'64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

vibroverbus
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'64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby vibroverbus » Fri Jul 27, 2018 7:37 am

Settle in for the long story folks... but if you are a TL;DR type - Summary: "I refinished my old Ventures Bass, cut to the bottom, there's pix".

But for the full story.... Way BITD... early 90's or so... when I was still figuring out where to go with life, and was moving around a bit and livin' w/ buddies in rented houses, staying up late and waking up later, etc. etc., during one particularly late drinking session, I noticed a friend of mine - who never struck me or anybody else as a musician - had an instrument lying in the back of his place.... turned out to be a Mosrite Ventures Bass. It was apparently a high school thing, but he never really played, and our drinking/discussion session was the tipping point for him to say "eff it, you want it? Its yours".

So I ended up the not-particularly-proud owner of #5202. Longer stories shortened - then for decades I dragged it around, treated it generally poorly (no case at ALL for years, until I finally got another random freebie of a too-short gibson gig bag...) because it just looked like such a cheap piece of 1960's junk. At some point in there, I was gigging doing some bass in a band, and there was a gig or two that this made it to but it even embarassingly lost out to a kooky 1970's Japanese Epi for most of the gigs, because it was so ugly, and poorly setup, and had somehow lost its ground wire so it'd buzz like crazy...

Fast forward to 6 months ago, when I was working my way through my guitar collection... With only about 1000% more knowledge and perspective on music and instruments, I was on a real jag of "righting old wrongs" all around... fixing up neglected soldiers, ripping out ill-conceived stupid-punk-kid mods... addressing lapsed repairs and maintenance. After getting a lot of axes "back in shape", suddenly I thought "hey, I should take a look at that Mosrite, I used to think that was such a POS but really it probably isn't..."

Now, before it came to me the poor thing had been refin'd in "natural", which I now know to be an absolute not-original-Mosrite configuration, but one that for whatever reason it seems like a number of morons thought was a good idea for poor Mosrites in the 1970's and 1980's... So I started tearing it down and discovered that I'd really never probably ever taken a hard look at it.

The poor thing was a mess. Immediately in the control cavity it was clear the instrument had been a creamy white. But torched areas in the neck/pickup pocket and control cavity showed signs of a heat gun used with extreme predjudice. Rotary sander scuff marks all over the flat sections. Gouges from a screwdriver or pick or something used to scrape paint from inside the deep carves. The finish was some awful urethane probably but (if you can believe this because its almost always the opposite...) applied way too thin, so the body was gouged up and belt-rashed deeply and just dinged all over the place because the finish provided less protection than a shellac'd violin. Not only that but despite the inadequate finish, they STILL were able to get runs in it so the back and front both had a good number of drips. On top of that a crack was developing just on the lower-bout side of the neck pocket that needed to be addressed, probably from being banged around all these years and having who knows what piled on in in what kind of conditions.

So I foolishly started in on the refin about 6 months ago, thinking "oh this is such a beater, it'll be a good practice for a guitar refinish... and I won't really care how it comes out... probably just take me a couple weekends..." Ha. That's a riot. 6 months later and many many days of work...

She's a finished. Came out great but only after many iterations of filler/sanding and paint/sand-back/re-paint. Much rework done due to my n00bitude for sure, and failures in technique and setup. In the end I am really pleased however in how she came out. There's flaws for sure but in the acceptable range, and you have to look super close to find them. As i said to Bob Shade in an email today - "I was shooting for a 20-footer but I think I got a 5-footer, maybe even a 3-footer!"

Speaking of whom, during the work, the stock pickup turned out to be all rotten and corroded inside... it sorta kinda slightly worked but not properly and didn't read any resistance on a meter (a classic old-pickup-with-broken-coils-capacitive-coupling I suspect...) so that went off to Bob for a rewind. He did an amazing job and the instrument sounds fantastic. He also provided me with the one real vintage part I needed - a NOS pickup ring. I did also shield the cavity - something Semie never bothered with it seemed - and between that and a solid bridge ground, the instrument is really nice and quiet too! Bob's just a really good guy and super super helpful, encouraged me to call him up with any questions or anything I needed, absolutely would recommend him to anybody who needs parts and help with these instruments...

The only non-stock item on the instrument - pickup windings not counting - are the tuners which sadly had been bored out and replaced by too-large Schallers long before I got the thing (probably same time the horrible refin was done...) The old nitro pickguard is original and was in good shape except had done the classic nitro pringle-chip warp thing, so I gently baked that between a couple of polished marble tiles and then took it out stacked a weight on the sandwich for a few months while the paint was being applied, sanded back off, reapplied, etc. etc. and then the lacquer was drying and then was being polished, then drying some more, etc....

On to the pictures. Here's a progression of pix I happen to have grabbed here and there, although many many steps missing in the middle.

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#5202 Type 3 Ventures Bass under the restoration knife

t-bone
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Re: '64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby t-bone » Fri Jul 27, 2018 1:48 pm

super gorgeous! great job on the refin. it is really great to see you breathe new life into that bass!! cheers!
Moved to Arkansas, see you on the other side.

Brian
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Re: '64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby Brian » Sat Aug 25, 2018 2:17 pm

Looks absolutely incredible! So glad you decided to give it another life.

Bob Shade
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Re: '64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby Bob Shade » Fri Aug 31, 2018 9:27 am

You did a great job! It was a pleasure to have my little part in it!

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panther
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Re: '64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby panther » Fri Aug 31, 2018 11:45 am

Beautiful work.

Dan
"The More People I Meet, The More I Miss My Dog"

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rcblair
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Re: '64 Ventures Bass #5202 "Much Better Than Expected" Project Complete

Postby rcblair » Tue Sep 18, 2018 4:11 pm

That looks fantastic! It amazes me that every bass looks slightly different because the contours were sanded by hand. My 65 Ventures bass had the pick guard cut slightly wrong so a couple of the screw holes barely hit wood underneath. The upper horn part on my pick guard is a little longer also. Makes it challenging to restore one of these babies!

Rick B.
1965 Ventures Model Bass. Original owner. Early 70's bass.


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