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Too Many 100% Correct Vintage Basses?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by millsbass5, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. The title says it all. I'm mainly referring, literally, to the 100's of vintage guitars/basses (primarily guitars), that were extensively modded during the 70's-80's.
    Back in the day (70's-80's), it seemed as if every gigging musician I ran across, played (or, at least owned, at one time, or another) a vintage Strat, Les Paul, Precision, or Jazz Bass that was butchered, modded one way, or, another. Whether it be BadAss Bridges, DiMarzio Pickups, Floyd Rose/Kahler Tremolos, scalloped fretboards (Yngwie :bassist:), etc., you get the idea.

    How come we don't see 'em anymore? How many of those modded guitars/basses do you think have "magically returned" to their original specs by fraudulent builders/luthiers, without us, the consumer knowing? Just wondering.

    Any horror stories of somebody forking over significant amounts of cash for a supposed "all original" instrument, only to find out underneath, the mods were "patched up & covered", so it could be advertised as all original?

    Let 'em fly!!
  2. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg , Conquest Sound
    I haven't purchased anything that I found had any serious mods. However, I once bought a 1978 Jazz bass on ebay that was described as all original. When I received it, I noticed that 2 of the saddles had been replaced and someone had done a very bad job of re-fretting. So bad that the binding on both sides of the neck was cracked at every fret. The seller refused to give me a refund so I put in a claim and never heard from ebay. To make matters worse, my credit card was charged twice and it took 6 months to get the second charge credited. I sold the bass at a loss and never bought anything on ebay again.
  3. Ouch!! I just wanna know what happened to all the modded instruments from back in the day. Back then, it seemed an original guitar was a rare thing.
    Surly a bunch of 'em has had trem cavities filled-in, and so on.
  4. interesting question......i wonder how many were returned to somewhat original condition and sold as original to uneducated buyers?
  5. That's my question exactly! I'd say quite a few people have been hoodooed over the years.
  6. smcd

    smcd Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    I don't know about guitars, but I see modded basses out there all the time. They're the ones selling for half the value of an original example.

    Most that were modded haven't been repaired and sold as original vintage pieces. It's extremely difficult to do something like fill a rout, refinish the body, restore the electronics, and pass a bass off as original. The warning signs are obvious and almost impossible to hide. Most buyers over the last decade have been VERY careful when buying expensive vintage gear, and the internet has provided a resource where people can check whether they're buying the real deal or not.
  7. I am from that era, and while a few guys I know who actually turned into talented guitar-mechanics regret butchering one or two pieces that they owned, it certainly wasn't as common around my circles as you are recalling. Even as kids in the early seventies we knew a real Fender or Gibson was special, and most any sixteen-year-old who wanted to replace tuners to try to keep his SG in tune knew any that required drilling holes was a bad idea, and getting a router out to reshape cavities was likely a horrible idea.

    I know that the butchering that you speak of is well remembered when encountered on an otherwise iconic instrument, but I doubt it's as ubiquitous as you're thinking.
  8. P Town

    P Town

    Dec 7, 2011
    Sorry to hear about you getting screwed on ebay. I got cheated there as well, quite a few years ago, and quit using ebay, and paypal. I have less stuff, and more money as a result. Now, I use Craig's List, and I can inspect a potential purchase, and pay the seller in cash. Much better.
  9. Those guitars that were already thrashed 30 years back ended up parted out, tossed in the dump, Totally destroyed etc. The reason we see all the prime examples as there the ones that sat around , werent used, and survived in that state. As prices started climbing I think these people pulled out said instruents and sold them.

    Thats my theory.
  10. Heck, I'd like to know where the one's I modded wound up??? It was the "Blurry Years" and I swear I can't remember what I did with them. As you stated, it sure does look like a LOT of too good to be true 70's basses (Fenders) are for sale.
  11. Agreed. But, what the hell happened to all those Strats that were routed for a Floyd? Lol. They've all "disappeared!!" :eek:

    How many listings for a pre-CBS Strat does one see that goes like:

    FOR SALE: Custom color, pre-CBS Strat. All original, with the exception of a ***REAL, ORIGINAL!!** Floyd Rose Trem!! Act now! These original Floyds are like hen's teeth!



  12. I don't know, man. Were you part of the hair metal scene? Every player that owned a can of Aqua Net & some mousse, also owned a router, it seemed.
  13. WretchedExcess


    Jul 29, 2013
    I don't think that installing a BadAss or a pickup swap on a new production 1970s instrument was the equivalent to the "butchery" that you claim it to be. Remember, back then people weren't all that fond of these instruments as they came off of the shelf.

    A BadAss is a bolt-on replacement that requires no modification to the instrument. Putting on and taking off a BadAss is no more an act of butchery than removing a neck to look at the date codes stamped on it. Actually, removing the neck is probably worse, especially if you're not careful about how much torque you put on the wood screws.

    Back in the 1970s it was very common to install a brass nut as an upgrade. Most knowledgeable collectors understand this, and won't hold a well-executed brass nut installation against the value of a vintage instrument. They understand that this is the way that these instruments were played back then.

    Changing pickups is nothing at all traumatic either, unless a solder joint gets you excited. Back in the 70s I had an unknown guy who was winding pickups in his garage modify the OEM pickups in my P-Bass to give me series-parallel switching. Back then he was still an unknown, and he was advertising his pickup services via an ad in the classified in the back of Guitar Player magazine. To complete the install, I "butchered" by P-bass by drilling a small hole in the pickguard between the tone pot and the output jack to install a micro DPDT switch for series-parallel switching. Back in the mid-70s I was the only guy on earth who had a P-bass that had series parallel switching. While everyone else was getting "thump thump" I could make my P sound like a Ric. I can't tell you how many people tried to buy it from me.

    40 years later, I still have that bass with it's modded pickup, and a handwritten bill from Seymour Duncan for custom hand-winding services. My P-bass still kicks the ass of every 100% original 1970s P that comes up against it. People compliment me on it's tone all the time. Does it matter to me that it's not 100% original? Not at all. 100% original sounds like ass by comparison.

    Mods aren't the same as butchery. I think you're fretting too much.
  14. I own a couple of heavily nodded '70s P-Basses, one of which I restored. (Filled in Kahler route, added Fender bridge, replaced EMGs with DiMarzios, installed new ashtrays.) But it's still stripped of finish and homely, and I love it. The other one was stripped, Badassed and DiMarzioed when I bought it, and I left it that way.
  15. I wish I had my 76 p with bartolini pj's, a precision-lyte preamp and a see through blue(matching headstock) nitro refin(probably a nice see through green by now). I think I'll try to get back in touch with Mark right now.

    By the way, the '61 jazz in my avatar was a typical 70's refin walnut stain when I got it. Never tried to pass it as anything but a refin, but I will take the pro sunburst refin Ben Chafin did for me over that ugly brown anyday.
  16. Any stories out there about shop owners getting busted for "cover ups" on vintage instruments for sale over the years?
  17. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I agree. They were either parted out, or thrown in the trash back in 1984 before any of us knew that a '71 P bass (which was just a bass back then) was going to become a collectors' item. Lots of them probably got thrown out by people who played bass a few decades ago and when they retired they never found out that what they had was worth any money. They probably saw it as throwing away an old typewriter.
  18. Erich Bruning

    Erich Bruning

    Nov 25, 2003
    Last I heard, my Uncle still had his '56 Fender Blonde P-Bass. It was a sweet bass with a nice mahogany Virgo symbol he had inlaid into the body sometime in the late 60's. Last I spoke with him about it, he was kind of regretting it, but I think its kind of neat.

    Nicer to see a bass with character and some mods that has some history, than something that has been locked up and put away. Of course, if you want to sell it, you need to find someone who likes those mods.
  19. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars

    Those instruments are still out there and most people interested in vintage instruments ignore the listings.

    I bought a 73 Precision back in 2000 that had EMG active pickups and strap locks on it. It also came with the original pickups, pots, harness. Within about 2 hours of owning it it was all back to original. Some people did it right.
  20. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru.......... Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Guilty as charged! :bag:

    Hey, they were just old, used instruments back then.......................really! :D

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