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Washburn Bantam Headless--can anyone help me find information on this bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by tragos, Sep 22, 2002.

  1. tragos

    tragos Guest

    I've been reading the posts here for quite a while, but only started posting recently. This is a great forum, and I'm amazed at the breadth of knowledge here. I was wondering if anyone happened to know about this rather obscure bass--a search of the past posts turned up that a few people had these and liked them, but I'm looking for some more information.

    I have a Washburn Bantam headless bass that I bought in 1986 as my first bass. It's one of the early Steinberger copies with two passive humbuckers and the very small body. It's been my backup bass since the early 90's--I love the neck, and I'm too sentimentally attached to it to ever put it away for good. It's taken some serious abuse, and I just re-wired it and replaced the pots, cap, and input jack.

    I've never had much information on the bass--I don't even know the model number. I've tried for the last two months to get someone at Washburn to give me any information at all on it, but my emails get no response and the phone calls go nowhere. It's really starting to tick me off . . .

    Anyway, I was wondering if anyone out there knew any information about this bass. I'd love to know the model number, years of production, what type of wood it is made of, who made the pickups, factory set-up specs, country of origin, whether Steinberger parts (bridge and tailpiece) would fit or if there are any replacements that would--any information at all would be great.

  2. Sorry I have no info, but I will say this.
    My dad had one about 5 years ago. I can't remember what it was like (I'm 14 years old) but my dad say's he sorta wishes he still had his. He said It sounded and played awsome.
    It was alot better deal than a steinberger.
  3. armybass

    armybass Gold Supporting Member

    Jul 19, 2001
    no info either but I had one in 88, it was a cool bass but I traded it for a Fender Jazz Bass. I really dug the bass but that has never been a good enough reason for me to keep a bass...lol

    good luck
  4. Wow, I used to have one of these too. I traded it years ago for a guitar, and have been kicking myself ever since.

    I've been trying to find information on these as well, to no avail, in fact one of my very first posts in this forum was asking the very same question you are.

    I wish I could find another one of them. I saw one for auction on Ebay a few months ago, but they wanted too much for it.

    If you happen to come upon a lead, keep us posted, and I'll do the same if I happen to find anything.
  5. dkmonroe


    Jul 3, 2002
    Atlanta, GA
    I owned one for several years - from about 1987 until last year. It was black with red trim. I sold it to Music Go Round for 50 bucks! It was a great bass for several years, but after so many years I got tired of it.

    I don't know where you might find info about serial number or parts information about the Bantam. I think that they were made only for about 2 years. The only one I've ever seen in person is the one I owned. Just out of curiosity, I've spent a lot of time searching the Internet for info about them, to see if anyone's selling one on Ebay, etc., but there's nothing. Because Washburn chose use the Bantam name for a succession of more conventional basses, the headless model has just fallen into obscurity. You might want to check with your local Music Go Round franchise or some other store that deals in used gear for info. I'm sure that there's some Blue Book of basses out there that has production info on the Bantam.

    I let my bass go for next to nothing because it was really beat up and worn by 2001. I really beat the crap out of that bass over the years. It was great with a cabinet setup, but it really didn't give enough bottom end with a small combo amp. Now I've got a Fender MIM Jazz Bass (which I bought with the money from the Washburn and a couple of other instruments), and a Vigier bass which I won in a contest. Needless to say, I don't miss the Bantam!
  6. tragos

    tragos Guest

  7. mikezimmerman

    mikezimmerman Supporting Member

    Apr 29, 2001
    Omaha, Nebraska
    I don't think there was a "model number", per se, just the name, and others have given you some idea of the years of production. It's probably made of solid maple. The pickups are nothing special, as I recall--probably the same folks made those as made the other Washburn pickups of the time (hint--not EMG, DiMarzio, or Seymour Duncan). I doubt setup specs were ever documented for anyone by Washburn employees in Asia, and there's not much point if you've had it since '86 and haven't gotten it set up to your satisfaction yet. Given the time period, the country of origin is probably Japan. No, I seriously doubt Steinberger parts will fit--I've seen the Bantams, and the bridge size and outline didn't seem to match my Steinberger.

    How's that?

  8. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    In summary, they're cool, but apparently not cool enough to keep.
  9. tragos

    tragos Guest

    Mike--I appreciate the information--I don't know who made the other Washburn pickups of the time, though. I have had it set up to where I like it for years--my post was more out of curiosity than necessity. I've gotten absolutely nothing from Washburn, so I wanted to be clear that I was looking for *any* information. As far as the model number goes, I've seen posts on newsgroups and when I run internet searches referring to model numbers, but no one seems to be able to agree on which number it actually was. I've looked at the Steinberger parts as well, but only from pictures, and it's hard to tell if removing the separate bridge and tuners from the Washburn would leave room for a Steinberger bridge (even with some routing). Since it's impossible to find a replacement Washburn, I'm going to have to do something.

    Munjibunga--no matter how many basses I go through, I don't think I'll ever get rid of my "first bass." Besides, I have yet to find a neck as comfortable as the one on the Bantam.

    Thanks to all for the info.
  10. cyberschemes


    Feb 14, 2008
    I've got one of these beasties, and like you know very little about it. I bought mine 2nd hand in about '88/'89 and have used it for recording and gigging. Sounds fine to me and still very much in working order. Few scratches on the back from some moron with a buckle but otherwise in good condition. Anyone know how much they go for? Thinking of selling it as everyone looks at me weird when I play it!
  11. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    This was referred to a steinberger copy (unlicensed), though it looks like the pups were switch to EMG's

  12. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile
    I had a double neck version for a while in the late 80s.... 86 and 87 I think.

    it looked like this one but fretless on bottom

  13. meehango


    Apr 11, 2008
    I recently purchased a headless washburn, steinberger type bass. I cant get the old strings out of the top. Is there a trick to it? I am stripping the paint, and refinishing it, but I cant get new strings into it. I thought it would take double ball's but i guess I am wrong. can you help me? I don't know much about my bass, but it has seymour duncan pickups, with three white switches on each pick ups. The action is sweet but it was painted an ugly blue painted over white. I haven't found a serial number yet. Gordon:help:

  14. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
  15. StevenShock


    May 12, 2008
    I have one og these (double neck). I use standard strings. Loosen the tuners (at the bridge) to get the string end out. Use an allen wrench to remove the clamps on the nut end of the neck. Strings should slide out of the holes. To re-string, put string end in the bring end, thread string into the hole on the nut side and pull tight. Once the four strings have been threaded through the neck holes and you have pulled them through as tight as you can, put the nut clamps back in place tighening them down with an allen wrench. Use the bridge tuners to tune the bass.
  16. Plantbrain

    Plantbrain Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Do you know if you wan an sell it or know someone that might? :hyper:

    I saw these as kid in the 1980's, loved them and a bassist really liked them and got me wanting one before I even started playing.

    If anyone has any for sale, I'm all ears.

    You can use the normal strings, I had a guy selling one locally, but did not have the $ at the time. One of the nicer stick basses around.

  17. James Hart

    James Hart

    Feb 1, 2002
    Endorsing Artist: see profile

    I traded mine in on a Ric 4003 in 1987. That image was taken from a for sale ad I saw a couple years ago for one that sold for a lot more than I was looking to spend. I would buy one again at the right price myself. It was a fun bass to play and sounded pretty good too.
  18. Plantbrain

    Plantbrain Supporting Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    I ended up getting a fretted off ebay for cheap.
    Still after a double though:)

    Yes, nice sound. This one had added the EMG's active 9v.
    Nice little stick bass. Next to the steiny, one of the best ones.

  19. bobcronley


    Jun 6, 2009
    I am a guitarist, but love playing bass, as well. Having had a cheap bass I owned stolen, I was itching to play the thick strings again and wanted to find another cheap bass. Someone had a yard sale near my house, with lots of guitars, and I encountered the Washburn Headless Bantam. It was love at first sight, and I bought it even though it was much more expensive than I wanted to pay. (although, aprearntly, less than it is worth)

    About 3 months later, someone sold me a Kramer DMZ 5000 that was in pieces for $50, and after some work, I find this to be the better bass, with brighter sound. I meant to sell the Kramer, but I am keeping them both. The Kramer has great action, very hot pickups, and a bright, jazz tone. The Washburn is no slouch on action, and gets a deep goth tone, so they fill different demands.

    The Washburn, like the Kramer, is kind of beat up, finish wise. Whoever owned it before me had dug a hole in the paint where he apearntly put his thumb. I used a magic marker to cover this, and soon after realized that I just ruined my ability to strip the guitar and so a natural wood finish by staining the wood with a magic marker. So now I am thinking that since the bass gets such a deep, dark tone, I should paint it flat black, a goth looking paint job. But, I have no idea of the right way to do this. Anyone have any infor on where I can find out the right way to do a goth paint job?

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