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Was 1980 a bad year for the Musicman Sabre?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by lird12, Jul 2, 2012.

  1. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    I just noticed on ebay that 1980 Sabre is significantly cheaper than 1979 Sabres. I have heard that it is a hit or miss. I bought the bass and thankfully there is a 14 day return. Is there anything to look out for when I receive the bass? Thanks!
  2. king_biscuit

    king_biscuit Supporting Member

    May 21, 2006
    It looks like a refin to me with an aftermarket guard.
  3. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Is that good..? What is a refin?
  4. Dluxe


    Jan 9, 2011
    Austin, TX
    Non original finish and pickguard but the rest looks to be ok. I always liked the rosewood board ones best.
  5. Dluxe


    Jan 9, 2011
    Austin, TX
    The original color was either natural, walnut, white, black, sunburst or silver. (these were the original colors offered on Pre-EB basses)
  6. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Gotcha! Thanks so much for the input. I hope this bass is a keeper!
  7. JKoehler


    Jan 31, 2008
    Snoqualmie, Wa.
    The story goes that in 1980 Music Man wanted to buy out Leo Fender, who was making the bodies and necks for them, but Leo said "no deal". Music Man then tried to force Leo to sell, but still no deal. In the end Leo went on to form G@L, and Music Man started making their own bodies and necks, which in the begining they had problems with the necks warping. The problems were eventually fixed and in 1984 Ernie Ball bought them. All the bad necks were sent back to Music Man and were destroyed. I think 1980 was just a transitional period for Music Man and maybe the Sabre was over-shadowed by the StingRay. All this info is in the book that Forrest White wrote about his time at Fender and Music Man.
  8. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    I asked the seller and he said the neck is straight and that the truss is perfectly fine meaning there is nothing to worry about in getting a bad quality Sabre? Thanks Jkoehler for the info, i really appreciate it!
  9. jazzyitalian

    jazzyitalian Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2005
    Minneapolis, MN
    Lawyer and Hobbist Bass Maker
    Yep true. The bass is a refinish. And it looks like a nice refinish job too. Refinished items whether they be vintage instruments or antiques of any kind (furniture, bicycles, etc...) usually lowers the resale value a bit to the collectors because it's no longer 100% original But in my opinion a refinish job is one of the more benign things that could be done. It has no bearing on the sound of the bass and playability which is key.

    I have a 1980 Sabre and I love it. I don't know how they stack up to the 1979 and the claim that the 1980 production was inconsistent is news to me. I hope it isn't true. But if I were to guess why your bass cost a $100 to $150 less than normal for the year, I would haver to say that it was the refinish that lowered the price slightly. But once again, I wouldn't care too much about the fact that it was a refin. If the bass plays sweet, then that's your baby.

    Congratulations on your buy. I hope you enjoy it... Jeff
  10. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Thank you so much Jeff. It seems to be just a neck issue and if the truss and neck are straight then it is just as good as a 1979 or earlier Sabre (I hope this is correct).
  11. Very nice Sabre in one of my favourite colour/pickguard combinations! Have fun with it!
  12. lird12


    Mar 14, 2012
    Sacramento, CA
    Thanks Caulicolin!
  13. bobunit

    bobunit I'm here. Now what? Supporting Member

    Jul 15, 2008
    IMO, the refinish looks really nice. It exhibits some of the features of a 78-79. 3 bolt neck and mini switches. Chances are the body is stamped 80, but the neck is from 79. Musicman went to plain top pickups in the early 80s, but not sure when. Congrats on the purchase.
  14. smcd

    smcd Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    A refinish lowers the value of an instrument up to 50%. This is the entire reason this Sabre sold below market value. The seller almost certainly knew this bass was refinished, and didn't mention it in his description. This would explain his less than stellar feedback.

    The refin looks good, and I personally like the color. But you should realize that value-wise this bass will always have the "refin" tag hanging over it's head.
  15. smcd

    smcd Supporting Member

    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    A refin is one of the worst things that can happen to a bass, value-wise. It drastically effects the value of a collectible instrument.
  16. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Another answer to the OP's original question is that MANY people looking for vintage guitars have it in their head that 1970's is old and 1980's isn't so old.

    I see 1979 Fenders selling for a lot more that 1980 Fenders all the time.

    I have owned both 1978 and 1980 Stingrays, and saw absolutely zero difference in quality. My 1980 SR was heavier than my 1978, but that was about the only difference.

    The refin on the bass in question will absolutely make a big difference in resale. Maybe not 50% to the right buyer, but $500 on a bass like this for sure. A re-fret (or a new pot) as an example is considered by most to be "maintenance". a refin is more like routing for a new pickup.

    Still, $1300 and change for this bass is a pretty good deal IMO.
  17. malthumb


    Mar 25, 2001
    The Motor City
    I have a '79 Sunburst (C001861) and an '80 Natural Ash (C006183). Both are great basses, but I have definitely bonded more with the '80 than the '79, even though sunburst is my favorite Sabre finish. I had the '79 refinished and refretted by Pat Wilkins, to the original sunburst finish so it looks BRAND NEW, but i still prefer the '80 as a player. Could be as simple as string choices, since I've put flatwounds on the '79 and haven't exactly fallen in love with them.

    But the '80 is pretty much featured in my bar band gigs.

    Picture is BEFORE sending to Pat Wilkins.

  18. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    You probably paid about the top of the range for a refin. I wouldn't say you overpaid, but you did pay a little on the high side.

    The good news, however, is that there is no difference between a '79 and an '80 Sabre and either one will be an excellent bass.

    Enjoy your new Musicman!
  19. 66Atlas


    May 19, 2012
    Seen it before.

    I forget where it sold last, it may have been Heritage Auctions but the story at that time was that it was sent to EB musiman for a refin in the 90s I think....?

    I clearly watch too many auctions sites if I remember this.

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