So about a month ago I was looking at the used basses in a local shop. I saw a bass that with all of its bare wood, brass knobs and brass nut just screamed 1980 at me so I took it down to try it out. I was expecting a chunky, cheesy feel and a weak or mushy sound. What I got instead was a well fitted, comfortable and easy feel to the neck, and a surprising amount of tone response. All this for $199.
The instrument I was playing was a Electra Phoenix 630N Bass. I was right, these basses were produced Japan in the early 1980's. Electra was known as a producer of import copy guitars, and the 630 bass was one of their first post lawsuit designs.
Operationally, this is a P-bass, with a differently shaped body and headstock.
There is a very P-like neck, with a split P-style pickup. The natural wood and brass fittings were just a reflection of (godawful) design styles at the time and this bass would be right at home in what was then known as a "Fern bar" decorated in Oak, polished brass, and potted ferns. Wearing slacks might even be a requirement while playing it.
So this little time machine felt pretty good, played nicely, and had a decent sound. But I did not buy it. Why not? I am not really sure. It was a good instrument, but I guess the styling just did not immediately grab me.
To the left is an Electra Phoenix 630N as pictured on Guitar Hunter's blog. (Thanks for sharing the pic!)
The Guitar Hunter has more details about this bass, as well as info about how Electra became Phoenix and is now Westone/Crate.
I went back and played this bass a few more times over the next week. Each time, it grew on me. Finally, about a full week after I initially saw it, I decided to buy it. When I arrived, and looked up on the wall, it was gone.
So, the lesson here is, as much a patience is a factor in seeking out ¢heapo guitars, it is important to be ready to buy when you do find one or someone else will beat you to the punch.
Oh, and one more thing... The Electra Phoenix 630N, as with most other ¢heapo guitars, are not rare. If you miss one, another will surely come along. It may even be ¢heaper.