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Undoing an un-fretted vintage J

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by magnaton, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. magnaton


    Dec 12, 2013
    Hey all,

    Stopped by a local shop and saw this on the wall. Found it later on eBay (link included in case pics are helpful). Long story short, someone converted this J to a fretless. With the new space from the missing frets, the neck has unfortunately bowed.

    It looks freakin' aweeesome, so I was thinking of getting it and getting the frets put back it. How confident can I be that this'll help the situation? It would be a big purchase. Also, (and apologies if this is not the place) but can you comment on price at all? This would be my first foray into a vintage J.

    1969 Fender Jazz Bass Custom Color As-Is | eBay

    Going back tomorrow to spend some time with it. Are there things I should look out for?

    Much appreciated!
  2. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    4.5k for a bass with a neck “unplayable when tuned up to pitch”?

    Wow. Am I missing something?

    When I think of the kind of bass someone could get for that kind of money, the quality and craftsmanship, it’s an outrageous sum of money for something which will likely never be anything more than a wall decoration just because it happens to be old. There is no guarantee the problems are caused by the missing frets, wood is wood and bad warping happens with the frets in, too. What state is the truss rod in? You’re going to spend more money just trying to make it playable with no real confidence at all that it will work. Just consider that for a moment, about 5 grand for a bass which may never be even playable.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  3. magnaton


    Dec 12, 2013
    Helpful, thank you!
  4. fakeneckplate'65

    fakeneckplate'65 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2014
    Columbus, OH
    The price people will pay for a mediocre piece of wood just because it's old..
  5. Passive Jay

    Passive Jay

    Aug 17, 2012


    Feb 10, 2016
    Michigan USA
    The fret removal job looks professional, i would agree with whom ever said that the defret may not be the cause of the neck condition. I also agree that, to me at least, that's silly money.
  7. eastcoasteddie


    Mar 24, 2006
    Allnit may need is 24-48 hrs in a neck jig, bending it the other way (tons of YouTube videos on this).

    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  8. Trouztrouz


    Feb 6, 2013
    Empty frets slots aren't going to warp the neck. That thing is jacked on its own merits.
  9. magnaton


    Dec 12, 2013
    Ouch! Lesson learned. They do have another 69 that's got a body only refin. Thought all their stuff was well priced, but maybe I'm being made a fool of. What's ballpark on a 69 body only refin with ohc?

    Thanks again
  10. ajkula66


    Sep 23, 2016
    Half of what the ones with the original finish go for, regardless of what the seller is saying.

    Mind you, there's nothing special about a '69 Jazz per se, IMO. It's the same thing as a '70, or '71. A '68 would have nitro finish - quite a difference - and a '72 would likely sport the "new" pickup spacing. Custom colours are nice and bring the price up, but...ugh. I'd pass.

    Having personally owned a large number of Jazz Basses over the past 35+ years, ranging from a '64 CAR to late 90s Custom Shops, I'd honestly advise you - and anyone else - to buy an instrument on the merits of its playability and sound, not because of its (vint)age provenance unless it's dirt cheap and you're just intent to make a quick buck on it.

    My $0.02 only...
  11. If you ask me for my advice:

    RUN, don't walk, away from this thing. Where's the rest of the decal on the head? 'Original gig bag' that came with it in 1969? I was around in 1969, they did NOT come with gig bags. $4.5k for an unplayable axe?

    Don't fall into the trap of 'because it's old it MUST be vintage'. Fender, Gibson, martin, etc. have built thousands of instruments over the years. Most of the survivors are just old, tired pieces, and only a handful of certain models are truly collectable vintage and worth nose-bleed money, and those DON'T come with a bucket full of problems from jump street. Hell, for that much money, you could have the Fender Custom Shop dupe this and have a little money left over, much less replicating it in a 'parts bass'.

    BTW, I've got a Ferrari Daytona Spyder out in the drive, no motor or tranny, top's shot, and the mice have eaten all the stuffing out of the seats and the carpet. Undriveable, but I'll sell it to you for $1m. Lemme know . . . . .
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
    Dudaronamous and packhowitzer like this.
  12. bassplace

    bassplace Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    Annapolis, MD
    Black is a custom color?
  13. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Black matching headstocks do not come with the rest of the decal lettering because the lettering is black. They cut it off and only put the Fender script.
    Fender has always done that since '61.
    JMacBass65 likes this.
  14. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    Oh, please run away!

    Good Luck!
    ajkula66 and magnaton like this.
  15. LUCE


    Jan 9, 2015
    Denver, CO
    Yes. Back "in the day", sunburst was the standard finish. Everything else was custom.
    JMacBass65 likes this.

    AMJBASS Supporting Member

    Jan 8, 2002
    Ontario, Canada
    This ^

    But I would tend to agree with many thoughts here... Its a not a great price for a modified bass. The matching headstock is super cool, but you aren't going to know how the bass sounds until you get it refretted and set up the way you want. Thats going to be several hundred more for a pro job. Granted, it will increase the value, but at an already inflated price, the most you could do is MAYBE sell it for what you bought it.
  17. packhowitzer

    packhowitzer 155mm of pure destruction

    Apr 20, 2011
    I don't know about 69, but my dad has a 59 strat in black. Gruhn's (a reliable fender resource I think) appraised it and one of the things they noted was that black was a custom color (again in 59).
  18. I have a body only refin 69 jazz matching headstock (neck still all original and everything except body finish is all original) and I paid 3k for it.
    magnaton likes this.
  19. Frampton

    Frampton Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2010
    This is one to pass on. There is no reasonable expectation of a refret fixing the bow. And it’s way too much money for a non-functioning 69 fender.
  20. Coolest thing about that bass is the matching headstock and the rosewood with blocks FB, and they are useless as the neck is hosed.


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