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2 minutes ago, uncle psychosis said:

What logical reason would tell anyone that an instrument made in a factory in the sixties (or even by a "master craftsman") would be any better than any high end modern bass, built with the benefit of an additional 70+ years of understanding? 

Because we’ve cut down all the old growth forests and don’t tend to let wood season naturally for as long any more? 
that’s changed

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2 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

Because we’ve cut down all the old growth forests and don’t tend to let wood season naturally for as long any more? 
that’s changed

People make stringed instruments out of plastic, resin, even concrete and they all sound good. People completely overstate the importance of body material on electric instruments. 

 

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30 minutes ago, uncle psychosis said:

People make stringed instruments out of plastic, resin, even concrete and they all sound good. People completely overstate the importance of body material on electric instruments. 

 

You asked for a logical reason - not logical and undebatable 

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49 minutes ago, LukeFRC said:

Because we’ve cut down all the old growth forests and don’t tend to let wood season naturally for as long any more? 
that’s changed

Got any source material for that? How old was a tree in a 63 Jazz before it was cut down?

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1 hour ago, uncle psychosis said:

Musical instruments must be one of the only "technologies" out there that have people genuinely trying to argue that we've got worse at building over the years. 

What logical reason would tell anyone that an instrument made in a factory in the sixties (or even by a "master craftsman") would be any better than any high end modern bass, built with the benefit of an additional 70+ years of understanding? 

Vintage instruments are cool as anything. They have mojo. I get it. Some of them are really very good indeed. But if you don't really care about history, mojo, or collectibility then the price tag is unjustifiable. The value comes from rarity, not from intrinsic quality.  

 

You've hit the nail on the head there.

Edited by Misdee
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I bought mine above all cos it was the bass I liked most in the shop at the time - it wasn't even that ancient then!

I remember there was another which looked indentical, but was a plank.

Mine wasn't bought as a vintage collectible - it's a nice instrument, which just happens to be old now.

Hence my comment that i wouldn't go out of my way to get another vintage instrument for its own sake. I've played some lovely modern basses which I'd have happily bought if I'd missed out on my old one.

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42 minutes ago, bassbiscuits said:

Mine wasn't bought as a vintage collectible - it's a nice instrument, which just happens to be old now.

Hence my comment that i wouldn't go out of my way to get another vintage instrument for its own sake. I've played some lovely modern basses which I'd have happily bought if I'd missed out on my old one.

I was addressing the numerous “what logical reason” type questions really as I don’t think there is a logical reason other than maybe capital appreciation. Vintage items whether they are cars, guitars or watches may have mojo but they tend to be a little more quirky and high maintenance than the modern counterparts.. you have got to really love them to bother with the extra expense and possible maintenance.

Edit: as an example I don’t have any really old basses but I do have a 30 year old Stingray. I don’t play it often and always used to use a Sterling Ray34 ( before selling it) if it was down to logic I would have sold the 30 year old Ray and kept the Indonesian one as it was a fabulous instrument but I would struggle to part with the Ray. Purely emotional rather than logical.

Edited by tegs07
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4 hours ago, Doctor J said:

Got any source material for that? How old was a tree in a 63 Jazz before it was cut down?

I don’t have any source material on hand to sum up how wood production has changed since 1945 no - the main question would be I think how long was it between felling and being made into a bass

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1 minute ago, LukeFRC said:

I don’t have any source material on hand to sum up how wood production has changed since 1945 no - the main question would be I think how long was it between felling and being made into a bass

I personally think age of wood (before and after it is felled) and climate it grew and is stored in will make a difference. After all the wood vibrates, so acoustically at least there will difference between instruments. 
 

That’s part of why I prefer the instruments from builders who hand select woods for their wood store and let them age. 
 

Also weren’t the pickups hand wound in the 50’s- early 60s?

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46 minutes ago, NickA said:

Still are if you buy the right pickups 😉

https://walbasses.co.uk/components/

Though why hand wound would be better I don't know

Yeh I think there’s quite a few that offer them now. Not better necessarily, but different from each other as a result on human error. 
 

Think I said it before in this thread but I’m yet to play a bass that isn’t a 60’s or 70’s Fender that sounds like a 60’s/ 70’s fender.  I think it’s the full fat warmth on every note  I like. 

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10 minutes ago, OliverBlackman said:

Yeh I think there’s quite a few that offer them now. Not better necessarily, but different from each other as a result on human error. 
 

Think I said it before in this thread but I’m yet to play a bass that isn’t a 60’s or 70’s Fender that sounds like a 60’s/ 70’s fender.  I think it’s the full fat warmth on every note  I like. 

I dunno - I visited @walshy last year and played a load of his P basses - tried his '66, a Moolon P and a blue one he built the body for and put together himself - they all were very close tonally. The biggest difference was the colour and how much trouble I'ld get in from the wife for buying!

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5 hours ago, tegs07 said:

I would argue that there is no logic to vintage collectibles unless it’s as an investment. Largely it will be an emotional  rather than a head decision.

You are right. When the ghastly spectre of logic raises its ugly head in relation to a bass purchase, all chance of a favourable outcome is lost. I bought an all original 62 custom colour jazz bass around 2000/2001 for £3.4k. I have had 20 years wonderful use out of it. I spent an hour playing it this evening. I'd probably not lose money in the unlikely event of selling, although that was absolutely irrelevant to me when I bought and still is. I never think of it as a collectible.

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1 hour ago, LukeFRC said:

I don’t have any source material on hand to sum up how wood production has changed since 1945 no - the main question would be I think how long was it between felling and being made into a bass

You may not have the source to back it up but you are absolutely correct. The way the timber was allowed to grow, stored and worked makes a huge difference to the end product. Be it a bass, dining table or Timber frame house. Each is selected for purpose and fit for the job. Old wood, allowed to grow properly without the ‘need to harvest to make money’ is a different beast to the new crap available now ( look at the growth rings)   I have lots of ‘source info’ for this. It’s my job. 

 

0802E875-33F4-4689-AFF6-496AE92A8F5B.jpeg

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7 hours ago, uncle psychosis said:

Plus - let's be honest here - these basses from the sixties that we all (including myself) lust over were mass produced in a factory. Wood selection was based on economics, not artistry. 

True - it wasn’t picked out by magic pixies using their special ears 

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2 hours ago, OliverBlackman said:

I personally think age of wood (before and after it is felled) and climate it grew and is stored in will make a difference. After all the wood vibrates, so acoustically at least there will difference between instruments. 
 

That’s part of why I prefer the instruments from builders who hand select woods for their wood store and let them age. 
 

Also weren’t the pickups hand wound in the 50’s- early 60s?

I believe some were, but that’s only a person turning a handle making a bobbin move back and forth in a well-controlled way - same as scatter-wound now 

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Some documentation on historical and contemporary wood sourcing would make for interesting reading, were it available. Let's be honest, when people talk about vintage basses, most of the time they're talking about Fenders. Fender were, of course, a user of cheap and plentiful rather than any carefully selected wood and not above gluing random offcuts together to get the most out of their wood budget. It would be interesting to see how the wood they used in the 50's and 60's (let's not go into their financially driven decision to use Northern Ash in the 70's just yet) compares to the stuff they use today in the likes of Custom Shop and Masterbuilt instruments where there actually is a bit of consideration given to the quality of the wood used - that is, of course, giving a massive benefit of the doubt to the pre-70's instruments as having any better quality wood than what they use now in standard production instruments. Is there any data for how long there is between felling and instrument manufacture even for modern day Fender. Without any kind of source material it's just conjecture on both sides, though.

Outside of Fender, of course, in the boutique realm, there are quite a few builders who source and use very old wood stock if requested. There's still a lot of old wood out there, it's just not really in the supply chain of the mass producers. The point I made before, either in this thread or the recent wood one, I can't be arsed looking, was that if the effects of ageing apply to Fender then it must also apply to all the other old basses out there and logic would lead me to think that an instrument that started out as really good should still be better than one of the same age which was not as good - but the market does not reflect that. The vintage bass market is heavily weighted towards Fender (and now even Squier), substantially more-so than Gibson or Rickenbacker. It's wonderful that all the effects of aging - the wood crystals, the weaker magnets, the missing finishes letting the wood breathe, whatever, they all seem to be a positive thing. That's great, but it must surely apply to all old instruments, even the unloved Kays, Tiescos and relics from behind the Iron Curtain? The likes of the very highly rated early 80's Japanese stuff (Squier aside) has not appreciated to the same degree as the big F (or S). You don't hear this kind of talk around old Aria SBs or Yamaha BBs to the same degree at all but the ageing factor must apply equally to all, no? I picked up a now 36 year old BB1100s for €300 a few years ago. Nice bass, yes, but I bet it started out as a nice bass too.

Pickups are an interesting one. The old hand-wound method of manufacture by largely unskilled labour was charmingly inconsistent and scatter-wound is indeed a way of recreating that type of pickup. Given the inconsistency, though, they're never all going to sound the same, either then or now. There can't really be, by definition, a scatter-wound sound. Also, you'd have to imagine that, with some experience under their belts, that labour force would start getting more consistent as they skilled up, no?

Instruments are a funny thing, what people read into them. I once had a guy complain I had undone the factory seal which could never be as good - after I had taken the neck off an instrument. His argument was that the neck could never be put back on as well as the first time. Amazing conversation. Could you imagine buying an old Fender these days and not having a look at the neck pocket? 😂

As was said, whatever floats your boat, it's all good once the player enjoys what they have in their hands.

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1 hour ago, walshy said:

You may not have the source to back it up but you are absolutely correct. The way the timber was allowed to grow, stored and worked makes a huge difference to the end product. Be it a bass, dining table or Timber frame house. Each is selected for purpose and fit for the job. Old wood, allowed to grow properly without the ‘need to harvest to make money’ is a different beast to the new crap available now ( look at the growth rings)   I have lots of ‘source info’ for this. It’s my job. 

 

0802E875-33F4-4689-AFF6-496AE92A8F5B.jpeg

Haha one straight out of the Trump playbook there of good faith debate there. Completely representative I'm sure. These damn generation Z trees....

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7 hours ago, Doctor J said:

Some documentation on historical and contemporary wood sourcing would make for interesting reading, were it available. Let's be honest, when people talk about vintage basses, most of the time they're talking about Fenders. Fender were, of course, a user of cheap and plentiful rather than any carefully selected wood and not above gluing random offcuts together to get the most out of their wood budget. It would be interesting to see how the wood they used in the 50's and 60's (let's not go into their financially driven decision to use Northern Ash in the 70's just yet) compares to the stuff they use today in the likes of Custom Shop and Masterbuilt instruments where there actually is a bit of consideration given to the quality of the wood used - that is, of course, giving a massive benefit of the doubt to the pre-70's instruments as having any better quality wood than what they use now in standard production instruments. Is there any data for how long there is between felling and instrument manufacture even for modern day Fender. Without any kind of source material it's just conjecture on both sides, though.

Outside of Fender, of course, in the boutique realm, there are quite a few builders who source and use very old wood stock if requested. There's still a lot of old wood out there, it's just not really in the supply chain of the mass producers. The point I made before, either in this thread or the recent wood one, I can't be arsed looking, was that if the effects of ageing apply to Fender then it must also apply to all the other old basses out there and logic would lead me to think that an instrument that started out as really good should still be better than one of the same age which was not as good - but the market does not reflect that. The vintage bass market is heavily weighted towards Fender (and now even Squier), substantially more-so than Gibson or Rickenbacker. It's wonderful that all the effects of aging - the wood crystals, the weaker magnets, the missing finishes letting the wood breathe, whatever, they all seem to be a positive thing. That's great, but it must surely apply to all old instruments, even the unloved Kays, Tiescos and relics from behind the Iron Curtain? The likes of the very highly rated early 80's Japanese stuff (Squier aside) has not appreciated to the same degree as the big F (or S). You don't hear this kind of talk around old Aria SBs or Yamaha BBs to the same degree at all but the ageing factor must apply equally to all, no? I picked up a now 36 year old BB1100s for €300 a few years ago. Nice bass, yes, but I bet it started out as a nice bass too.

Pickups are an interesting one. The old hand-wound method of manufacture by largely unskilled labour was charmingly inconsistent and scatter-wound is indeed a way of recreating that type of pickup. Given the inconsistency, though, they're never all going to sound the same, either then or now. There can't really be, by definition, a scatter-wound sound. Also, you'd have to imagine that, with some experience under their belts, that labour force would start getting more consistent as they skilled up, no?

Instruments are a funny thing, what people read into them. I once had a guy complain I had undone the factory seal which could never be as good - after I had taken the neck off an instrument. His argument was that the neck could never be put back on as well as the first time. Amazing conversation. Could you imagine buying an old Fender these days and not having a look at the neck pocket? 😂

As was said, whatever floats your boat, it's all good once the player enjoys what they have in their hands.

Long post that. 
 

I think the first paragraph misses the point of location of wood. I imagine the trees used in the 50s and 60s were American and there was likely a large supply of old trees without protection that were not considered desirable. I would be surprised if the wood used by Fender now isn’t sourced from purpose grown forests in another continent.

Absolutely agree that instruments such as electric basses are unlikely to have improved with age. Maybe people’s recollection of how they were at the time was dictated by taste and fashion? 

A labourer will never be as consistent as a machine no matter how experienced. You’ll get a few Friday afternoon or Monday morning results, whether that’s better or worse.

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I don't think I missed the point at all. When you're using terms like "I imagine the trees used..." and "there was likely..." it just feeds into the vintage mythology without any basis in fact. That is the point. Unless there's some evidence that was the case, before we get into analysing whether that makes for a better instrument body or neck and, even then, how much of a factor that makes to the sound heard by a magnetic pickup of an electric solidbody instrument, we're all just random dudes guessing. It would be so nice to read some facts, for a change, instead of the endless conjecture.

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I was intrigued by @walshypost. One thing I have learned is when people do something for a living they tend to know what they are talking about so I started to do some research and stumbled on this: http://www.fao.org/3/XII/0674-B1.htm

 

An extract:

Over the past decades the world’s managed fast-growing forests have been increasing steadily. The managed resource is expected to dominate the world wood supply in the first half of this century. Worldwide, the transition from total dependence on depleting inherited stocks to reliance on a managed resource has been associated with a significant decline in wood quality (Zobel 1984; Kellogg 1989). For example, a wood quality index reported by Constantino and Haley (1988) for the British Columbia Coast showed that log quality had declined by almost 25% between r taper, larger knots, higher juvenile wood content and different wood characteristics and processing properties.

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23 minutes ago, Doctor J said:

I don't think I missed the point at all. When you're using terms like "I imagine the trees used..." and "there was likely..." it just feeds into the vintage mythology without any basis in fact. That is the point. Unless there's some evidence that was the case, before we get into analysing whether that makes for a better instrument body or neck and, even then, how much of a factor that makes to the sound heard by a magnetic pickup of an electric solidbody instrument, we're all just random dudes guessing. It would be so nice to read some facts, for a change, instead of the endless conjecture.

This is an Internet forum, 90% of it is random dudes guessing - I think you maybe have got it confused with a peer reviewed academic journal or something - You asked for a logical reason why vintage could be considered different to modern- my answer was worded deliberately loosely to answer the question of “what could a logical reason be” based on things I know - but loosely enough that I might not be correct, and also I’m not going to make any claim that old wood makes better sounding instruments. But you asked for a logical reason that might apply, I provided one- discuss away . That’s how discussion forums work.


Even if you disagree shouting out “What’s your source” or asking for data points that you know conceivably don’t exist, (or if they do would be hidden within academic papers beyond most of the reader’s comprehension) is a bit of a Richard move.
For example  The likes of the very highly rated early 80's Japanese stuff (Squier aside) has not appreciated to the same degree as the big F (or S).“ have you got a source for that? Peer reviewed study. I mean it would be interesting to have a thread and try and work out the relative increases from retail to now On a load of high end Japanese stuff, and see the degrees of change in appreciation of different brands - but nah forget it What’s your source?

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