     
  11. thmsjordan

    thmsjordan

    Jan 10, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA & State College PA
    Eschew Obfuscation
    I don't own one of these, just used to sell them but I recall many were loose new. $1800-$2000 is reasonable if the bass is all original. This one is not. Hence the lower price I am guessing.....
     
  12. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    1300 is high for a refin IMO. If you're patient you can find an original bass for around the same price.
     
  13. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Aug 11, 2008
    San Diego, CA
    The neck looks right - horrid gloppy finish, that retched bullet truss rod and that terrible 3 bolt scheme.... and I'll bet it weights a ton!

    I wouldn't pay anything near $1300 for this instrument.
     
  14. mcarp555

    mcarp555 Guest

    Jul 14, 2013
    He said the pick guard, not the neck plate. The screw in the center of the pick guard is normal for Jazz basses.
     
  15. thmsjordan

    thmsjordan

    Jan 10, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA & State College PA
    Eschew Obfuscation
    I know there are no shortage of people who adore old basses. There are also those of us who grew up in this era and remember the problems that some of these 70's Fender instruments had. Still, there are good and bad examples of any year Fender. Hell, Marcus Miller plays one of these (1977 I think), so who am I to judge?

    SanDiegoHarry bought up another good point. Those three bolt necks were awful if ya ask me. The string tension from the flat-wounds Fender put on these in the 70's pulled a lot of them out of alignment and you couldn't keep the neck where you wanted it. Used to drive our Fender Rep. Ken Feist crazy when we would point it out.

    My thought on this would be as follows: Fender is in the middle of a pretty good cycle with build quality. The AM Std. Jazz of today is usually a pretty well put together bass for about the same price as you are talking here. Add the warranty of a new instrument, and I personally would find it much preferable to something like this. I look for playability, and to hell with the year it was made.

    Just my $.02 here. To each his or her own. Unless you are a hermaphrodite, then to each his/her own. Hope I didn't leave anyone out there....
     
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  16. FranF

    FranF Supporting Member

    Jul 25, 2004
    Northeastern PA
    The higher frets are at end of life or beyond. They're filed flat.
     
  17. thmsjordan

    thmsjordan

    Jan 10, 2010
    Pittsburgh, PA & State College PA
    Eschew Obfuscation
    Yes, I am aware. I was adding the micro tilt info on my own, I am awful that way.
     
  18. Belka

    Belka

    Dec 10, 2003
    Kiev, Ukraine
    Sure, the build quality of a new Fender will be better. But nothing sounds like a '75-79 Jazz. They will probably be boat anchors and may have dodgy neck pockets (which actually will NOT affect the sound at all) but you won't get the sound they produce out of a new Fender, not even a '74 reissue.

    Of course, if you're looking for your Jazz to sound more like a '60s model you have one more reason to avoid these and get the new one.
     
    thmsjordan and narud like this.
  19. BassFishingInAmerica

    BassFishingInAmerica

    Jul 24, 2014
    I think you're dead on accurate in your description, but the S8 serial number is only for 1978. S (referring to 70s) and 8, the year. You will not see an S identifier on a 1980s bass. I'm sure you know you're basses, but I have never seen an S serial number with that much gap in years, and this is an area of expertise for me. Of course, swapping out parts would be a different story.
     
  20. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef “the brian” Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    There are plenty of others that will agree the S8 and S9s go up into the early 80s. I've had at least a half dozen S8/S9 Fenders go thru my hands that had original 80/81/82 pots and or pickups in them. I've even seen S8 and S9s with 1980s neck stamps and even hand written dates. It's actually very common and if I'm not mistaken, it's even mentioned in the book "Fender - An Illustrated History" that the early '80s were a hodge podge of mixed late 70s parts and new (early 80s) parts.
     
    denton57 likes this.

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