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New (OLD) Bass Day! (Welson)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bassbenj, May 6, 2015.

  1. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    So there I was as usual, hanging in the local guitar/bass shop. Inventory was low and pickings rather slim and then I saw it. A bunch of junk hanging on wall. There was this old 1960s bass. Filthy. Corroded. No strings. missing Ferrules on tuners. No bridge cover. Neck has so many curves it looks like a pretzel. And frets had been sanded flat by some previous owner. And just plain NASTY! I was in LOVE! Pure MOJO! I ask how much for this trash and he says $100. Natch I whip out the plastic and pad off with it.

    Well, I thought it was some sort of Teisco that I had bought (I own a tres Kool Hound Dog Taylor Teisco Kingston guitar from the same era) but a bit of rooting online and I find out that this "Welson" is a 1960 4 string ITALIAN wonder! No wonder the style caught my eye! I loved the three piece pickguard. Given the condition of the neck and the rest I never expected this bass to be more than a decorator item, but what the hell? Restoration fun begins. I only wish I had thought to take a photo of it BEFORE I worked on it. Oh well.

    Well, I discover that the tuners have been replaced with period Japanese ones. Makes sense because the originals (sort of like Danos) used modded guitar tuners which I'm sure you know are crap. Had to go root through the guitar store junk box to find 4 tuner ferrules. Ordered a Graphtech nut (note that this is a zero fret bass!). Did I say it was short scale? 30" scale. Now THAT is what really set me off because back when I played 4s I played my short scale a lot. So I ordered some GHS flats in 30" scale just for old time's sake!

    Well a lot of work later with auto chrome polish, Dow "scrubbing bubbles" bathroom cleaner and Ernie Ball guitar wax and things were starting to look good! I considered taking the warped neck to the local vintage guitar restorer guy, but decided to give it a go myself first. So I got out the heat gun and heated the neck up. Tightened up the truss rod and clamped the whole thing to a square steel tube to take the kinks out. I figured even if I could just get it playable again that would be cooler than a wall hanging! And truth is, that while it didn't turn out exactly perfect and action is mighty high, it is playable as least up to the octave fret where the huge ski-jump begins to cause buzzing.

    So I finally got it back together and since I've only played 5 + string basses for God knows how many years it was just like coming home! Yup! I quickly remembered what a TOTAL pain in the butt living at home was in those days. You guys have NO and I mean NO idea how lucky you are with the kinds of basses you can buy for very low dollars today. This has to be THE most horrible bass I EVER played. The body is cheap plywood! The switches are cheap plastic with contacts that look they were stamped from a beer can! The electronics is hideous and the circuit is so poorly thought out that there is really only one setting that sounds decent. The funniest thing is the headstock has this little plastic label on it that says "bass'"! Funny! What's that? Just in case you've never seen a bass guitar before, now you know?

    But the interesting thing is that while this bass is hands down THE biggest piece of crap ever foisted upon the bass community, the tone from it is strangely unique and really rather decent. Decent in the same sense that a masonite Danelectro is cheapo but still has a tone you can love! I'm just tickled I got it playing so I can pull it down from the wall and give a few licks on it.





    And did I mention that those pickups are so microphonic that if the PA ever dies, no problem, just talk into your bass!

    Sometimes the old ways are NOT the best ways! Still a FINE decorator item! Now all I need is to find a bridge cover with the big "W" on it and I'm done!
    Thornton Davis, bass08053 and JimmyM like this.
  2. Muddslide


    Feb 23, 2007
    Mobile, Alabama
    LOOOOVE that thing! It's in good hands now. Keep us updated on your progress. Happy NBD!
  3. lowsideonacurve


    Feb 24, 2011
    That is very cool! That body shape actually looks like it would be pretty comfortable and looks sharp too. The 'Rhythm/Solo' selector is something every versatile bassist could use . The little crown on the guard is pretty slick too...yep, I'm a little jealous.
  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Now that's my kind of bass!
    bassbenj likes this.
  5. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    But Boomie, how can something with everything about it so WRONG sound so darn good?
    Just proves "Tone is where you find it!"
  6. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    That is very cool! Congrats!
    And you are sooo right about tone.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Exactly. Old cheesy basses have character, and that counts for something in my book.
  8. jaybones

    jaybones Banned

    Mar 4, 2015
    Kelleys Island, Ohio
    Awesome find! Sure has the look of an old Teisco, and I've played a few of those (love the lo fi garage band character and sound they have).

    Digging the rhythm solo switch, sort of a boost I'm assuming?
  9. Thornton Davis

    Thornton Davis

    Dec 11, 1999

  10. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    In your dreams. Wrong assumption! It's just a small capacitor switched in series with signal. It rolls off all lows and drops the output level about 10 dB! A totally useless knob as far as I can tell!
  11. Gilmourisgod


    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That thing is so cool it really doesn't matter if it's playable. That's the kind of bass we all should have, along with Jet-Packs and silver helmets. It looks like all the weird japanese and Italian basses they used to have in the music department in Sears when I was a kid. Everything seemed to have a whammy-bar back then too.
    lowsideonacurve likes this.

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