There’s a 1991 Fender Precision Bass sitting on my desk/work bench at home with its guts scattered all over the tabletop.
The bass was a birthday present when I was in middle school – I think. I don’t exactly remember what year I got it. It was sometime after I gave up on the guitar and before, or right around the time I began high school.
I remember going to Parkway City Mall, before its major renovation and when it still had an Orange Julius, to the music store with my uncle – because he was a bass player and had already scoped this instrument out – and my mom, because she had the money.
We walked in and my uncle grabbed this bass off the wall and handed it to me and told me to play it to see if I liked it.
That’s like handing Shakespeare a laptop.
There’s just no context in that situation.
So I plucked the E string – the biggest one – followed by the A string, the D string then the G string.
That doesn’t make a song or anything. It’s just the four strings on the bass, but that was the extent of my knowledge of what to do.
Mom paid the guy and I carried it out to the car. I remember it was raining, because the first thing I did when I got home was wipe the bass down to dry it off.
I told you that story, because I’m pretty sure that was the last time, prior to last week, that I did anything to attempt to take care of that instrument.
This bass was clearly a workhorse before I got it, and then for the last 20-plus years, back when I played more regularly, I’ve hauled it everywhere from Europe to DC to little dive bars down the street.
And through it all, everything on that guitar worked fine. Then last week I plugged it in, cranked the volume knob and nothing happened.
This is where the story gets a little sad.
I figured a wire had just come loose or maybe the potentiometers that control the volume had gone bad.
To be safe, I figured I’d go ahead and order a new wiring harness, pots etc. and just replace everything while I had it open.
So, I went to the Internet and typed in “91 fender p bass parts” and hit enter. It took about .0091 seconds to return 145,000 results and they all started with the word vintage. That’s when I realized there is a distinct difference between buying a vintage instrument and owning an instrument that has become vintage.
One feels like an achievement. The other feels like you’ve lost something that you can never get back.