So...boring background as quick as possible... In 1990 I bought my first five-string bass - a Peavey Dyna-Bass. American design and craftsmanship ahead of its time - including such slick stuff as adjustable string spacing and neck height, a three-band preamp with three-way mid frequency selector and passive tone control, and those wicked-cool Super Ferrite pickups. A couple of years after I moved to California, that bass gave way to an instrument crafted by some fellow named Tobias, but it was genuinely missed.
Fast-forward many years later, and courtesy of the classifieds on this site, I started feeling quite nostalgic. Thoughts of visiting the good ol' days were always squelched, though, by basses either too far gone, listed at too high a price, and sometimes both. Then...May of this year...boom. Saw one that had obviously lived a tough life, but all the pieces were there (even the truss rod cover!), and the price was reasonable. Boom. Here's what arrived...
After a thorough cleaning and inspection, I started putting a plan together. Pre-sale reports of, "Everything works," were exaggerated. This particular set of Peavey electronic wizardry was notoriously noisy, but even by that standard, I knew there was something wrong. With a bit of help from the kind support folks at Peavey, the diagnosis was confirmed...preamp = dead. And sadder news: the shelves holding replacements had gone dry many years back. Ok...silver lining: there was my justification to completely disassemble.
I went looking for that justification after cleaning the grime off the bass and examining the finish. Here are some shots...
Given the realistic market value of the bass, refinish work would be out of the question. (Besides...I had an electronics spend coming up.) So...time to dig in....tear everything apart, do some taping, and...wreck havoc with the polisher.
For any fellow detailing nerds, products & process.
Porter Cable 7274 w/ 2.75" backing plate
Lake Country 3" pads & Meguiar's polishes:
Purple Foamed Wool w/ M105
Yellow w/ M105
Orange w/ M105
Orange w/ M205
White w/ M205
Here are some 'after' polishing shots, under the same 'tell all' lighting as the earlier 'before' images...
Perfect? Nope...far from it. Many gouges and dents, and a whole lotta' scratches through the clear and color coats. But...for a ~ 22-year-old bass, I was pleased. Good would be good enough, and I knew I'd get a bit of gloss out of the finishing steps yet to come. Along with the body, neck, and headstock, the rest of the bass got some TLC as well.
The fingerboard received two liberal coats of Planet Waves Hydrate, each one gently worked in with a microfiber towel. As that did a bit of nourishing, I cleaned all the mounting hardware, pickup rings, and even the pickups themselves, using Meguiar's All-Purpose Cleaner and a nylon brush. The bridge and tuners received a further cleansing with Optimum Metal Polish and a coat of Blackfire Wet Diamond sealant, and all of the plastic bits got a light coat of 303 Aerospace Protectant.
After that, back to the fingerboard. The frets received a bit of polish with 000 and 0000 steel wool...
Using more Hydrate as a lubricant/nourisher, the fretboard got a fairly vigorous cleaning with 0000 wool, followed by one more liberal coat of Hydrate, worked in with the MF towel.
As the fingerboard dried, I applied sealant and wax to all the finished surfaces. I used Blackfire Wet Diamond for protection, and after it cured overnight, i applied Pinnacle Souveran carnauba wax. This last step was definitely extravagant, but in my defense...it was a detailing customer of mine who bought the jar of wax, and he left it in my hands after working on his vehicles. (It's a $95 wax that offers next to zero protection, but it adds remarkable gloss.) One more harsh-light closeup:
At this point, all the hard work is finished. Reassembly, gentle setup (the neck had been off for a few days), and the search for electronics. We'll call it a 'five-footer.' Get closer, or add bright lights, and the imperfections become clear.
The hunt didn't last long. A very big thank-you to Greg Bump @ Rocket Music for quickly putting me in business with a Bartolini NTMB preamp. No huge indictment, but a much less pleasurable experience with BestBassGear got me new pots (push/pull volume, blend, and three EQ) and battery connectors. Here's a shot of everything ready to go into the bass.
Ooh boy. Installation. I looked at that Bartolini schematic .pdf file easily a dozen times. I looked at each pot, at the pickups, at the battery connectors, at the jack, back at the .pdf, at a tree-murdering printed copy of the schematic, back at the pots, so on and so on. And I threw in the towel. This was my biggest disappointment, as electronics are the one big component I've never tackled, and I really wanted to be the second-grade kid at show & tell who says, "I did this myself!" Sigh. Some day... I went with San Francisco Guitar Works, and they certainly live up to their reputation. (They charge accordingly, btw, but hey...they did compliment me on how nice the bass looks.) Here's the as-installed shot:
The only bit of functionality I lost over the stock configuration was the passive tone control. Otherwise, the controls remain the same...volume (pull for passive) & blend, low/mid/high EQ, and the 250/500/800Hz mid frequency selector. The sound? Pretty massive, actually. The preamp plays quite nicely with the pickups, and while some of that original unique Dyna-Bass character is obviously lost, I'd argue the bass is actually more versatile as a result. The mids speak with authority, and there's nothing missing down low or up high. Solo the front pickup, and the result is a very muscular P bass. Keep the blend centered, and the slap tone is aggressive yet not abrasive. As you'd imagine with the back pickup placement, solo that one and things get nasally. But..go with just a bit of bias, and the fingerstyle tone is spot-on.
Final 'glamour' shots....
And a quick and sloppy sound clip I recorded over lunch today. Apogee JAM via iOS GarageBand & 'Tweed' amp model. All EQ flat on the bass, with a slight bias toward the bridge pickup. Peavey Dyna-Bass sound clip
If you're still awake, thanks for the read. I still have a bit of setup tweaking to do, but the bass plays great and sounds terrific. All in all, my expectations have been succeeded. This thing could go into gig duty tomorrow and serve well. Now for the next project....