Vintage experts: mid sixties P bass assessment

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Laurent, Apr 3, 2014.

  1. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    When checking out a mid-sixties Fender Precisions (64, 65 and 66) what do you look for?
    Do you use a check list?
    What are the tale-tale signs of a bass made from vintage parts?

    I have played a few basses and so far I have generally been underwhelmed by the instruments for sale in various stores. I realize that the very best instruments don't hit the market and stay in the possession of their owners.

    If you have some insights to share that would help me find a nice vintage bass, I would appreciate your comments.

    I am more interested in a bass that plays well and sounds great than a museum quality showpiece.

    Many thanks in advance for your posts.
  2. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Nobody with an opinion on this topic? Really!
  3. bufert57

    bufert57 Ashdown User

    Apr 12, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: 1964 Ears
    I am slowly becoming an expert (not there yet), but I have learned a lot from here (talkbass). and here
    I see a lot of sunburst from this era. A custom original color in good condition raises the value. There are a lot of places that have date stamps too.
    Chicago Music Exchange always has a great selection of NICE Vintage. They have a white 66 right now from the original owner. It is sweet.

    Good luck in your search!
  4. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Thanks Mark. One of your link did not work out. Would you mind reposting.

    Thanks in advance.
  5. Assuming everything is from the same year and period correct, If the instrument sounds and plays the way you want it too, I wouldn't get hung up on whether its been assembled from vintage parts.
  6. The prices at Chicago Music Exchange always seem crazy to me. $1,295 for a used 2008 MIA Fender P-Bass? Really?
  7. bufert57

    bufert57 Ashdown User

    Apr 12, 2013
    Los Angeles, CA
    Endorsing Artist: 1964 Ears
    That is true, they do take offers on most used items though
  8. DigthemLows


    Oct 10, 2003
    Sacramento CA
    No affiliation, but is reputable, and gets a hold of "player" basses that are pretty killer.......You're gonna pay more from a dealer, but you'll get piece of mind........that's my 2cents at least......
  9. Laurent there's a lot of useful resources in TB. Use the search engine and become knowledgeable.

    '64 will always be worth more. The '65 or '66 could have a Brazilian rosewood neck and this would be worth seeking out IMHO. Obviously refine are cheaper. '66 expect lollipop tuners and binding and in lays. You need to decide if that's what you want.

  10. Laurent

    Laurent Supporting Member

    May 21, 2008
    Napa, California
    Davo, try this and you will be surprised I did several search and did not find much. I've been active on this site since 2008. That's not my first rodeo.
  11. Lollipops and binding were on the Jazz not the precision.

    To the OP, probably the reason there have been so few responses from "vintage experts" is that without seeing the particular instrument making broad statements is very difficult, particularly during the transition period you are talking about. Some hints, the rosewood boards of that period should be the curved laminate type not slab-boards, look at solder joints to see if anything has been replaced(as a player this doesn't necessarily matter, but it does effect resale), refinnished basses are worth dramatically less, 64 should have reverse Kluson tuners, though after that newer Schaller built tuners were phased in so they could be either, there should be two filled router holes on the back of the body, but depending on how heavy the burst was applied or has faded they may not be visible. There is also a router hump on the lower cutaway, but I really don't remember what year that was changed so it probably won't be much help to you.

    I hope these hints help, but the best bet is get some pictures of the specific instrument you are looking at and post those. You will probably get more responses then you want, some of which might be worth something.
  12. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI
    P basses won't have the 66 indications that J's have (oval tuners, binding and blocks).
    I have seen the sunbursts vary quite a bit in that period, but you can usually spot a ReFin based on other indicators (but not without taking the body apart).
    Look for pearl dots replacing the "clay" dots in 65. They also switched from the Kluson (reverse) tuners to the Fender branded. The threaded saddles went away in 67, so all of the dates you're looking at should have them.
    Pickups, pots and necks should all be dated, but keep in mind they won't necessarily line up perfectly since they just pulled parts from a bin.
    Always look for everything adding up to tell the story of originality. Finish, decal, parts, and even the specs on the case (white or black, logo or no logo etc.).
    A reputable dealer can always help with identification, and may be worth paying the higher price. If you just want a "player", then find one that you love the feel of and worry less about originality (just make sure not to pay for it if you can't confirm it).
  13. The Bass Clef

    The Bass Clef is modulating in time. Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2010
    Southern California
    A note about the tuners...

    '65 (and earlier) - All Js and Ps have reverse Kluson tuners (the ovals came out at the tail end of '65)
    '66 & '67 - All Jazzes had ovals, most P's still used up the remaining supply of Klusons.
    '68 - The "elephant ear" tuners came out and were used alongside ovals on both models, and P's could still have the last of the Klusons.
    '69 - Most Ps and Js have the "elephant ears" by this time, some ovals can still be seen on both models though (even into '70). Klusons are completely gone by '69.

    Keep in mind ovals were never standard for Ps so they aren't nearly as common as the Klusons and elephant ears, but you can find them.

    P's never had bound necks, and all Jazzes did have binding from '66 thru the early '80s.

    I would recommend picking up "Fender Bass an Illustrated History" by Black and Molinaro. It has a lot of pics of different parts from different eras and covers most of the major changes throughout the '60s 70s and '80s. The link to the site is a good resource as well.
  14. ukulelelab


    Apr 14, 2013
    For some reasons fretboard wood on few '65-'66 P-basses has much more reddish hue to it. My '66 has a 5Nov65C neck with exactly that. I have no idea whether this is Brazilian or Indian rosewood and tbh it doesn't really matter. As far as I know the only reliable way to tell the difference is by scientific methods (get a wood sample removed and analysed).

  15. Luckydog


    Dec 25, 1999
  16. ukulelelab


    Apr 14, 2013
    Exactly. Not worth it
  17. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Some late 67 and early 68 P-Basses have lollipop tuners. No binding, though. I had a January 68 P-Bass with those tuners and the transition logo.
  18. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    In all the years I've been going to vintage stores, guitar shows and watching old Fenders (Jazz Bass fan), I can tell you one thing for sure is that that majority of the store owners don't put one cent into new strings or maintenence. They'll check to make sure it isnt dead and hang it on the wall.
  19. ukulelelab


    Apr 14, 2013
    That's exactly right
  20. Low Class

    Low Class

    Jul 4, 2005
    Fender used padauk instead of rosewood on a some basses in '65 and '66.

Share This Page