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Vintage vs new.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by davrip, Apr 8, 2014.

  1. davrip


    Jun 30, 2012
  2. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I think it's the same deal with most things, for me newer is better - depending on how you define "better" of course, and what sound you are going for. Maybe different is a better word than better. I don't care about old or new but find I almost always like new stuff better.

    Sound is only one part of the total when it comes to an instrument though.
  3. Maxdusty


    Mar 9, 2012
    Michigan USA
    I have some older basses as well as newer ones- as the post above mentions, different is a better word to use here. I have older basses that can produce sounds a newer one with 3 band EQ and active circuitry can't even come close to emulating.
    Now electric bass guitars aren't anywhere near as old as violins are so I don't think there really isn't enough history yet to make this comparison considering Fender P-basses haven't changed too drastically (in design and manufacturing methods).
  4. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    Talk about a blow to the mystique and imagined superiority of vintage instruments!

    I heard about this test a couple of months ago, I just can't remember if it was in print or on the radio. I was impressed when I heard they went to the trouble of employing a double-blind system for testing, making sure as much bias was eliminated from the process.

    Here's another article about the study via the Associated Press. I love the last paragraph! :D

    EDIT: I found another, more detailed article. I found the most results doing a Google search for "violins blind test".
  5. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    The cult of the old and crappy will persist; Folks will insist that the 1977 J bass I had was far superior to my Lakland 4-94. And they will simply be wrong. Silly.
  6. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I think you're being a little harsh, Harry. Remember, what is "good tone and sound" is still incredibly subjective. Within reasonable bounds, any instrument can sound like "The One" to someone. That being said, there are also no shortage of people in the "anything new is crap" camp, so I can understand where you're coming from.

    But to get back on topic, there was another recent thread about the qualities of different Jazz basses across several decades. Although the study linked within wasn't done with anywhere the level of scientific method (understandably so, given the circumstances mentioned by Tom Bowlus), like the violin article, it challenges the myths that build up based on the notions of we fallible human beings.

    Here's the original article from Bass Gear Magazine.
  7. Mastermold

    Mastermold Supporting Member

    Good article.
  8. Sputnik Monroe

    Sputnik Monroe

    Feb 11, 2014
    After reading several of the "old vs new" threads and various articles on the subject I decided to try a brand new Fender Jazz the other day in a local music store, it was a nice bass. It had great fit and finish and was very light and balanced and it sounded like, well a J bass, there was nothing not to like ... Thing was it just did not "speak" to me it was as if it had been washed of any personality. The violin article even talked about the current makers studying the vintage instruments to try and capture that elusive IT factor. Note from the Fender custom shop to various small builders how many even work at adding wear to try and capture the vintage vibe. I'm not going to side either way, play what you like, but I'm not gonna pay the 8k asking price for that Geddy replica and that new MIA jazz can go to an owner that loves it. I'll just limp along with my 40+ year old J and pretend to be fat, dumb and happy with what I have and leave the debate to the "experts" ...
  9. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I think there is a *lot* of psychology involved here; we tend to see and hear what we want to see and hear, our senses are affected by moods, anticipations, preconceptions etc.

    Nothing wrong in that, music and other arts are emotional things, it just good to know we are not very objective about many things. Which these double blind tests shows.
  10. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    If you take a well made bass to a qualified luthier, have the neck properly dressed, intonation, action set up perfectly, it can play as nice as a vintage bass.

    There will be a difference in the pickups, even pickups designated passive vintage in design tend to be louder than actual vintage AlNiCo pickups.

    The most obvious reason to play out with a newer bass is reducing the risk of theft of a highly valuable and often irreplaceable vintage instrument.
  11. mongo2


    Feb 17, 2008
    Da Shaw
    I've played quite a few vintage basses with crappy setups and crappy fret dressing. I'd never want an instrument of any age to play as "nice" as one of those.

    IME having used "vintage" instruments for over 40 years, "vintage" just mean it's old, there's nothing inherently better about them.
  12. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    it wasn't washed...it was simply new. newborn babies have little to no personality. they simply try to exist for the first several months. the personality develops over time.

    i think it is the players role to give an instrument personality. a brand new bass may lack personality now but it will get there. At one time, every instrument was new and had no character.

    as some musician once said (forgot the quote).."for the first few years, it still thinks it's a tree."

    it eventually will settle in and be an 'instrument'...
    Tom Henry and Imaginary Pony like this.
  13. BoogieZK


    Sep 28, 2008
    Toulouse, France
    I'm ok with your first part, but strongly disagree with you on the two last parts for this reason:

    You say that pickups sounds louder, maybe but do they sounds better?

    The most obvious reason is that for you????? What about comfort! Better sounding, better lasting....

    Listen to a Sadowsky and an Old Fender, you'll hear the difference, it's not better in the character of the sound, it's just better on the overall sound.

    Of course all I say is IMO
  14. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    The violin article isn't fully relevant because in the classical world, bias is almost entirely weighted toward vintage instruments and against new ones. Here in bass guitar land, bias goes both ways: there are plenty of bassists who believe the original Fender design is inferior or even obsolete.

    Also, there's a lot more variety here in bass guitar land: traditional versus modern designs. The only way to replicate this for bass guitar would be to restrict it to vintage Fenders versus vintage Fender reissues, and many of us don't really care. Perhaps it would be interesting to find out that the tone of an instrument improves over time, but even if that were true (which I doubt), it wouldn't be useful to me. I've played plenty of brand new instruments that I thought sounded amazing.
  15. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Supporting Member

    What's most relevant about the article is that it identifies the problem: bias. If you have an opinion, any opinion, that opinion will distort your observation: you will hear what you expect to hear, whether it's a big difference, a little difference, or no difference. That's human nature, and exactly no one is immune.
  16. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    New Hampshire
    I prefer vintage/used, if for no other reason than resale value. I buy and then resell too many basses to deal with depreciation.
  17. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY

    I do however think my vintage basses just have a certain vibe that's cool about them.

    It's kind of like classic cars. Sure a newer car can be faster, lighter, and more reliable, but sometimes you just want a big block! lol
  18. peterpalmieri

    peterpalmieri Supporting Member

    Apr 19, 2005
    Babylon, NY
    Very interesting article. Like others have said I'd hesitate in drawing to many parallels.
  19. FFTT


    Mar 15, 2009
    You are right on one count, there are a lot of instruments that are just plain old, in lousy condition with all kinds of value destroying mods.

    There are a lot of Bozos out there who have no effing business touching a fine instrument and countless more who think they know how to set up a bass, but end up screwing it up.

    When I'm talking vintage I'm not talking a POS 70's bass.
    I'm talking pre-CBS 1964 Jazz in exceptional condition.

    My pickups are very mild, sweet, warm and record like a dream. Hard Rock, Classic Rock, Blues you name it.

    If I want a loud, aggressive, punchy, grinding, bass with round wounds, I've always got this! :D

    Tom Anderson built, USA Custom Shop, 1st year of production '79 Schecter built to my specs.

    As cool as this bass is for live work, it is not the bass I would choose for recording.


    I told him I wanted a bass worthy of Entwistle and he sure delivered!
  20. frankieC

    frankieC A swell guy from Warren Harding High

    Jul 21, 2012
    I like 'em all. VIntage, new, cheap, expensive, American, imported, electric, acoustic, stand up, fretted, fretless....
    Imaginary Pony likes this.