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What's the difference between a 60's and 70's Fender Jazz bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by vanscoy, Jul 14, 2009.

  1. troubledog


    Aug 30, 2009
    Somebody said something about quality control. I own an '64 jazz, which to this day is the sweetest bass I have and have ever owned. Not being a technician, its difficult for me to quantify the reason why.

    I do remember however buying a brand new Fender Precision off the rack in 1974. It took me only a few years to realize that it really was a substandard bass. Quality control comes to mind and it did remind me of the auto industry of the 1970's. Poor quality control. That may be an unfair statement and I can only imagine that the health at Fender in 1974 was not that great. But I do know that when I finally was able to acquire my '64 Jazz at a Houston music store in 1980 (paid $800) and traded in the Precision, I have never looked back.

    Today I also own a nice Pedulla MVP and have picked up an American made G&L. These are far superior basses to that 1974 Precision!
  2. grenadilla


    Aug 22, 2011
    I agree. With the wider 70's spacing, the bridge pickup is more for a " tweeter " sound . There is less high bass to blend or not blend with the neck pickup.
  3. LowBstring


    Feb 12, 2011
    I don't know if it's true, but the guy who sold my 1972 (not sure exactly but about that) Jazz bass to me said that mine was the last year that they hand wound the pickups.

    I doubt that matters much.

    The bass I'm selling is that bass. It's in great shape.
  4. catboyzee


    Jul 20, 2007
    To the unlearned ear the bridge PUP placement on a J Bass might seem small. But it does make a significant difference. The '60s placement emphasizes adds more warmth and low-mids; perfect for burpy percolating 16th notes and psuedo-upright forays. The 70s placement is thinner sounding but complements the neck PUP better, giving it a more aggressive slap sound that has tighter lows and crisper highs that cuts through a mix of heavy drums and busy horn arrangements like a razor. I've tried both basses and have found this to be true. Right now I'm on a 70s J Bass kick, although I may buy a 60s style J. Bass for a contrast. Really comes down to your needs and preference, IMO.
    Juicyanalog likes this.
  5. droskobass


    Oct 8, 2007
    Montreal, Canada
    Former Part-Time, Non-Commission Employee MOOG Audio
    picups as well, here's what the Guru Kloppmann has to say about 70's pickus:

    JB 71. After Leo Fender had sold the company to CBS, they began saving wire. Similar to other models of the production like Strat or Tele, they began to reduce the windings on the Jazz-Bass Pickups as well, wich resulted in a tone with a different quality. The tone of the JB71 Set is a little lighter, with less of the fat low midrange than the JB61. The bass and treble frequencies seem to have a little more space and breath. Marcus Millers basssound is a nice example for the typical 70s JB sound.
    catboyzee likes this.
  6. Up the dose

    Up the dose

    Mar 10, 2013
    1966 and older good bass. After 66 not so much.
  7. GG7


    Mar 14, 2013
    One of the most noticeable differences is WEIGHT! Right around 1968 Fender's previous supplier of the swamp ash used for guitar bodies started running out of quality ash and was replaced by another vendor who's wood was a lot denser and heavier than the previous wood was.

    This added several pounds to each guitar.

    An interesting story involved the Telecaster line... When these heavier guitars started hitting the market, a lot of people started complaining. In an effort to help calm concerns for those who were making a big deal out of the extra few pounds, Fender came up with the Telecaster Thinline semi-hollow body version, which removed those extra pounds and then some.

    The other major difference between say a 64 Jazz and a 70s model is that the neck was thicker front to back on the 70s models. Not by a huge amount, but there was a difference.

    I am wondering if this new Vintage 64 they just released will actually weigh less than the 70s model in the same line? Anyone seen any weight specs on these to confirm that or not?
  8. peledog


    Jul 9, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    The 60s are generally older than the 70s.


    I like the pickup placement and overall looks on the 70s more. I like the average weight of the 60s more.
    Wisebass likes this.
  9. xUptheIronsx

    xUptheIronsx Conform or Be Cast Out....

    Feb 6, 2010
    C-ville, Col, Ohio
    is it wrong that I notice none of these differences, and only really care about the feel of the neck of my J?

    era has never really made that big of a difference to me. I have played 60's eras J's that felt like crap, and 2000 eras j's that have been great.

    I always feel like I am missing something by not being real picky...
  10. Metania


    Oct 15, 2011
    I hate food!
    Don't tell Marcus Miller LOL.
    I've had three 70s JBs (Istill have my 77) Microtilt system worked perfect on all three, and saved lots of time and shims :) Ash has excellent sustain and resonnance capacity, and though a bit heavy, it's used today in hundreds of bass models. My 77 has its original pups and an Audere onboard preamp, and weighs 5kg :) I love them, but they are not always very accurately built X-D haha sometimes little additions must be invented, and a 70s JB owener MUST be creative ;.) Get one - you'll love all its little quirks! And when it finally lets you set it up really cool, it will reward you with a TONE that no 60s 80s and fwd can produce! Those who have been well kept are worth looking into....
  11. TonyP-

    TonyP- Excuse me but you have your I-IV-V in my II-V-I Gold Supporting Member

    Aug 21, 2003
    Boston Mass
    A-Designs Mike Lull GK Tsunami Cables GHS Strings RMI Basswitch Nordstrand Pickups Darkglass
    There is something to be said about Ash.

    Notice the 70s Js tend to be Northern Ash which is harded and has the definitive attack in the lows and crisp highs more so then just the standard Swamp Ash.

    Its not better or worse of course, then Alder/Rosewood...It just different.
  12. Doctor J

    Doctor J

    Dec 23, 2005
    There was a percievable dip in quality as the 70's wound to a close. You need only look at the quality of pickup routes to see the effect of worn out templates. The three bolt neck in itself isn't an issue, as G&L and MM showed. It's a perfectly sound design if the tolerances are right. It's more the sloppy neck pocket routing which gave necks plenty of leeway to move around. There is, of course, the famous G string bridge screw issue too. The hallowed Dan Smith has said that quality control was practically non-existent when he joined Fender. Read into that what you want.

    Tonally, I haven't met too many people who could tell the difference between a 60's and 70's J by ear.

    When I started playing, back in the 80's, 70's Fenders were generally avoided. Their reputation was dirt and not without reason. You could pick them up very cheaply. Of course, none of this matters now because even the worst late 70's dog is now vintage and, therefore, desireable.

    Yours, sincerely, former 77 J owner :)
  13. From 1966 to 1986 they sucked because of CBS. At least that what I remember back in the 80s.

    Funny how times change.

    I wouldn't have bought a 73 Jazz for any amount of money. But a 63? Oh yeah.
    ASQTec likes this.
  14. Birdbrain

    Birdbrain Supporting Member

    20151128_101843.jpg I have the best of both worlds. '62RI pickups in a 70's spaced Geddy Lee body. This bass sounds fantastic!
  15. Matt78


    Sep 21, 2016
    Southern Indiana
    Not to bump for bumping's sake... However...
    I recently was able to pick up a '64 Jazz to add to my collection, and was curious about this same thing, so I plugged up in my kickback combo and compared the 2...same riffs same tone/amp settings... The '75 was much more "tinny" overall IMHO, compared to the '64. When I picked it up, I played a '65 & '68, same place same amp. There seemed to be a bit more creamy/punchy/grunty...I don't know...something bout the '64 was just more my groove. Got home and, see above... Don't regret either, but if I HAD to drop one, it'd be the '75. Looked into it, discovered CBS took over late '64/'65... Dunno... To me sounds like Leo's MOJO cut out with him...
  16. Jacques682


    Mar 17, 2018
    Okay so I'm super late to this but I've been asking myself the same question for a while now. More specifically though, is there a difference with the pickups between a 60's model and a 70's model? I have a 75 reissue (so i'm not sure how accurate the pups are in terms of being vintage correct) that I always found too brite and lacking in the bottom end.

    I'm thinking of getting some 60's custom shop jazz bass pups from fender, hoping it will give me some more fatness. Anyone have any feedback on the pups and stuff?

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