whats the difference between a 1950 fender bass,or a 2001 bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by frankencow150, Nov 5, 2001.

  1. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    wouldnt u think that a 2001 bass would have better technology,sound better etc... than a 1950's bass.I've heard alot of people saying "i have a '61 jazz bass " i gotta '73 precision fender bass",but why do they get older ones?and how do they get such the old ones,customly made?ebay?just a used oldddddd bass from a store??
  2. The sound accually gets better throughout the years because of the wood aging (I think). And, its kinda like owning a classic car, there really is no point other than it being a rare classic that is just..cool:cool:.
  3. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Why buy old?

    One word: Tone.

    Some people think the old stuff is where it's at. I really don't see it, but apparently it's a tone, feel, and I guess, a vibe. Go figure.
  4. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    ok im a sorta newbie(been playing since april 2001) and everyone says its all about tone,tone,tone,but i dont really understand what tone is.dont kill me for saying that,please.but i think its kinda like if u get that deep, dull sound or that high pitched DING noise.is it what i think it is?
  5. For me, tone is the sound that I like, and what I get out of my bass and I like tone from other players too. So I think it's just want you like, I guess, it's like a preference.
  6. frankencow150

    frankencow150 Guest

    Oct 17, 2001
    yeah wheneverim playing stuff i make up,i mess around with amp and bsas knobs to get a "tone" or "sound" i like.when im playing songs by bands,i try to match that sound.
  7. Brendan


    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX

    Tone: The way the bass sounds. Not what you are playing, but the attributes of the amp and bass, and any tweaking there in.
  8. Quite simply YES! That's what it is. The only clarification I might add is that you've mentioned two particularly unmusical tones, especially when it comes to bass. Here's what you might want to look for when listening to recorded music for good tone - Imagine a deep full sound, then add just a little bit of crisp high definition to the sound. That would be an example of a nice tone as best as it can be described by my words. See, first there is the note and what is called it's primary harmonic. That's essentially the note's lowest number of vibrations per second. This is expressed in a unit of measurement call "hertz" and written like this:
    35 Hz. Then, as part of the same note, there are secondary (higher pitched) harmonics, and tertiary (even higher) harmonics that make up what we hear as a single note. How well our instrument reproduces all of the harmonics (there are many more than those mentioned) determines whether the tone is pleasing to us. Emphasizing one range of harmonics over another will shape your distinctive tone. A pleasing tone is subjective and is different for everybody. Listen to Chris Squire of Yes and you will hear a sharper, more trebly tone compared to say, Barry Oakley of the Allman Brothers who preferred a lower pitched, rounder sound. Different strokes for different folks. This is just a simple explanation. As your ear develops, you'll begin to hear a lot of different tonal characteristics in your instrument. This awareness is practically unlimited in depth because everything about your instrument has some effect on it's overall tone. Eventually, you'll be able to tell the difference between woods and construction techniques just from the tone.

  9. Frankie, the real answer to your question as to the difference between a '50 Fender and a 2001 Fender is sound...

    There wasn't a 1950 Fender - 1951 was the first year for the Precision Bass and 1961 was the first year for the Jazz.

    But I digress...
  10. Tone is basically sound. But it's not really that simple. The "tone" or sound is determine by your finger position, pick up selection, how hard or soft you pick, new strings etc. And lastly, the wood of your bass.

    Many of those are subtle stuff, but if you add all those up, it'll end up a huge difference.

    And many of it is not achieved by simply tweaking knobs.
  11. hyperlitem

    hyperlitem Guest

    Jul 25, 2001
    Indianapolis, IN
    i don't bassists are as bad about this than guitarists. Alot of bassists will embrace new technology, but guitarists no way. a good guitarist will almost never have a custom guitar built, they will spent a few grand on a old les paul or sumthing. all new guitar gear is meant to sound like an old marshall plexi or what not. I think the old bass gear is maybe what that person grew up with, or a sound they like. Like i just got new stingray and love it, 20 years down the road i might be like, yea i play a 2001 stingray cuz its full of tone, but someone else likes the newest thing, to each his/her own.
  12. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Not many players who have only been playing a short while know what "tone" is, but even fewer ask about it to learn more in an attempt to define the indescribable...good innitiative on your part!
    You asked several questions, and I will try to hit all of them as simply as possible. First, you asked where people get basses that are rare, highly prized, and decades OLD. Some people bought them when they were new and have kept them for a generation or two. Some people bought them as "used" before the word "vintage" was even being used to describe instruments made in the '40-'60's. Many more people have paid large sums of money...thousands...to buy instruements that, to them, sound good, look neat, and inspire them to play and to be creative. Further, in my case with my '77, some people find instruments in basements, auctions, pawn shops, and in neighbors' closets and buy them at great prices because those who have them don't value them as much as musicians do...they don't know what they're worth and don't care.
    Next, you asked why something new is not as good/worth as much as something old. In most cases, your logic is correct. A new bass, with the advantages of modern construction techniques, exotic woods, improvments in electronics, set-up, hardware, etc. would probably be better, in general. However, some basses improve with age, based on the construction methods and materials used. Old Fender basses were finished with nirocellulose, a highly-flammable lacker that modern builders don't use for legal, environmental, and safety reasons. This old finish was VERY thin and would, with age, settle into the grain of the wood, allowing the instrument to "breath" and to be more resonant and ALIVE. Also, the magnets that were used in the pick-ups were made from a certain kind of magnet that would eventually be worn down over time....not as magnetically charged, which some bass players find to be sonically appealing...resulting in a sweeter, more mellow and natural sounding TONE, or sound. There is also a certain amount of mojo, or nostalgia, that goes along with one of these old basses. Just like some younger players want to get the bass that their favorite player played on MTV, certain other players want the same type of bass that their idols played in Zeppelin, The Who, Cream, Jethro Tull, etc.
    Finally, you asked about tone, or the tambre of the bass. Tone, most simply, is the sound quality of the note that the bass produces. For instance, Fieldy's tone could be described as thin and sharp with a lot of treble bite. James Jamerson's tone (Motown classics) could be described as deep and smooth, with a lot of lows and low mids. Geddy Lee's tone could be described as gritty, with solid lows and a top end with presence, while John Paul Jones' tone was punchy and thick. These are very subjective adjectives, which is why good tone is what sounds good to YOUR ear. Hope this helps!
  13. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    You're on the right track, Spank. It's particularly true of the more resinous woods. Over time, the natural resins dry out, become brittle, and fracture due to the instrument vibrating. The wood becomes more resonant and the fibers open up because the resins aren't holding them together like glue.

    This is why you'll see acoustic guitar freaks make a fuss about which kind of spruce is used. Engleman and Sitka spruce have different resin contents. The less resinous one may sound better right away but it won't improve and continue to improve over time like the more resinous specie.

    Secondly, old Fenders had nitrocellulose finishes. This finish allows the wood to "breath" more whereas the poly's and urethanes are said to "smother" the sound more. Also, nitrocellulose develops tiny fractures over time due to the instrument vibrating and the sound escapes better.

    Finally, there's no substitute for what oxidation over the years does to that old Fender pickup wire and the resulting tone.

    Plus, like Spank says, it's got the vibe!!!
  14. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    Shoulda read my post, Rick! : )
  15. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000