Saturday, February 6, 2016

DrScythe - the very reason why I make music: my father's 1974 Framus S-380

Vintage instruments often tell stories apart from their own one. And this 1974 Framus Jazz Bass copy (a black 12700 S-380) tells mine. It belongs to my father and without this bass I wouldn’t make music. I mentioned this story already but as I needed a drop-d tuned bass I asked my father if I could borrow the bass for a few weeks. And while the bass is here I just thought a lot about my path…

The Past
In 2004 the younger me wanted to play this bass. But due to his own experience my father said I had to learn to play guitar first. So we bought a classical guitar right after Christmas which I played until May 2005 when I bought my first electrical guitar as a birthday-present for myself. More details are in the first blog of the (hi-)story series. Although mostly playing guitar and writing songs I never forgot about playing bass and almost always owned one (atm the Epiphone T-Bird Pro you can see in the videos).

The bass
Thanks to Framus you can find information about this instrument:  FRAMUS HISTORY

It’s a Jazz Bass copy. A JB. First look: maple neck, rosewood Fretboard with almost no frets (one can see that they’re NOT worn so they always had been very flat). The tuners work excellently although they’re 40 years old. The body material remains unknown so you got to trust the website about that. On the electrical side: two JB-singlecoils, 2 vol-knobs, 1 tone-knob. That’s it.

Setup, playability (and condition)
The setup was still great and the bass would’ve been perfectly usable including the Flatwounds which are older than me (!). Adjusting the neck and bridge for the newer roundwounds wouldn’t be a problem (although I lack the proper tool). The overall playability (positions, balance point…) is business as usual with a Fender-inspired instrument. But…the neck is simply a baseball bat cut in half. I’m confident that it would take several hits before breaking. That’s not a real problem for me although I got really short fingers and had to sell a Schecter 7-string because I could barely reach the low B-string. Compared to the neck of my Epiphone T-Bird Pro the latter one is more like a toothpick…
What’s a little bit odd: the frets are extremely flat. And they’re still well rounded, my father didn’t play them down. So you got the raised difficulty of an almost fretless instrument especially on the thinner strings.
The pots are a little rusted on the inside with a scratchy feel to them. But your joints aren’t the best after 42 years either are they?

It’s a little dull but apart from that everything sound great. A typical JB sound (the difference to your definition of typical JB sound is to be identified by you…). Listen for yourself:

As I used this bass for a song you can hear it in a full context too:

As I won’t be able to buy another bass soon I will need this bass for several songs in the future too. I love it to use the reason why I make music for the songs I finally am able to record. It’s a circle that's closing now which feels great.

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