Your opinion on a 77-78 P Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Nate Dogg 1, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    I recently got this super cool 77-78 bass from the original owner.

    Apparently, the bass was left in storage and the finish got stuck to the lining of the original case. There are a series of rough patches around the bass particularly on the back side. I’m wonder what, if anything, I should do with the finish? I was half thinking for trying some really, really light sanding on the rough patches, just to smooth the finish out a bit. I’m sure someone here will have a much more informed opinion.

    Also, I’m wondering about the darker colored 5th fret, anyone seen this before?

    I'm having trouble posting pic, I'll keep trying.
  2. king_biscuit


    May 21, 2006
    Leave the finish as is, and post a few pics please.
  3. michael_atw


    Feb 28, 2009
    Jamestown, NY
    Part of the reason is because those late 70's Fenders had an inherent problem with their finishes.
  4. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    Pics of 77-78 P Bass

    Attached Files:

  5. Batmensch


    Jul 4, 2010
    Media, PA.
    I had a '78 p-bass with a natural finish, on the center back, there was a patch where the finish softened to the point where you could scrape it away with a fingernail. I thought I had spilled something on it (Yukon Jack?) that had partially dissolved it, but that didn't seem right to me (it was the only explanantion I could think of at the time.). Interesting to find out it might have been something inherent in late 70's Fenders.
  6. Just leave the finish. No idea about the 5th fret, though the neck looks authentic with the darkened headstock. That happened because they still sprayed the front with nitro whilst the rest of the neck was poly finished
  7. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    I'm inclined to leave the finish, but I'm wondering what a little sanding would do? I Just kind of want to smooth it out a bit, it seems like the finish is really thick and shaving a thin layer wouldn't mess with it too much.
  8. Someone selling a late 70's early 80's era Precision bass on the classifieds a few years back had that exact same thing with the dark fret area around the 5th fret. For a second I thought maybe this was the same bass just refinished. So it's weird but not the first time I have seen it. That finish looks like sienna burst maybe? That would make the bass an early 80's model though. Have you had it apart at all to see the dates on it?
  9. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    I really like the 5th fret discolored. The lady I got it from said it came that way. She included the original owners manual and a product check-list tag-thing from the factory.
  10. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    Yeah, I'm thinking it's sienna burst as well. Could be 80's? I got the date from the Fender website based on the headstock serial number - S898922
  11. The S8 prefix was used up until about 1983 (with others in between too). Confusing I know.
  12. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    Did the original case have a strap over the neck at the 5th perhaps? I'm sure you could smooth the back considerably with some buffing..I'd try that before the sandpaper
  13. Nate Dogg 1

    Nate Dogg 1

    Oct 10, 2011
    Funkinggroovin, I hadn't thought of buffing it- what would you use to buff it with?

    No strap over the neck, she said it came that way.
  14. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    Nice bass! I would leave it alone rough finish and all and play that sucker.
  15. bass71


    Nov 18, 2007
    Rub it down gently with 2000 wet and dry paper....wet. Then repolish using an auto paint cutting compound. All auto shops sell it in bottles, its like a very fine liquid sand.

    You wont damage those late 70's poly finishes, its almost glass hard.
  16. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Washington, Utah
    John K Custom Basses
    IMO, she must be mistaken since there's no way that the neck came that way with the discolored 5th fret. fender never would have released it that way, and even if they did (which i don't believe that they would) the dealer would've sent it back.

    if you were to try and smooth the body's finish, i'd use super fine micro mesh and then buff it on a buffing wheel.
  17. funkingroovin

    funkingroovin Conquering A-D-D,and all the other notes as well!

    Apr 19, 2009
    Well,I'd search the luthier forum here for the opinion of those in the know..Myself,I'm the finish guy at a custom cabinet shop,and I've seen this type of thing on Gramma's china cabinet that had a doily sitting on it for 40yrs,and have had to buff the thread pattern out. At the shop,it's the orbital sander/buffing disc/DuPont extra-fine buffing compound,but I'm sure there's an instrument-specific compound out there..
  18. mikeswals

    mikeswals Supporting Member

    Nov 18, 2002
    Seattle / Tacoma
    As far as the must have had a chunk of the original clear flake off, then to me it looks like someone recoated it with a shellac.

    Sienna, but still has the chrome covers and thumbrest makes me believe this is a 1980 bass.
  19. jaywa


    May 5, 2008
    Iowa City, IA
    JMO but I think that finish is gorgeous as-is.

    The 5th fret, yeah that's a little wack but with the discolored headstock you've almost got a matching body/headstock thing going which is super cool.

    FWIW I have a 78 P in black and yeah, the finishes they used in that era are total crap. But mine still gets compliments even with all the hazing, chipping and checking.
  20. GeneralElectric


    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    A rotary buffer is kind of expensive. An orbital is a lot cheaper. Get some pads and buffing compound. I've used the same compound that funkingroovin uses when I do lacquer work on stuff. I think use some mequier's and a microfibre cloth to finish.

    I had a 78 P where the finish had gone soft. If it wasn't for the sienna burst, I would've thought that someone had refinished this at home and did a lousy job of it.

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