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NBD: 1983 Fender Elite II - Passive - Serious Mojo!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Twocan, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream

    Oct 5, 2009
    I rescued this bass a few months ago from the FB classifieds. It was in dire shape: The knobs were gone, split shaft pots snapped off, the switches were actually bent, the battery connector had disconnected from the wires, the bass was FILTHY and it smelled like an ash tray. It was obviously never kept in a case and played hard. There are scratches, dings, scrapes, bumps and bruises.

    I’ve owned a few Fender Elites over the years, liked them mostly for sentimental reasons (my first bass was a 1983 American Standard P), and felt bad for this bass when I saw it - rehab was needed. I took the entire thing apart and cleaned EVERYTHING. Pots and rusty screws were removed and tossed. I also oiled the fretboard with pure lemon oil, which restored some of the color. When I was done I took it to my tech, who had the bass for several months - he replaced the pots and switches, but the bass had a horrible grounding hum that he had a lot of trouble diagnosing. He changed out just about everything, shielded the entire cavity, did some work with the bridge and couldn’t get the bass to quiet down.

    Finally, realizing that I never really bonded with the Elites due to their odd electronic controls and glass breaking high end, I told him to pitch the Pre Amp bad go passive: V/V/T and a pickup selector switch (the rear switch being disconnected completely). Once the pre was out of the amp, the hum disappeared and I finally got to go pick it up yesterday.

    I cannot be happier with the tone this thing is producing. The neck pickups are aggressive and scream Motown with the tone rolled back. The rear pickups and bright and jazzy, and when they’re both on the tone smooths out very nicely. IMHO the tone is so much better out of these basses/pickups without the pre!

    It’s far from perfect, but has some serious mojo! Down the road it’s going to need some new bridge saddles (they’re frozen in place) or perhaps replace the bridge completely. It’s currently strung with some broken in Elixirs, which seem to be a great fit.

    46F7E925-DE8E-4DF2-89E8-44070798BBDB. C64B0AB8-7A22-411B-B4E9-105A4276989A.
    ICM, mpdd, JES and 15 others like this.
  2. alack


    Nov 20, 2000
    Great post. Love the bass and think you made the right choice to go passive. Since she already is not original I'd replace out the bridge with a new one that works.
    ICM and Twocan like this.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    wow! that ax has a nice look about it. really neat --- congrats on your new instrument! :thumbsup:

    i second the bridge suggestion!
  4. If you can live without it for a while, you can remove the entire bridge and soak it in penetrating oil.
    Maybe some PB Rustblaster.
    That should loosen rust, corrosion, etc. and get a bit of lube to the threads.
    Once the screws are willing to move, work them back and forth to dislodge the grunge,
    clean it up and reinstall.
    Nothing is likely to fit as well as what it started with.
    Wisebass, king_biscuit and ajkula66 like this.
  5. Twocan

    Twocan Living the Dream

    Oct 5, 2009
    Thanks for the advice. My tech did soak the saddles for a day or two. Unfortunately, these appear beyond restoration. I'm eyeing the Schaller Roller bridges that were used (or imitated) on the Fender Plus line in the 90's. Also three hole and similar in form/construction.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  6. Oren Hudson

    Oren Hudson

    Dec 25, 2007
    Gastonia, NC
    It's too cool and I like it.
  7. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006

    Agreed. Do everything you can to salvage the original bridge. Also +1 on the PB Blaster -- good stuff!
  8. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Used to own one of these in black/maple when I was quite young and foolish. The rear battery cover was signed by Stevie Ray Vaughan. I stupidly replaced the pickups with Seymour Duncans and lost the original pickups and preamp and then finally sold it. How stupid that was....
  9. deeptubes


    Feb 21, 2011
    Virginia Beach
    I came across mine about 20 years ago and bonded instantly. Love the tonal versatility. Over time I've realized that the weight is a little much, and I actually prefer the neck on my T-40. But this is the one that is always in a floor stand, never on the wall.
  10. I like it both you & your tech have done a great job in returning this bass, back into a player again :thumbsup:. How much did these basses weigh?
  11. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Schaller 3D bridges rock but you could try using electrolysis cleaning on the original bridge. Cleaning guitar parts with electrolysis | stewmac.com
  12. Zoobiedood

    Zoobiedood Commercial User

    Sep 1, 2015
    Writer/Ambassador/Artist/Resident Bass Expert for Seymour Duncan
    These were awesome basses. I liked the whole Elite series back then- some great guitars in there, too.
  13. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    As for the bridge, I'd replace it. You don't have the fine tuners that are supposed to be on it anyway. Why use it at all? Keep those tuners, though! I love 'em!
  14. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    I never learned to use those fine-tuners on the bridge saddles properly. I assume they were for more precise adjustments? I was an ignorant kid back then.
  15. Skybone


    Jun 20, 2016
    I'd agree with using a penetrating fluid, but maybe use a stronger automotive one. The WD40 Penetrating Fluid is pretty good. Sounds like it needs to be removed and left in a bath of penetrating fluid for more than a couple of days. It'd be a shame to replace the bridge, it looks quite cool.
  16. selowitch

    selowitch Supporting Member

    Aug 6, 2005
    Rockville MD
    Do the Erlewine electrolysis trick.

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