Vintage Fender Fretless - Part it Out or Keep It Whole?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by StyleOverShow, Apr 9, 2012.

  1. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Have an 87 Jazz Special MIJ with Precision and Jazz Pickups, a three way toggle and individual volume and single tone control, fretless, back body, maple neck with rosewood fretboard.

    The neck feels so good and the fretboard is largely without trenches. Currently strung with some heavier duty flats, the action is a little on the high side, the way I like it, and the tension is bout double to triple your average TI.

    The electronic guts are good, one pot post is a little loose but not too noisy. The body was prisitine when I bought it but the soft plastic foam of the body dents so easy that I have put a couple of marks on it without any rough-housing. It is very impressionable material. Slide off a coach and lost a large chip of paint around near the jack one day too. Damn concrete floors.

    Just recordings the three way switch and will post in a few the sounds of the Fender MIJ special Jazz.

    I think the tone suffers from the lack of a solid body. True, balancing the Precision pickup with the Jazz is almost impossible but I manage best I can.

    So, i don't like the tone of the guitar. Just doesn't seem to have a sweet spot in it. It sounds okay but nothing to write home Mom about. I believe that the foam body is reponsible for this. Debate on, but IME, that's it.

    I would part it out and sell off the body, keep the neck, and buy a new or used body with some good wood density, and put the Precision or jazz pups, or both back into that body, perhaps changing the bridge to something more meaty (again, I believe that the tone comes in part form the anchoring bridge).

    I don't think that part it out is a good idea. There are plenty of people out there who want this guitar just the way it is. the more factory the better. I am not one of them. HoweverI am not so "commercial" that I would blindly think of my own needs and desires over the life of an instrument, particularly one that has survived 25 years, older than many who may read this post.

    BTW, i don't keep BG's that I don't play. Made that rule a coupla years ago, when I traded away a 76 Gibson Ripper, ebony fretless and a Carvin 5 for this baby. Just never developed a tone that I appreciated and could rely on.

    Interested in your opinions on breaking it up versus selling it and moving on....
  2. The bodies are basswood , which maybe why its dinging so badly.I wouldnt feel to guilty parting it up if you enjoy the neck and wanna keep it.
  3. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    If the bass feels good and plays well I would try some different pickups before sell/scrapping. I've never had a problem with basswood bodies, but I have realized tone improvements changing-out this era of MIJ Fender pickups. If it's too light for you and/or you just don't dig it by all means sell but you may get more for this one as a complete "all original bass".
  4. i'd say give a chance of selling it, might get a decent amount of money from it, and buy something you would like
  5. josiah goldfish

    josiah goldfish Guest

    Jan 10, 2012
    E.Sussex UK
    Why not buy or build an identical body, of a different (as in something you prefer) wood? That way, you can keep the original body and if you want to sell it you just put the original body back on.
  6. StyleOverShow

    StyleOverShow Still Playing After All These Years Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2008
    Not really a builder guy, and have respect for bg's that have historical prescence. Although this one def ain't a Leo special, it is pretty cool for the MIJ series with both a P and J pups. The P overpowers the J pup most of the time.

    Think it going up,for sale....and I can get my DB out of the hospital.
  7. karamba adam

    karamba adam Guest

    Mar 3, 2008
    I've got the same bass. Also Fretless. Mine from about 1983 when I bought it new. I REALLY LIKE the lightweight body which is made of Basswood (Lime wood to European folk). The body weighs 4.2kg which is exceptionally light. I think this is why this bass has good tone.

    I also have a Precision copy (a good one by Celinder) with a heavier Alder body. I think the light weight body makes a fretless sing in a special way that a heavier body does not.

    It is true that the P pickup is stronger than the J pickup, but as they each have volume pots this is not a problem at all.
    Yes, Bassword dents quite easily. It is the wood used since medieval times for fine carvings in churches becuase it is easy to work with.

    I really don't think it is better nor inferior to Alder or Ash or other common bass guitar body woods, it is just different.

    If you change the body you should be able to sell the old one for a good price. Light weight bass bodies are sought after by some players.
  8. Abaroa

    Abaroa Guest

    Apr 27, 2010
    I would say keep it whole and enjoy... But if you decide to turn it into parts, I will take the black knobs with the little "F" cap on them... One of those knobs are all my Jazzz Bass Special is missing to be on mint condition...
  9. acebase62


    Jun 29, 2010
    I bought a black fretted JBS new in 1985.

    I later swapped the pickups for Seymour Duncan (Basslines) Vintage P and Hot Stack J, and I am happy with the results.

    The original pickups were the "big pole piece", and the J was very noisy. I kept the original pickups.

    IF you are looking for better PJ volume balance, try a vintage P style pickup, and a J pickup wound a little hotter.

    The JBS used 70s J position in the passive models, and this impacts the sound as well.