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P-Bass: older vs newer.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Swamp_Ronin, Feb 25, 2021.

  1. Swamp_Ronin


    Jan 15, 2021
    Portland, OR
    So I have an ‘81 P bass. It’s natural ash/maple board. It’s in good shape. Thing sounds good. I was thinking about selling it and getting a new one, with a cool paint job, and modern features etc. Probably an American Professional II. The bass I have is great, but I don’t see it becoming particularly collectible, and I’m a player, not a collector anyway. What I’m asking whoever is interested is this- would selling it be a mistake in your estimation?
  2. Volker Kirstein

    Volker Kirstein Blippy the Wonder Slug Supporting Member

    The '81 is "only" 40 years old. There were hundreds of thousands (just a guess, I have no data) made. If you wanna gamble that it'll suddenly become much more valuable in the next 40 years, what's a few cubic feet of storage space?

    That being said, I don't really see it happening. But I've been wrong before. Often.
    PsyDocHill likes this.
  3. Swamp_Ronin


    Jan 15, 2021
    Portland, OR
    Right. I don’t think it’s particularly rare, but it’s probably worth about the same as a new one. I’m trying to keep my bass count down to 4.
    sonojono and Basslice like this.
  4. bradd


    Jan 27, 2008
    Minneapolis, MN
    I'd keep it for the 7.25" radius. The new Fenders are much flatter.
  5. hypercarrots


    Jan 28, 2009
    keep the 81 and buy a fender player bass. there are so many color choices in that line right now. plus you said you are a player so it’s perfect.
  6. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    You should be able to get enough for it to cover the price of a new one, and I would absolutely take a current MIA Fender over an ‘81, assuming both were typical Fender output for their years. ‘81 was around when CBS sold to FMIC, and other than the Fullerton Reissues, it was a dark time in Fender history. The 2008-current period is IMO probably the best Fender has ever done. I’d take a new one over any vintage Fender, dollar for dollar, and especially an ‘81. Do it and don’t look back. Resale-schmesale. The new one will also have at least the same retained value in 40 years, assuming civilization still stands then.
  7. Samatza


    Apr 15, 2019
    Go out and try the replacement first and make sure you actually like it better. Nothing worse than pining for a bass you sold to upgrade and then deciding you miss it.
  8. In terms of sound I never found anything better than my 76 P Bass including 2008-2016 incarnations. But for playability and quality the Fender Standards in that period are better. Don't get me wrong they sound great but the 76 for whatever reason - woods, pickups - is the best I have heard. I'm not a fan of the Pro basses - the v-mod pickup sound is meh to me.

    Agree with the earlier comment you've got to try both side by side. You might find that your 81 is actually better. Like the 70s, the 80s had a lot of lemons but there are still great examples out there from both decades. A case in point, the great Derek Forbes from Simple Minds still plays his 80s Precision that has been his main axe for his career. You can't really get much more of an endorsement than that!

    A final note, you will see the value of 80s basses go up soon enough imho if that's what matters to you.
  9. Worst case scenario is that you miss it when it's gone. It's not irreplaceable, it's an end of an era P bass. All instruments are to be judged on their own merits. When you find one you absolutely love: buy it. If you're still happy with the '81 keep it. Only you can decide what bass is the right one. I don't believe in changing instruments for no good reason. If you get a great offer or the current bass just doesn't please you anymore, then consider letting it go.
  10. Lowbrow

    Lowbrow Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2008
    Pittsburgh PA!
    Hey, ‘70s Fenders are starting to demand more and more money and for a long time a lot of us were pretty sure that would never happen.
    PsyDocHill, oren, Jefenator and 5 others like this.
  11. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    The ‘63 profile and the tall narrow frets of the American Pro’s make them feel like they’re playing all by themselves, they’re so easy to play. I don’t see Fender trying to copy the late 70’s-early 80’s necks anytime soon. The first edition of the V-mod pickups get a lot of poor reviews, but I like mine so far - and a set of SPB-1’s (my favourite P pickup ever) is really inexpensive to put in anyway. The new V-mod II’s are apparently much better than the I’s. Combine that with a bridge that’s at least two generations of evolution past what’s in your ‘81, lightweight tuners that are about four-five generations past what you have, rounded fretboard edges, a satin finish on the back of the neck, and QC like no other time in Fender’s history makes it a no brainer to me. Fender sold more basses and guitars in 2020 than all other manufacturers in any other year in history.

    I get the sentimental attachment - I still have my first real bass, a USA-made Peavey from 1985, bought new. I don’t play it anymore. It’s like night and day, comparing it with a new American Fender. If you are really stuck, keep the ‘81, but if you can swing also getting a new one, try to find a 2008-current one. The worst you face is a pickup swap, and that’s entirely personal preference. The truth is that there are a lot more options for pickups now than there were in ‘81, so I think people are more fussy now than they used to be, and some of us older folks romanticize the original pickups in a bass we’ve owned for 40 years.

    Plus a brand new one dated 2020 or 2021 will also say “Corona, CA” on it. Kinda commemorative!
  12. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    By the way, I went to your profile and it says you’re a comic book artist - did you create your profile pic? It’s very cool.
    Swamp_Ronin likes this.
  13. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    IMO. Sounds like your bass is a good one and good for you. You've just got an itch. If you want a cool paint job, buy a MIM and do your own paint job. What are "modern features"? I don't see any features on a modern bass that are better than the "vintage" features on a good 80's bass. This should be a justification to get a new bass that you can mod rather than sell your old bass.

    An 81 Fender is an appreciating asset. Don't underestimate this. It takes time and your asset's appreciation is accelerating over the next 20 + years.
    Swamp_Ronin, BassVibes and Pdaddy1978 like this.
  14. BillMason


    Mar 6, 2007
    No, it’s actually not appreciating, at best it’s holding its own. You have to factor in inflation and changes in currency value on currency markets. Just because it was bought for ~$500 in 1981 and could now sell for $1800-2200 doesn’t at all mean it has appreciated. Gas was $1.22/gallon in 1981.
    mikeswals, Basslice and Swamp_Ronin like this.
  15. Medicine Man

    Medicine Man

    Apr 10, 2015
    Im pretty happy with my AmPro P i just picked up. I had to work on the nut right out of the box, but the neck is great. Vmod pickup is fine, but there are probably better out there if you eant yo play that game. Im keeping it for now. Imho, certainly better than 80's Fenders Ive played.
    BillMason and Swamp_Ronin like this.
  16. pbassjbass


    Jun 21, 2013
    Keep it, as a player. Two are useful, one can be setup as your playing out bass, the other can be setup either for alternative uses (eg. one flat wounds and one rounds), or experimenting, with different setups etc.
    bobyoung53 and Swamp_Ronin like this.
  17. Ric Vice

    Ric Vice Supporting Member

    Jul 2, 2005
    Olivette, Missouri
    Since I own a 1959 Fender Precision, I’d never want or need anything else. I really play better on that neck profile and radius. This particular bass just sounds and plays different. It has a ringing sustain, that I think is unique to the 1957-1959 precision’s. The fret wire is closer to the kind used for mandolin fingerboards in 2021. I owned a 1968 Fender Precision Bass for less than 6 months and sold it because I didn’t care for the neck at all. I’ve played a 1951, 1956, and a 1972. None of those has The mojo of the 1959. Now I realize that these basses are “stupid expensive” nowadays. Frankly the market for them IMHO was inflated by people who in many cases don’t even play them and are looking to make a killing in the vintage market. So if you really like yours. I say, hold on to it. Just my take. 473C880D-C9C2-4983-92EC-F54ED5F4CBE5.jpeg 398A2315-5D3C-4224-A0EF-B443455E598F.jpeg
  18. nonohmic

    nonohmic Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2005
    ABQ, NM.
    Seems there's so many P bass options it's not about which one cost more or is considered 'better. Its about finding the one for you.

    Mine cost $399 new and I have no desire for an Am Pro II.

    Maybe use GCs return policy to see if its right for you before selling the 80s one?
    JoshS and Ric Vice like this.
  19. chris_b


    Jun 2, 2007
    At the beginning there is an inertia when things don't appreciate, then they start holding their own, then they start to slowly appreciate. After the competition has fallen away, either been bought up by collectors or modded, stuff finally gets to the "what the buyer will pay" level. My point is the OP has a bass he likes and sounds good, and will sell for more if he keeps it for a decade or two. Obviously the guy can do what he wants, but my 2p is just that, a personal view.
    bobyoung53 likes this.
  20. MJ_Sotti

    MJ_Sotti formerly "Mike in Chicago"

    Apr 3, 2011
    You don't get rid of something old. I've done that when my judgment was clouded, especially that '70s Jazz I had.

    But if one of those goofy paint jobs they are coming out with now is so important, I guess go ahead.
    bobba66, bobyoung53, satjhmo and 2 others like this.
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    Apr 14, 2021

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