Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by s7on3d, Oct 30, 2002.

  1. s7on3d


    Jun 26, 2002
    Ra'anana, Israel
    What does "pre-CBS" mean?
    I always see threads about "pre-CBS" Fenders..... Did CBS buy Fender? If so, from what year are they "pre or post CBS"?
  2. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    OFFICIALLY, CBS purchased Fender in 01/65. However, CBS's (negative) influence on how the instruments were made had already started in mid-`64. By the end of `65, the overall look/feel of the instruments had changed noticeably.
    CBS instituted more a "mass production mentality" and practices. For instance, the wonderful, famous, "Fender contour" body was no longer as sculpted and sleek. Cheaper pickguard plastics that looked crummy after a little use were used. Rosewood fretboards were made with, cheaper, inferior-sounding, Indian rosewood instead of the wonderful figured Brazilian rosewood used when Leo Fender had control. Polyurethane replaced the original nitrocellulose lacquer by `68. By early 1971 the party was truly over.
    `71 is generally recognized by collectors as the year the instruments really went down the toilet, relative to the "true" Fenders.

    This doesn't mean that all CBS Fenders are junky by any means. Some of them sound and play quite good and have held up well over the years. But, I know from personal experience that you could pretty much pick up any pre-CBS Fender in a music store and have a wonderful instrument in your hands, whereas with the CBS-era instruments you had to have try several to find "a good one."

    For example, I had a pre-CBS Precision until it was destroyed in a plane crash. I had a `71 Precision loaned to me by a friend and they were two entirely different basses. The `71 was pretty awful compared to my pre-CBS. But that was just one case. You can find very nice CBS's if you are selective.

    My "theory" is that when Leo ran things, the people who built the instruments knew how doing their jobs well impacted the final product. Under CBS, I think it was just people watching the time clock.
  3. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Then of course there is the "Post-CBS" Fenders, since a group of investors bought Fender from CBS in the mid 80s or early 90s I believe.

    CBS did a good job on my blackface '67 Bassman amp, but I don't know about similar era basses, I haven't played one.
  4. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    i would never go as far as to say that you could pick up any precbs fender and have a good guitar. there are pre cbs dogs out there just like there are cbs dogs. the same problems with fenders necks like the fingerboard flip or the twisty jazz bass neck happened during the so called "golden era" too. that was just inherent in the design. the biggest difference to me between the eras is mainly the sound. theres a difference but one isnt necessarily better than the other. imo, the bound, dot neck 66's are some of the best fender jazzes out there period. its not pre cbs, but its a great freakin' bass.
  5. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    narud - I agree with you and disagree in certain respects.

    I disagree in the respect that the "dogs" didn't survive. They're long gone. What we see leftover from that era are the cream.

    But I agree in a way that there were "dogs"......but that was "planned for" at that time. Leo's concept was that necks that developed problems were simply replaced, not "repaired." The woods he used were cheap and plentiful at the time due to the lack of competition, as was the competition for his skilled workers who did the work.

    (For a reason I don't know, though, `64 is considered to a year that produced an unusually high percentage of dogs, though).

    But, under Leo, those instruments were basically hand-made, (sometimes for worse, but almost always for the better)...

    - Using templates, the neck maker had a manual neck router and a spoke shave and the body maker had a band saw with a manual pin router, cutting the components from templates by hand.
    - An assembler had those bodies, necks, neck plates, neck screws. If the neck body wasn't a good fit, he put the neck back and tried others until he found a good fitting one.
    - The fittings were only as good as the templates. When the templates got worn, Leo took them to a machine shop next to his factory to have new ones made from the old.
    - They used shims to get the neck/body pocket to fit right, if needed. When CBS took over, no one gave a damn. It was all about how many pieces per day were produced.

    IME, from going to music stores since the late 60's, you couldn't find a nasty Fender on the wall. There were no "Musicians Friends" or "Guitar Centers" then. The "mom & pop" stores wouldn't allow that kind of junk in the door. You went to department stores like Sears and E.J. Korvettes to get pretzel-neck garbage.
  6. narud

    narud Supporting Member

    Mar 15, 2001
    santa maria,california
    if you seriously think there are no pre cbs dogs left out there anymore, you either dont have enough experience with them or havent played enough of them.

    and i have no idea where youre getting your information but leo fender was just as much about mass producing guitars as anything. the operation wasnt the pre cursor to the modern day roger sadowsky as you intimate. my 62 jazz has a pretty big neck pocket gap. not a big ol' neck gap like the 78 i had but its still there and it doesnt bug me one bit.
  7. s7on3d


    Jun 26, 2002
    Ra'anana, Israel
    Thanks for all the interesting and helpful replies....

    But I have two more questions...

    65' seems to be a really popular year (I keep seeing GREAT bass players who have 65' Jazz basses), Why so? Wouldn't it be expected that these people who can afford a $30,000 bass would buy a 62', 63', or 64' Jazz?

    And part two; what year did the Jazz bass that we know and love come into existance, I know that the Precision has been around since the early 50's, but I never see Jazz Basses before 62'.
  8. IIRC, 1960 was the first year for the Fender Jazz bass.
  9. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Tell me how many other 35-50 yr. old basses (or "dogs" as you refer to them) are still on the market.
    I won't get into a pointless, juvenile, pissing contest about "who has more experience" with them. Besides, I can't even remember all of the pre-CBS Precis's I've had in my hands before the word "vintage" was even applied to electric basses.

    Try the books by Blasquitz, Black, Roberts, Wheeler, and articles/interviews by the likes of Doc Kauffman, Forrest White, et al.
    Due to demand, Leo was into "mass production," you're right. But that doesn't mean that the instruments weren't mainly "hand built" even if there was division of labor and that's where your statement falls flat on its face.
    As Don Randall, Fender's founder and head of Fender Sales, said,
    - "Leo likes machinery. He had very expensive and high-powered machinery that probably DIDN'T RUN MORE THAN 5 DAYS A MONTH...."
    It certainly wasn't Santa's elves making them the rest of the month.

    That erroneous statement came from your imagination...not from anything I said

    Your ONE Jazz is hardly the basis for a generalization rooted in truth, even if it has the original neck, (which it may not be) or even if you've owned it since `62.
  10. s7on3d


    Jun 26, 2002
    Ra'anana, Israel

    Bump anyone? (I still want an answer to the first question please)
  11. 1964


    Mar 26, 2002
    Too Close To Hell
    > "65' seems to be a really popular year (I keep seeing GREAT bass players who have 65' Jazz basses), Why so? Wouldn't it be expected that these people who can afford a $30,000 bass would buy a 62', 63', or 64' Jazz?"

    Could be a variety of reasons. Production quantities increased when CBS took over. There is a cost advantage, and maybe when they got their bass cost WAS a factor. There were good basses produced in 1965, just as there were some not so good ones produced under Leo's ownership. Your guess is as good as anyone else’s.

    > "And part two; what year did the Jazz bass that we know and love come into existance, I know that the Precision has been around since the early 50's, but I never see Jazz Basses before 62'."

    The Jazz Bass debuted in 1960, with independent concentric controls.

    The Jazz Bass we now know, with VVT controls, was phased in during 1962.