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You players with vintage Fenders - what's the difference?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Skel, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. Skel


    Jun 19, 2005
    Boulder, Colorado
    Just wondering since I've never played a 60's Fender P or J bass, honestly what is the difference between one of these and a new one? I realize things like the graphite reinforced neck on the new ones, and things like S-1 switching, but I'd just like to know if the aged wood really makes a noticable differerence, whether the woods were better cuts back then, etc.

    Thanks - Skel
  2. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    There are those that love vintage instruments. Honestly, I don't get it. I am trying to sell a 75 vintage Pbass. It's worth a fair amount of money cause it's vintage.
    The truth is manufactering quality is so far superior these days a that it's not really fair. Every 60's and 70's Fender, the bridge and kluson tuners are crap. Every Fender bass I have ever played from that era, you able to shift the neck up and down because the routing on the neck pocket is so bad.
    The computer controled routing these days is so precision that you have to firmly press the neck on to the body. You almost don't need screws.
    If you are in love with the way the old pickups sound you can buy Duncan Antiquities which have "the" sound. Buy a modern bass and you are buying better quality manufactering and better hardware.
    The Fenders have always sounded great but now they are made with higher quality. IMO of coarse.
  3. bsullivan


    Dec 13, 2005
    Lansing, MI
    A great deal of it is similar to the "Jeep" thing. Some people get it, some people don't. To each their own.

    As for my '59 P-Bass, modern Fenders just can't touch it. However, there are plenty of "modern" instruments that my P-Bass isn't even in the same league with. It just depends on what measuring stick you are using.
  4. BassGreaser


    Aug 22, 2002
    Austin, TX
    bsullivan your Pbass looks exactly like mine.... body1. HS1.
  5. instigata


    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    thats sweet looking. who did the artwork?

    thats really cool looking.
  6. Wayner


    May 7, 2004
    Maryland, USA
    Not all vintage fenders are even remotely the same. I've played some absolute dogs, and I've played other 60's/70's jazz and p basses that sound as good as anything I've ever played.

    There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the reason some of those better vintage Fenders sound the way they do is because:

    a) they were constructed with better wood by chance or luck
    b) they've been played a lot -- the playing/aging process changes the wood, and to some people, an 'older' bass sounds better.

    But of course, some people like a newer hi-fi sound and aren't fond of the Fender sound. I like both! To each their own, though.
  7. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Well... that really sums up my feelings, experiences, etc. I've played lot's of older Fenders... some very nice, some dogs, none better than a high quality new instrument IMO.

    I kind of chuckle about the 70's J Bass thing... weren't these all the instruments we hated in the 70's because they were 'post CBS':confused:

    Anyway, nothing wrong with an older Fender... nothing special IMO either in general (in general is key.. I'm sure there are WONDERFUL ones, but not any more on a percentage basis than newer Fender style instruments like Laklands, Sadowsky's, etc.).

    Finally, I think some of the love of older Fenders comes from the direct 'older Fender/newer Fender' comparisons. There are some REALLY bad new Fenders hanging on music store walls out there. If those instruments are your comparison standard, the old ones are quite a bit better.

    All IMO....
  8. +1
  9. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Well in that case, maybe I'll ditch my hand made, non- kiln dried wood, super light/resonant, Brazillian rosewood board, cheapo briged, Nitro finished, Kluson equiped that has never come out of tune at a practice or show in all the years I've owned it, gigged hard, tried and true "P" bass for a new one.;) (Please note the sarcasm, and the general good spirit this has been written with :) :D ) I wonder if they'd give me a good trade in towads a new one??? ;)

    I guess you either "get it" or you don't. That's o.k. I wish all the people driving the price up on the vintage stuff would accept how good the new ones are so the price would come down on those old junkers. :)
  10. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    That's a good way of putting it... apples and oranges thing. +1
  11. sedan_dad

    sedan_dad Supporting Member

    Feb 5, 2006
    I liken it to blue jeans or a pair of Chuck Taylors. A new pair fit well,the material is thick ,they feel durable well constructed and solid.Almost sterile.
    A old pair feels broken in ,soft ,form fitting and very comfortable.Maybe thats why acid wash jeans are so popular now.
    My new Geddy plays great and feels solid as a rock.The '66 sounds different.It's louder and it has more bottom.It puts a big smile on my face
  12. jmpiwonka


    Jun 11, 2002
    you jsut have to play them.
    i was at a guitar store yesterday and picked up a nasty looking jazz bass. it was a very gross looking refinned bass, the neck was really worn the finish on the headstock was yellowed, the label was almost worn off...it had dots on the neck and binding and the fretboard wood was super dark looking, i thought hmm, 1700 bucks, thats kinda steep, the serial plate was 389*** i think.

    it had tons of sustain, no dead spot on the C on the g string, and it played awesome.....i didn't plug it in though i was just playing it acoustically.

    it is an individiual instrument basis. it could've sounded like crap once i plugged it or it could've been awesome.
    i haven't really played any new basses that feel like an old bass though....that's the deal, i don't like active elctronics either. it's just personal preference.
  13. bsullivan


    Dec 13, 2005
    Lansing, MI
    White/Tort my favorite non-natural combo. :)
  14. bsullivan


    Dec 13, 2005
    Lansing, MI

    I checked at Celinder after seeing the name in your sig. I'd never heard of them.

    After hearing some of the clips on their site.....just damn! I still think it's a little "apples and organges" but I can certainly understand why someone would pony up for a new instrument like that instead on some insane search for the "right" vintage piece.
  15. KJung

    KJung Supporting Member

    Thanks back at you!

    They are really nice basses, and Chris seems to almost religiously try to cop the Fender vibe in a new high end instrument (versus, for example, the Sadowsky thing, which is meant to be a 'Fender influenced modern update of a J BAss' IMO). The Update model that I have is meant to mirror those hot rodded 70's J's that a lot of us had back then... replacing the Fender bridge with the Badass stuff, putting a preamp in, etc. His vintage and classic models attempt to be closer to a 60's style instrument that Leo might be making today if he was around and making P or J basses by hand in his own shop. They are very nice!
  16. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    First of all, there are so many threads on various aspects of vintage basses, that I doubt we can do much more than just turn over the same stuff here. A search would probably address most of the inital post's questions.

    All I can reiterate are a few points:

    Musical instruments, particularly older ones have to be taken one at a time. Blanket statements are pretty useless.

    In favor of the 60 - 66 era instruments:
    The nitro has good permeability to moisture and allows the wood to "age" in a natural way that can produce very light instruments.

    The pre-CBS pups have a different impedance than post CBS; this can be measured and heard. The problem here is that most pup producers wind to a resistance, but don't measure the inductance. Leo worked on them until with his materials and methods they had a certain sound. Leo had that balance of ear, experimentation, and economy that just produced great results. Later changes were mainly made on economy and sounding good enough.

    The early J necks are either flimsy or supple, depending on your point of view, which has a dramatic effect on the acoustics of the instrument. For instruments with no dead spots, this was a great deal.

    These things tend to endear the instrument to the player.

    However, the Custom Shop is now producing "Reliced" (I hate that term) instruments which have most of the aforementioned qualities pretty well nailed. Plus there are other makers producing highly refined versions of everything out there. Its another crummy day in paradise.

    IMO, some of the early Fenders are excellent; but, there are certainly other choices. Also, the market setting prices for early J's at close to $40K now has clearly got to be a collector thing. I'd go find a decent Italian upright way before even looking at something like that. The collectors can have it. We now have other options.

    That said, I'm fortunate to have my '62 that came out of a Flint, MI pawn shop for $275. It's a gem.
  17. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    Close to $40K for a early 60's "J" ??? Have they really gotten to be that expensive??
  18. i have never really played a vintage bass, but i think a good portion of it is vibe. I think that a 70s jazz bas would really have a cool vibe to it, after you imagine all that it's been through, maybe all the gigs it's seen, stuff like that...i know that i would probably approach it that way if i ever saw a vintage bass...
  19. bucephylus

    bucephylus Supporting Member Commercial User

    Aug 18, 2002
    General Manager TecPadz LLC
    That seems to be about the current upper end for the really mint stackers, then strings out to the lower teens for the non-refins. Supply and demand. But, the way I think about it, that is the price range for pretty decent uprights; but that's just me.

    My '62 is a re-fin, and I'm perfectly happy with that. Good thing.
  20. savit260


    Mar 6, 2006
    YIKES!! Didn't know they had got to be that pricey. I almost had a stroke when I saw a '64 "P" missing its case and covers,& thumbrest with a $6999 asking price. Maybe that wasn't such a bad deal! Crazy I know similar vintage "J"s will always fetch more than a "P" but agian YIKES!

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