Vintage Fender:which is the mystery???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Amoilbasso, Sep 18, 2002.

  1. Amoilbasso


    Apr 22, 2000
    It's been 4 months since I sold my sadowsky and bought my '78 J-bass.
    I had tryed about 16/17 j basses(aged between 1962/79) before buying mine:
    12/13 out of them,weren't good.
    But 3/4 were fantastic....(I had a Sadowsky before...)
    I realized that the year of production,didn't mean anything,and so the kind of woods.
    The fact is that I couldn't find 2 j basses that sounded the same;the most of them weren't good,some were awfull......some were the best basses I have ever played(a couple of 66,a 72,mine 78)!!!!!
    Now:which is the mistery in your opionion?
    Is there someone older than me,who remember how these vintage fenders sounded when they were new?Did they sound so good as they do now,or they improved with aging?
    Thank you
  2. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    1st thing that I put into account when trying any bass in stores is that the stings are usually old & cruddy.

    In NYC, MOST stores don't have good up keep ESPECIALLY for basses. :( Lets say one of the basses you didn't like the sound of. It might of had old string on it. That, IMO, can make the holy grail of basses (whatever that it to the individual) sound really bad.

    Just my .02
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    My take on it has to do with mass production. When an item is mass produced it is slapped together at speed to tolerances. This means that some products are perfect by accident. It also means that there is a variation in dimensions. WIth guitars/basses this means that a bog standard Mim Jazz can astound everyone who plays it or only one person thinks its wonderful. Objective and subjective perfection.

    The problem occurs when someones understanding of a maker is biased by one instrument. One player could say rubbish and another excellent (and sometimes by playing the same bass).

    I have an ex student who has a Silver Series Squier Precision that is the best P I have played (and I have played pre post and during CBS). Happy accident in production. The lads Dad walks in a shop and asks for a cheap bass and the guy is unaware of what he's got. One day he thinks of quitting bass and is stunned by the number of unsolicited offers to buy the bass. He didnt quit :( ....:D
  4. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    How's this for "older"???? --- I don't consider CBS Fenders as "vintage". I started playing bass when Leo Fender was just turning over the company over to CBS.

    The pre-CBS Fenders, (true "vintage Fenders" in my frame of reference), were a world away from the CBS Fenders. The CBS Fenders were very "uneven." The quality control was very inconsistent. If a CBS Fender started out sounding like trash when new, it still sounds like trash 30 yrs later.

    For instance, I used a loaned 1970 (according to bill of sale) ash Precision last fall that sounded pitiful. A loaned, silver, MIM Fender Precis sounded much better.

    So, what I'm saying is that, IMO, after CBS took over the company, age is no measure of tonal quality or playability. They can be very fine or lousy. CBS Fenders are just older, IME.
  5. Amoilbasso


    Apr 22, 2000
    Hi Nino,
    everyone of those 16/17 j basses had terrible strings on......but those 3/4 were still great sounding even with such awfull strings.
    It was amazing how those 3/4 sounded so diferent and so much better from the others...I could realize if it was a good one or a bad one just playing only one note!
  6. Amoilbasso


    Apr 22, 2000
  7. Amoilbasso


    Apr 22, 2000

    Thank you Rickbass for your reply,it was very interesting to me.
    But from my experience,age is not a measure of tonal quality,even before CBS;infact I played some early 60's that were awfull....
  8. I have been playing since the mid-60's and I have owned and played a lot of Fenders. Some were magic and some were trash. I agree that you'll have a much better chance of finding that magical bass pre-CBS than during the CBS era. I find, though, that I like early 70's Jazz Basses with alder bodies and rosewood fingerboards more than the earlier pre-CBS Jazz Basses but that is primarily because I like the neck profile. With that exception, I think the CBS era was definitely Fender's worst period. I also like the American Series instruments that they're making now. I am not surprised that you ended up with a 70's Jazz Bass, Amoilbasso.