Friday, December 24, 2010

1963 Fender Jazz Bass

Feliz na blah blah!

Today we are looking at the holy grail of electric basses: a 1963 Fender Jazz Bass. As with all pre-CBS buyout basses, it is a collector’s dream, but it is also a fabulous playing and sounding bass.

I bought this in the late 80’s from Albert Molinaro at his Hollywood store for what seemed like a lot of money (at the time), but it was totally worth every penny. During that time, I never had to change or repair anything, other than replacing the strings and adjusting the truss rod periodically.

As far as I could tell, it is all original. The finish is worn, and I could never get a straight answer from anybody (even vintage dealers) about whether it had been refinished. The finish is completely worn off the back of the neck. The tortoise shell guard has shrunk a little, but has no cracks and still look nice.

The frets show a little wear but have not been replaced, and it even survived the 70’s without having a brass nut installed. Amazing! The end of the fingerboard at the body has eroded a bit, maybe from finger oil? I have not seen anything quite like it before.

The hardware is also all original, and it even came with the pickup and bridge covers. A couple of the reverse tuners are a little bent, but I never had any trouble with them. The spiral saddle is extra cool, IMO.

The electronics are all original, with 30A-6340 dated potentiometers, and all original cloth wiring and solder joints, except for one ground wire that appears to have been changed.

It plays beautifully. It is pretty light (8 pounds, 8 ounces), and the neck is perfectly broken in. The action is low, and there is no buzzing at all. The fretboard stayed pretty flat after all of those years.

It also sounds incredible. The pickups might be getting a tad microphonic, but it has such a warm tone that it helps you understand why people are willing to pay so much for these basses.

And, that is why it is not around anymore. I was made an offer I could not refuse. And, honestly, for the money it is not exponentially better than other good quality jazz basses out there, so I could justify letting it go. Maybe if I was a professional player, it would be different.

I still have a soft spot in my heart for it, and think about it whenever I am playing my 62 re-issue.


p.s. Happy 17th anniversary to my Lisa!


  1. I have the EXACT model. All original.
    What did you get for yours?