Greco VB 360

This was one of those "I spent way too long fixing this but I'm glad I did" things that I seem to do a lot more than I should. Whenever I get old guitars that are "salvageable" I tend to put more work into them than I'm going to get back but to me, pretty much my whole guitar repairing career (if I can call it that?) has been about recycling, reusing and restoring good quality vintage instruments that deserve to be played rather than thinking of them as ultimately a pure money making scheme.

I LOVE vintage Japanese guitars as you probably know if you hang around here at all. I've always loved these Greco Hofner Violin bass copies and I have owned, and sold many of them over the years including other brand copies like Aria, Firstman, Guyatones and many others. These Hofner inspired basses were HUGE in Japan after the Beatles hit and everyone started making copies or heavily inspired by versions of them.

 

This one is late 60's/early 70's and was a bit of a wreck when I got it. Nothing worked and I thought both pickups were dead after a quick evaluation and it had some other issues so I put it aside in the "to do later" pile and moved on. 

I took it back out to get playing the other day and sat down with a cup of tea and contemplated how much I was going to do to get it playable again. After a nice cup of tea things looked much better (they usually do) so I dove in head first.

I completely stripped the electronics and measured both pickups which gave a good reading, so this was now a serious restoration proposal. I have, and would have rewound these pickups if the rest of the bass was all original and in great condition but if both were fried I probably would have put replacements in. These old Maxon pickup are great and it's nice to keep these originals in.

With the electronics completely stripped, cleaned and reassembled (the only new part is a .047 cap) everything worked great. The original electronics in most of these vintage Japanese guitars is great quality and I'd rather clean and repair them if I can than replace. 

 

With the electronics fully working I turned to the headstock. Someone had painted the entire headstock black in an attempt to make it look more "Hofner" so I started with 400 grade wet n dry and worked my way through to 1000 to get all the paint off the face and sides of the headstock without cutting into the original paint underneath. Once I had all the paint off I polished the headstock and got that lovely Greco logo and paint job back to it's full glory. The trussrod cover had been painted black as well so I did the same to it.

There was some binding coming off the neck which was glued back in place and then the fretboard was moisturized and the frets polished. I cleaned and lightly polished the rest of the guitar but I never (or very rarely) try and make these look like new as I LOVE the patina and stories these old guitars have to tell. This one had been converted to left handed at some stage (to look like Paul?) so has two small holes where the scratchplate had been attached on the other side. I decided to leave these as it tells part of the "story" and doesn't effect tone or playability at all.

 

Once everything was cleaned and working well I put the original flatwound strings back on. Sometimes with old basses the old strings just .... work. While I'm not a fan of flatwounds myself, some basses just sound great with them and these VB's always seem to work with them. If the new owner doesn't like them they can change them?

 

A few tweaks here and there and it's playing, and looking a treat. The scratchplate and knobs are not original but everything else (except that cap) is and it's come up great. 

When it turned up here it really was a bit of a wreck. Years ago (and probably even still) there would have been repairers who wouldn't have taken the time on a "cheap Japanese guitar" to get this working but, like I said, I'm glad I did. 

This has the original hardcase and will be heading to the shop this weekend for many more years of Please Please Mes .......

 

 

May 02 2019 Written By: Tim Brennan