Re: Question about Refinished Basses

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Posted by Milan on January 11, 2001 at 12:08:06:

In Reply to: Re: Question about Refinished Basses posted by El Pájaro on January 10, 2001 at 17:21:34:

: : I am considering buying a vintage Fender Jazz Bass which is all original

: : except it has been refinished. By being refinished, what has the Bass

: : lost in terms of sound quality versus a vintage Jazz with the original

: : finish? How has this affected things like sustain, intonation, and overall

: : tone? Lastly, how has refinishing affected the resale or collector's value?

: : Any insight from those who know vintage Jazz basses would be greatly

: : appreciated...

: : Thanks,

: : kenny

: Yo Kenny,

: Don't mean to disencourage you (after all, if you found a great sounding instrument, go for it any day!), but a refinished vintage instrument does have some drawbacks.

: First and obvious, there's the collector's value: vintage instrument collector's won't give a damn if the finish is worn, scratched or dented as long as it's the original finish; OTOH, no matter how well applied, sexy, funky or cool the new finish is, it's no longer the original, thus the instrument's value as a collector's item is lost somehow.

: Second, although a lot more subtle, is the sound: vintage instruments sound the way they sound due to a combination of a number of factors. An important one (although often overlooked) is the finish wear. An instrument 35 years old sounds different partly beacuse of the 35 years of wood aging, and also because the wear in the finish allows the wood to "breathe" more, thus resonating in ways a new/refinished instrument (think "sealed wood") just can't.

: That's just my $0.02 worth. As always, buena suerte and keep your bass up front in the mix,

: El Pájaro.

Hi El Pajaro!

You make excellent points! I only want to add that a refinished instrument does not need to suffer tonally if the person applyiing the refin knows what they are doing. The real problem is when a vintage fender is refinned with a different kind of paint(polyester instead of nitrocellulose), the wrong compostion of nitrocellulose, or worst of all....too thick a finish. I will admit, it may sound slightly "different", but will argue that doesn't mean "worse". An experiment: play your favorite electric axe unplugged with your right arm resting on the body like it always does, then play yhe same thing with your arm clear of the body...hear the difference? Is either one better or worse? More importantly is the difference audible through an amp...most likely not. After all, REALLY expensive REALLY vintage violins,cellos, and basses are always being fully or partially refinned with no detriment to their tone.....and interestingly enough, no loss in collectors value(this probably has more to do with a stable that isn't wildly swayed by what this week's rock darlings are brandishing on the cover of NME....)

Best regards,


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