I’m excited about this new project, and I can’t wait to get stuck in! Say hello to the Musicman Sabre, a lesser-known sibling of the Stingray. It’s a bit of an unsung hero, and just the type of bass I like to get my hands on. This 1979 model belongs to a mate who has owned it for two decades, and it needs a bit of TLC to say the very least. Fortunately, the owner has given me carte blanche with this bass. He may regret that decision, as my taste may not be the same as his, but we will see when I’m finished.
Let’s take a look at it. One of the previous owners has badly refinished it in black. Looking under the worn top coat, I can see that its original finish was tobacco sunburst – but as there’s little chance of getting the bass back to that finish, I’m going to get it refinished properly in a different colour.
The first thing that struck me about this instrument is its weight. It weighs an absolute ton; bass players must have been made of sturdier stuff back in the 70s. I know if I had this thing on my shoulders for a two-hour gig I would be in bed for most of the next day due to back pain, rather than rock’n’roll excess!
The bodywork on this bass is the least of my problems, however. Just look at that neck – it’s shocking! It’s so worn that I can feel the dot inlays protruding slightly from the fretboard. As a result, it feels horrible to play. It’s not all doom and gloom, though: just because the bass is old, it doesn’t mean that the hardware is past it. In fact, all the bright (well, not so bright) bits on this bass are in good working order – they just need a thorough cleaning and a polish to bring them back to life. Tthere are people out there who would pay a lot of money to get things looking this aged. I like that well worn look too, so I’m not going to remove the years of playing wear, just the grime that has built up.
The plastic pickup cases are shot, as you can see from the photos, so I’ll be commissioning my colleague Mattie Dread to make me some new ones. I’m going to ask him to make them in aluminium, so they should look great against the new paintwork.
As for costs, I think I could be racking up some serious bread on this project if I’m not careful: I’m going to have to watch my spending closely.
Questions? Contact me at simonmcveigh@ eircom.net. See you next month.