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Talk me out of vintage plywoods

Discussion in 'Basses [DB]' started by FunkySpoo, Dec 3, 2003.

  1. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    OK, so heres the deal. I've been looking for an old plywood, like a Kay, King or American Standard, for about 6 months now. No luck at all locally. So now I've started lurking on, dare I say it, Ebay. I know that's not a good idea for all the reasons I've read about here on TB. But when there aren't any local, whats a boy to do? Now my local violin shop carries Christophers, Eastmans, and Shens. The plywood Shen he sells for a really low price. I know its a great instrument as I read all the newbie links. I'll be trying one out next week when he gets more in. But heres the thing,finally. I just like old stuff. I like old houses,cars and antiques. They have "Mojo". A Shen can probably run circles around a Kay (not to mention the warranty) but there's no mojo. So, talk me into a new Shen. Please?
  2. JJBluegrasser

    JJBluegrasser Wannabe Snazzy Dresser

    Apr 17, 2003
    USA, Raleigh, NC
    Sorry Bro,
    No dice...I'm in to the mojo too:)

  3. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    You're not helping;)
  4. Monte


    Jan 9, 2001
    DFW Area, Tejas
    How about this....

    Talk to some good luthiers and find out how much the repairs on old Kays have typically run. I think they nearly always need the neck re-set, if it is an older Kay, you may need a new fingerboard soon, etc.

    None of these things with a Shen.

    Now if you find a bass with mojo AND it is in perfect condition, you might have some mojo.

    However (and meaning no disrespect), I find the idea of ANY Kay, King, or AS having mojo.

    Buy on sound and condition before mojo.
  5. A lot of folks feel the vintage Kays are waaaaayyyy overpriced right now. In fact, there's an entire thread devoted to that subject. Who knows how long this fad will last? You may pay $2K+ for a Kay and find you can't make your money back when it comes time to sell.

    Besides, a new Shen today may be the mojo bass of tomorrow.

    Well, it COULD be.
  6. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    That's true. I have a list of vintage plywoods from shops on the internet. Including some of the guys who frequent TB. I think the cheapest one in "playable" condition is $2400. I even saw an Epiphone plywood for $4500. There is a Kay for sale right here on TB $1200 that has the neck snapped off.
  7. Brent Norton

    Brent Norton

    Sep 26, 2003
    Detroit, MI
    That's rediculous. My old AS was in tip-top shape when I purchased it (in 1998), the neck was clearly NOT snapped off, and I paid $1100. To boot, I was still thinking I had paid too much at the time.

    Another example -- around the same time, Elderly Instruments (Lansing, MI) had the most gorgeous Kay M-1B on consignment. This bass was in absolutely perfect, 'time-capsuled' condition. Yet, it took a few weeks to move at $1200.

    Mojo or not, IMO there are just too many good, very affordable options among new instruments today to warrant spending outlandish amounts of dough for beat-up, broken-down "vintage" plywoods.

  8. mxr255


    Jul 21, 2003
    Williamsport, PA
    I do feel that the older plywood basses do have some mojo, but there is a price to pay for the mojo. EVERY Kay will need a neck reset at some point and it will probably need a ton of fingerboard work too. That was already stated in this thread and I totally second it.

    I have not played on a Christopher bas, but I have played on the Shen Laminate, Hybrid, and Carved and I feel that the Laminate truly stands out in the world of laminate basses. The laminate that I played on was set up PERFECTLY with a set of spirocores and it just thumped. I feel the Shen basses have more mojo than other laminate due to the darker and classier varnish they use. The bass does not give off a cheap or brand new vibe at all. I have played on many Kays and some of them have come close to this same sound, but those are the Kays that go for a very HIGH price.

    If you buy new you will end up spending less in the long run. When you buy old you buy the years of use and the years of abuse. With those years will come a new repair every year. A saddle here, an endpin there, maybe a new bridge, a new nut, laminate pealing off, etc….

    I think the Shen laminate is the way to go, but if you have a few more bucks PLEASE try the Shen hybrid. It is an AMAZING bass for not a lot of money. I have a GREAT Wilfer bass that is my main ax, but I am currently saving my pennies for a Shen HYBRID for a backup and jazz bass.
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    It's not the really the Kay, it's really Slam Stewart that generates the mojo for me.

    With all the money you have to spend, perhaps you should consider buying Slam's DNA instead.
  10. I have to admit that I’m young…. But I would bet that back in the day when these "vintage" plywoods were new, players didn’t stand around and discuss whether or not their basses had "mojo." The average player/buyer was probably more interested in getting a durable, good sounding instrument at an affordable cost. As I read your initial post, I got the impression that’s in essence what you want, however, your tempted by the mystique of an older instrument. Sort of like being back in high school, dating a girl - but always being more interested in her older sister, because there was something "different" about her. (wow, it’s late)

    I’ve either talked on the phone, or met in person the guys from CSC (Shen’s U.S. Rep.) At the forefront of their concern is putting out a great sounding, durable product. To me, that’s mojo.

    - P.S….. John, If your reading this thread, I prefer cash, but beer works too. (jk)


    Bass players are finicky by nature it seems. Bass players dont buy and sell Basses like other musicians. We find a Bass that speaks to us in a personal way and pretty much keep it or work with it till we find that next prize Bass. If you are wanting a Bass to learn on I can see finding "a" Bass to learn technique and so forth like I and many others did. I`m still in the process of learning. If you want that prize Bass that has Mojo as you put it take your time and search. You may just find it in a new Bass. I see nothing wrong with buying a new Bass at all. You have a "sound in your head" you wish to bring out. Find the Bass new or used that will help you on your quest. That was the advice I got from Mr. Ed and it make sense. Please take into consideration that a new Bass will need Set-up before you really know what it can do. That was my beef when I was looking for my second Bass. I tried new ones but how am I to know the true sound till it is set-up "properly". You might have to take a Road Trip..cool. Find a Bass Luthier that has set-up Basses new and used for you to try out. All well I`m done;)

  12. Rick, I think you need to re-think your idea of what Mojo is. Why you'd choose an instrument with knock off scroll ears and painted or decaled purfling is beyond me.
    These things alone should be enough to talk you out of a Kay and into a Shen, Christopher or new American Standard!
    Wait some more, save your bread and get off this Mojo jive!
  13. tsolo


    Aug 24, 2002
    Ft. Worth
    What you consider mojo, I consider poltergeists. Old damage will haunt you. I've had enough old houses, cars and basses to last awhile. Buy new. Get a warranty. I have mojo, my bass is a tool. If you want a status symbol, buy a sports team.
  14. Rick

    Buy the Shen, I played the plywood Shen, nicely set up, at a small shop in CT - it was great, a powerful bass, even sound - much better than the Englehardts I had played.

    I had the extra money, and was more concerned with the arco sound for orchestra, so I bought the Shen Hybrid. I am totally happy with it.

    Hope this helps.
  15. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    This Is What You Want

    More mojo than this player can handle, brand new. Every bassist I've run across thinks so too.
  16. FunkySpoo

    FunkySpoo Supporting Member

    Feb 6, 2002
    Yeah I know. I drool over that and his La Scala model. Unfortunetly they're about twice what I've budgeted for. BTW I like the one you have for sale. Good luck with it
  17. mchildree

    mchildree Supporting Member

    Sep 4, 2000
    Y'know, when I bought my New Standard, I felt kind of like I was buying way out of my league both financially and in terms of my ability. I had to sell 2 other basses (just sold my Strunal) to help pay for it, but it's turned out to be the best thing I could have done.

    I feel like my playing has improved a lot because my interest level is way up; I practice a lot more. And, in the long run, I think it'll be cheaper financially because I can't imagine needing or wanting another bass.
  18. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    I do not think you could go wrong with the Shen. On the other hand, as someone else wrote earlier, be patient and the bass for you will come along...

    Patience, Grasshopper ! OM
  19. charlemagne

    charlemagne Supporting Member

    Nov 5, 2003
    I recently sold my old plywood bass with plenty of mojo. Replaced it with a Shen hybrid.

    The sound difference is amazing....seductive...growl city.

    Good luck in your search and choose whatever your ears tell you to.
  20. mxr255


    Jul 21, 2003
    Williamsport, PA
    I agree, the Shen Hybrid is just leaps and bounds above other hybrids I have played. They also have a great feel and look. GO FOR IT RICK!