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Vintage (Fender) Jazz bass recommendations

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by amerbs38, Aug 21, 2012.

  1. amerbs38

    amerbs38 Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2012
    Santa Cruz, CA
    I just got a 78 P Bass (fretless) that I love and I`m hankering for a similar vintage Jazz Bass. Anything before 73 is way out of reach but I`m wondering if there`s any significant differences in quality in the mid to late 70`s JB`s or into the 80`s (never had a vintage Fender before). Also, when was the first factory fretless JBass made? (been searching but haven`t found an answer so far...Thanks!
  2. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    If you want to keep it in a relatively "affordable" range, your best bet is to look for a mid-late 70's jazz...specifically with a 3 bolt neck and the bullet truss rod adjuster at the headstock. They introduced the 3 bolt around 75 (but you will still find 4 bolt necks for this year) and people claim the stability with a 4 bolt neck is better, also driving up the prices on earlier 4 bolt designs. The later 70's ones tend to be heavier than say a 60's era jazz bass, but not always...
    Not all Fenders were created equal (in any era) so play before you buy. There are extremely well built mid-late 70's Fenders, you just need to try them out first. Also, if you find a refinished bass, your price will be MUCH lower than something with the original finish.

    As far as the question regarding fretless models, I've seen P basses as early as 1970 with the factory fretless neck, but I want to say jazz basses didn't start fretless necks from the factory until the late 70's, maybe even the 80's...at least from what I've ever seen. I could be wrong though, but I've certainly never seen a factory fretless jazz from the 60's or early 70s for sure.

    Good luck!
  3. coreyfyfe

    coreyfyfe Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2007
    boston, ma
    The commonly held opinion of the vintage fender experts is that quality dipped in the mids-late 70s, and started to return very late 70s into the early 80s. That's not to say that you can't find a good bass or bad bass in any era, just that the propensity is towards lower quality in the 70s. All that said, I have three 78 fenders that are great basses, if a bit heavy on a few of them, though I only bought one sight-unseen/unplayed. The issue I have, is aesthetically, I'd much prefer the bound/blocked look, thus 70s is my era ;).

    As far as factory fretless jazz, I think that was introduced in the late 80s, early 90s as a standard option. The fender bass book has a pair of vintage custom order fretless jazz basses, but I haven't seen any others from that era. In the 80s there were some japanese manufacture fretless basses as well - I had a great playing fretless jazz special.
  4. amerbs38

    amerbs38 Supporting Member

    Jan 15, 2012
    Santa Cruz, CA
    The trouble with these older Fenders is that there aren`t enough around to be able to play and compare...it`s basically eBay (plus I just checked the GC Vintage page and they have a few). I usually have to buy something online at the best price I can so I can resell it if it`s not a keeper. The PBass I have was from GC in Chicago and is a real nice playing bass...near mint but with an added pickup so it was pretty cheap.
  5. pbass888

    pbass888 Supporting Member

    Jul 8, 2009
    New York, NY
    I've tried a lot of vintage fenders here in new York and I've kissed a lot of frogs in search of finding a keeper. Also here in new York prices are on the high side, so I am most likely not going to buy from here. Another idea for you is guitar shows. Best of luck! finally can't recommend highly enough talkbass classifieds.

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