How great a deal was this?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by kingnimrod, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. kingnimrod


    Jun 3, 2004
    I mainly play guitar, but have been getting into bass as well.

    I picked up the following locally a few days ago for $200:



    1983 butterscotch USA P-Bass with maple fretboard + fender hardshell case. Great condition, aside from some very minor wear / dings. The condition of the fretboard makes me think that this was hardly ever played, although the A string buzzes at the first fret, so may need a little nut work.

    It's not too heavy, and seems to play nicely. Going to take it in for a pro setup on Monday.

    When I first got in touch with the guy who was selling it, he couldn't tell me much about it, other than it was a "real Fender." I asked him how old it was, and he figured it was maybe 5 years old or so - he received it as a gift a couple years ago and never really played it. When I saw that it was in great shape and only $200 for a USA P-bass with a case, I immediately forked over the dough - I guess I should have seen if he'd take less for it, but I usually don't haggle too much if I know I'm aleady getting a really good deal.

    So, how did I do? What do these normally run out there? I will be keeping it as a player for sure - just curious.

    Am I right about the color - or is it called something else?
  2. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    That's a pretty good deal. I've had several strats of the same year, one in the same finish. I would think it would be in the $400 range normally. Mind though,83-84's are not seen in the best of light. It's the bottom of the quality dip before fender got it's act together again.

    I find the all maple necks on these years to be sharp on the edges, and prefer the rosewood versions.
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    That's a horrible deal, but I'll do you a favor and take it off your hands for what you paid. That way you break even. You don't have to thank me or anything.

    (crosses fingers and hopes others keep their big mouths shut...)
  4. kingnimrod


    Jun 3, 2004
    Hmm, interesting about the quality remark. I had heard that it was 83 when they started improving (Fender customer service told me 83 was the year that the Standard Precision was introduced).

    Aside from the one-ply pickguard, this thing seems top-notch and actually nicer than most of the new American P-Basses I have tried. Didn't notice any sharpness on the neck.

    I don't have any experience with any other USA Fenders of that era, though. I do have a MIJ strat from 84 that's pretty great.
  5. That's a beauty. You can find them around 400-600$ US, lowest, I'd estimate. These basses are slowly gaining value as "vintage" and becoming overpriced, even though they aren't anything special compared to the true vintage 50s and 60s Fenders. You got an excellent deal, I would not have hesitated to pick it up.

    BTW I'd say the color is more of a "blonde" and not a "butterscotch blonde". Butterscotch is a bit darker, as evident by 50s and 50s reissue P's which were in that color.
  6. Dirty Dave

    Dirty Dave

    Oct 17, 2004
    Boston, MA
    Sounds like a steal to me.
  7. Vic

    Vic There's more music in the nuance than the notes. Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 14, 2002
    Central Illinois
    Staff, Bass Gear Magazine
    I don't know the specifics of the QC cycles Fender was going through at the time, but I have an '83 USA P that's completely awesome, and I'm not even that much of a P guy.

    The other poster's right, tho, the edges of the fingerboard are kinda' "sharp" where they'd normally have more of a rolled edge over to the fingerboard area, but I actually kinda' like it. I find the bass' tone to be totally undeniable, classic P, woody and earthy with strong mids and thick lows, nice edge on the treble side, and the playability is among the best of any Fender I've played... including brand new Deluxe USA stuff.

    Also, IMHO, even $400 would be theft for that bass. I'd personally value an '83 USA P in excellent condition to be 600-1000 depending on the finish (how desirable it is), but I'll be honest, I haven't looked it up yet.

    My .02, anyway...
  8. Fred312b

    Fred312b What if I want to play jazz precisely? Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2002
    Chicago, IL
    good bass and a hardshell case for $200? sounds good to me...
  9. vene-nemesis

    vene-nemesis Banned

    Jul 17, 2003
    Bilbao España
    the best of it is that in just 8 years it will get in the vintage range ;)
  10. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    you've got some sort of half-information going on there...1983 was a transition year for Fender...they changed hands, but their production standards were not immediately raised. It was the last of the CBS cost cutting years, and you can see it with that one piece pickguard on your P-bass.

    In other models, where there were more intricate designs, its more obvious...the 2 strats I had were both 1 piece guards, they're routed for a different bridge, so there's no back compartment for the trem...which saved on routing, back pannels and screws. The bridges themselves are made of cheap 'potmetal' (the reason I got rid of my blonde...since the saddles actually were worn away, and couldn't be replaced). The other big difference in the strat is that it only has 2 knobs, and where the third would go, is the output jack, saving on more routing and also that chrome strat jack-plate.

    In some cases, Fender was still using up parts from the 70's that were lying around the's not unusual to see necks with S8 & S9 serial numbers with features dated to 83 or even 84.

    There was also a period while the switchover was being made that ALL production of US made Fenders was being done in Japan (I'm guessing that's a legal 'grey area'), I believe it was mid 84 or so.

    Once again, I'm sure it's not a bad bass, after all, the P-bass is pretty simply and well designed. It will, on the other hand effect the resale or collectability of your bass in the end.
  11. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I had an 83 J(same colour)J bass. Got it brand spankin'. It was my understanding that 1983 was the last year that Fender had it's "factory" at LaBrea, and moved to Corona in 1984.....please correct me as needed!!
  12. kingnimrod


    Jun 3, 2004
    have been playing with it a bit, and did notice the sharp edge on the neck. It doesn't bother me, though.

    Taking it for a pro setup tomorrow, and hopefully can get that nut issue squared away - that seems to be the source of the string buzz for sure.

    Right now I'm without a bass amp and my sansamp os packed away, so I really can't evaluate the pickup tone. No scratchiness though, so seems solid.

    By the way, in the case with the bass was some kind of weird folding sheet music holder that looks like it was made for a brass instrument. Anyone ever see a bassist attach sheet music to his axe? heheh...
  13. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    CBS did not sell Fender to Bill Schultz & Co. until Jan 5th 1985, if you're going to toss out "facts" them please try to make sure they are correct ones. :p

    That bass for $200 including HSC is a steal. Current Blue Book value on it is $800 - $1,000 which seems a bit high to me but I'd value it at between $500-$600 even in a slow market.

    Ya did good!
  14. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    Never seen an S8 or S9 later than 1982.
  15. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Looks good, but I couldn't help but notice the horrible intonation on the THREE SCREW BRIDGE!

    Maybe an Original Badass is a drop in replacement, because nothing else meant for a Fender is. Wow, talk about cost cutting. Two screws on a couple thousand basses adds up though.
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Yes, but Schultz and Co. were hired at Fender before they bought the was Smith. I believe from everything I know, they were hired to help prop up the poor production quality.

    I apologize for getting the actual switchover date wrong...and from now on I'll make sure I reference the books I have before doing so.

    Needless to say, 83 wasn't the best of Fender years.
  17. Dude

    Dude Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2000
    Owner: The Dude Pit Forum (closed) Producer: School of Bass
    There certainly were far wosre before and after 1983.

    $200 for that bass is a steal whether you think so or not.
  18. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I don't like P-basses, but I like that one. Even I would have coughed up $200 for it, just because it's nice looking and a great deal. Way to hum! Tort 'guard might look good on it.
  19. Mmzactly what I was thinking. A good setup should make that a beauty! Nice deal for $200!!
  20. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    I'm not all out dissing it. I have owned 2 different 1983 Fender instruments. One of them played as well or better than most modern Fenders, but it definitely had 'materials' quality problems.

    As I said, it's a good deal for this bass...and I do think that P-basses are pretty bulletproof. Would I buy another 83? Maybe. But I'd look it over well before I did. Some of the parts on some of the 83-84 instruments are difficult to replace...the L & J bridge saddles for instance that were on both the Strat and the Tele.