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1971 Fender Musicmaster Bass. - Questions about bass tone response.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by slavestate, Aug 9, 2012.

  1. slavestate


    Dec 20, 2011
    Hello there,

    A buddy of mine has lent me a '71 Musicmaster bass to use for some projects we're working on. I've never owned a bass as I have been very fortunate to have great friends in that we use each others gear, with precision and care.

    I have always played guitar so the standard 34" scale never really suited me. Also, I've got petite hands, HA! So, I was looking around for a short scale on budget and quickly realized after playing close to a dozen under the $500 price range that I wasn't going to be happy. Until however my buddy mentioned he had a short scale bass that had been sitting in his closet since the mid 90's.

    So I took the thing all apart cleaning and polishing all of the hardware and touched up some shoddy solder connections as well as did some minor fret work and a minor set up. Now this thing sings!

    My only question is: is it possible to switch out the stock pick-up to be more "bass" sounding? The stock pickup has a bit of hum to it, not to mention is on the treble side. I don't want to modify the pick guard or the body, however maybe there is a modern equivalent available on the market that has more low end response?
    Is it also true that short scale bass guitars typically have a bit less of a "bass" sound? I haven't much experience with these types of things.

    Any suggestions or possible solutions?

    I am playing this through several amplifiers and I have noticed minimal differences with the bass adjustment, however the tube amps seem to have a bit more sag and less attack when picking, which I like.

    Thank you.
  2. Spinal Tapper

    Spinal Tapper

    Nov 15, 2007
    I wouldn't switch out the PU's...not that Musicmasters are worth much in the vintage market anyways, but that's just the characteristics of the bass- love it or hate it.

    An engineer friend of mine had one and said it reminded him of a castrated P bass :p

    Personally, I like the tone for certain things. Embrace it for what it sounds good for, and use a different bass for the tone you're looking for.

    Just my $.02
  3. 48thStreetCustom


    Nov 30, 2005
  4. Yeah I agree with you there. Of course, you could give it to me and get something else? ;)
  5. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    FWIW, I have a 73' MM and love it. It has the original pup but I ditched the pots and 2 cap setup when the pots were shot and wired in a 78'P bass wiring harness. This along with a set of SS chromes makes it a thump machine. It has great deep bass tone much like a P bass with good old school thump. Just lately at a gig another bass player asked if it was a replacement pup since it was so meaty sounding and was surprised when I told him no.
  6. TinIndian


    Jan 25, 2011
    Micco Florida
    There's a reason why the pup sounds like that. It's a surplus Strat pickup. If you decide to change it out make sure you save it.
  7. spufman


    Feb 7, 2005
    Central CT
    I have a '71 that I recently put back together. I was planning to use the FastTrack 2 in it, but turned out the stock electronics sounded great. I did have to run a ground to the jack (which needed a good scrubbing) to squelch some hum, looks like it was never grounded. With the short strings the low end isn't as crisp as on a 34" scale, but the flubbier character is a nice tone in its own way. My string-to-string volume is pretty consistent. Buzzes above the 14th fret, but short scales aren't so great up that high anyway. Fun bass to play, no doubt!
  8. Was there any tampering with the electronics? I had a '72, and it is supposed to have two capacitors, one that is always on, directly behind the pickup (taming the highs from that guitarpickup), and one on the tonepot, like normal basses have. From what I can recall I didn't have any issues with hum, buzz or not enough low-end...


  9. godofthunder59

    godofthunder59 God of Thunder and Rock and Roll Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2006
    Rochester NY USA
    Endorsing Cataldo Basses, Whirlwind products, Thunderbucker pickups
    I have one in the herd and through a Hiwatt DR201 it doesn't sound castrated at all! Very punchy and cuts through really well.
  10. lpcarter

    lpcarter Supporting Member

    Jan 20, 2012
    Minneapolis, MN
    I had a few musicmasters, I dropped the Aero pup in one. I liked it...didn't blow me away. I put a dimarzio fast track II in another SS bass project of mine, and I'm not at all disappointed! And for half the price. I might lean that way.
  11. I have a '77 Musicmaster that I put a Wizard pickup in. I went with that over the Aero or other models because it would fit under the pickup cover. Turns out without some sanding, it doesn't really fit under the cover, but it looks cooler with exposed pole pieces anyway. I'm more than happy with it though, its output is MUCH louder (I used to think my EB-3 was hot!) and there is plenty of bottom end.
  12. yeah, probably why my first bass (a musicmaster) ended up being modded into smithereens. That dang guitar pickup. It just never sounded good to me at all. And honestly, that initial experience with that bass negatively biased me about Fenders for years.

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