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What makes my Fender good...

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Andy Daventry, Dec 20, 2000.


  1. Unfortunately, Stingray 5 shut down the Fender thread before I had finished (OK, he was right to do so. It was becoming a bit silly). But I have more to say.

    As I said in that thread, I have a '96 P bass. I have had, the past, a 1964 Jazz bass, a Stu Hamm Urge bass, a '95 Strat, a Blues Jr, a 90 watt solid state guitar amp (I forget the name right now),a '75 Pro Reverb guitar amp . I currently use a Bassman 100 (one of the new ones).

    The build quality on all this gear (which has all, with the exception of my current bassman, been US made) has been excellent. The late 90s stuff I have had has been of higher quality, in terms of workmanship, that the 60s stuff.

    When compared to the kind of quality I have seen in other production brands, including G&L, Ibanez, etc. etc, Fender stands up very well indeed. The Musicman basses I have seen are the only production line basses that are of a consistently higher build quality.

    Fender have none of the finish and construction errors that disfigure even the most expensive Gibsons.

    I have seen shoddy MIM basses. But not too shoddy for the price. They are better built than comparable-in-price washburn basses.

    Now, my question is this. I hear complaints about lousy Fender quality primarily from Americans. In Europe, and the Middle East, the quality of Fenders is excellent.

    Is it just that Fender take more care over their export stuff?

    Oh, yes, and the reason for string trees on a 1000 dollar bass is in the shape of the head. There are reasons for that, the main one being that the one brand of guitar or bass you almost NEVER see in for headstock repairs is Fender...

    [Edited by Andy Daventry on 12-20-2000 at 01:21 AM]
     
  2. air_leech

    air_leech

    Sep 1, 2000
    Israel

    Fender's finishes better than gibsons?

    maybe if fender were to do transperant finishes like gibson does on their tops, they'd have some mistakes too but they just soak they're bodies with multi layered solid colours.

    and whats that about 60's fender being lower quality than modern fenders???

    maybe your 60's J wasn't a good specimen of what they made in the 60's but in general it was much better than today's stuff.
    take a tele or strat pickguard off and see the "swimming pool", no longer individual cavities, nowdays its modular bodies for all kinds of pickups so they just routed a large cavity inside.

    also look at modern fender sunbursts, the black extends deeper than on vintage bursts, thats because they want to hide the veneers. no longer solid ash and alder but veneers on a poplar core... thats why you pay extra money for natural ash finish on fenders and musicmans!!!! they have to use a real piece for the natural ones and thats why it costs much even though there is no paint involved and surely it's less work on sanding than on solid finishes. (also you can't see the filler on solid bodies so naturals have to be perfect pieces).

    why you think people pay multiple "G"s for vintage beaten up 40 years old fenders???

    fender is a corporate and while it is very good for the owners and stock share buyers it's not good for the people who want a musical instrument.
    if they'd still make fenders like they did 35-40 years ago the Custom shop wont even exist!

    I'm not saying your fender is not as good as a vintage one but in general you will have a hard time finding better stock fenders than the pre-'65 examples.
     
  3. MJB

    MJB

    Mar 17, 2000
    Andy, from your time on the FDP you know that there are plenty of Americans that love their Fenders. I used to hate Ford automobiles but I now own a 98 Mustang GT I bought new. Much of it is simply preference and its easy to bash some brand that you don't own to make your own choices seem "smarter". I personally don't care what equipment anyone wishes to buy or use, that's up to the individual. I own several FMIC products and have had no quality issues with any of them, I think they are great values.
     
  4. I had a '63 Jazz and a '66 P. (bought in 1970 & the only basses I used for 20 years) While these basses where not bad they were not as well made as my '74 P, 90's P Lyte, MIJ Noel Redding Jazz or MIM Deluxe P Special.
    Granted, I selected the later ones for their playability and sound because there was a lot more choice than in 1970. (in the UK.)

    Now I was perfectly happy with my vintage basses at the time, and I'm not saying that Fender is the best, which is why I also use Stingray's and a Pedulla, but I still think Fenders are very usable workhorses, which I would always want to play.

    IMO there were excellent, fair and just about acceptable Fenders made from the 60’s to present day as in any massed produced product.


     
  5. Hold on! I am not saying that modern Fenders are better, but simply that they are better made. I think that the quality of bass coming out of the new plant is exceptional.

    My '64 was a lovely bass. I sold it coz I needed the money and didn't need a vintage jazz bass. I didn't want to defret the bass. It would have been dangerous and foolish. But the way the three piece body (the idea that pre CBS bodies were all one piece is a bit of a myth) was stuck together, the coarse routing and the enormous neck pocket - the bass was not built with the same precision and care that my current P bass was. The wood was better, yes. But that wood is not available any more.

    I also didn't say that Fenders finishes were better, just that they have fewer errors than Gibsons. I had a '96 LP Standard for a few months. Lovely guitar, but serious finish flaws, such as blotching around the logo. I haven't seen a recent Gibson that doesn't have a couple of unsightly flaws of this type.

    Don't get me wrong. I am not trying to start a gear row, or continue one. I am also not criticising Americans, MJB. I am simply disagreeing with comments made about Fender quality and value in the other thread which suggested that Fender didn't compare well with other brands. I think it compares very well.
     
  6. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    Threats of fire would probably do.
     
  7. Chuck M

    Chuck M Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    San Antonio, Texas
    I agree with what Andy is saying. The overall quality of Fender basses does seem to be a lot higher now than it was in the 60's and especially in the 70's and 80's.

    I had a 1978 Jazz bass. I had trouble with the 3 bolt neck attachment allowing the neck to shift in the oversized neck pocket. It also was very heavy. It did play and sound great though.

    Fender does have some basses that have quality issues with them but most Fender basses that I've looked at lately seem to be good instruments. Any company that makes instruments is going to have an ocasional problem. Wood is unstable and quite unpredictible.

    I own a wonderful Mike Lull 5 string that had an unstable neck on it. I sent it back to Lull and he put on a new neck although I am the second owner of the bass. The new neck is one of the most stable that I own. It even happens to $3000 basses.

    Chuck
     
  8. ka-tet

    ka-tet

    May 2, 2000
    No company can put out products that are free of faults 100% of the time. As was stated earlier, wood is unpredictable. The best a company can do is offer lifetime warrantees and stand by their products as did Mike Lull with Chuck's bass. There should be no finish flaw problems. Those that can be easily seen by the consumer should have also been seen by the builder. In my store we are a Gibson dealer. Sadly, what Gibson puts out today is crap. In the past three months, I've shipped back 4 Les Pauls because the finishes were horrible. I see consistently better finish jobs out of lower end gear than I do out of Gibson. We got a Gary Moore Les Paul in which is supposed to have a nice flametop on it. When we got it the flame was nowhere to be seen. A little around the edges and that was it. Gibson's flaws do not end with their finishes. their fret work looks as though it was done by monkees (the animal not the band). It seems every year Gibson raises their prices and lowers the quality. Let's also put things in perspective. Fender bass's are relatively inexpensive. While their prices may seem outrageous compared to 15 years ago, by todays standards they're cheap. And I challenge anyone to find a more affordable, better made bass that can cover the amount of musical ground a Jazz bass can. I've owned several Ken Smith basses over the years and while they were very well made with the exception of one,( a BT Custom 5 that lists for $4500 with a very unstable neck!) their sound just wouldn't cut it on all my gigs. for light R'n'b the Smith's sounded great but when I was living in Nashville I played a lot of different styles from country, funk, rock and alternative and I sounded like a sissy up their with the Smith. The bass I played on 90% of what I did there was a Fender Roscoe Beck. It just worked for everything. Of course my idea of what "works" may be different from everyone else.
     
  9. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    ka-tet.....

    you make some interesting points. I have posted my thoughts based upon experience and some conflict with yours.

    In todays computerized world cosmetics should be near perfect.

    Wood has always been a flashpoint but proper "natural" aging ensures uniformity. Accepting varing grades of wood will lead to varying outcomes.

    Electronics are superior in some ways; inferior in others.

    The cookie cutter factory made "instruments are not GOOD. They are average at best and terrible in the norm.

    It's like this.....

    This year I received an Alembic and bought a Clover fretless. Both are handmade. The Clover has a composite neck. After purchasing these babies I played them exclusively for several months. When I picked my 78 Musicman up after these months to play it, I was shocked. It sucked! It sounded terrible. I wanted to toss it into the fireplace. This is the same instrument I played daily for ten years. The same instrument I felt had no peer. The same instrument I refused to sell no matter what.

    Now, the only reason I keep it is nostalgia.

    Sound is the only element that qualifies an instrument. Its playablity will vary from person to person depending upon their facility so that element is entirely subjective.

    I reiterate..... from my experience Fenders blow. When a vintage MM can no longer hold my passion, I say a Fender pales in comparison.
     
  10. ka-tet

    ka-tet

    May 2, 2000
    As we all know tone is subjective but I have to say, I don't like Music Man basses. I've never played one that sounded or played good to me and I've played many including vintage ones. I would go as far as to say I hate those instruments. What's interesting are these topics. These types of threads are only useful as entertainment pieces. I mean, we all have opinions and it feels good to come on here and vent but in the end it means nothing. None are likely to change their opinions based what someone else thinks. After we read these things we get up from our computers forget what we've read and life goes on.
     
  11. DaveB

    DaveB

    Mar 29, 2000
    Toronto Ontario
    I'm with Andy here. I'm a lifelong Fender user (both guitar and bass)and I'm still a huge Fender fan.On the Bass side I have two Fender Basses (one P and one J)and I love them both.One's a '97 and one's a '75.I think the build quality is great on both.I gig a lot and they are my only basses.

    Interestingly enough I can easily afford Sadowsky, Lakland, Ken Smith etc. etc. but I just can't see the value. A 300% increase in price for a 15% improvement in quality?? In fact I played a Ken Smith on the weekend. Nice bass but I wouldn't buy one. As for the overall difference between Fender in the 60's,70's,80's and 90's. Well it's questionable that there is an OVERALL difference. For every '60's and '70's I've played that I've thought was fabulous I've also played one that was mediocre...just like the current models. I can remember in the '70's when everybody thought Fender stuff was junk.Now it's cool to have one.
    Many people say that Fender is inconsistent in quality.But that inconsistency is more "between" price points rather than "within" a price point. "Within" a price point I think Fender is pretty consistent.And nobody does price point marketing better than Fender.That's not a bad thing either.
     
  12. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    You are wrong ka-tet. These threads do have meaning and they also have consequences. I agree with you about the MM. After reading your post I got motivated and torched it. Right now I'm all warm and cozy basking in the glow of a 78 MM Stingray burning in the fireplace. (It has burned a long time.) I plan on keeping the charred hardware and what ever remains for nostalgia. Maybe I'll put it in a shadowbox. Thanx for the push.
     
  13. dot74

    dot74

    Aug 24, 2000
    it's mine.......that's what make My Fender good.

    And Fatboy......you burnt up a bass????????


    man, if I had one to throw in the fire, i wouldn't.....
     
  14. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000
    TX
    Isn't that a sin?? Thats like the equivalent of burning a flag!!! I can't beleive anyone would burn a bass.
     
  15. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    I appreciate your honesty dot.
     
  16. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    Hey Hunter....don't blame me!
    Blame KA-TET. It was his bright Idea. And bright it is - all a-glow with sparks flickering off it.
     
  17. ka-tet

    ka-tet

    May 2, 2000
    Huh? I don't recall saying anything about burning a bass. I must have been experiencing one of those fugues I get every once and awhile. My last one, when I woke up I was lying naked next to a midget with a bottle of tequila in one hand and a Peavey in the other. I should get that checked out.
     
  18. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    Yikes......Was yer bum bleeding?
     
  19. air_leech

    air_leech

    Sep 1, 2000
    Israel

    damn fatboy.

    I could have payed you 15 dollars for that bass so you can buy real firewood (fender?) and then I could sell it for like 4000$ (these vintage MM fetch a lot nowdays, a goldmine with strings).
     
  20. fatboy

    fatboy

    Jul 7, 2000
    X##@@!!!^^!!! I knew I should have removed the strings!!!

    What can ya get for a set of black "anodized" strings and hardware?