Early 70's Greco J bass

A lot of places and/or repairers probably wouldn't have fixed this one up. It was a bit of a basket case when I got it and it was one of those "I'll put it aside for later" repairs. I literally have hundreds of them around my workshop so it takes a while to get to some but I would still rather make something playable again, even if it's not financially viable, than scrap it, especially when they're quality instruments like this. I have in the past fixed many vintage Japanese guitars and basses that were either well played or badly treated, or both and then "discarded" and sold off cheap as scrap, only to make them live and inspire for another generation.

I've said it many times before but vintage Japanese instruments that are still mostly original and playable after 40-50, even 60 years is an indication of a quality instrument. I guarantee that most (if not all) of the cheap import guitars from China, Indonesia, India, etc being made today will not be playable in 50 years.

Anyway, every so often I go through the piles of guitars and basses and decide to get one going again. This early 70's Greco caught my eye.

 

These early seventies  Fujigen made "Fender" copies were a little more crude than the later seventies models with slight differences in construction and design. As I've discussed in previous blogs it wasn't until about '76/77 that Greco, primarily made by the Fujigen and Matsumoku factories really started to make "exact" copies of these Fenders. 

This bass looked pretty bad and had some obvious issues without even playing it, which is why it was put aside originally. The action was probably close to 1 cm high and everything was corroded and had 45 years of dirt and gunk all over it. When I plugged it in nothing worked. Not even a bad buzz ...

I started pulling it apart and quickly realized this was going to be a salvage case that wasn't going to be worth it financially, but would probably end up with a nice bass. 

 

The pickups had a reading and the pots all still turned so I cleaned all the electrics, checked the solder joints and cleaned the jack. We had life. 

The neck had a huge warp and forward bow in it and I thought this might be the death knell for this bass. I have in the past made one nice guitar or bass out of two basket cases and kept the leftover parts for repairs or complete guitars I don't have all the parts for, but I'd rather save a complete instrument if I can.

Next ... the truss rod had seized up. At this point I evaluated again weather this one was worth the effort. I put some lube on the rod and stuck my soldering iron in it and left it for about 15 mins. When I came back to it I put the Allen Key in the adjuster and a small pipe on the key and closed my eyes and ..... CRACK. I thought "well, there goes that one" ... 

Turns out the rod was free not broken. I took the nut out completely, cleaned and lubed the nut and thread, put an extra washer on the rod and reinstalled it all. 

With the neck straightened out I did a fret dress and cleaned and polished the body and neck. I disassembled the bridge and cleaned all the threads out and reassembled. 

 

The tuners got a clean and lube and I put it all back together and strung it up. 

It was already missing the scrathplate, (you could put one on if you wish) which is a "thing" people do with J basses and had P bass covers fitted at some stage which go in the same holes as the J bass ones. The original J bass covers on these had a G or Greco embossed into them but these were obviously fitted later. The P bass bridge cover actually makes sense as you can pick right back over the bridge pickup, which you can't do with the longer J bass cover. 

 

With everything back together and set up it was time for a play. 

I'm so glad I put the effort in here. I nearly always think that when I do these projects but I'm glad I did this one. There's still a small twist in the neck but it plays surprisingly well considering. The action is low and it has great sustain. This one has the grey bobbin Maxon made pickups and they are punchy with heaps of output and mid range. Everything works and adjusts as it should. 

This one is off to the shop for someone to (hopefully) fall in love with and write and play songs on for years to come. A much better use than collecting dust in my workshop or even worse, going to landfill.

 

Dec 19 2018 Written By: Tim Brennan