Want to get a P-bass questions

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by wildsponge, Jan 7, 2006.

  1. wildsponge


    Oct 21, 2004
    Novato, CA
    Ok, so I'm looking for a great precision. It's the sound I love, everyone needs one at some point, etc. Now beyond that, I'm completely lost. There's fender (new and vintage), fender clones, stuff like lakland's glaub, and the list goes on.

    I realize there's some debate over vintage, but I've heard some stuff that seems to suggest that that would be the best road. I've heard that the wood gets more resonant, which I extremely important for me. My current MIA jazz and MM Stingray just don't sing on the E string like I'd like them to. I'd love a nice vintage where the notes jump off the bass at you, oozing with character.

    What are the general tonal differences for the vintage eras of P basses? Are there certain years that are generally better than others?

    Most of the bands that I dig seem to have the "vintage gone modern" sound. I see alot of 70's P's with DR hi-beams and picks. That's defintely the sound I'm going for. Super balsy and punchy tone with a little modern zing thrown on top, complemented with a fulltone bassdrive or sansamp to add a a little grit at times.

    Here's a clip of bassically my "holy grail" of tone from Thursday. I know for a fact that he uses vintage p's (i think 70's) with dr hi-beams
    Thursday "Tomorrow I'll Be Like You" (have to right click to DL)

    So if I go the vintage route, where do I start? I know I'm far more picky about sound than feel (I don't mind the switch from my jazz to 'ray at all), but what should I check for to make sure everything is in good enough shape to be a good player? Where do I go to play vintage? It seems like ebay has tons of vintage fender but that seems risky for not being able to play first or possibly getting ripped off. I live about 15 miles north of San Francisco. Any good places around?

    If I don't go vintage, is anything out there worth it for what I'm looking for? Lakland's bob glaub looks sweet but I know that it's modeled after a '64 not a 70's P, so I don't know if that would work out. Also, I've heard they have great construction, playability, and tone, but it's still not the same as something with "fender" on the headstock. What do you guys think?

    So with all those thoughts, thus begins my quest for a P. Anyone got any ideas?
  2. HMZ

    HMZ Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2003
    Your link is not working. I just bought a new MIA p bass and I really love it.
  3. wildsponge


    Oct 21, 2004
    Novato, CA
    You have to right click on it and dowload the linked file
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    Your first step is to get a ballpark $$$ you'd be willing to spend. For the price of a good P of the late 60s or early 70's you'd also be in the ballpark for a killer modern vintage P like a Lull (hint hint) or maybe having Nino Valenti build you a nice one to order (hint again) or getting a USACG custom body and neck and doing it yourself.

    On what to look for...make sure you're getting original pickups, body and neck. Check over the fit and finish. 70's Fenders can be all over the place. Check to make sure that the strings are even on the neck, that there are no major gaps in the neck joint, and that the neck is still in good shape with a truss rod that still has some play.

    I bought a 73 P on ebay back in 2001, and it's a great bass that sounds wonderful...minus the strings being a bit closer on the g side of the fingerboard.

    Also, do play a bunch of the modern Fenders. All this talk about oozing character and notes jumping out seems like you've been buying the mythology.
  5. wildsponge


    Oct 21, 2004
    Novato, CA
    From another thread about vintage:

    "Older high quality wood.
    Wood dries with aging, becomes lighter more resanent.
    Finish ages, becomes porous, better sound.
    Pickups age, become mellower.
    Neck breaks in feels smoother, plays faster.
    These are wood instraments, time makes them feel and sound better."

    How much of this is generally found to be true?
  6. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    How much of that is true? Let's put it this way...I've played many great vintage instruments and many great newer ones. A great bass is a great bass is a great bass. The difference between a great new MIA P or a great old 57 P is negligible IMHO. Just whatever you do, don't get active electronics. They are so wrong on a P!
  7. ctxbass

    ctxbass Supporting Member

    Nov 6, 2003
    Central Texas
    There is only one sure way to get the bass you want. Play as many as you can. When you find the one with the sound you want and the feel you want, bingo!

    Not all basses from a given maker, year, etc. will be the same.
    I've played some vintage P basses that just didn't have "the sound" or feel for me. Some of this is adjustable as far as strings, relief and string height, but you will know when you strike gold.
  8. +1! Great words of wisdom here...I had a great '73 P that I lost in a fire a while back and have not found anything to replace it that really floats my boat...I am a die hard Sadowsky fan and have gotten fond of Lakland as well. I have more or less decided at this point that I 'd like to have either Sadowsky or Nino Valenti build me a P with a jazz width neck and a 9" radius...I don't mind the active Sadowsky preamp in the P as it is bypassable if you want to...I really like it in moderation on my Current NYC Jazz here:


    GIve them a call and ask what they could do for you...
    Good Luck in the hunt!


  9. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    That's right! I remember the post. It was painful to read. More gear lost in one go that I've ever owned.

    How are things going with that?

    On the subject of great basses: it doesn't really matter where they're made anymore nowadays as long as you get something from a reputable company. A Japanese Fender or a Korean Lakland might fit the bill just as well for your purposes as something costing three times more.
  10. pickles

    pickles Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Nothing I've played sounds quite like a '70s P-bass, but a new ash bodied fender would probably come closest. You should be able to find a late '70s P for around or under $1000, but beware that there is a wide variation in quality with those. Some are great, some are dogs, so its best to try before you buy on those. The new MIAs are really good, and with the DR high beams will definately get you close, and the tuners will work better (remember that old basses are OLD and sometimes develop problems!).
  11. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY

    I'm not saying there's NO difference...just that the difference isn't as big as you may think.

    Older instruments do have a different mojo from new ones...mostly. But I've got a 1964 Telecaster sitting across the room that could dispute that fact...it plays just as sweet as any, and can tear the top your head right off when it screams and it's got the checking, neck wear, etc. I've been offered many thousands of dollars to sell it... ...and I built it about 5 years ago from NEW parts.
  12. Juniorkimbrough


    Mar 22, 2005
    Mississippi / Memphis, TN
    Endorsing Artist: Lakland Basses
    I think someone said this earlier in the thread, but go out and play as many P-basses as you can find and pick the one that feels and sounds the best to you. Just be patient and don't snap the first one up that you see. It's kinda like finding a wife, more than likely you'll have to through a few women until you find the right on......if you jump on the first one you semi like you'll end up regretting it later on. :)

    Fwiw, I picked up an amazing MIJ 80's P-bass that has that vintage P bass tone and plays better than any other bass I've had in my hands. If you aren't wanting to spend a ton of money I would highly recommend looking at some MIJ basses.
  13. si_fi


    May 4, 2005
    London, England
    once again conurring witht he others to go out and play any and all p and p style basses you can find.
    and take a look at the japanes fenders as well:great basses for great prices...as well as reissues from pretty much every classic decade (50's, 60's, 70's and 80's)
    Heres A Link To A Fender CIJ 70 reissue P Bass
    hope you have a succesful search.
  14. Mattski


    Jan 6, 2003
    Cleveland, OH
    +1 Play play play! There is no one formula of year/make that you can bank on. I love pre-cbs (pre 1965) p-basses, but they're getting kind of old about now. How they have been stored and cared for is as critical as what they are. The favorite bass in my stable today is a parts p-bass that I put together from e-bay components and a Warmoth overrun body. Go figure.

    If you know the sound you want, go play basses until you find it. The search is a fun part of the journey.

    Good luck!
  15. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    70's P-bass tend to be a little heavyer than 60's p-bass.
    Ash body, heavy varnish.
    Can be found in the $1200.00-$2000.00. range.
    Great basses. I have a 1977-body,with a 1972 neck.
    60's P-bass are out of site, money wise, $4000.00-$6000.00
    in good condition.
    If your buying new, Lull, Lakland, Sadowski, or Nino's are great P-basses.
  16. old grouch

    old grouch "Old Fool? Ya don't get old, bein' no fool!"

    I'm an old (for real-new when I bought it) 59 P bass player. If you have seen any threads re this, I was agonizing over what to buy for less than $1500-1600. After mucho bantering and being led on the board, I sent for a Lakland 44-02 I'm GLAD I did. I have minor setup (15 minutes) involved, and I have some expensive strings on the way, but this baby has a dead-on P sound, as well as a bunch more just waiting to be played with. I'm a hard sell, but other than getting a custom Black Devil (mmmmmmmmmmmmm....black devil [homer simpson] [​IMG] I'm gonna make the Lakland work like a rented mule...and she feels like she can do it, and well.
  17. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    You should make efforts to play one of the '59 Relics that the Custom Shop is turning out. I played one of those at a local shop, and it totally fits your description. It had the whole deal - vintage resonance, modern snap. It was unquestionably the finest P I've ever laid hands on.

    That said, I also found an MIA of recent vintage with the J pickup stock in my color scheme for a hair over 6 bills; and it gives up almost nothing on stage in the mix.
  18. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    Of course I support the "play every P-bass you can" advice, but I'll add some comments because I think I like exactly the same sound you do. I think you're slightly more likely to find that "jump off the fretboard" pop with a maple fretboard, and the good ones also produce lots of resonant character. So I'll focus on those.

    Since it seems you won't mind a vintage 1.75" nut width, I'd suggest starting with Lakland's Bob Glaub Skyline (the 1.5" nut width was discontinued about a year ago). Those are available with maple boards, and the Lindy Fralin pickup is just outstanding. (Of course, the U.S.A. Bob Glaub would be nice if its price isn't an obstacle.)

    Next might be Fender's American Vintage '57 reissue, which has a maple board. I've played one acoustically, and it had that resonant, singing quality I think you want. Tough to go wrong with one of these. (The new Classic '50s P-bass is similar, but MIM. I liked it too.)

    This quality can also be found in American Series Fenders; my 2003 Jazz with maple board has it by the truckload. It just sings, and I wouldn't sell it even for hundreds more than what I paid for it. (The Fralin pickups help. ;) ) My 2004 MIA P (also maple board) sounds fantastic, but isn't quite as woody and resonant, so play a few of these before settling on one. At least they're relatively easy to find, and with a good setup the playability is great. I think the build quality of Fender's American Series is excellent too. (I own four, the basses and two Strats.) I suspect you'll want a hotter pickup than the stock Fender if you get one of these.

    The MIJ Fender recommendation is good too. I had a '94 with rosewood board that nailed a vintage tone. If you can find some, give them a try.
  19. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    My first choice would be an early 80's 1957 Vintage Reissue. I had a '57 reissue P-Bass that IMO outclassed many of the 70's era P-Basses that I've owned. I'd like to have some of those 70's P-Basses back, they're worth a fair amount on the used market these days.

    IMO the MIA Standards are really nice. Fender's quality control is inconsistent, so some are certainly better than others. My main P-Bass is a used MIA Standard with a Nordstrand NP-4 pickup. IMO it can more than hold it's own compared to some of the P-Basses I've owned, -except that '57 reissue.

    I compared my MIA's sound to an all original 1964 P-Bass and it was pretty darn close. It did however lack the Mojo of the '64. I haven't tried any of the current re-issue models, so I can't comment on them.

    For Fender-inspired basses my first choice is a Lull, followed by the Lakland Glaub. IMO a used Skyline Glaub is a flat out steal.