with Paul McCartney. Seth’s main axe is a refinished clay dot Jazz
Bass that was described to me as the best bass he’s ever owned. If
the mutt pictured here is good enough for Seth, it’s good enough
for both you and I.
When buying a refin, expect to see a repro guard and changed
pots – these are always the first pieces used to resurrect an origi-
nal piece with damaged or missing parts. The case is usually the
next item to go AWOL. Also take a look at the frets – a profes-
sionally done fret job is a definite bonus here. Think of it this way:
you wouldn’t drive a 40-year-old restored car with original tires.
Likewise, these are basses that will be used, so make sure the
those parts – that is roughly the price of additional devaluation.
Keep in mind that these are ballpark estimates only, but this is
exactly what my shop does when we make a cost determination on
a refinished instrument purchase.
So what are the pros and cons of a refinished instrument purchase?
On the pro side, you can essentially buy a real, suitable-for-gigging
vintage bass and still have relative peace of mind. Your refin bass
should hold its value or even experience a slight rise in value come
sale time. On the con side, if you are buying a ‘ 63 Jazz Bass, you
could spend $6500 on a refinished J you’ll love – but that $6500
could also get you a completely original, pre-CBS Precision Bass.
Likewise, the $10,000 you could spend on a refinished Stack Knob
could also be spent on a terrific, original ’ 64 Jazz Bass. The lesson
here is to look at all of your alternatives before you buy.
Next month we will continue this installment with the three
remaining R’s. On a personal note, I would like to thank
all of the readers who stopped by to say hello at the last
few trade shows. It feels really good knowing this column is
useful to you folks. Until next time, drop the gigbag and
don’t forget the cannolis.
playability is to your liking. Sometimes a simple set up is all y ou
need, sometimes it’s a refret and other times it’s more.
After 35 years I can gauge this with 95 percent
accuracy and I travel with my luthier to assist me
on the other five. Make sure you have the ability to
have any issues and all of your parts verified.
My purchasing philosophy is simple: if you dig the bass and the
price is fair, buy it. But how exactly do you price a refin? It is sur-
prisingly easy. Keep in mind these are rough numbers, but a bass
with a professional body-only refin, with all original parts and an
original case is worth 65 to 70 percent of an original factory item
in very good condition. A complete, professionally refinished item
is worth about 60 percent. To factor in an item’s devaluation due
to replaced parts, you first have to determine the actual cost of
buying the parts you need. Figure 60 to 75 percent of the cost of
Kevin Borden has been a bass player since 1975, and is
currently President of Goodguysguitars.com.
Feel free to call him KeBo.
He can be reached at