Identification of a Bass Guitar

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by DominiqueHilse, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Hi Guys.

    I bought a cheap Bassguitar but I start wondering what that thing might be. Some details look pretty much High Quality. from interest would be the age and the manufacturer building this thing. Labelled as Life.

    Precision Bass Copy with Flatwound Strings (Frets look like never been roundwounds on it)
    Mahagony Headstock and Neck
    Maple Fingerboard (yes I dont mess up the wood)
    Model Sticker on Neckplate: HEP5002
    Very heavy Body (one piece!!!)
    very heavy Neck (Also 1 Piece)
    Tin ashtrays covering Pickup and Bridge but 2 strings on each part. (like 62 Fender Preci)
    MiniBucker/Fakebucker/Soapbar Pickup looks like 2 coils, 8 screws as pickup
    Vintage Sunburst
    2layered Pickguard white/black facing black side
    Looks Pretty much like a 62 Fender but mahagony Neck and Headstock
    Golden Script Font On Headstock shows "Life".

    For Pictures click here: Photos

    Any Ideas about that guitar? my guess it a mid 80s japan copy.

  2. SoVeryTired

    SoVeryTired Endorsing nothing, recommending much

    Jul 2, 2011
    Milton Keynes, UK
    Mahogany neck with maple fingerboard? Never seen that combination.
  3. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    Sounds like it could be a 60's Japanese bass with a Maxon humbucker. They went out under several different names, though I've never heard of a Life bass... I had one that looked just like a precision bass but had a chrome minibucker with 8 screws sort of like you described. Some of the old ampeg basses had these pickups too
  4. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Yes its deffo in that combibation. I was a bit surpised too.
  5. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
  6. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    Yup that's the one! Ibanez used them too on a lot of their old basses
  7. cdef


    Jul 18, 2003
    "Life", as I recall, was a Korean brand built by Samick in the mid-to-late '70s. It was Hondo by another name, more or less.
  8. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Well I've seen a lot of basses but 60s? Well then that thing is in a wonderful condition for it's age. No big dings and dongs. I thought about mid 80. The Shop that sold it to me (as defective only the jack was broken) as unkown but also guessed late 80s. Well than it was great hunt für 66 US$ I suppose. Neck is straight and playes very well.
  9. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Samick. Late 70s. Would come closer to my guess with 80s. But no matter what it will be in the end: i do love that piece of wood already.
  10. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Yes i figured. I try to check serial number. I didnt look for a number as i replaced the jack. I figured (Thanks Wiki) That Ibanez and Maxton PU share the same serial number system because Maxton built for old Ibanez.
  11. mellowgerman


    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    70's could be too. I just know the bass I had, had a small business sticker on the back of the headstock from a store that closed in the early-mid 70's in my hometown. The used to put those stickers on the instruments that came from their shop before they sold them. The man I got it from said he must have bought it in 68 or 69

  12. JACink


    Mar 9, 2011
    I am intrigued!
  13. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
  14. danomite64


    Nov 16, 2004
    Tampa, Florida
    That's not a one piece body; it's a plywood body. Also, the 2 saddle bridge is like a '51 Precision, not a '62.
  15. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Great Thank you. Just not a Fender Fan but used google. Due to the tin caps on The Fender Pics and Bridge its Hard to see. Besides the fact the 51 Bridge looks different, and the bridge on my bass is black..maybe not original? Sorry i meant the Tin Caps looks like 62. I didnt even care for the bridge and mentions 2 strings per saddle :)
  16. Avalon


    Feb 28, 2009
    Are you sure the neck is mahogany? Maybe it is, or maybe it's just that color of stain?
    The neck looks like the typical multi-laminate necks made in Japan at that time. Some people call that a plywood neck, but that's not really the same product as plywood. Plywood in the commonly understood sense probably would not support a guitar neck. Those lines in the neck are the layers of wood - not wood grain - glued layer upon layer. In a literal sense, yes, it could be called plywood, but it was purpose built for a guitar neck. Some early European guitars also used this method for making necks.

    Performance-wise, I don't know if they are necessarily heavier than a solid wood neck. I did have one heat pressed back into shape because the rod had been maxed out. Heat pressing seamed to do the trick and the neck has been fine for a couple years now. Yours could have mahogany for the layers of wood, but I would be mildly surprised. It's certainly not impossible.

    Regarding the bodies on old Japanese guitars, they often seem to be plywood, but if you get past the paint, they are typically 2 or 3 peices of Nato (a brittle type of Asian Mahogany used for packing crates back in the day) glued together to form the body. The body should have a top piece and a bottom peice. They make the routes first. Then they glue them together. The Nato has a striped grain which often misleads people into thinking that it is plywood. Also, you will see the glue in the bottom of the cavities that bonds the top and bottom layers together. Notice that the glue is smooth though. The glue itself does not look routed as it would if you were simply cutting routes into one peice of plywood. They then add maple laminates on the front and back. My understanding is that real plywood (in the sense most people would think of when referring to plywood) was actually started by Korean manufacturers much later.

    I'm not an expert mind you. This is just stuff from my own experience and things that I have learned here and there.
  17. 1bassleft


    Dec 21, 2012
    NW England
    Thanks, Avalon, my Japanese Yamato is apart and your descn of Nato matches it nicely. If cut or screwed into, quite large grains of wood fall off, almost like chipboard and not at all like plywood.

    Back to the OP, I recognise that neck wood from my first bass back in about 1978. I bought a Kay 4001-look-slightly-likey (darkwood, possibly rosewood, it didn't look stained) fretboard and recognized it on other, lowest budget and catalogue-purchase, guitars of the era. Memory fades, but I'm sure it was MIJ as my first Koreans came later. That neckplate shape reminds me of the "not worth lawsuiting" Japanese guitars of late '60s and 70s. The grain and colour of my neck reminded me of beech and I didn't see any signs of lamination in it. I just assumed it was some SE Asian wood workable and durable enough to do without the expense of dragging in North American maple, except for that f/board - which is a new one on me too. Indian rosewood, like I suspect mine was, would have made more sense.

    Given that the fashionable trend for maple boards on Fender basses was mid-70s, that's where I'd throw yours on the timeline.
  18. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    I detached the Machineheads. Had some slight issues. So i was able to see the wood remains the color in the holes.

    As i changed the Machine heads i saw an added piece of wood above the e-string head. I watched very close with a 2000 watt lamp. I must admit the neck is made of at least 5 pieces. 3 long ones from body to head and 2 added to have material to saw the headstock shape from.

    I promised to detach pick guard to check serial number. Well if there was a number its not really to read. Just guesses. Seems washed out. So I have to say the Body IS playwood. I was able to count 18 layers to the bottom beneath the guard.
  19. DominiqueHilse


    Feb 8, 2013
    Mid 70s would be my favorite guess after all. what could me the bass same age than me. 76 was a good year. lol

    Anyway Thank you all for your great help. I keep that kind of wood beside my Tobias and my Peavey to add an Precision Style Bass. After I glued all parts in the pickup together into their place, it isnt as microphonic as Sure SM57 anymore and makes a great, fat-ish, slightly compressed dirt-sound. And I will even keep flatwounds on it. Steve Harris knows why.
  20. Bledi


    Nov 6, 2016
    This bass is making me crasy. Please can someone identify it. Thanks a lot

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