Hunk-A-Junk Basses Club

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fretlessman71, Jun 30, 2020.

  1. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Beautiful wood, paint jobs, stains, lacquers, high-end electronics, 24k Gold hardware... it's all lovely to look at. But I have found that for whatever reason, I have a great admiration for basses only a mother could love. Preferably one with a great story behind it.

    I tried to start a FB page for these, but I did something wrong and I don't seem to know how to fix it. And TBers are more likely to crow about their favorite beater bass that fits them like a glove and gets That Tone that they've been searching for anyway.

    Please post your stories behind your favorite ugly ducklings - pre OR post facelift, and include a pic or two. I will start below. I hope this gets a lot of attention - the stories can be lots of fun!

    EDIT: So this turned into a club! If you post your Bajo de Cyrano here and you want a number to join the club, lemme know.
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
    EatS1stBassist and PennyroyalWe like this.
  2. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo

    Vega P-P bass (a short-lived Japanese brand owned by CF Martin circa 1981), $80 used

    So here's the story behind this thing:

    I was teaching at a music store in the late 90's, and one day I walked in to see this bass hanging on the wall in the used section. I had 10 minutes before my first student, so I spent a few minutes checking it out, and loved the feel and tone. I figured for $80 it was well worth the asking price, and decided I'd buy it after I was done with student #1 (I had a break right after).

    I come out after the lesson with my checkbook, only to see this kid standing at the register with THIS BASS, purchasing it. I figured it wasn't meant to be, and tried to put it out of my mind. I was pretty disappointed though.

    Two weeks later, a bass lesson request form came in, and I got them on the schedule. It was the SAME KID, with this SAME BASS. It was a little big for him, but he did alright for a while. He took lessons for several months, and then one day seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Rats. Didn't even get a chance to offer to buy the bass from him.

    Fast forward a year and a half (and a change of address for the store): One day during a break between students, I walk up to the front of the store, and there's my ex-student standing there with THIS BASS (can you tell I really dig the bass?), talking to the owner, who was saying, "NO, I'm not gonna just buy that bass back just because you want to go to the mall today and buy a hedgehog for a pet!"

    I pulled the owner aside, and said, "Give him the money he wants, add your consignment fee, and give me the invoice. I'll start writing the check." He looked at me like I was turning orange before his very eyes. I told him I KNEW that bass, and had coveted it before that kid ever set foot in his guitar shop two years ago, and started digging my checkbook out of my coat pocket.

    The neck is flawless, and I'm pretty sure the pickups are DiMarzio from waaaaaay back when, before they started using polepieces that were adjustable with an allen key. My best guess is that Vega basses were originally owned by CFMartin, even though they were made in Japan. I've only ever seen one other bass like this.

    The bridge was a crappy Epiphone-style bridge that did nothing for the tone, and I replaced it with Hipshot "monorails" that let me string through the body if I wish. I also added an Xtender Key, like I do most of my basses. The body is ONE SOLID PIECE OF MAHOGANY, and sounds like it too. It's clear and full and intonates wonderfully. A keep bass if ever there was one, and boy was the price ever right.
    Reynoldbot, Phe, ravelax and 31 others like this.
  3. Stumbo

    Stumbo Guest

    Feb 11, 2008
    Could be a new club!


    Sorry, unfortunately I don't have any have any hunka-junka basses right now.

    However, I'd like #100 as an honorary member.:D
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
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  4. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Not a bad idea at all!

  5. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Ugly duckling? Not many people would consider NuKitty (my Badtz Maru Bronco was already named Hello Kitty, so that name was taken) "pretty." Unique? Yes. Eye catching? Yes. Pretty? Uhhh...

    She started out as a plaid (PLAID!) HB MB-4 stingray clone from the want ads for €35: NBD - Harley Benton MB-4 in plaid

    Then, a few weeks later, this thread started: The Hello Kitty Bass Project

    One thing led to another, and voilá!
    bass NuKitty 1.jpg
    bass nukitty 2.jpg
    bass nukitty 3.jpg

    There was even a book!
    bass NuKitty book.jpg
    rtav, Nedmundo, S.F.Sorrow and 21 others like this.
  6. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    I guess we'll allow basses that had facelifts too. I like the pre pics in the link provided too!
  7. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug

    Pre-plaid? No. It was plaid when I bought it. Pics in the NBD thread.
  8. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    That's what I meant. I saw them - I like them! Not a bad haul for 35 quid.
    Volker Kirstein likes this.
  9. Paulabass


    Sep 18, 2017
    I love everything about the plaid Hello Kitty.
    BB Brian and Volker Kirstein like this.
  10. dalkowski

    dalkowski It's "rout," not "route." Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Only one vehicle worthy to cart around that Vega:
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  11. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Nice! I used to drive a Volaré draggin' wagon, but that was before I got the Vega...
    /\/\3phist0, bobyoung53 and dalkowski like this.
  12. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    When I was in maybe 9th grade I wandered into a pawn shop in Atlanta and picked up a gloss black Lotus with a single humbucker. A neighbor let me borrow a commercial sandblaster to maul off the entire finish. I had a local luthier remove the frets and plane the board. I beat in an ivory colored EMG soap bar and man, it was awesome. Looked like the wood came off an old porch but it played fantastic and weighed about 7.5 lbs. I used that hunk for years and finally sold it when that bad inspiration hit me. I wish I still had it and would buy it back if I ever had a chance. I think the bass was about $70 plus the pup and maybe another hundred for the neck work at the time.
  13. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  14. filwitheneff


    Feb 22, 2008
    I no longer have the bass, and I wish I had a pic, but I'll at least tell you the story:

    Touring with a cover band in 1991 (back when cover bands actually did that kind of stuff), played a club in Wisconsin that was a Monday-Saturday gig. On night #1, another band member hooks-up with a local gal, and basically moves in with her for the week.

    On the Saturday of that stretch, this gal tells me that she has a bass at her house that belonged to her ex-boyfriend (for the sake of this story, we'll call him "Bob"). She asked me if I was interested in buying it from her, and she assured me that her ex wasn't coming back for it (I hope she was honest about that). So I go take a look at it.

    It was a "Stinger" brand (black, P body with PJ pickups). She had scratched off all of the finish on the front of the bass, and had CARVED into the top "F**k You Bob". But it worked and played just fine! So I offered her $50 for it, and she took it (probably would've taken less), and off I went with that bass.

    I took some Elmers wood putty to the carving, and some Walmart black enamel spray paint, and I used that bass for another 7 years after that. I even auditioned for the US Army Band with that bass (and got the job!). During my time with the Army Band, I had acquired a nicer bass, and I sold the Stinger to one of the vocalists in the unit who wanted to learn bass. I definitely got my money's worth out of it!
    G19Tony, design, DeltaTango and 4 others like this.
  15. Yools


    Jul 24, 2009
    Perth WA
    This is the Hammer Bass:
    HammerBass_all.jpg HammerBass_Body.jpg HammerBass_HS.jpg

    I saw this on Craigslist for $50 and I liked the overall look - stained wood with black pickguard - so I went and checked it out. The bad news was it looked like someone literally took a hammer to the fretboard above the 12th fret, and most of the frets in that area were severely bent and about to come out. The action was so high it was practically unplayable. On the other hand, it had a set of decent EMG Select pickups and a brand new set of Schaller tuners, and the bridge was in decent shape, so it was worth $50 just for the parts alone. I bought it, then found a replacement neck on eBay - always wanted a P-bass with a reverse headstock, and the tuners were reversible. I had also just got a brand new laser printer, so I made up the headstock logo by P-shopping a "Hamer" logo and printing it on a clear sticker.

    I've since replaced the bridge with a top-loading Hipshot bridge, completely re-wired with new pots and output jack, and put some active pickups in it. Now it's a beast - ugly as hell, but I love it. The only problem is that the action is a bit high, so as soon as my tech re-opens his shop I'm gonna send it in for a fret leveling and setup.

    This seems to be an on-going theme for me - buy a super-cheap instrument then put hundreds of dollars into it to get the bass I want. I'm sure I couldn't recoup half of what I have in it if I sold.

  16. fretlessman71

    fretlessman71 Still beats havin' a job Supporting Member

    Aug 8, 2005
    FoCo, NoCo
    I can totally relate. I can't seem to leave a bass well enough alone, regardless of what it's worth or how much I paid for it.
  17. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    "hunk-a-junk" speaks to me! :laugh:

    a P-lyte: it was listed in the local CL as a de-fret that for some reason 'didn't work out' and the young seller was trying to ditch it for $150. the de-fretted neck was just ok, the body had been stripped and sanded some (prep for a finish the seller never attempted), but: it had new EMGx PJs with the EMG/BTC pre-amp, IIRC. anyway, the kid needed the money, i wanted the electronics and the body, so we had a deal. i took out the hardly used electronics to apply elsewhere and set the body aside after removing the neck. then it hit me: i'll do an epoxy pour and make the neck work for me! i tried, but it was a fail! earlysecond (who has passed, sadly) and the luthiers were all very helpful, but the pour was a bit uneven (deep here, shallow there) and it would take too much work (for me :D ) to sand off and start all over....

    then i tore my rotator cuff. i had gigs, but my mains' (two-octaves) tuning machines were too difficult/painful to reach in order to intonate. i bought an eden fretless neck, shaped the headstock as small as i could, 'swept' the tuners as extremely as i could (to relieve some reach), threw some passive pickups into that unfinished body, and gigged it for months! and, for the first few gigs = the bridge-to-ground wire was external! :laugh: it embarrassed others, i think, but it got me through the most painful period re: my shoulder, so big whup. :D i had a button extender on it for a while, and i moved the back strap button up, too, to help with the shoulder condition.

    here's some pics:
    20190901_121639b2.jpg 20180625B.jpg 20180629_165905_Burst01b copy.jpg

    i recently disassembled it in order to use the neck on a different ax...but that's my "hunk-a-junk" story, which i'm sticking to, for the time being! :D
  18. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I'm developing something of an expensive cheap bass habbit, e.g. basses that cost less than a new set of strings for my Kay. My most recent: NBD: cheapo fretless 6-string

    Previous was this SBMM Ray 4 that I rebranded as a "MountainMan SteveRayBass":
    Combined cost: 1 and a half sets of TI Spirocore Mittels. :thumbsup:
  19. Esteban Garcia

    Esteban Garcia bassist, arranger, aelurophile, ਵਿਦਿਆਰਥੀ Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2018
    Portland, OR
    I love that bass, especially the back
  20. HardNHeavy


    Apr 17, 2014
    my ugly Hondo i bought for $180 in 83'...very heavy at about 11lbs and tobacco burst finish, which i was never a fan of...when i first moved to nyc i needed something fast i could practice on and go on auditions, as i was playing an ovation acoustic guitar like a bass because two strings broke and i wanted to play bass not guitar...I swapped out the neck for a lefty ESP rosewood and had "Carmine St. Guitars NYC" throw in the bridge pickup, and later i put a set of barts for the split-coils and an aftermarket black bridge..It was a good sounding bass after i modded it, just too heavy.......Sold the body about a year ago