Monday, May 12, 2008

Fender Jazz Bass

If you are a regular reader of The Ones That Got Away, you know that I frequent the Oceanside Swap Meet when I have a few extra bucks in my pocket. I seem to have a knack for finding cheap basses there and today's entry is yet another one of those. I have a certain pattern I always follow when I walk in...I walk through the gate and make a sharp right and head directly for a particular aisle that a couple of regular sellers are always on who seem to find guitars and other instruments week in and week out. Then, once I've seen what they've got, I head to the very back of the swap meet and work my way to the front, row by row. That way I don't miss a thing and, maybe if I start at the back, I'll get to a particular instrument before someone else who started at the front. Hey, it's an iffy theory at best, but I seem to have scored more than once on the back row.

That's exactly where I found this hidden gem...the back row of the swap meet. A very nice gentleman who spoke very little English was selling all kinds of home stuff, clothing, tools, and this bass. It wasn't pretty just sitting there on a sheet with no case or gig bag, and I wasn't entirely sure what was original and what wasn't. In fact, the only thing I was pretty sure of was the neck. It was from a Mexican made Fender Jazz Bass. That much I know. The body shape looked generally like a Jazz Bass, but being primarily a guitar player, I wasn't sure enough to be positive. The bridge looked to be a Badass Bridge and the pickup looked like someone melted it into place. The controls were all f*$#ed up looking and there was no pick guard. Still, there was something interesting about this bass.

I asked the man how much and he said $50. I said $30. He said $45 and I countered at $40. ¡Trato!

Anyway, it was mine and I was pretty pleased, but curious if it was going to work when I got home. I walked in the door and fired up the Music Man amp I had at the time and sure enough it was working great. The next thing that went through my head was that it was my good friend and bandmate Rob's birthday. I wonder...what I should get him? Maybe the bass. Why not?

I spent a little time cleaning it up...gave it a good polish and found a Quiksilver sticker of a hand making the rock'n'roll sign. I cut it out and put it on under the strings for some reason and pronounced it a cool looking bass. I put it back in the car and drove on over to Rob's and walked in and said "Happy Birthday." He was really happy as he had been thinking about getting a bass to record with. I'm definitely of the opinion that you don't need a great bass for home recordings if you aren't a bass player. A nice old Memphis copy will do or a decent Squier set up properly is fine. That's what I've got now and it's absolutely fine for what I'm doing. I usually just have a real bass player rerecord the track anyway.

Rob decided to take the bass in to his guitar tech and see what he thought. They decided that a really nice pickup would really make this thing sing, so Rob ended up dropping over $200 putting a new pickup in it and getting it all set up. Seems like a lot, but when it's all said and done, $240 for a great bass is a bargain. And that's what this thing turned out to be...a GREAT bass. I still don't know what's original and one seems to be able to say with complete certainty. But literally EVERYONE who plays this bass loves it. It sounds fantastic and plays great.

So, what can sometimes look like a piece of crap mutt might end up being your axe of choice. If it feels good and it sounds good, who cares about the rest?

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