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Vintage/Collectible--->Old/Modable: where to draw the line

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by GretschWretch, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Vintage/collectible and trying to restore a bass to the Founders' original intent receives more attention on Talkbass than probably it should, but it is a "thing" nonetheless. We have seen venerable pristine closet queens fully worth the sometimes penthouse prices asked for them, but we have also seen opening bids of $800 for a chunk of wood that, had it not come from a 1966 Fender, would just be considered driftwood with a few splotches of red paint still adhering to it.

    What say you? Where is the Rubicon line for an instrument to be no longer vintage and collectible but fair fodder for the mod squad? At what point do we reach the pickup that is too tarty or a bridge too far? What degree or amount of deviation from factory spec makes an instrument no longer restorable to original condition and relegates it to "player grade"?

    I'm not going to set this up as a poll because individual gradations will be too subjective to quantify precisely. I'm just going to designate 10 as factory new condition and 1 as firewood, and let y'all fill in the spaces between.
    Turbo Sparky, ELynx and mikewalker like this.
  2. Meyatch


    Nov 25, 2007
    moddable = I want to mod it. restorable = I would like to see it restored
  3. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Okay; but what is the break point for you that evicts it from restorable to moddable?
  4. 40Hz

    40Hz Supporting Member

    If the original body, neck, or finish are missing, or have been previously changed out, or need to be replaced or redone, I’m inclined to think in terms of modding.

    If it’s just hardware (and in some cases the electronics) that need replacing, I might consider doing a period correct restoration.

    But these days I’m primarily interested in instruments playable as is. Most of the restorations I’ve done (or attempted and abandoned) ended up costing more money and time than I thought it was worth. But I’m not into the whole vintage thing. Maybe because I’m about the same age myself. And also because I’ve learned an old instrument isn’t necessarily a great instrument just because of its age. There’s a lot of old junk out there as well as a good number excellent new instruments.

    It’s a personal call.
    Haroldo, Vinny Vincenzo and ELynx like this.
  5. bearfoot

    bearfoot Inactive Suspended

    Jan 27, 2005
    Chittenango, NY
    I think I'd put the cutoff around 7+ for no mods, but this is influenced also by the age and number of that make/model in circulation, and considerations such as rare colors and other quirks.

    I haven't really modded any of my instruments, except my first real guitar, an Applause roundback, I had a piezo put in it.
  6. Meyatch


    Nov 25, 2007
    I wouldn't buy something to restore unless I thought I would make money on it
    kentiki likes this.
  7. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    Vintage/collectable = I have never owned it.

    Modded/flogged = I might have owned it.

    There you go. There's the dividing line.
    TobyTheBass and StayLow like this.
  8. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    Gaolee likes this.
  9. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    And, it's been modified. It wasn't stock when I got it, and it still isn't. At this point, it's mine and it's kinda old. If somebody else thinks it is vintage/collectible, that's fine, but it gets played, not preserved. I'm about to put tape wounds on it. It's had rounds and flats, and really dead half-rounds on it over the last 35 or so years, but never tapes. Time to see how that works.
    mikewalker likes this.
  10. GretschWretch

    GretschWretch Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2013
    East Central Alabama
    I'm with you 100% here. Even my "vintage" stuff is mostly player grade. I'm not into accumulating museum pieces.

    Does your EB2 have the center block?
  11. mikewalker

    mikewalker Supporting Member

    Jul 30, 2017
    Canada, Eh!
    I can't presume to speak for anyone else, but unless it was an exceptionally useful-sounding and perfectly playable example to begin with, then pretty much anything 'vintage' is fair game for modding... as long as I am 110% certain that it's gonna stay with me for the next 100 years. Otherwise : THINK RESALE... :)
    Mister Boh likes this.
  12. Mister Boh

    Mister Boh

    Oct 23, 2016
    Annapolis, MD
    I would just consider the value people put on it currently before messing with it. Nobody wanted 70s basses until 60s basses got too expensive. In 30 years people will probably be bragging about scoring an all original 90s bass.
  13. Coot


    Nov 14, 2018
    A long , long time ago I had a Gibson EB-1..good condition. I got rid of it because it sounded like a raspy goose in a mud pit .Apparently it's worth a lot of money now,but... it sounded grim. I only kept gear that sounded good ( to my ears )and that kept me inclined to play them. I still have an (originally purchased new) 73' Ric 4001.. mine sounds excellent so I'll never get rid of it..I'm a bassist ,not a music store or a pawn shop owner.
    City and mikewalker like this.
  14. CyberSnyder

    CyberSnyder Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    I Endorse Alien Audio Basses
    Present value versus whether I want to see that value drop considerably with a mod.
  15. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    I like restoring rare instruments that are in dire cosmetic condition (and hence cheap). I mod common meat and potatoes instruments if they're cheap. You may sense a common theme here.
    4-fingers likes this.
  16. 4-fingers


    Nov 22, 2015
    Ontario Canada
    Maybe not answering the question.......but the lines seem blurred on what is vintage amongst us players. I was interested in an '83 Precision, to mod because I like the neck profile......it was in ok condition. The owner believes he possesses a collectable vintage instrument. Maybe he does! Being north of 50......an '83 P isn't vintage.

    Seems that when we mod, we enter into it knowing we won't likely recover the investment......it's done to give us an instrument we prefer. And that's ok.
  17. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    It's partly age and partly condition. If it's 20 years old and pristine, I'd keep it stock, or restore. If it's 30, beat and previously modified, mod it to my liking.
    Dabndug likes this.
  18. Stempelloos


    Nov 3, 2008
    I've modded 2 vintage basses that were incomplete anyway when I bought them.
    The first is an Ibanez EB3 copy, that I bought without electronics.
    I've used it as a test-facility for rewound pickups. Later I made my own modded EB3 version of it.
    There's still a model one in the drawer for it.

    Another modded bass I have is an Italian sixties hollowbody, that I bought without electronics and a broken truss rod. I felt free to mod that Dynacord in style, that meant restore the neck with an adapted sixties Italian truss rod.
    And give it rewound Italian & German sixties pickups + new pots, wiring and switch.

    I have another Italian sixties hollowbody that's waiting for a restoration of the body around the input jack.
    It also needs new pots. And the neck needs some fiddling to straigthen it out.
    Maybe I'll make a copy of the lost pickguard.

    With other mods, it depends on the bass. I wouldn't mod anything that sounds good to me. Or that is valuable in it's original state.
    If it's not very valuable, I'd mod it if I think it'll improve the sound.
  19. SpazzTheBassist


    Jun 20, 2006
    I think that answer is unobtainable....Some players (including myself) don't factor in market worth with instruments. Value is only for ourselves as instruments to be played and not as real estate...For players with this mindset, anything can be moddable
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    M.R. Ogle likes this.
  20. micguy


    May 17, 2011
    There’s a time equation above and beyond what year the thing was made. Currently, the baby boomer generation, which remembers the 60’s, is at the time in our lives when many of us have plenty of cash, and can splurge on an old plank of wood that reminds us of our youth. I don’t share that view, but many my age do.

    Once a bunch of us are gone, if our kids don’t have the same attachments that we do, what we think of as valued treasures may revert to being old planks of wood. I don’t treasure old Fenders, and certainly wouldn’t think of a 70’s Fender as ever being a good investment, because I think the demographics will one day pop that balloon.

    Collectibles are only valuable while demand outstrips supply. There could easily come a day when a 70’s Fender is a cheap mod platform.
    JMarkD and SpazzTheBassist like this.

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