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What choices did they have 40 years ago?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Mar 22, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    If you went back in time 40 years to 1966 and you walked into a big music store, what choices would there have been for basses? I assume you could get a Fender Precision, Jazz, Mustang, Jaguar? A few Gibson models. The Rickenbacker.

    Did you really have about 5 or 6 choices?, and probably nobody even considered that the instrument was made anyplace other than the USA.

  2. That's about when I started playing. There was no Fender Jaguar Bass until now. Fender had the P-Bass and Jazz Bass. Sometime in that general timeframe, the Mustang, Telecaster and Musicmaster basses made their appearance. Gibson had the EB-0, the EB-2 and the EB-3 as well as the Thunderbird. Gretsch had a hollow (or semi hollow) body bass. Epiphone made their version of the EB-2. Mosrite had the "Ventures Model." The Ampeg basses were available sometime in that general timeframe. Hofner, Harmony and Hagstrom basses were available. Danelectro made basses under their name as well as (Sears) Silvertone. National/Supro/Valco marketed basses under their name as well as (Wards) Airline. Kay sold a lot of basses then. There were countless cheap Japanese basses such as Kent, Teisco, etc. and cheap European oddities like Egmond floating around. There was no shortage of basses back in the day. This is just off the top of my head.
  3. The way I've heard it, there were plenty of basses out there (back in the day) but there were very few inexpensive ones that were of any quality.

    If you look at today's SX's, the OLP's, the Squiers, plus the entry-level Yamaha's and Ibanezes, anything at that price point (in 1966 dollars) was unplayable or would break in about 5 minutes.

    When I talk to the cats who are my age (and older) who actually started playing way back then, they ALWAYS wax poetic about all of the options available to Bassists these days and they lament the lack of options back then.

    "Man - my parents were poor so first bass was from Sears and it was basically cheap cardboard box with a sunburst finish ... It sounded so bad that they kicked me out of the garage band and made me play in the doghouse ... I developed a complex and I never got over it ...":bawl:
  4. Ed Goode

    Ed Goode Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    Kinda scary ..... I remember those days well ... :meh:

    Yeah, there were lots of choices, but Fender and Gibson were definitely the big boys in my neck of the woods. If you didn't have one of them, you were a second class citizen.

    I remember when I first saw the Ampeg scroll bass, a fretless beauty that I really wanted to play (I was primarily a DB player at the time). I sold my '63 Fender P to get the Ampeg, put that bass through a B15 and I was the hottest ticket in town :hyper:

    The Japanese imports were viewed with a skewed eye by most people, thought to be poor copies of lesser quality. Today, those knock-offs carry a load of value. I have a '68 Goya J that I did a rehab on, great bass.

    Just wish I had kept both the '63 P and the Ampeg ....... :crying:
  5. Mojo-Man


    Feb 11, 2003
    And many Japan, nockoffs.
    Just to name a few.
    Remember back then everyone wanted to play guitar or drums.
    A lot fewer bassplayer then.
  6. Oh, the cheap imported stuff was mostly crap and the USA stuff was mostly expensive and a lot of it was crap, too. Kids starting nowadays have a much greater selection of affordable, decent quality gear than we had back in the day. There were lots of choices but not many GOOD choices! :D
  7. bigbeefdog

    bigbeefdog Who let the dogs in?

    Jul 7, 2003
    Mandeville, LA
    I still have my old pencil-neck, boat-paddle-headstock Vox from those days..... it was the only bass in the store I could afford....

    Showin' my age, I know.... :meh:
  8. jwsamuel


    Apr 26, 2004
    My first bass was a Kent in 1970 and it cost me $80, used. It buzzed, rattled and sounded awful. Look at what I can get now from SX for $25 more.

  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I can remember going to London in the early 70s with friends and about the only decent electric guitar place was the Fender Soundhouse - but the basses were astronomically expensive for me - I think my friends and I got thrown out pretty quickly as it was too obvious we would never be able to afford one and weren't allowed to touch anything!! :meh:

    There were lots of cheap knock-off basses at small family-owned music shops and pawn shop - but these were universally terrible and very hard to play!! :(
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I never saw an Ibanez bass in the UK until the early 80s...:meh:
  11. My first attempts at learning to play began around the late '60s and went into the '70s. Most all kids were playing Japanese knockoff instruments. Brands like Tesico, Maestro and the earlier Aria-Diamonds. The quality on these was really sketchy, greatly variable and you were lucky to get one that was playable without a huge amount of work. Sometimes I come across one that has sat in someones closet for decades because it was impossible to play - uneven frets or overly aggressive factory machine fret leveling so there were only very tiny frets sticking above the fingerboard, warped necks, high or low neck heel heights and funky bridges that could not be set up. Lots of folks gave up figuring that playing was just too hard or that they were not strong enough or were untalented when the real situation was that nobody could have ever got a single clean note from some of those instruments. Many of the cheaper amps at that time were just as bad or worse.

    Some people lucked out and got a good knockoff or happened to have a friend or family member who knew how to do the extensive work that was frequently needed.

    The American stuff was expensive and unless the kid or their parents actually knew something about g****rs or basses or quality instruments in general, the knockoffs looked pretty good and the price seemed right.

    In the earlier part of the '70s I became friends with a guy whose father was a pro bass player. He had a Kay upright, a gorgeous Fender Precision and played through an Ampeg B-15. He is the reason why the first real bass amp that I got was the B-15 that is sitting about 5 feet away right now.

    Yes, all those raves over the great inexpensive choices that are available today are 100% justified IMO.

  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    All this nostalgia got me thinking about what happened to the London Fender Soundhouse - so I googled and got this :

    "Seymour Duncan

    In 1974, pickup guru Seymour Duncan was working as a technician at the newly opened Fender® Soundhouse in London where he worked for such artists as The Stones, The Who, Gerry Rafferty, Roy Wood and Wizzard, Supertramp and Jeff Beck. Around this time, Jeff was recording the second album with Beck, Bogert and Appice at the CBS Studios that was just around the corner from the Fender Soundhouse. "

    I saw BB&A play live at around this time as well!! :)
  13. oldfclefer

    oldfclefer low ended

    May 5, 2005
    Southern Ohio
    Ibanez didn't happen until later.

    Most of above is correct.



    My parents bought me something called Palmer that looked like a p bass.
  14. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    In the music shops that I was familiar with, you could get a Fender, Gibson, Rickenbacker, or a real POS.
  15. pocket_groover

    pocket_groover Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2004
    Northern California
    I was playing regularly then and in high school working at a music store repairing amps and working the register. They didn't carry Fenders but had Gibsons and a others. Here's a link to a Vox bass I remember being on sale:


    I had a '64 jazz bass then, and my boss would tell me "Get that piece of junk outta here" :)
  16. j-raj

    j-raj Bassist: Educator/Soloist/Performer Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2003
    Indianapolis, IN
    weren't Hagstroms being played back then as well?
  17. 62bass


    Apr 3, 2005
    True for me in 1960. But you couldn't find all 3 in the same store.
  18. 7flat5


    Nov 28, 2003
    Upstate NY
    I agree that there are much higher-quality cheap basses available now than there were then. Globalization of industrial manufacturing and distribution has its benefits for us consumers.

    That having been said, there is the fact that 1966 is kind of a watershed year for this kind of thing. There was an explosion of interest in electric instruments following the "british invasion" '64 to '66. This resulted in some very high-quality knock-offs from Japan especially, from the Ibanezes and other companies of the time, through the late '60s and early '70's "lawsuit" instruments. Even the Telecaster bass, EB1, EB2, and several others from Fender and Gibson were reissues of much earlier designs that happened in the mid-'60's.

    Also, you might think about the fact that $85 in 1966 was not all that cheap. I bought a used Gibson EBO in the early '70s for $175, and if you just apply the inflation rate to that purchase, it is about $1,000 2006 dollars. And, some of the cheaper instruments, like the original Danelectros or even the Dan Armstrong lucite Ampegs were considered second rate at the time, but aren't looked down on any more. There were always crappy instruments, but some of them should have had a better reputation than they had at the time.
  19. Fawkes007


    Sep 13, 2005
    SF Bay Area
    I'm a grumpy old bass player, and I don't like nothin' no how! That's right! Things are so pleasant today for bass players, with their boutique handcrafted instruments, or their cheap import copies of real Fender basses, and the use of a CNC to have everything cut nice and precise on the computer, tuning machines that actually keep the bass in tune and truss rods that actually work and adjustable bridges so you could set your action properly...no sir! Back when we were young, ya had to take a overturned washtub, stick a broomstick handle in it and slap a clothesline on it! And ya couldn't hear nothin! Half the time you could even play the damn thing in tune! But that's the way it was, and we liked! We LOVED it! Oh, happy day!
  20. KayCee


    Oct 4, 2004
    Shawnee, KS
    It seems to me that the high-quality Japanese knock-offs really didn't happen until the Ibanez & Yamaha instruments of the mid/late 70's. Up until that time, just about the worst insult you could hurl at an instrument (or anything else for that matter) was that "it looks like it was made it Japan".

    The George Benson Ibanez gtr and some others added a great deal to their reputation, at about the same time their small cars were gaining huge popularity due to their gas mileage.

    At least that's how I remember it....

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