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in need of help buying used '72 fender jazz bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by orenc, Aug 21, 2003.

  1. orenc


    Aug 21, 2003
    hi all,

    i am new here. my name is oren and i'm from israel. i've just "discovered" talkbass.com about a week ago, and i most say i really enjoy browsing it - very informative.

    and now to my query:
    as part of my hunting trip for a "new" used jazz bass, i came across a '72 fender jazz bass offered for sale. in a couple of days i gonna pay it's owner a visit. on the phone call we had today, he told me the guitar is in mint condition. and that the only thing not original about it are the pickups, which he replaced after those of fender died (the previous owner lowered them to much, burning the coil as a result). he is asking $1575 for it - a really great price considering that a new mia standard jazz cost about $1800 here in israel (thief! :ninja: ).
    now, since this will be my first "real" bass, i got few question on how to approch it.

    well, here goes:

    regarding the guitar's age:
    1. on this specific age-group, does the serial number printed on other parts besides the neck plate?
    2. what other parts got a manufacturing date stamped on them besides the neck's butt? knobs?
    3. are there any other ways to check the originality and date of the piece?

    regarding it's overall condition:
    1. i'm aware that the neck should be straight. how to check it's uprightness without having any doubts?
    2. other parts i should inspect? other tips on buying used jazz bass?

    also, how much should two used '72 jb pickups cost on ebay?

    i am really waiting for your reply. :hyper:

  2. I am the owner of a '74 jazz, and as far as I can see,

    1. the serial is stamped only on the neck plate

    2. the knobs should be the seven point "washing machine" style knobs WITH brass flat head set screws. The detent lines should most likely be faded yellow from years of smoke filled gigs at road houses and legion halls.

    3. If it's sunburst, the finish will resemble puke green with a hint of pea soup, and the instrument (if it's ash) should weigh in at around one new-born elephant.
    Also, around this time, Fender hired a team of blind people to rout the pickup cavities and neck pockets. As a result, you might discover a bit of play in the neck, and a noticeable space all around the pickups inside their routs; and the neck probably has been shimmed.

    Overall condition

    1.Eye the bass from the butt end, and judge whether there may be any warpage, or twist in the neck. Also, try and determine if the truss rod is still effective in keeping the neck straight, and that it can be further tightened, if need be. THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT.

    2. The rest is up to your hands and ears.

    You shouldn't worry yourself about trying to restore it to it's original glory with original pickups, although I went through the very same thing with my bass. The truth is, I believe, that early 70's jazz pu's weren't very good, so it's rare to find them in the original bass. A set of original 60's J-bass pickups can fetch $500-$700.
    If you do buy it, there are loads of excellent replacement sets. I've got EMG's in mine. :)
  3. orenc


    Aug 21, 2003
    thank for the quick reply, appreciate it.

    got a couple more questions, if you don't mind.

    how can i check it? should i turn it cw or ccw? how much to turn?

    and should there be a date on the pickups bottom and on the pots?

  4. turn it CCW a quarter turn (tightens the thread), maybe a bit more. generally, older bass trusses have been maxed out; if the nut feels extremely tight and it can't go any further, you won't be able to straighten the relief any more than it is already.

    I'm no expert on serial numbers for parts, but I think if they're original, then yeah, they should be dated. Maybe someone else can help you some more.
  5. pitbill


    Mar 27, 2003
    Bluefield, WV
    That sounds like a pretty good price on that. What color and type of neck does it have? I paid over $1800 for each of my '73's, so if it is comfortably playable and the neck doesn't seem to look like a "rollercoaster" my advice would be to grab it. Yes there should be date codes on the pots as well as original pickups. The pots will have either a 6 or a 7 digit number stamped on the bottom or side. If it is a 6 digit number then the fourth number will be last number of the year the pot was made, example: 137-212 In this case the first three numbers (137) is the manufacturers code (CTS company), the fourth number (2) indicates year it was made (1972) and the fifth and sixth numbers indicate the week it was made (12th week of 1972).
    If it has a seven digit number stamped, Example: 137-7212 then the fourth and fifth numbers indicate the year (1972) the other numbers are as that of the 6 digit reference (first three=manufacturer, last two=week of the year.) The stamped date or date code (as used in most 70's basses) found on the end of the neck is the most accurate way of dating the bass, although both of my '73 have very illegible stamping codes as is the case of alot of early 70's Jazz basses I have encountered.
    Original pickups will be stamped on the bottom with the date of production of the pickup. I woldn't really worry too much about finding original 72 pickups right away, just keep your eye on e-bay as they do pop up from time to time, but used vintage pickups can be an expensive gamble, especially if they arrive dead and are in need of a rewind.

    check out this website, alot of good Fender info to be found on this site (serial numbers, date coding, etc.)


    Follow the advice on the above post for sighting the neck and making sure it looks in decent condition (the neck is probably the single most important factor of a vintage bass.) Unexpected fret work, straightening, truss rod repair, can really add up if what seems to be a great bass deal suddenly turns into a monetary nightmare as soon as you throw down the cash and take it home. So make sure you spend a little time playing it before you buy if possible and if you are buying from a dealer, see if they will do a setup to your playing style before you take it home. That way you will know exactly what you are in for before you have to experience the "no cash refund" policy which is usually the case with alot of independant dealers.
    I hope this bass will be a good one for ya, I know how much I love my '73's, just something about that "broken in feeling" with mine. Good luck to you and if anyone else can add to my post or have any corrections, feel free.
  6. That was a very good link, thanks to you, my '74 jazz is now officially a '75. I also discovered that the black pickguard that I removed and slapped on another bass that I sold off, was in all likelyhood the original, and not some cheap replacement! (I now learn that after 1974, all sunburst models had black pickguards)

    To quote Paul Shaffer in This is Spinal Tap:

    "Come on, just kick me in the ass! Kick me in the ass!"
  8. Brian Barrett

    Brian Barrett

    Nov 25, 2001
    Murfreesboro, TN (Nashville)
    Dealer LowEndBassShop.com, Builder LowEndBasses.com
    Cameron who is also on this board contacted me today. A friend of his has a 72 Fender Jazz all original he is selling. I'll e-mail Cameron to this link so he might be able to give you another lead on a 72. Not sure at all what he wants for it. Your welocme to e-mail me if Cameron doesn't get back to you quick.

  9. Check out mrgearhead.net All you need to know about how to set up and adjust a Fender Basswww.mrgearhead.com
  10. orenc


    Aug 21, 2003
    the seller told me on the phone yesterday that the guitar's pick-ups were replaced by a repairman called herzel, which is probably the most reliable guitar repairman in israel - great service. now, since he got no interests misleading me, i paid him a visit today (without informing the seller, of course) and asked him a couple of question regarding the bass.

    he said the guitar is in mint condition, playing great, and all of the parts are original (except the pick-ups). also, the sun-burst finish is like new, as it's previuos, original, owner used it only on moonlighting gigs in weddings and bar-mizvas. the original pick-ups he replaced were still kept by him. they had 4 digit number on them - any help decoding it?

    i am planning on checking the bass tomorrow. as i said before, he asking for $1575, that is after i took $200 off on the phone. i hope to take another hundred when i'll meet the guy face to face.

    again, thanks for the help all.


    ps: if all will go well, i'll post pictures of the beauty on sunday.
  11. Sounds great! I say get the old pickups on them, they add a lot to it's value. Even if they don't sound as good as the new pickups, you should keep them if ever you plan to sell the bass again. I say go for it!
    Caca de Kick likes this.
  12. orenc


    Aug 21, 2003
    well... i got the bass :) and it's really in great condition.

    apparently the bass came out of the fender factory on '73 rather then the year before (serial starts with 39). the neck was finished on august '72 and the pots are from '72 too.

    i'll hopfully get some pictures of it tomorrow.

    again, i wanna thank all those who helped.

  13. REMBO

    REMBO Supporting Member

    Jul 26, 2011
    what are the numbers on the bottom of the pickups??
  14. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    This thread is over 11 years old. Im sure he figured it out by now....
    A-Step-Towards likes this.