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Mutant Bass from Phnom Penh

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CamboBasso, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. CamboBasso


    Aug 20, 2012
    Hey guys.

    I've used this forum as a resource in the past but I've never posted before.

    (A "lurker" I guess you might say, though that sounds creepier than it should when merely referring to a guy reading advice on bass related matters).

    I moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, not long ago and began teaching here full time. I've also joined a band here as well. I have played bass for nearly 20 years, but I hadn't played in a proper band for the last 3 or 4 years or so back home, and this has been a huge bonus on top of everything else. So far it's amazingly good fun, we're doing mostly originals, and we aren't too shabby. There's my intro.

    Phnom Penh's music stores are full of knock-offs and fakes, that's just a given when you go shopping for instruments here (or anything manufactured by humans, at all). Some of them turn out to be pretty cool instruments and priced very modestly, while others are simply atrocious.

    My latest find is a:

    5-string "Fender Jazz Bass" (ridiculous decal on headstock)

    P-Bass style pickups

    Neck plate that says "Washburn Pro," (along with the eagle and handcrafted since 1876).

    The neck itself is probably the nicest part of the bass - good feel to it, no weirdness or warping or dead spots (common problem with used stuff here, probably something to do with the tropical weather). Cosmetically very nice looking. I doubt it's "new" in any sense of the word, but it was either in decent shape or somebody did a nice job fixing it up.

    Tuners are old school, clover/club style, no identifying marks. Electronics are in working order - nothing fancy, but no loose pots, jack is solid. Not sure about the bridge, looks a little funny, but I usually rely on other people for those adjustments ...

    ... And it cost me $70. Threw in a strap. And two amp cords. I angled for a bag to be thrown in as well, but he balked at that.

    I've attached some really terrible webcam pictures. I'm sorry the quality isn't better, but I'm on a beat up netbook with a built in cam, and I'm not exactly a great photographer to begin with.

    My question is this: Does anyone have any idea, just from glancing at it, where they salvaged the body and neck from? An actual Washburn of some sort? Mix & Match?

    It isn't a big deal, it's a $70 bass that I knew was an obvious fake when I bought it ... but it's kind of a cool fake. Great price. Nice look. Nice feel to the neck. Not the greatest punch to a bass I've ever heard, but hey.

    Still, if anyone can give me any clues I'd appreciate it.

    I also took pics of the neck plate and other stuff, but I guess 2 attachments is the limit! If somebody is actually interested in this very minor mystery of mine, I'd be happy to provide more pics somehow.



    PS: Forgive me my newbie mistakes if I've made any.
  2. CamboBasso


    Aug 20, 2012
    After doing some searching, I'm thinking that the body is probably a Squier Precision of some variety, probably made in nearby Indonesia ... Obviously the bridge would have been replaced to make it a 5 string, but I doubt they'd bother changing out the electronics. The neck COULD be some kind of 5 string Washburn neck, but I've yet to find one that resembles it ... which is somewhat meaningless, since it does look like they were trying to mimic the Jazz Deluxe rectangular fret markers, I guess, even though it's just bizarre to overlook the Precision pick ups, yet bothering to redo the neck like that ... The tuners are all the right style for a Squier near as I can tell.
  3. if you'd post better pics (plus headstock, back) somebody could tell you more...
  4. CamboBasso


    Aug 20, 2012

    My webcam really sucks (to use and the resulting images) but I'll try a couple more:



    ... The headstock does look like a Squier headstock, as well I guess ... maybe the Washburn neck plate was just a random thing, and its really just all a Squier 5 p-bass of some sort with a faked logo ...
  5. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    I picked up a "carvin" bass about 8 years ago that lives in my house in Davao, Philippines. Clearly it's a forged instrument (mine) due to the lack of truss rod.
    Seems to be common in southeast Asia to put a fake watermark on a forgery.
    My "carvin" is warped and virtually unplayable.

    Something funny about that neck of yours, it gets very wide at the 12th fret or so!
  6. CamboBasso


    Aug 20, 2012
    Yeah, it's pretty much the standard way of doing business here. The places that deal with really high quality fakes are exporting them elsewhere for bigger profits, but they'll still play you for a sucker here if they think you're clueless.

    The weird stuff usually ends up in the shops that local Khmer musicians and broke expats like myself frequent. I've been messing with this psuedo-Squier-jazz whatever it is all day, and it's quite playable actually. My basses back in America are better quality, but the cost of shipping them, if they even arrive, would be absurd.

    The width of the neck is odd though, true ...

    21 frets, like a Jazz, and the neck "feels" higher quality than the rest of it ... P-bass style pickups and body (likely a Squier?) ... a Fender or Squier looking headstock, not sure on an exact match ... Washburn neck plate ...

    Half the fun of buying an instrument in Cambodia is figuring out what it really is, and then figuring out what's really wrong with it that needs fixing straight away. ;)
  7. nukes_da_bass

    nukes_da_bass Banned

    Feb 19, 2006
    west suburban boston
    I'm almost jealous of your expat status- haven't been able to pull I off.
    The wife and I took the twins to Philippines to meet grandma 3 months ago to great disaster- son ended up in ER with gastric enteritis and daughter got admitted the second we returned.

    I used to supervise in a call center full of Kmer/Americans- went to a Khmer party with a traditional Cambodian rock band and I was blown away by both the band and the dancing!

    Don't take 2 year olds to Southeast Asia- I got to one beach for about 30 seconds...
  8. Andy_D


    Nov 28, 2009
    Corpus Christi, TX
    I work on a ship out of Taiwan. I wanted a bass to play and it seemed that the choice was between over priced Ibanez and Fenders, or complete junk by brands you've never heard of. I rolled the dice and bought Warwick Rockbass counterfeit off Ali Express and had delivered to our local agent. For $140 It actualy plays and sounds pretty darn good. The weak spots. The finish is not very durable and scratches quite easily. Electronics are wired kind of weird with 2 tone pots (passive), and fret wire is kind of soft as it's worn down quickly for the number of times it has been played. The pickups, headstock and bridge have been copied pretty closely. The giveaway of course is no serial number and not adjust-a-nut. It serves it's purpose though and allows me something to practice on.

  9. CamboBasso


    Aug 20, 2012
    I'd recommend the Expat life for anyone without a wife or kids, with no hesitation whatsoever. Especially in the "developing world" where the cost of living is low and being western (well, frankly - white) qualifies you for a lot of jobs.

    There are some really great Khmer musicians playing Rock & Roll here right now, at least in a certain way. They seem to be in a phase where technical mastery is the ideal, as in playing note perfect renditions of other people's songs and having flawless execution. That's all well and good, but the next phase would be prioritizing creativity over technical perfection. Better to write your own imperfect song than to play somebody else's song perfectly. At least that's my opinion. But there will be legit original Khmer bands making waves in SE Asia (and perhaps elsewhere) in the not too distant future. They have a rich history in Cambodia with rock music - back before the KR era, in the 1960's - well worth checking out.
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Yeah there's a current band called Dengue Fever that plays covers of old Cambodian garage rock and movie music.

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