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Snagged a '78 Jazz.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by oddio, Apr 17, 2004.

  1. The deals are out there. I snagged this '78 today as a beater / project bass. It was not expensive. I already have the "vintage Fender thing" taken care of ('61 P) and I'm playing primarily Wal basses. Anyhow, the finish checking is quite wild on this bass which lends to the super mojo, and besides - it kept calling to me.

    This has 3-bolt, microtilt, bucket seats and all that fancy "modern" (eg. CBS) and undesirable stuff on it. The strings looked pretty old; perhaps original too. I knew it played horribly. I spent quite a bit of time annoying everyone in earshot with it and ... wow - it REALLY sounded dismal. The strings must have been on 10 different instruments previously and boiled as many times. The guage was supremely heavy, and the resultant "thud" would have made James Jamerson proud but for the fact that it was decidedly unmusical.

    Off home and down to the basement to check through my used sets of strings! Now armed with a well-used set of Slow-Wounds and my trusty hex wrenches I set to work. Actually, setting this bass up was a breeze. The "bullet" thingy makes for fast neck adjustments compared to my "vintage" P. It wasn't long before the strings were on, the neck and intonation were properly adjusted and this bass is playing like a dream. I can imagine how much this instrument might have fetched with even the most rudimentary attempt at a setup. The neck is now very fast and the old electronics sound great with a halfway decent set of strings on there. I don't think I'm going to change anything else... at least not just yet. This bass definitely has "the vibe". It might actually see some use.

    This bass exemplifies why so many folks still love the old (or not so old) Jazz basses.
  2. Dave Siff

    Dave Siff Supporting Member

    Congrats! There is something about a sunburst Jazz that cannot be denied. Not to mention the block inlays. And as far as it being "not so old," those 70s models are getting older all the time! I saw an ad for a '74 yesterday and it said "Age: 30 years", and it threw me for a second. I guess 70s basses are getting to be "vintage" now.
    Also very cool that you were able to see through the bad set-up and know that you could get that thing into prime playing shape in a snap. So many basses in stores are set up so poorly that it's hard to know whether there's a killer lurking in there, just a few wrench turns away..
  3. Thanks Dave... this is the first Fender Jazz bass that I've owned. After a quarter of a century playing my Precision exclusively I started experimenting with Rickenbackers, Steinbergers, Ibanez, Kubickis, Gibsons, pointy basses and the list goes on. I bypassed the Jazz altogether, and although I used, borrowed and rented a few over the years, they had never really appealed enough for me to own one.

    It was just a fluke that I grabbed this fairly old one off of the wall and connected immediately. Although it's not what I consider "vintage" it has all the right mojo and sound to be one. This bass is absolutely going to our next gig.

    What constantly surprises me is that there are a lot of great instruments out there that are crying for a proper setup. I know for a fact that this particular Jazz was passed over by many as a junker, which it certainly is not.

    Anyhow, a few words of encouragement for folks who can't afford a lot and are looking for an older Fender. The good ones are out there for reasonable prices if one is patient enough. While you're waiting, a small investment of time in learning to do your own setups doesn't hurt either.