Thinking of buying a vintage bass? Read this first!
There are many different ways to pursue the purchase of a vintage bass: traditional retail sales, trade-show sales, online auctions, online private-party and dealer purchases, and face-to-face private purchases. In this two-part column, I’ll provide information to help you choose the right bass, make the purchase go as smoothly as possible, avoid common mistakes, and stay out of trouble. This is supposed to be fun, but you worked really hard for your money and need to have peace of mind.
Let’s start from the top down. You’re going to buy a vintage bass, and you want to be as successful as possible. These rules apply primarily to face-time buys. Being in music retail for over 30 years, I’ve seen it all and I’ve heard it all from other clients and fellow dealers. These items are intended to help you, the client. If a dealer blows his own toes off in a transaction, I’m not too worried.
Buying a vintage bass is a purchase of passion. Often, it falls into the spur-of-the-moment transaction category, also known as the age-old, “I like this better than the one I have” G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) purchase. These are the purchases that can land you in hot water—you end up selling one to pay for another, and it results in a bass being sold short. Are you ready to shop?
An old bass, like an old car or an old radio, will not have a warranty and will be devalued if it has the wrong components, problems, or issues. Knowledge is power! Read up on my columns dealing with components and others issues. Take a knowledgeable friend with you (more on this later).
Here are some general rules I give my clients. It may cost me a sale, but I will get a referral.
1. The bass you buy today is the bass you’ll sell in the proverbial tomorrow. If something is distracting or disturbing to you regarding the bass, it will do the same to the next purchaser.
2. You cannot learn to love. If the bass does not light you up at test drive time, it will not light you up after purchase. If it’s not lighting you up at purchase time, it’s not going to light you up at gig time. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with the bass; it’s just not for you.
3. Problems do not fix themselves. Don’t get me wrong—a tweak of the truss rod is a common event, especially during change of seasons. A scratchy pot happens. But a bass that sounds bad, plays horribly, or has structural issues will not correct itself. Don’t talk yourself into a purchase. As a trained professional, I can determine what will “adjust out” 99 percent of the time. A vintage bass in my shop must be retail presentable before it ever hits the sales floor.
4. All vintage basses are not the same—even those in the same product line. You just played your friend’s early-1963 Precision with the wide ’n’ flat neck, so you bought a late ’63. Guess what? Yours has the rounded C neck.
5. Do not shoot first and ask questions later. This will cost you round-trip shipping and a restocking fee.
Time to Kick the Tires
When determining if a bass is for you, the test drive shouldn’t take any longer than five minutes, tops. The vast majority of pro-level players and collectors can tell in 30 seconds if a bass is for them. If I get past the first minutes of a test drive and I still have the bass in hand, odds are I’m going to buy it. I have guys who come in and play a bass for hours and they’re still not sure. At this point, the test drive is over. Make your decision. Playing another three hours will not help. The average in-hand tryout time for a typical client is roughly 20–30 minutes. If you’re respectful with your volume and “sprawl space,” odds are you can play all day.
Leave your L.O.V.E.R. (LOcal Vintage ExpeRt) at home. I am a firm advocate of bringing a friend or a knowledgeable expert along. It aids in peace of mind and satisfaction with your purchase. The problem that every dealer has seen and every collector and forum reader knows about is the L.O.V.E.R. Make sure your second really knows what they’re doing. I have seen these folks make absolute fools of themselves with wrong advice, wrong pricing information, wrong analysis—just wrecking deals and reeking havoc for purchasers. Years ago, I saw the aftermath of a L.O.V.E.R. who told a guy that his two Fender 1963 Jazz basses had been refinished, so it was okay to refinish them to a color he liked. I sold the guy the two basses from a shop I worked at during that time, and they were very rare custom-color basses, which he stripped and ruined. Just because someone thinks he’s an expert does not mean he is. Wrong “expert” advice will cost you.
Next month, I’ll share some of the dealer’s perspective. Until then, drop the gig bag and bring the cannoli.
Kevin Borden has been a bass player since 1975 and is currently the principle and co-owner, with “Dr.” Ben Sopranzetti, of Kebo’s Bass Works: kebosbassworks.com. He can be reached at: Kebobass@yahoo.com. Feel free to call him KeBo.
Kick off the holiday season by shopping for the guitar player in your life at Guitar Center! Now through December 24th 2022, save on exclusive instruments, accessories, apparel, and more with hundreds of items at their lowest prices of the year.
We’ve compiled this year’s best deals in the 2022 Holiday Gift Guide presented by Guitar Center.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses.
DiMarzio, Inc. announces the release of the Relentless P (DP299), the Relentless J Bridge (DP301), Relentless J Neck (DP300), and the Relentless J Pair (DP302) for 4 string basses. The new Relentless P and Relentless J series pickups feature the Relentless cover designed in collaboration with Billy Sheehan.
As with the Relentless pickups, we removed all the hard edges from the standard P Bass and standard J Basspickups, and added an arch to the top of the pickups to bring the sensing coils and pole pieces closer to the strings. These improvements increase the dynamic range and make active circuitry unnecessary.
The Relentless P and Relentless J pickups incorporate Neodymium magnets and produce 70 percent more output than traditional passive pickups, and they’re dead quiet due to the incorporation of metal covers and foil-shielded cables. To dial in (or fine-tune) the individual string output, the Relentless P and Relentless J include eight adjustable pole pieces. These pickups also have a broad magnetic field so you can even bend notes without volume dropout.
DiMarzio’s extra shielding makes the Relentless P and Relentless J better for both recording and stage performances. We’ve mounted them onto robust .09375” thick circuit board base plates to eliminate the annoying protruding mounting screws — ultimately creating a more comfortable and consistent foundation to rest your fingers on.
The new Relentless P steps beyond the traditional P-Bass sound and can only be described as massive. It has more of everything: more volume, beefier lows, a growling midrange, and crispy highs with better individual string definition.
The Relentless J incorporates a new invention, (patent pending) parallelogram-shaped coils, offering an expanded mid-range punch, snappy highs, precise lows, and a new dimension to the sound of the Relentless series pickups.
Relentless P and Relentless J pickups will breathe new life into any bass, increase playability, and work well for any style of music from Motown to metal.
DiMarzio’s Relentless P, Relentless J Bridge, Relentless J Neck, and Relentless J pair are made in the U.S.A. and may now be ordered for immediate delivery.
Suggested List Price for the Relentless P is $169.00 (MAP $119.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Bridge and Relentless J neck is $155.00 (MAP $109.99).
Suggested List Price for the Relentless J Pair is $296.00 (MAP 209.99).
For more information, please visit our website at dimarzio.com.
Mystery Stocking is coming soon! Sign up for PG Perks below so you don't miss it.
Sign up for PG Perks on the form below to make sure you don't miss the launch announcement!
About Mystery Stocking
Each year, Premier Guitar likes to put out these mystery boxes as a part of bringing some fun to the holiday season. Remember, this is supposed to be a fun holiday treat! If the contents of this box will ruin your holiday, deplete the last of your bank account, or end your ability to see the good in humanity, it may not be for you.
- This year's Mystery Stocking will cost $44.95. ($39.95 + $5 Flat shipping)
- Each box will be guaranteed to contain $40 or more in value.
- US only. (Sorry World.)
- Make sure your shipping address is correct.
- Have your credit card ready to go before you refresh the page. Paypal is not available. Autofill may not fill in your information.
- There will be NO REFUNDS given.
- There has been a huge demand for these in the past. We really did sell out in less than 4 minutes last year. When they are gone, they are gone.
- One per household, one per person.
Q: What's in the Mystery Stocking?
A: It wouldn't be much of a surprise if we told you, now would it?
Q: Will I definitely get my money worth?
Q: Can I return it if I don't like it?
A: Nope. All sales final.
Q: What if I live outside the US?
A: Sorry, US only.
Q. How much is it?
A. $39.95 Plus $5 shipping
Q. When will it ship?
A. On or before December 10, 2022.
Q. What form of payment do you accept?
A. Credit cards only. Sorry, no Paypal for this.
Q. Can I ship to a different location than my billing address?
Q. I tried last year and didn't get one. Will I get one this year?
A. There is an overwhelming demand for Mystery Stocking. Be sure you have a fast internet connection and be ready when they go on sale. Last year we sold out in 3 min 33 seconds.
Q. I want to buy 5. How can I buy 5?
A. You can't. This year, we're limiting to one per household, so more people can get in on the fun!
Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
Origin Effects introduce the new M-EQ DRIVER mid booster & drive pedal. Based on a vintage Pultec studio EQ, this unique pedal offers a range of mid-focused tones, from a subtle mid boost to thick, resonant overdrive. Featuring the Adaptive Circuitry recently introduced on their Halcyon Green Overdrive, Origin Effects have brought us a pedal with a character all of its own and a new flavor of drive.
A choice of three mid-range frequencies ensures that you can boost just the right part of your guitar signal and, when pushed harder, can elicit a range of saturation from a classic “mid-hump” overdrive to fierce “cocked wah” distortion. Thanks to the Adaptive Circuitry, the high-end roll-off of the Cut control is reduced as the pedal cleans up. This allows for a smooth transition from warm overdrive to bright clean tones in response to playing dynamics or guitar volume knob changes.
Introducing... M-EQ DRIVER || Mid Booster & Drive
Built-in the UK to the highest standards, the M-EQ DRIVER continues the Origin Effects tradition of vintage, studio-inspired tones in modern guitar pedals. The Origin Effects M-EQ DRIVER is available now from Origin Effects dealers worldwide.
RRP: 259 GBP (Inc VAT) / 319 USD (Ex TAX)
For more information, please visit origineffects.com.