How come my '83 RI P-bass doesn't look like a pre-cbs one looked after 30 years?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by cyberprimate, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. cyberprimate


    Mar 6, 2010
    My bass has been played daily at home and occasionally on stage. The varnish on the back of the neck is still like new, the body looks almost mint, the only thing is the blonde color became darker (it's lighter under the pickguard). In the 90's pre-cbs guitars even those in good condition looked far more aged than mine.

  2. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    did they use lacquer or poly?
  3. extreme


    Mar 20, 2000
    Yours sounds like a "closet classic". Lots of those pre-CBS basses were gigged 6 nights a week in smoky bars for a couple decades, exposed to temperature swings coming in and out of the cold from venue to venue, etc.
  4. cyberprimate


    Mar 6, 2010
    I don't know how different poly and lacquer look and feel.

    Attached Files:

  5. cyberprimate


    Mar 6, 2010
    I've just enquired about nitro lacquer vs polyester. My bass is certainly polyester finished. The coating is thick and super resistant to scratches. I would have no problem keeping it as it is but i've just read that "Sonically, you get tones that are more purely those of the pickups rather than other elements of the instrument’s construction". I want to hear the wood on my bass!

    Has anyone tried to sand a Fender bass and refinish with nitrocellulose without the help of a professional?

    This bass looks cool.
  6. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    Yours is not one of the Reissues, the 1983 fullerton reissues were nitro. Your bass is a poly finished fender, its the equivalent of one of the american standards today. Thats why your bass isnt wearing like a nitro finished 50s or 60s fender.
  7. One Drop

    One Drop

    Oct 10, 2004
    Swiss Alps
    Don't refinish a Fullerton RI that you like the sound of for some nebulous possible tonal gain based on something you read!!!

    They are collector's items and represent a beautiful period in Fender's history. Don't mess one up for nothing, please.

    I have a Vintage White '83 P that has aged to cream and sounds amazing, despite a thick finish. It is 'woody' and natural sounding as any P I've heard.

    The original Pre CBS custom colours were finished in acrylics anyway, no one complains that they didn't sound great.
  8. extreme


    Mar 20, 2000
    Yeah, your bass is definitely poly. That IS an '83, but not a RI...just the standard model. Still, a very nice bass!

    So, could strip this finish, but it's really a pain in the butt and there's no going back once you get into it. I would suggest you simply put together a different body with a nitro finish.

    I recommend

    They can source a nice alder body and do a nitro finish for you. They can even age it a little bit (or a lot!) to your taste and yellow the finish to make it look older.
  9. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    The finish on my 62 Jazz shows no wear at all... not even roadworn... it is black though. And a refin, back in the days. I've had it since the mid 70's.
  10. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    Some poly finishes just *never* age. I have a 70's ibanez p in three tone sunburst. It weighs a ton, the chips show that the poly finish is nearly 1/8 inch thick and except for wear and tear the finish looks unchanged since it was purchased by my friend in the 70's

    BritBass 2 likes this.
  11. kohntarkosz

    kohntarkosz Banned

    Oct 29, 2013
    Edinburgh - Scotland
    What a waste of money, and a good way of devaluing a Fullertone reissue at the same time.

    People get their panties in a wad over the whole Poly vs Nitro debate. Apparently poly is the work of the devil because it stands up to wear and doesn't discolour over time, both of which are apparently desirable attributes when it comes to instrument finishes. Nitro is an archaic product that imparts zero influence over the tone of the instrument that can be reliably and consistently measured and demonstrated. Nitro HAS proven to be a way for the All-Parts cobblers of the world (Kelton Swade, Nash et al) to get their mits on more Baby Boomer Bucks (TM) by kidding y'all into thinking ancient car paint is somehow a wonder instrument finish. The fact that Fender were using poly undercoats in the '60s is a moot point. People (largely rich, old white dudes) fall for the pseudoscience that suggests that it somehow improves your tone by letting your instrument breathe. Absolute rubbish, but people love to pay more for stuff with fringe benefits. :rolleyes:

    People want that instant-gratification mojo of owning an instrument that looks old and worn out without having to play a decade's worth of rough bar gigs to get there. Nitro paint gets you closer to your guitar/bass heroes, even though the majority of them didn't care about the paint on their gear and a good many had their instruments re-finished over their careers. I'm not saying you have to 'earn' a worn instrument, but I do think it is an odd thing to aspire towards. Perhaps it is indicative of the short attention span we have developed as a society?
  12. Webtroll

    Webtroll Rolling for initiative

    Apr 23, 2006
    Austin, TX
    +1 I prefer nitro but would be loath to refinish a bass for tonal purposes. If you absolutely have to, lightly sand it and give it a thin solid color lacquer coat that will naturally wear through to the poly beneath.
  13. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    +1 to what kohntarskosz said.
  14. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    Yeah, pretty much.
  15. elBandito


    Dec 3, 2008
    Rotten Apple
    monkey see, monkey do.
  16. Bongolation


    Nov 9, 2001
    No Bogus Endorsements
    Baloney anyway. Here.
  17. My poly coated 76 P looks brand new. The only sign of wear is on the neck and some of the poly coming off and discolouring in the wood exposed underneath.

    But there's no point in ruining the finish - this doesn't add mojo.

  18. I refinished a poly Fender after watching YouTube videos and seeing how easy it was to use a heat gun and lift off the chips. It didn't go that way for me.

    The largest chunk I got off was probably the size of a quarter. it took two days and even though I did it outside to provide ventilation, I forgot how to do math and I drool a little now.

    The body was made from no less than 7 pieces and the heat created some gaps between the laminates that I had to fill prior to paint. Overall, it was a nightmare. If I could turn back time, I wouldn't do it again because I didn't need help getting dumber. :p
  19. As others here have already said, you DO NOT have a "vintage re-issue" PBass. Based partly on what you said in your post, and partly on the picture, it looks like you have an early '80s American made PBass, which would have been made at the Fullerton factory. That is to say, you have a fine bass there. The whole Fender line benefited from the improvements that were made during the roll out of the re-issue series. There was a very limited period of time for Fender where they shook off the bad practices of the mid/late 70s, and before they moved production to Corona. We're talking from a rough start of 81/82 and ending roughly in '83/84.

    Easiest way to confirm this would be your s/n. My bet is that it is placed on the headstock, and starts with an "E", rather than an "S" (an S would indicate it was prior to these improvements, or was during a transition period, S indicating a 70s era neck). You could also pull the neck and look for a date. The vintage re-issues will be written in pencil. I am fairly certain that the standard line will be a date stamp (don't hold me to that bit though, been too long since I owned one).

    A re-issue will have a s/n stamped on the neck plate, beginning with a "V", and an early one will likely be followed by two zeros, or at least one (there are exceptions to this). Also, the logo on the headstock will be the older "spaghetti" style, and will be placed over the lacquer finish.

    I will say that one thing that doesn't quite add up for the 81-84 time period is the pickup being black, it should be white. might have been changed.


    If you like the way it sounds, by all means leave it alone. You have what I consider a unique piece there. It has aged well, with the white (not blonde, BTW) darkening to that awesome color so many of us love. If I were you I would slap a tort guard on there to cop the total vintage vibe.

    I would easily pay $1,200 ish for that bass the way it is. If you did a refin job, not more than $800.
  20. I just noticed something looking at your picture again. Cant be certain from the pic, but the frets don't look like jumbo frets, which they should be if it's a standard from 81-84.

    So now we have two things that don't add up, the frets and the pickup color.

    How about a picture of the headstock?

    Also, are there two screw holes under the pick guard below the G string, where a tug bar might have been mounted?

    Let's get a few more pics to determine exactly what you have.