Pre-CBS Fender vs. "CBS" instruments vs. today

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by richnota, Dec 15, 2007.

  1. richnota


    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    I recently got a MIJ Fender 51 RI. Its a great bass and after a bit of minor tweaking, sounds and plays terrific. I'm typically a boutique guy but wanted to get some classic vibe.

    Its the first Fender I've owned since the mid-seventies when I'd play my older brother's 75 p-bass. I recall in those days musicians used to poke fun at "CBS" fenders. Back then I was told on more than one occasion that my bass was a piece of sh*t compared to the older instruments.

    Strange, but i've noticed that 70's era Fenders have now become high-value treasures and command thousands of dollars.

    Did they "get better with age" or was it just snobbery back then?
  2. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Inactive

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66

    Ain't that a kick in the head?

    It kind of emphasizes the "vintage = better" fallacy.
  3. well as the "they don't make 'em like that any more and nothing will ever compare......
  4. richnota


    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    'im starting to think this thread may become one of those vintage vs. new battles.

    oh well.:bag:
  5. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    Snobbery. I have a 1963 P and although I'm extremely attached to it since I've owned it for 40 years, it's a bass. A nice one, but a bass. My 2000 MIM Jazz is every bit as good an instrument. If all the hoo-hah about the BIG difference in pre-CBS instruments were true, no instrument made after about 1967 would have increased in price...but they have.

    NEVER underestimate the ability of human beings to delude themselves. If they want an instrument to sound better, it WILL. Doesn't matter if it has three strings and a pickup falling out of the body, it will still sound better to them than that lowly MIM Fender next to it. People can perceive anything they want to perceive.

    Bull. Road apples. Horse hockey. Meadow muffins. [Insert favorite synonym here.]

    In my NOT so humble opinion, if there are any differences in sound, they are NOT significant enough to justify a big difference in price.

    The reason for the high prices of 60's and 70's Fenders is this: baby boomers have more money than they do common sense. They spend stupid money on instruments, muscle cars and other toys because those are the toys they played with when they were young. There doesn't have to be any reason, they just WANT them. And they'll tell you any rationalization they want you to hear in order to justify spending stupid money. Of course, there's also the issue that there are only so many old instruments around, and scarcity raises prices too.

    And I'm 57, right in the middle of the baby boom, so I know whereof I speak. I want my 1966 Pontiac GTO back, but I won't pay stupid money for one, so I won't ever own one again.

    The vintage instruments I buy are brands like Univox and Lyle that can still be purchased for under $300. No stupid money here. ;)
  6. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2002
    Central Ohio
    I think it is just supply and demand economics. The supply is fixed (actually decreasing as they go off the market or are damaged / destroyed. The demand goes up because a couple of well known players, eg Marcus and Geddy, make statements with them. So, the price goes up.

    My primary beef with the CBS instruments was the super thick epoxy dip coat on the bodies that keeps the moisture in and makes the wood have a hard time aging to make the instrument super resonant. I think Fender has learned a while back and has put a pretty thin poly coating on the instruments for a while now. Yeah, there are other differences that a given player will have a strong preference for, but the thick epoxy coating was my beef with the '70s instruments.
  7. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    I'm 53 yrs. old.
    I grew up with 60's and 70's Fenders.
    He's my take on this.

    The Fender basses from 1958-1966 are the Holy grail basses.
    They were made with aged wood.
    This wood had a very low water content. (5%)
    Hand wound pickups, Nitro-finishes.
    They were hand crafted. ( not total machine)
    The combination of this, resulted in a high number of consistent basses.
    Also they age well.
    Bass sounds better due to aging.

    The basses from 1967-1973, were also very well made.
    A small % less than the above years.

    From 1975-1979, Fender QC went bad.
    They used poorer quality wood, and mass-produced more basses.
    This resulted in a lesser number of high quality bass.

    Think, Sadowsky, and Lakland USA now.
    They are the 60's type of fenders. being made now.

    It's not when the bass where made.
    It's how they were made.

    People lust for old Fenders, because for sum degree they have,
    time, mojo, and are just well made basses.

    In thirty years, Sadowsky, Lull, Lakland USA, and other well made
    basses of today, will be sought after.
  8. netbot

    netbot Guest

    yes, the people at fender factory in the 50s and 60s where all aliens. after 1965, a galactic starship came and took them back home to andromeda. since then, all knowledge in manufacturing guitars where lost.
    fortunately, a stoned alien (hey, the 60s!) forgot a can with his urine probe (monthly drug control) in it and on the outside of the can there where some letters written like ".m0-J0-". a guy from the cleaning company found the can and threw it in the rubbish because it had this spicy smell.
    after the great escape of the aliens, CBS took over the factory and started again to make instruments. but without the knowledge of the former employees.

    musicians started to realize that the new instruments where completely different from the old one's. the guy from the cleaning company (a musician too) remembered the can he found and realized that it was maybe much more important than he thought. slowly he started to believe that those guitars where all whiped out with ".m0-J0-" before they left the factory back in the days.

    well, the rest is history...
  9. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Inactive

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    Me too but I'm a couple of years older.
  10. netbot

    netbot Guest

  11. thumpbass1


    Jul 4, 2004
    You can credit George Gruhn for being the high priest of the
    whole vintage guitar religion.The man has a great deal of
    knowledge and he is a true expert in the field of vintage guitars and such.I also think he's helped to create a few myths that are now dogmas held by those hold to the whole
    vintage is always better cult.

    I had a 63 P-Bass,a true holy grail pre CBS model that I
    stupidly sold back in 1973 for 175 bucks when beat up old
    pre CBS P- Basses were regarded as beat up old used
    instruments.Sure I'd love to have it back so I could resell
    it for stupid money; but I don't miss the dead notes on the
    neck that it had, which made it easy for me to sell. I also
    have a much maligned 78 P-bass that blows my old 63
    out of the water tone wise plus the chubby neck has no
    dead note issues.'YAY!'

    I respect George Gruhn dearly. He does say that the Fender
    Custom Shop is making better guitars, but I'm of the opinion
    that he'd still like to say that the pre CBS Fenders are still
    better.I myself would disagree because I've played some of
    the vintage reissues from the Custom Shop and I want one
    badly now.I feel they are as good and maybe even more
    consistent in overall quality than what Fender was putting
    out in it's glory days.

    The true vintage Fenders will be sought after by collectors
    for whatever reasons motivate the individual collector.That
    aside at least you can once again buy a new Fender Bass
    that pretty much nails all that is considered great about the
    vintage ones.
  12. sjb64


    Aug 2, 2007
    I think that people have grown to appreciate early 70's Fenders. They're very good basses in their own way. They didn't always get the respect that they deserved.
  13. netbot

    netbot Guest

    let's keep it realistic:

    who of you guys would put 15'000 us$ on the desk now for a pre-cbs fender?

  14. Kenny Allyn

    Kenny Allyn Guest

    Mar 25, 2006

    Oh but there were some BAD ones (as with all Fenders of any age).

    But there were some good ones too, remember Leo got the MM Stingray off the ground in 1976. Remember also that the Jazz Bass had a change in the early 70s Ash Body and a different pickup placement bigger frets also. Music of that era was changing too and the bright snappy J bass was coming into its own. The Ash body P bass had a hard hitting sound too.

    On the bad side ... man were they inconsistant and many were HEAVY.

    :) ... Love my 75 ... 4 bolt 9.5lbs rings like a bell, best Jazz I've ever played, what's not to love.
  15. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    1970-1974, were great basses,
    There where some dogs too.
  16. Rumblin' Man

    Rumblin' Man Inactive

    Apr 27, 2000
    Route 66
    I a few years someone will justify the skyrocketing prices of late '70s instruments with a similar remark, and then the '80s, ''ll never end.

    Geez, there's even some who claim the early '80s AV RIs made in Fullerton are somehow "better" than the AV RIs that weren't made in Fullerton.
  17. blackbird46

    blackbird46 Guest

    Mar 28, 2007
    vintage at 1/10 of the cost? Fender CS! I have a '64 J NOS that is smoooookin! I can't put it down!
  18. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Except for one tiny and demand.
    Supply of 90's basses will be high. Far fewer basses were built by Fender in the pre-cbs era, and many are gone. This is a fixed low supply.

    Baby boomers now constitute most of the demand. We will all be dead in 50 or so years. This source of demand will disappear.

    Demand for vintage basses of any era possibly will slacken.

    This already happened, no? :D
  19. syciprider

    syciprider Inactive

    May 27, 2005
    Inland Empire
    More human work = more inconsistencies.
  20. ok..... But why then a SX with sadowsky pickups and pre let say, won't sound as good as a handcrafted instrument.