Will My New P Bass Ever Look Worn???

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by El_Charro, Nov 25, 2021 at 6:12 PM.

  1. El_Charro


    Aug 11, 2020
    Hi Everybody,

    Think I got the answer to this a while back, but asking again in an effort to confirm my own understanding…

    I understand it’s not for everyone, but I really dig the look of a P Bass that looks like it’s been played into the ground with strings that have never been changed etc. …

    Something about that look somehow implies to my mind that someone put in a crazy amount of practice time / mileage over the years to get good just by playing the living Hell out of the instrument…I feel like this would give me even more incentive to put in the hours to improve my playing…

    I think someone mentioned that with coating/finishes these days that it’s not really possible to achieve a relic/worn-in look just by playing bc the oils in your hand won’t wear the finish off over time…

    I’m not really sure if there’s such a thing as “breaking in” a bass like a pair of running shoes I might add…This is almost more of a philosophical question of: “Does your bass feels like it develops it’s own character/quirks over time the more you play it and will this be visually reflected naturally over time from high amounts of usage???”…

    I’m not really looking to intentionally relic it (certainly not right now at least) so I’m hoping that playing/frequent use will eventually show up as battle scars…Does wiping down at the end of practice get me anything bc I’m not doing that at all right now…

    Am I out of luck or do I have at least a chance of getting that by a ton of playing time or will a MIM Fender P be finished with something that will never wear off and show my hard work???

    Thanks! \m/
    mb94952, Justinian, jd56hawk and 2 others like this.
  2. lizardking837


    Jan 28, 2009
    Most instruments now have thicker, harder polyurethane finishes so they won't wear like older instruments.

    That said, your bass will still age visually. I have a 99 P-bass in Inca Silver. In the 12ish years I've owned it the silver has aged and is turning green and the neck is yellowing and tinting.

    In terms of break-in. This absolutely a factor. I have 2 basses from the 90s that I've played extensively and they feel smoother and more "broken-in" than the most recent bass I purchased, new, last year.

    As for sound. There isn't a lot of evidence either way in terms of whether or not the character of an instrument changes over time. Personally, I believe that instruments do change over time and sound "better" based on the context they're in. My aforementioned 99 P-Bass is an absolute bass cannon and works perfectly with one group. And I feel that in the 18 months I've owned and played my Stingray that it has gained a lot more "bite" in the upper mids. Even similar amp settings. Also here's a video about instruments aging over time:

    With all this in mind. Don't overthink it. Take care of your bass and play it until it's your own.
  3. Vodyanoi


    Mar 24, 2020
    You don't need a worn bass to show your hard work; the moment you'll start playing, it will be quite evident anyway. ;)

    Having said that, my (poly-finished) basses saw hours upon hours of playing time and still look good as new. The finish appears to be so thick, that it should withstand anything and everything regarding normal use.
  4. ruju


    Dec 9, 2017
    My old Squier affinity jazz bass I played through my younger years has many scratches on the back of the body and the headstock has multiple dings,dents and marks on it from playing alot of shows and just kind of getting tossed around.
    Besides having to resolder the jack a few times it was a really solid bass.
    As far as having a "relic" look to it like a custom shop bass. No, it doesn't vaguely look like that. Even after 25 years.
    El_Charro and DJ Bebop like this.
  5. Datsgor

    Datsgor Supporting Member

    Jul 29, 2000
    East Bay, N. Ca.
    My '84 squier is beat up..dents, dings, scratches all over the thing but I still haven't worn through the finish.
  6. Texaspandj


    Feb 13, 2021
    Heart Of Texas
    New Basses definitely have much thicker finishes and will not show wear like vintage nitro finish Basses. Those old basses would wear after very few gigs.
    Faded and Chips in paint and finish are the main way new Basses age now. Ask me how I know.
    MobileHolmes, El_Charro and DJ Bebop like this.
  7. I have 1984 Ibanez that I played so much, so hard, i had to have it refretted twice. You have to look at it rather closely to see the age, like you can see some ruts where the strings ground against the fretboard, but ya you have to have your glasses on. The finish looks nearly new except for dents.
    El_Charro, Standalone and DJ Bebop like this.
  8. Polyurethane finish is as tough as hell. It won't budge. You can still let the bass get dirty, leave it out in sunlight so the UV ages the paint and dulls the fretboard (which you will also purposefully neglect to oil).

    However, those old really beat looking vintage basses were finished in nitrocellulose. That finish would break down under acid sweat and produced the wear you like.
  9. thewildest


    May 25, 2011
    Florida, USA
    New and worn (naturally) is what is often referred as an oxymoron.
    SLO Surfer and Doctor Morbius like this.
  10. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Do "road-worn" basses always get that way from playing-time, or are they sometimes not taken good care of?
  11. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    Sell it and get one with a laquer finish. They still make some models with it.

    Modern poly is pretty nuke proof.
    4SG, maxschrek, 96tbird and 4 others like this.
  12. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    To me its the way they were taken care of.
    I have a 78 StingRay that looks exactly as it did they day I bought it used 16 years ago. I have not put any further dings or wear on it, the original own did all of it. I used to have a near minty 69 Jazz that was still same exact near minty when I sold it, I also never dinged or scratched it in the years I had it.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2021 at 8:16 PM
    El_Charro likes this.
  13. GIBrat51

    GIBrat51 Innocent as the day is long Supporting Member

    I'd say... like any other bass, it just depends on where; how hard; and for how long you play it. So, if you want a for-real relic'd P-Bass? Better stop postin', and get to playin'...;)
    bigjames, El_Charro and The_Meatwagon like this.
  14. shadven

    shadven Twang-tastic Bass Player and Song Writer Supporting Member

    Dec 30, 2009
    Tampa, FL
    I rock, therefore I am.
    This is my 1963 P-Bass. Not beautiful to look at, but it has a story to tell. BD889469-F720-4172-83A5-AA3D185208C5.jpeg D9260C50-69E5-4BEB-8EC4-132483D614CE.jpeg
  15. How long have you owned it?
    gebass6 and El_Charro like this.
  16. For the win!

    Today's basses
    Chip, dent, scratch? Yup!
    Wear like the above? No!

  17. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    My 88 MM after a couple decades as a daily player and multiple tours. You can see some swirls if you zoom in.
  18. bigdaddybass12


    Feb 26, 2021
    Leave it at a elementary for a couple of weeks
    tzohn, wmmj, El_Charro and 2 others like this.
  19. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    I wore through a thick poly finish. It took about 700 gigs to do it. It was right over the bridge pickup where my thumb rested on my main player for a little over 3 years.
  20. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    My 87 Japanese Fender is beat to he//.
    It was dropped down a flight of concrete steps once.
    Poly doesn’t wear naturally or softly. It tends to chip out and leave deep hard edges around the chip.
    mb94952, BlueTalon and El_Charro like this.
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    Primary TB Assistant

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    Nov 29, 2021

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