I just got this '81 SB-1000 back from the shop. It needed quite a bit of work to get up and running again, but thanks to Mr. Kim at MD Guitars in Seoul it's good to go! Here is a before picture on the left, and the repaired bass on the right. The finish is in bad shape on the bottom of the bass, near the jack. It was flaking off as well, so it was only going to get worse. The pots were locked up - I couldn't get them to turn (soaking in WD-40 is apparently one remedy)! The paint on the side of the neck was also flaking badly which would make playing very uncomfortable. The bridge was very dull and looked awful from years of neglect. Also, one of the knobs and the 6 position tone selector switch were missing. Luckily I had spares! (A note about the knobs: the original knob on this bass is metal while the replacement I had from a later SB is plastic.) The original LED needed to be replaced as did the active/passive switch. Unfortunately, I didn't have spares for those... Instead of a steady blinking LED as on the original SB-1000s, this LED is lit when in active mode and off when in passive - just in case you forget what mode you're in!
Short of a refinish or expensive touch up, nothing much could be done with the finish peeling by the jack. Instead, Mr. Kim sanded it down and buffed it a little so the paint wouldn't flake off anymore at least. He also fixed the other problems and gave the bass a fret level. The bridge looks almost new again! I had it strung up with new RotoSound steel strings and it sounds fantastic! I give the original SB-1000 a slight edge in tone over the Re-Issue SB-1000s. I compared it with my SB-1000CB (Cliff Burton tribute bass) and they do sound quite similar. The CB is a little brighter while the original SB-1000 just had a tad more grunt and thickness to my ears. The biggest difference, however, is the slim neck of the CB vs. the much chunkier neck of the '81. My preference is for the CB's neck but I think I just need to give the '81 a little more to time to get used to it. They are both very heavy basses but I think the CB might be a tad heavier. One final note on the bass, it appears it is one of the first basses produced without the bat's ears headstock. Recently, I saw a 'bat ear' SB-700 with the serial number 101031. This SB-1000 has the serial number 101094, so it seems to be one of the first of the later model headstock. More photos of the bass here.