Pre-CBS / Post-CBS ... whaaaat??

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by fireglo forever, Oct 11, 2001.

  1. Whats this world-famous event in which Fenders stopped being the rulers of the world and started to suck big time that everyone keeps making reference to?

    Whats the difference between a pre-cbs and a post-cbs fender?

    Hey, i had to ask! I mean, its not like they teach you this stuff in highschool´s history class! They do?
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    CBS bought out Leo Fender, technically in 1965, (Jan. I think). But, CBS was already instituting some of its manufacturing methods before then. Some of the real talent Leo had assembled were jumping ship.

    It's not that all Fenders went downhill after the sale. `71 is generally recognized as the beginning of major compromises in the quality of the instruments and the amps. But they did lose some of their craftsperson/luthiery aspects as CBS, being the corporate giant and no one being born with the "Fender" name, instituted "shortcuts" so they could produce the maximum in the minimum amount of time at the least cost, even down to using 3 bolt-ons instead of 4. :rolleyes: The famous Fender contour body that the Strat introduced went away as it was fairly labor intensive. Cheaper Indian rosewood replaced the nicer Brazilian. CBS used newer/cheaper/uglier plastics for the pickguards. In `68, polyurethane finishes replaced nitrocellulose

    Part of the deal with Leo was a 10-year, "no compete" clause, so he laid sort of low for a while, till Music Man caught fire and gave CBS a real run for the money.

    You can find CBS instruments with parts that were left over from Leo's reign.
  3. bassaussie


    Oct 6, 2001
    Leo Fender sold his company to CBS in 1965. The argument is that the instruments produced prior to the sale are superior to the ones produced during the CBS period. This is somewhat true, however a pre-CBS instrument is not automatically better than a CBS. The main area where this stuff counts is in the values of the respective instruments on the vintage market. The pre-CBS instruments command a far greater price.
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Here's a quote from the "Bass Book" (buy it!!) :

    "In January 1965 Fender was sold to CBS for £13million and became the Fender Musical Instruments division of Columbia Records Distribution Corporation. CBS poured millions of dollars more into Fender and increased its output dramatically, but as a result quality gradually declined into the 1970s and the original team that had built up Fender grew disenchanted and one by one left the new organisation."

    A lot of people - myself included believe that their quality control never got back to what it was until the late 90s and so instruments from the late 60s onwards are a gamble. But pre-CBS you are almost certain to have a good one!!
  5. Tapp


    Aug 29, 2001
    USA, Mississippi
    A lot of people consider L-serial numbered neck plates to be "pre-cbs". They had L serial numbers well into '65 and maybe first of '66.

    I agree that quality went down in the 70's, yet my favorite basses that I own are my '73 "black block" Jazz and '74 "pearl block" Jazz. Yes, the neck pocket isn't tight, but playability wise they beat new Fender's in the ground. It's something about the feel of a bound neck and maple board that are cool to me. Heck if 70's jazz's are good enough for Marcus, Geddy, Tommy Sims, etc etc. something must be good about them.

    Like all Fenders, some pre-cbs basses have IT and some are just mediocre.

  6. Cogno

    Cogno Guest

    Jun 11, 2001
    Being born in 1950, I started playing bass in 62. I have owned more than 100 various Fender Js and Ps. The Early 70.s models 95% of them basically sucked. The neck Joints were terrible, the bridges were always loose and the electronics were prone to shorts. I find it ironic that they are a prized collectors item now. I have a 75 reiisue that is far superior to the origival that I once owned. The mexican instruments are also superior to the early 70,s US made instruments as well. I agree that the Fender did not arrive back until the 90,s.
  7. Bull's eye by Rickbass, bassaussie, and Bruce L. Permit me to add my little bit. A friend of mine bought a 1965 P-bass in 1972. This was Pre-CBS in every sense of the word as far as quality goes. It was just suberbly assembled (we took it apart a few times) and it produced such a balanced, percussive "Fender" tone that it is the bass that I judge all others against. I'm not saying it was the absolute best sounding bass in the world, but from then on, I compared all other basses to this one as far as, "it has a less/more precussive sound, less/more treble, less/more midrange, etc. Now, fast forward to 1976. I bought my first Fender, a natural body P-bass (think it was ash) with a maple neck. Note: It did not have a maple fingerboard; the frets were set directly into the neck.(rather poorly, I might add) It looked beautiful, but, it sounded like garbage. When I first brought it over my friend's house to A/B the two basses which were made 10 years apart, I felt like crying. My friend's '65 had everything; my '75 had a blaring midrange, and almost nothing else. I could never, repeat never, get anything approaching a warm type sound out of it (played it through a dozen amps) and the highs were very glassy sounding. I got it to sound just a little better by installing a set of DiMarzio P-bass replacement pups in it, but, this helped only marginaly. O.K. that was the electronics, as for the neck, it began to twist to the G string side after about 6 months and no amout of truss rod adjustment helped. And for dessert, it's beautiful natural finish began to turn green in 3 places; the top of the body where you would rest your arm if playing sitting down, the upper horn near the strap button and on the back of the body opposite the tone controls. This is just my story of a bad Fender experience, but, all other Pre-CBS Fenders that I've played were very good to excellent, the ones that I played from the 70s and 80s were simply hit and miss, the average being a little to the miss side. I do agree that since the late 90s Fender has for the most part redeemed themselves, but, as a 20 year old kid in 1976, I felt that I had been promised the best toy in the world (which BTW I had to pay for) and got junk. Pre-CBS models are welcome at my house anytime.

    Mike J.
    P.S. Anyone who has not heard a good Pre-CBS Fender through a decent amp does not know how beautiful a Fender bass can sound.
  8. P.S. I took so long to write my post that Tapp and Congo posted before I did. I agree with them too.

    Mike J.
  9. downstairs


    May 13, 2001
    Pasadena, MD
    i have a 1970 fender p-bass, and everyone that's played it (that likes freless') loves it, and wants to get it from me somehow, i've played my friends Squire 2 Precision Bass, and it was pretty nice too (its rather ugly though without a pickguard) so you all are right, it depends on what type you get, i'll never EVER give up my 1970 p-bass though.
  10. Wow, seems like i was missing out on some important chapters of bass history! Thanks so much for the enlightment!

    If i ever buy a fender, which is not likely to happen, i shall remember to get one either older than 65 or a brand new one.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think the point is that you can find good 70s Fenders, but there's a very high risk it will be a Turkey, as Michael and Cogno attest; so don't buy one without trying it first.

    By the time it came to the 80s, virtually all the Japanese "Copies" were better quality than the Fenders available new. So I was in bands and had the money to buy what I wanted and like Sting, I chose an Ibanez Musician over any Fender I could find.

    By the way, Marcus's bass has been modified so much now - can it really be called a Fender? ;)

    More accurately a Sadowsky?
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    If I had the cash to afford a pre-65 Fender...I'd buy a new Sadowsky!! ;)
  13. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    As a post note to this discussion CBS sold to Arbiter in 82-83 and there was a management buy out in 89. The quality went up from this point.

    Not all pre CBS or 'transition' instruments were good as quality varied. I had a dot neck 65 jazz that was a turkey. I bought it for £450 and swapped it for a 78 Precision which is on paper a poor deal but it was a much better bass and I sold it after buying a Status and not being able to afford to keep two basses at the time.

    If you want the vintage vibe without the risk the USA vintage series (with V neckplate) is very good. I just picked up a 57ri Strat that is gorgeous (oops its not a bass).
  14. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Jaco paid $90 for his beat up '62 Jazz bass, as he couldn't afford a new one in 1976!! :D
  15. did i read that right? "ive owned over one hundred p and j fenders and 95% of them sucked" talk about second chances!
  16. Cogno

    Cogno Guest

    Jun 11, 2001
    I said that over the pasr 30+ years of playing bass I have owned 100+ Fenders. What I meant was 95% of the 70's models that I had tried sucked.
  17. Brad Johnson

    Brad Johnson Commercial User

    Mar 8, 2000
    Gaithersburg, Md
    Boom Bass Cabinets, DR strings
    Marcus's bass has been refretted with mandolin frets (and then put back to the original size), had a BadAss II bridge installed and a two band Bartolini boost only EQ...

    so that's basically a preamp and a bridge... not much really. And it sounds like an Ash 70's Jazz, so yeah, I'd call it a Fender... with what people think is the "Sadowsky sound";)
  18. Actually the 3 bolt "Micro Tilt" neck was intended as an improvement. Leo did some consulting/design work after he sold to CBS and he was involved in the 3 bolt's design. In fact he used this design on the early Musicmans and G&L's as well. The first Stingray came out in 1976, ten years after the sale to CBS!
  19. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Yeah but an improvment for who? I suspect the people who wanted to mass-produce these basses - less turn-round time! ;)

    I've seen some of these and the necks are really wobbly - leading to poor intonation. No surprise that in the late 90s with better quality in mind the Roscoe Beck signature built to Roscoe's design specs includes a 6- bolt neck joint which was picked out for particular mention in the excellent "Bass Player" review of this bass.

  20. Yes, Bruce I agree with you. I did say "intended" though! ;)

    Some people have had problems with their 3 bolt basses, me not being one of them. But if you think about it, the 4 bolt was actually simpler to produce than the 3 bolt system with the micro tilt. The 4 bolt was just that: four bolts through the body into the neck whereas the 3 bolt required that they insert the micro tilt mechanism into the heel of the neck which made the neck more costly to produce (along with the fact that they went to the bullet style truss rod at the same time). The change also required that they re-tool their equipment and train their employees etc.

    IMO there were so many quality issues during the 70's that the 3 bolt just was lumped in as a flaw but I'd blame sloppy neck pockets before the 3 bolt design but YMMV and of course I could always be completely delusional! :D