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NBD: Unusual MIJ "Phoenix Phantom Series" Headless P Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MisterUbu, Nov 19, 2020.

  1. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    Well sometimes you can get lucky on facebook marketplace! Scored this for 300 CAD with the original hardcase and warranty tag. The previous owner bought it from a tech and there's been a couple of mods done to it.
    nice pic.jpg
    full size pic.jpg decal.jpg warranty tag.jpg
    From what I know, there is very little information online about this specific brand, especially this bass. Supposedly the "Phoenix" brand was part of the Japanese invasion of the early 80s made by Tokai, and were only marketed in Canada for a couple of short years as a project commissioned by Larry Dimarzio himself to promote his pickups(?).
    made in usa.jpg
    pickup info.jpg

    What I can absolutely verify is that this bass was made in Japan and the pickups are USA made Dimarzio's (DP 121BCU to be exact), any serial numbers, dating information are missing (havent checked under the neck heel/bridge but previous owner said he couldn't find anything).
    Overall it plays and sounds great, there's a bit of tonal wiggle room with the series/parallel push/pull switch and the flats currently strung on it sound great! I might change them to rounds sometime in the future but currently its the "p-bass with flats" of the stable. Cosmetically it has seen better days, there's scratches and dings all over the body, nothing serious.
    seen better days.jpg
    Aside from a NBD post I'm putting this bass out there to see if anybody else has heard/has this brand of instruments.

    I've included a bunch more close up pictures for internet archival purposes. (I'll include a picture of the hardcase later)
    126428418_227485908707213_5884132553345929559_n.jpg mystery numbers.jpg neck plate.jpg wiring 1.jpg wiring 2.jpg headstock.jpg control cavities.jpg cool sticker.jpg
  2. BAG


    May 5, 2014
    New Zealand
    Cool find.

    How do you adjust the action height of that bridge?
  3. JIO

    JIO shaken - not stirred Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    The Mission SF/CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe
    Yah, that is one funky bridge.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  4. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    It looks like the whole bridge assembly is height adjustable. I'd say the individual saddles are not.
  5. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    from what I checked out taking it apart, the saddle/intonation screw part comes off, so its similar in theory to a danelectro where you have to adjust the two hex screws on the side to adjust it up and down. I might adjust the relief/action sometime soon since it is a bit high for my tastes
  6. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    the individual saddles can only be adjusted for intonation, but you're able to take out the saddle assembly all together in one piece since the screws are holding it UP, not down
    wvbass likes this.
  7. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    My headless Washburn Bantam is similar. It has three height adjustment bolts for the entire assembly. In effect, they hold it up and not down, as you say. The Bantam also has individual saddle height adjustments though.
    Reedt2000 likes this.
  8. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    Yeah this phoenix is kind of an oddball case, it was more or less an early original version of a bridge that took a page out of steinberger's playbook, but this one does it's own thing especially with the string retaining/tuning assembly
    wvbass likes this.
  9. ric4682

    ric4682 Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    How’s that pickup sound? That bass is super cool! I’m always a sucker for something that blends traditional and modern influences.
    SirMjac28 likes this.
  10. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    The best way I can describe it is that its output is HOT, but the switch makes it sound more like a single coil. It's hard to describe really as the current set of old flats on it don't exactly give a great idea of the pick up's sound. I'll see if I can get some recordings of it done within the next couple of days to give an example. It's a spot on p bass tone to put it simply
    ric4682, wraub and Rabidhamster like this.
  11. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    A bit late, but here is what the hard case looks like, great condition for its age, it's definitely the original one that came with it, personally I was more surprised by the fact that this bass could fit in a cheap strat envelope bag!
    20201119_183750.jpg 20201119_183734.jpg 20201119_224138.jpg 20201119_224428.jpg
  12. bobba66


    May 18, 2006
    Arlington, Texas
    That is different.:woot:
  13. nilorius

    nilorius Inactive

    Oct 27, 2016
    Riga - Latvia
    It looks more to me like a soapbar pickup than p-type and the place where it is set, too.
  14. johnson79


    Jan 8, 2010
    Lancaster, PA
    Pretty cool!
  15. Interesting piece. I have never seen one of those before. The bridge arrangement is unusual, I take it that the instrument plays well enough with the setup the way that it is?
  16. Ewo

    Ewo a/k/a Steve Cooper Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2008
    Huntington WV
    Wow--you've got one of those also, eh? Haven't played it in ages, but I was thinking the hardware looked familiar.
  17. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    Aside from the action being a little higher than I'd like it plays fine, even after trying to wrap my head around restringing it, since this is actually my first headless type bass.
  18. Restringing it should be a fairly painless procedure even if the hardware looks a little crude. Just make sure to detune the bass at the bridge first, as that will move the saddle 'trays' inbound and slacken the string. That gives you some room to tune up when you put the new string in. If you don't do that, you can end up with the string being extremely difficult or impossible to get into the saddle. Seat the ball end of the new string under the saddle and thread it under the locking bar at the nut end. Then, pull the loose end of the string taut and turn the screw to lock the string down. The string needs to be taut and locked down tight as depending on how far your bridge saddles will move, you may not get it up to tension otherwise.

    I hope this brief explanation makes sense and helps you out.
    MattZilla likes this.
  19. Ellery


    Mar 25, 2015
    Congrats, what an awesome find.
  20. MisterUbu


    Feb 25, 2020
    Toronto, Canada
    Don't worry it does, it was similar to what I did when I took off the strings but it's great to know since this is completely different to restringing a "headed" bass
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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