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Jay Turser violin bass modding

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by JimmyM, Feb 13, 2013.

  1. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Bought a Jay Turser violin bass in I believe 2005. Enjoyed it a lot for a few years, used it a lot on gigs. That was before I got this Realistic violin bass from 67 or 68. The Realistic just smashes its face into the ground tonewise. Might be a bit of an unfair competition because the Realistic has a bigger body (it's a Matsumoku identical to the Univoxes and Grecos of the 60's minus f-holes) and an overall richer acoustic sound. And the Turser has these two humbuckers without polepieces while the Realistic has cheapo single coils, and the sound is more juiced and noticeably better amplified with the Realistic.

    Have considered selling the Turser before but it plays really nice and I don't worry about taking it on fly dates, and every now and then I'd like to take it out. But since the Realistic, it's lost its charm. Makes me wonder if the Turser could benefit from different pickups. OTOH, I wonder if the acoustic sound is always going to be a limiting factor that'll make me not like it as much. Is it an aging thing? Should I just wait 40 years before I play it again? Hope not...don't know that I've got that long ;)

    Anyone out there ever experiment on one of these modern violin basses to improve the tone? Would be quite interested to hear about your experiences.
  2. banikek

    banikek Supporting Member

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    Defret? I have an Epi EB1 copy that is fretless and very fun to play. Has one humbucker and can get that deep thumpy sound that is perfect for some songs.
  3. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Thx for the suggestion but a defret is out of the question, bro. I already have a fretless and I suck on it! But thank you for being the only person to reply in 10 hours ;)

    Come on, people...has nobody modded their modern Beatle basses?
  4. Buskman

    Buskman

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    2tek bridge?

    :bag:

    In all seriousness, maybe adding a Tonestyler pot would be interesting. Or on the cheap a different style/brand of strings?
  5. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    OK, bumping this thread for some early evening answers.
  6. mjac28

    mjac28 50th Anniversary Ed Sullivan February 9, 1964 Gold Supporting Member

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    I have two late 60's Greco Violin basses one being my very first bass and they both sound phenomenal but Jimmy my Hofner CT is my favorite I think the Turser could benefit from a pickup change and sound even better because they are well put together.
  7. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    I found out that you can get Hofner pickups. Not cheap, though. Saw that a couple folks have tried Charlie Christian style pickups in violin basses with good results. I've played the CT and acoustically I thought it sounded like the Turser but with a little more sustain, so maybe that's all my Turser needs. But holy cow, I don't want to spend $150 per pickup! I was hoping to keep it around $50-60 per pickup.
  8. Immigrant

    Immigrant Supporting Member

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    I have a Jay Turser viola bass also (and coincidentally had a Realistic when I was a kid)- I never play it as often as I could but if I was going to change it, I'd start with the pots and switches. Mine has the two volume/three switch setup and I think some came with two volumes and a tone.

    IIRC, the Realistic had the fattest neck ever. I'll have to look for a picture sometime. That was like over thirty years ago! Never let go of yours. I assume they're rather rare because I've only known of two and one is yours.
  9. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Saw one on Ebay not long ago...asked the guy a question about it, and he wrote me back saying he pulled the auction because the interest he got in it made him double the BIN. I lost interest at that point.

    My Turser has the 2-volume/3-switch so I'm good there, I think, unless you have a reason why I should change it that I don't know of.
  10. Flyingfrets

    Flyingfrets

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    There's these...

    http://www.allparts.com/PU-6420-010-Chrome-Pickup-for-Hofner-Style-Bass_p_3116.html

    Haven't tried them, so I don't know if they're an improvement on the Turser's stock units, but they won't break the bank.

    Pick-ups are about the only thing I haven't modded on my violin bass (a Rogue). New pots & wiring (same set-up/ 2 knobs & 3 switches - just WAY better stuff than what it came with) really brought the mini-buckers to life (pretty sure they're the same ones Turser uses), so that may be all you need.
  11. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Ya, the Rogue and Turser pickups look identical. But why would changing the pots and switches make such a difference? I know they're certainly cheap parts, but assuming they're the same spec as the expensive ones, I wouldn't think there would be any difference, or is the whole idea changing the specs?

    BTW, those pickups look tempting. They'd fit my Turser mounting rings...a little short lengthwise but that's OK.
  12. oldleftybass

    oldleftybass

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    Flyingfrets- I have a Rogue too. What did you get for the electronics upgrade?
  13. GoesThump

    GoesThump

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    Hmmm... i have one of those Tursers too, and a story similar to yours. (Bought around '05, used for a while, and then off to the closet)

    I can't recall the last time I peeked inside it - are those humbuckers multi-wire? (i.e can they be coil split?) That might get you some different tones for $0.

    GT
  14. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    Wouldn't know...never peeked inside and too lazy to do it now ;)
  15. bassclef112

    bassclef112 Supporting Member

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    I've had a Turser viola for many years. No way was I going to spend $2k on a Hofner bass that spent most of its time in the closet.

    The most I did was put a set of Pyramid flats on it when I bought. they've been on there for a long time. A few weeks ago I took it out after many moons, did a minor adjustment and fell for it all over again. I thought it sounded great.

    So this begs the question - why would you want to upgrade it? Without spending more money than it's worth, it'll always be what it is. You know what they say about a silk purse from a sow's ear. You've got your Realistic, and you have the Turser. That's what they are. Try different types of strings for more contrast.

    Or just buy a Hofner (a "real" one). I bet that'll give you what you're looking for.
  16. dedpool1052

    dedpool1052

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    EMGs and rounds:bag:
  17. mjac28

    mjac28 50th Anniversary Ed Sullivan February 9, 1964 Gold Supporting Member

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    I was going to mention the Novak's but the price is up there but they do sound really good.
  18. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

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    You're probably right. Not buying a Hofner, though ;)
  19. Flyingfrets

    Flyingfrets

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    New CTS pots, mini-switches, all wiring, new jack and replaced the shielding behind the control plate (I've seen some of the asian-made violin basses built with everything mounted directly to a metal plate under the plastic cover, but the Rogue I have wasn't built that way).

    I've bought several wiring harnesses for my guitars on ebay. There's one guy in particular that has done an outstanding job on everything I've bought from him (goes by the name "tundratone"). I'm about 95% positive he's the one I had do the new harness for my Rogue. Work was done in late 2009 - early 2010 and I don't remember with 100% certainty at this point (I have dealt with a few other guys on there & their work was certainly acceptable, but I've just been really impressed with everything I've gotten from tundratone). He uses matched pots, top quality parts - Swithcraft jacks & switches, correct spec vintage wiring, Luxe repro caps (a large part of the cost on some of the LP harnesses he's done for me), etc. Eveything will come to you pre-wired & mounted on a plastic template, not rattling around loose in the box. All you've got left to do is mount the kit in your bass & solder the pick-ups to it (complete diections & diagrams included). He's not cheap, but I can vouch for the excellence of his work.

    If you're on a budget or comfortable with a soldering iron, there's always the DIY route too. I just get lazy sometimes and as I said, I've been mightily impressed with the work tundratone has always delivered, so that's the option I went with.

    BTW, I also got a Hofner tailpiece off the 'bay as well (think it was $15 bucks from a guy who parted out a trashed Icon), and replaced the fretwire bridge saddles (pretty worn from the roundwounds that were on it when I bought it). Slight change in the string tension made the playability noticably more comfortable. And of course, the new saddles made dialing in the intonation and clarity a lot more accurate.

    Not counting the case, I've got a little under $300 total invested in the bass, so I've been real happy with the outcome.
  20. zon6c-f

    zon6c-f

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    ...never owned one.

    Back in late 60's, when I had near ZERO knowledge about electric basses, I couldn't tell difference between Hoffner, Greco or Realistic. All I knew was what I saw in all of them ... a Beatle Bass. Didn't know..didn't care about pups, bridges tuners scale length, nor strings.

    [ I was playing String Bass in high school.. you played 'em til a string broke. I have never broken a bass string PERIOD ...although I saw one pop at the bridge on a high school string bass..just missed his eyeball...]

    ....Decades later and much TB Time...

    ...Change strings for least expensive tone change.

    Not as 'permanent' as changing pups and electronics... round strings eventually go dead..flats are forever... but when I put my first set of Roto 66 rounds on my 1970 Epi..made all the difference in the world.

    My 2 cents...

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