Memphis P Bass Copy 1970s - Worth Fixing?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by kurtminus, Jul 8, 2019.

  1. kurtminus


    Jul 8, 2019
    I've got a 1970s Memphis P Bass Copy. I'll post a photo later but it basically appears to be this model exactly - Memphis Precision Bass Copy Late-70's White RARE color

    It's super heavy, the pickups sounds good and the neck is pretty nice feeling. Aesthetically a 3 or so and needs work. Could use a new bridge (bridge works but adjuster screws are wonky/stripped), needs a new pick guard, the one on there was clearly "custom" and is hacked to hell. The olympic white is nice and faded. With some buffing and new tort pickguard it could look like a really nice vintage road-worn bass! There is no indication of where it was made or when, but based on what I've read it seems like one of the "good ones" from Japan in the 1970s.

    I would just go ahead and make the necessary improvements but I cannot for the life of me get the thing to intonate properly! Specifically, notes keep going sharp between frets 1 and 7, especially on the E and A strings. I've adjusted the truss rod and string height a lot and can't find the sweet spot. I tried fresh strings too. I am starting to think it's an issue with the frets or neck possibly being warped. This thing has been passed around friends for over 10 years at this point, I can't for sure say it's been treated well or stored in the best of places.

    I am pretty sure if I were to take it to my local shop they would laugh at me. Then they would probably say it needs a fret dress and perhaps even heat treat the neck to straighten it out. And a new bridge. That would cost me like 500-700 to have them do it. And then I'd still have to replace the pickguard to have it look like it's worth it. This thing ain't worth that much to me.

    Anyone else have any recommendations for how to get the thing sounding right for cheap. Is there anything basic I might have overlooked? I can do pretty much everything except dress frets, replace a nut, and heat treat a neck haha.

    Thank you.
  2. hotbass57


    Nov 27, 2011
    I would try and swap the bridge out first. You can find a decent bridge in the classifieds here for a good price. If you got the neck to adjust and string height set could be good to go. Check the tuners also tighten them and see if that does anything, might be slipping.
  3. kurtminus


    Jul 8, 2019
    thanks for the reply. What kind of saddles can I use? Generic P-bass saddles?
  4. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    You don't mention setting the witness points on the strings. Try that and report.

    If the bridge adjusts, it should be OK. If not, P-bass bridge copies are cheap. All you need to do is match screw holes, and I suggest getting a bridge with threaded saddles to make string spacing easy.
    sissy kathy likes this.
  5. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    There is no question about it. Pilgrim nailed the problem; witness points. Learn about 'em, set 'em, problem cured.
  6. I actually sold those Memphis Basses when they were new in the 70's. You may also want to check to see if the bridge was already replaced or relocated. If it was done incorrectly that could be your intonation problem.
    Good luck with it.
  7. kurtminus


    Jul 8, 2019
    Hey Folks,

    I replaced the bridge with a P Bass one. Looks way better and easier adjustment with smooth new adjustment bolts. That made it easier to intonate, but didn't solve my problem of notes going sharp from frets 1-7.

    I read about "witness points," but that wasn't my problem either.

    What solved it for me is getting a small circular file a little bit smaller than my A string and filing down the nut slots. Now all the strings are perfectly true everywhere, the action is about as low as I can go without it buzzing too bad.

    kesslari likes this.
  8. kurtminus


    Jul 8, 2019
    With a new bridge and a cleaning this think looks better already.

    Next step is gonna be replacing whatever hack job someone did on this pick guard with a new p bass one. I understand some minor dremeling is needed and perhaps some new holes drilled for screws but I understand a generic p bass one should fit fine. Oh also some new knobs, maybe witch hats. unnamed.jpg
    Matt Liebenau likes this.
  9. kurtminus


    Jul 8, 2019
    Finished up the pick guard, new bridge, new knobs, new strings. Looking and playing great! Just need to grab a couple extra screws at the hardware store. IMG-1292.JPG
  10. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    Well done!