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Help Identify Two Old Japan Basses


sarakisof
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Hello everyone, another MIJ identification nightmare thread.

Found two unbranded basses for little money the other day. The pics are taken from mate's dad so don't expect much, those are the only ones i have for now.

 

Bass #1: No Name Jazz bass, Natural finish, probably Japan 70s, Maxon pickups, covers and thumb rest are missing. Factory?  Maybe headstock logo has been erased? Looks like there us a little slight discoloration there or it's the pic. Don't want to bother my friend's dad more with that, so i have to wait still i get it in my hands. 🤣

 

Bass #2: No Name P bass, MIJ, probably early 80s Lawsuit (I'm not saying the three words 😂) in pretty decent condition in its hard case. For this one i found one and only result identical to my bass in the whole internet world. It's an old sold item from a UK seller / luthier on Reverb. 

https://reverb.com/item/15045310-vintage-lawsuit-p-bass-1981-made-in-japan-faded-dirty-blonde-with-hard-case

It's the same as mine, missing covers. I don't think its a Hondo or Vester like mentioned there. What do you think guys?

Any help would be appreciated. 🙂

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Edited by sarakisof
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33 minutes ago, Pea Turgh said:

The jazz looks home made.  I don’t like it!

The controls might have been modified, but the rest of it looks right for an early 70s MIJ copy. Normally those pickups would be hidden under the ashtrays so you wouldn't know that they weren't Fender style J- pickups.

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3 hours ago, Geek99 said:

@Bassassin I think you may know the answer to this 

 

I like the look of the second One - looks like my old musima rather than Japanese 

I know a bit but I can't guarantee it'll clarify much!

The J copy's Korean & made by Samick The identifiers are the square heel, pressed backplate tuners & narrow unstamped neckplate, which aren't features you'll find on an MIJ Jazz. The control cover's a bit of an odd shape but don't remember seeing that before, actually looks like a home-made replacement. The pickups are the same design as the MIJ Maxons but either copies or (more likely) licensed. They'll be plain on the back, rather than embossed & date-stamped, and in my experience a fair bit hotter than the Maxon versions. Despite the 8 poles, these are single-coil units.

Here's a very similar Hondo-branded 70s Samick J copy. Most of the details are identical.

The P's a bit more tricky. I have frequently bemoaned the fact that the more accurate the copy, the harder it is to pin an ID on - and this is a perfect example. Give it a brand name and we might have a bit more to go on, but no-names are a right bugger! The neckplate with its lower-half stamp was consistently used by Fujigen, but occasionally by Kasuga & Moridaira on later instruments. There's also an as-yet unidentified manufacturer of various nice quality off-brands that used these. Any pics of the back of the headstock? Would be interested in seeing the tuners.

I'm tempted to cop right out and pin this one on Matsumoto Gakki Seizou Kumiai, AKA the Matsumoto Musical Instrument Manufacturer's Association, a loose alliance of smaller woodshops & parts manufacturers who broadly collaborated building off-brand & unbranded low & midrange instruments. But that would be basically saying "dunno, mate". :D

Did I mention that I probably wouldn't be much help?

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Hehe thank you guys, hope things turn more clear when receive them. I will keep you updated but they will take time to land here as my friends will visit me only by end of February due to covid limitations.

I am really anxious to see what is under those monsters!

Any other info, clue or anything is welcome!

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While waiting for the first bass to come here, i keep digging trying to solve the mystery.

@Bassassin  Look to what i have found. Johnny Guitar. They share common square heels, narrow backplate (just a sticker that can easily have gone away), pseudo-Maxon pups, tuners etc.

https://best-vintage-guitars.de/johnny_guitar_jazz_bass.html

A pic from another Johnny Guitar bass and then a No Name Korean 70s (Hondo Samick). Now that i see it, due to saddle and no name in headstock, it's more close to the second one 😛

https://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=42&p=1511787

@Bassassin thank you for your great info on old beauties so far. If you are into those things like me, it's a pleasure reading your posts. Love digging for infos and help too on those pieces of history, more arms on the wheels !

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Edited by sarakisof
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Thanks - and great detective work!

For anyone with a passing interest in this stuff, the 'sold' gallery at https://best-vintage-guitars.de/sold.html is a great resource for comparisons, ID and (usually) accurate basic age/manufacturer info. The galleries for individual instruments are stunningly detailed too - an indispensible bookmark if you have any interest in old MIK/MIJ stuff.

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Yes, true story.  I think this thread has way more to go. Will keep updating when receive and restore them.

About bridge n pups covers, do you think something like that would fit?

What about metal material, should i look for a certain kind (chrome, zinc etc) to match the original? What metal did they use back then?

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Edited by sarakisof
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You'll want Jazz bass specific covers - those are for a Precision. The bridge cover needs to be long enough to cover the pickup, and the neck unit is a little narrower as it doesn't have to cover a split pickup.

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5 hours ago, sarakisof said:

I see. I will probably go for just a long J bridge cover and leave neck pup as is. Or if you have any links / suggestions to share, would be welcomed.

Quick Ebay search brings up plenty from sellers in China. You might have to wait a week or two but they're not exactly expensive!

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/JB-Jazz-Bass-Guitar-Bridge-Pickup-Cover-Protector-Silver-Plated/253110888255

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On 16/02/2021 at 12:01, Bassassin said:

Thanks - and great detective work!

For anyone with a passing interest in this stuff, the 'sold' gallery at https://best-vintage-guitars.de/sold.html is a great resource for comparisons, ID and (usually) accurate basic age/manufacturer info. The galleries for individual instruments are stunningly detailed too - an indispensible bookmark if you have any interest in old MIK/MIJ stuff.

Thanks for linking that site, lots of great info/guitar porn. 

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I am back. Are you ready for a long  extended report ?

So, the first natural bass just landed three days agoI. As expected, it's a Korean Hondo II HJB-2N or Johnny Guitar (the same Samick Hondo HJB-2N model exported in Europe). And as i was guessing, it's not a No Name one, remember my first post when i was saying that the headstock seemed from the pics a bit discoloured? I was true. It's pretty hard from the scratch to tell the brand, but i think it was saying Hondo II there. ☺️ What do you think, Hondo II or Johnny Guitar in a circle?

The bass was pretty dirty, but it is aged very well. After a full cleaning process, restoration and setup it plays like butter, with lovely oldish tone. 😍 

If you look and zoom carefully to before - after pics it's like day and night. I removed rust from each every screw using white vinegar, baking soda and Dremel tool, polished hardware with microfiber cloth and Silvo polish, frets using nail buffer, cleaned wood, fretboard and whole thing with damp cloth. Also removed old grease and dirt from tuners, polished, regreased and reoiled with vaseline and light parafin oil when needed. Neck was straight like sword and rod worked from first time. I just made the appropriate little truss rod adjustment by turning a bit clockwise when doing setup for 0.40-0.45 7th fret relief. Low nice action as i prefer it and left intonation for today. This, will probably be a bit hard to do due to double saddle, but will see. Worst case scenario, you must learn to live with things like that when it is about those old beauties. 😁 

Electronics: when i got it, neck pup and tone pot were completely dead. Turned out to be a broken solder connection on the neck switch leg and a completely missing tone cap! This must something to do with the replacement handmade control plate that previous owner had done. Someone messed things up in there while replacing the old plate. And could also explain the low price (almost free) i gave the instrument for, as was listed as "not working item".🤣 I resoldered the neck pup broken wire connection, searched internet for pics on what caps those Hondos were using and added an old NOS Philips yummy tropical fish 47nF cap i had laying around from a previous Philicorda organ restoration! Cleaned all contacts with isopropyl and sprayed pots with Teslanol T6 for life.

Body: Some kind of ash or NATO wood (accord. to Samick wiki site). 3 pieces of solid nice wood. A bit in the heavy side, the whole bass weights about 4,9kgs. 

Neck: Maple, maple fretboard. Nice frets, already rounded (no work needed), zero buzzing at all, easy truss setup that stays solid after strings put on, really dig it.

Tuners: Seems like they suffered in the past, not the greatest ever, but do their job perfectly. 

Pups: As the master @Bassassin said, Maxon licenced, unbranded, but comparing with original ones, their specs and measurements online, they must be Maxon's, not just copies. Pretty hot, punchy, but oldish moody groovy sound. Measured about 10.4K and 10.6K. Pseudo humpbacks but single coils, like Maxon's should be.

Nut: Used an old brass one, don't think it's original, probably added by previous owner. Cannot say i like it too much, gives a metallic tone that my buddy another bassist found awesome for slappy playing. As I'm not that slappy guy, i will change it anyway lol. 

Have also ordered from ebay new bridge and pup covers, control plate, thumb rest and truss rod cover.

As you can imagine, i really really really already love this thing, big ups to everyone, Peace.

PS. More pics to come up.

 

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Edited by sarakisof
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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

Good news guys, the second (uknown MIJ cream one) bass just arrived. Looks and feels nice. 

Just some things that make me worry a bit. I had little output with huge buzz, so i opened up the thing to see what's going on under pickguard. Wire from vol to tone pot was broken and actual wire was missing. Only wire endings on the two solder spots was there, like the wire was cut. That's a pretty easy fix for me indeed, but all those made me wonder if anyone was there before me and messed things up. (Usually, in a broken wire situation, you just find the cut wire there, next to the solder spot...).

Then i realised that comparing to the other same model bass i had found online in my previous posts, the pickup screws in mine were more flat-head - modern type and not the old oval-head style ones. The base seems like old brass one-piece vintage style. No markings, writings anywhere. Also look at the pickup wires, one wire that comes from pickup windings inside has the lettering "CSA TR-64" which i guess is a modern type hook up wire, I don't think it comes from 1981. So, maybe pups have been replaced from previous owner and he messed things up with pots? And they left the brass base untouched? Pots are "Noble" branded.

Wish i could find someone with same model to compare ohms measurements.

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Edited by sarakisof
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Posted (edited)

Me too, that's why i care mostly about it. I found another on on Reverb, again from UK.

https://reverb.com/item/20924101-1981-made-in-japan-precision-p-bass-purple-lawsuit-greco-ibanez-hondo-vester

Any NoName MIJ with this same label serial number "No. 81XXXX" i have found, comes from UK. I believe there is a good chance someone here knows someone else that owns one. I would be really glad to see if those pups are original.

 

Edited by sarakisof
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It's an unbranded Moridaira. This type of silver sticker s/n is exclusive to Moridaira. It's by no means UK exclusive.

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It's probably early-mid 80s, but it's not 1981, regardless of the numbering. Moridaira serials seem to be 5 or 6 digit, the vast majority are like this - 6-dgit beginning with 8. It's possible they are dateable and that the 8 is the decade (a few 5-figure 7 prefixes have turned up) but the second digit's not the year - there's an example that was bought new in 1984 which starts 86, and the purchaser (yeah, it was me) didn't have a DeLorean at the time...

Anyway - these are good. Moridaira is the factory that built MIJ Hohner, their own Morris & HS Anderson brands, Bill Lawrence, MIJ Lotus - and Prince's MadCat Telecaster.

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@Bassassin Yes, i miswrote it. By saying "comes from UK" i was meaning "the sellers on Reverb ads selling those No. 81XXXX come mostly from UK", not the instruments 😁

Thanks for Moridaira indication, didn't know about those.

After some easy soldering back broken wire connection and replacing old rusty "Japan" out jack (i did my best to fix it but was totally oxidized and jack's sleeve didn't make contact at all)  with a new Switchcraft one this beauty came to life again revealing its magical world!

My only wondering, is if those pickups are Japan originals...

 

 

 

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Of course - I wondered if you'd thought the stickers meant they were UK market exclusive rather than made here!

Quite likely the pickups are original - it doesn't look like the bass has been played all that much, never mind tampered with.

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Posted (edited)

Just a last question that could help a bit. @Bassassin: Do you remember what was the pups ohm reading  in your 1984 bass?  Or what are the average resistance for those Moridaira's, are they in the 8-10K or 10-12K plus range?  I got 8.5Kohm and 8.6Kohm in mine.

I get a sweeeet tone out of this beauty. Was jamming about 4 hours non stop yesterday night. No left hand pain at all, yeah!

Thanks everyone for helping in this long thread so far. One love.

Edited by sarakisof
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