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Who is actually *playing* a vintage bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Santraginus, Nov 6, 2005.

  1. Hi Folks!

    Many TBers discussed the pros and cons of using vintage instruments, the sturdiness of some basses (vintage and new), and how they may be built to last forever.

    But what is "forever"? How long can a well-built EB be played? We all know the very "worn" looks of some famous basses - wear and tear change the looks, and, as some say, make basses actually sound different, maybe even better.
    But how long does it take until the bass' quality starts to decrease?
    Is it likely that a bass gets regularly, intensely played for maybe three or four decades and still sounds great (given that there's no excessive, really destructive abuse, but normal practising and gigging)?

    So, who really plays/played an EB that is in normal use for more than two or three decades? What is your experience?

  2. abngourmet

    abngourmet Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 11, 2004
    I've got a '79 Stingray, and I play mine regularly. I did have to have the fingerboard planed and the neck refretted - I couldn't get the action where I wanted, even with the truss rod all the way out (I use .40-.95/.100 strings). My tech did a great job, and it plays beautifully.

    My '73 Jazz is probably my favorite bass. I play that one regularly too (had it refretted not long ago - frets were worn), more than any of my other basses. And it's a tank.

    I play my '76 Rick less often, but I've had it since 1995, and it's still going strong.

    My 77 RD Artist, I suspect, could be put through a brick wall and still play well. It's a beast, and built to take a licking and keep on ticking. Same goes for my '74 Ripper. I don't play those as often, though.

    I've not toured or played regular gigs with my Alembics, but those instruments will last. They're just so well built and strong, not to mention works of art.

  3. Niskamies


    Jan 13, 2004
    My teacher regurarly plays and gigs his '63 Precision and '66 Jazz.
  4. Mike McGibney

    Mike McGibney Not impossible ... Inevitable

    Apr 13, 2005
    Essex, UK.
    I play my 75 jazz regularly. Sounds great, and because it's already quite worn, I'm not worried about it being pristene. Sounds great!
  5. ras1983


    Dec 28, 2004
    Sydney, Australia
    if i had an alembic, then i probably wouldn't play any other bass. they aint the prettiest, but they have the the greatest reputation.

    can't beat being the first and truest custom luthier bass.
  6. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works
    I bought a '68 Goya Jazz about a year ago and have incorporated it into the playing rotation with 3 other basses. I just got done with the rehab of the bass, made it fretless with a cool vintage neck .....

    I have a little history about the bass and the project here for anyone interested. This is a great bass ..... :cool:

  7. Pickebass

    Pickebass Supporting Member

    Jul 12, 2004
    San Antonio, TX
    My 77 Jazz goes out at least twice a week
  8. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    My main 4-string is 1966-P-bass.
    Bass has been refretted. plays great.
    Also 1970-fretless-P-bass.
    EMG PJ-pickups. changed pickguard.
    This was my main bass for last three years.
    But have been playing fretted bass lately.
    Gone back to Jamerson, Pino, Duck Dunn, sound.
  9. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    Even though I have lots of basses, I've been gigging with the same Fender Jazz bass for over 20 years. In that time, I have had to re-solder the jack once.
  10. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    My '80 Ric 4001 has been getting regular saddle time (I've been on a Smithereens kick), but I'm hesitant to term a bass that was built on my 18th birthday "vintage". :spit:
  11. pointbass

    pointbass Jersey to Georgia Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2004
    Acworth, GA
    Endorsing Artist: FBB Bass Works

    ... but I just listed a bass 4 posts ago that I'm using that was built when I was 17 ...... of course, in my case there is no question about the term "vintage" ;)
  12. Keef


    Jul 3, 2003
    Hollywood, CA
    My '68 Fender Jazz is my main squeeze, live and otherwise.
  13. SubMonkey


    May 3, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I play a 1973 Rick 4001, pretty regularly... Looks awful but still stands up nicely.

  14. richnota


    Jan 11, 2005
    Santa Cruz
    It amazes me that my 77 BC Rich seems to have aged better than i have...could it be 28 years?

    It doesnt play out anymore but that's more a product of my preference for my newer instruments.
  15. deaf pea

    deaf pea

    Mar 24, 2005
    Cuernavaca 1 hr S Mexico City
    Seymour Duncan/Basslines SMB-5A Endorsing Artist
    I would think that a bass from the '50's or early '60's would qualify as "vintage" . . . those '80's & '90's comments don't really address the issue of actually regularly using a vintage instrument out in the real world-
  16. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Use my '77 fretless Ripper for jazz gig every week
    Use my fretted '74 P and '74 4001 all the time as well
  17. Pennydreadful

    Pennydreadful Goin out West

    Jun 13, 2005
    Arlington, Texas
    :raises hand:

    1960-something Teisco
    1980-something Moridira
  18. Caca de Kick

    Caca de Kick Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    My '69 Jazz is my main sqeeze, it's 100% orig and in a solid 9 condition. It giggs regularly, but not in extreme temp days.
    My '72 P is original too with a bit of wear, but has had a refret in it's life, it get worked regularly too.
    My 79 Ibanez Musician is in near mint shape, and it takes the grunt on the extreme temp days I don't want to take the older ones to.
    My '80 Musicman Sabre is also near mint, what can I say? Bulletproof, gets lots of use...it's built for a lifetime and then some.

    A great bass will always be a great bass in the future as long as someone doesn't decide to hack it or change parts.
    I'm 32 and anything older than me is very old, and just like other collector hobbies I consider something hitting 25yrs old as vintage.
  19. Any "mods", or replacements from wear? I think that would answer part of the question;

  20. my 80' p bass. dude before me made it fretless, it goes wherever i go. that includes school, jam sessions, gigs, i love the thing to death. all i've replaced is the bridge (still have the original, covered in rust) and the pickguard(still have the original of that too, broken near the input jack).