2005 Midnight Wine "Analog Bass" Repair Project w/Photos

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by tlite, Jun 10, 2019.


  1. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    For background on the bass and how it found its way to me, you can view this thread documenting this impulse purchase:

    What will arrive from GC next week? ($200 used bass sight unseen impulse buy content)

    In short, I bought the bass (with case, mind you) sight unseen from Guitar Center for $235 shipped. When it arrived, it had a number of issues from a cosmetic standpoint and setup-wise.

    Chiefly noticeable among said issues was that someone has written "Analog" with a Sharpie on the front of the headstock. Therefore, I have dubbed this bass, (wait for it)... the "Analog Bass"! Creative, I know.

    Decided to migrate descriptions of the work I'm doing over to this new thread as it makes more sense here. It has become more of a repair/maintenance project now than a stupid humor thread (though stupid humor is encouraged).

    Maybe others will find these amateur repair experiences of some value - whether to copy what I did, or to avoid doing what I did.

    To start, here's a few photos of the bass for reference. Next post will get into close up photos of the (many) visible problem areas. This MIM jazz bass has had a rough and tumble life!




    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Figured I'd learn how to work on stuff by taking on a few repairs and other work on an instrument that didn't set me back all that much.

    In separate posts I'll try to document different aspects of the work.

    Advice, questions, and tips are welcome along the way- some of this stuff I'm doing for the first time so any help (even stuff that's more hindsight oriented) will be useful to me and/or hopefully others either now or in the future.

    Next installment will be the results and methodology of the inspection of the instrument to make sure it's all working properly- truss rod, electronics, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  2. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone.

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    Just don’t convert it to digital…too sterile. :D

    Good luck with the repairs!
     
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  3. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    INSPECTION: STEP 1

    1. Visual Inspection (this is in the other thread, and probably visible from the photos but just in case, here it is again with a bit more detail and some new photos)
    • Someone wrote "ANALOG" on the headstock with a Sharpie (Why would anyone do this? What the H-E double hockey sticks?!)
      • IMG_0759.JPG
    • There is an 'X' shaped scratch/gouge in the fretboard but on 18th fret. Likely from a screwdriver.
      • IMG_0546.JPG
    • Super scratched up finish with what looks like some kind of a hole/gouge on the back
      • IMG_0550.JPG
    • Strap button moved to the back of the bass
      • IMG_0552.JPG
    • Tons of buckle rash. And other rash.
      • IMG_0557.JPG
    • Finish pretty well beat to hell
      • IMG_0556.JPG
    • Neck feels really good! Some nicks here and there but nothing major and the neck doesn't appear to be twisted (HUGE)
      • IMG_0763.JPG
    • Tuners and hardware look pretty good- a bit of gunk here and there but should cleanable.
      • IMG_0761.JPG
      • IMG_0762.JPG
    • Frets are dirty but appear to have plenty of life, and fretwork looks/feels good- no sprout, nothing sharp.
      • IMG_0546 (1).JPG
    • Pickups are dirty and polepieces rusted along with mounting screws
      • IMG_0555.JPG
    Not particularly optimistic this bass is going to work at this point. It's got some war stories for sure and doesn't look like it has been taken care of. What was that Guitar Center return policy again?

    Coming Next ---> STEP 2: Play It
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2019
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  4. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    Some lighter fluid and elbow grease should remove the 'ANALOG' from the headstock. Be generous with the lighter fluid.
     
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  5. wagdog

    wagdog

    Mar 20, 2000
    Der Waffle Haus
    That Phillips head indent must have been driven in with a hammer! I’d be inclined to keep it.
     
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  6. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    I have a neighbor with a temper; whenever he gets upset he breaks whatever is closest. I guess the former owner had a screwdriver and was close by.
     
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  7. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    STEP 2. Play it.
    • Ugh. Action high. Definitely way too much relief in the neck, and maybe need to adjust saddles a bit and bridge, but looks more like the neck. Enter concerns of how much room I'll have to tighten that truss rod (if it works at all).
      • IMG_0780.JPG
        • [The above photo is a dramatization. I forgot to take photos of it before I changed the relief (sorry for the spoiler that I will be able to adjust the relief). I am pulling the strings away from the fretboard with my non-picture taking hand to simulate what unplayable high action might have once looked like on this bass. OK, it wasn't THAT bad. Relief was about 3/16" at the 7th fret.]
    • Super hard to play.
      • I try some YYZ riffs and flub them. Maybe I'll do better after setting the bass up properly.
      • It is worth noting that Geddy Lee is better at playing bass than I am.
        • upload_2019-6-11_10-48-57.jpeg [​IMG] upload_2019-6-11_11-13-31.png
      • But Geddy doesn't have a relic'd 2005 Mexican Analog Bass.
      • SCOREBOARD: Ted - 1 : Geddy Lee - 1.
    STEP 3: Plug it in to an amp and see what happens.
    • Plugged into my Fender Rumble 500 head with a 1x10 cab direct with no pedals or anything.
      • IMG_0774.JPG
    • Victory is mine! There is sound. It sounds like a nice growly jazz bass. I wonder what pickups are in there?
    • Check the volume and tone pots.
      • upload_2019-6-11_12-4-58.png
      • Neck and Bridge volume work as they should. Tone pot works, but a bit scratchy.
    So the bass electronics seem in order, though I haven't looked at the guts yet to see whether it's a mess inside or not. Curious if the pickups are stock or not. Bass sounds good and like a jazz bass. Not at all comfortable to play though. Moving along...

    COMING NEXT --> STEP 4: MEASUREMENTS & SET UP
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
  8. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    I like this guy... he brought his sense of humor...

    ... carry on, and kudos for undertaking it, as well as documenting it. If you didn't know something before, you will soon.
     
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  9. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    THAT'S my problem with YYZ... a proper setup!
     
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  10. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    STEP 4: MEASUREMENTS & SET UP

    (These are Fender's setup guidelines I more or less was working from in this section. Super useful.)
    • Check the truss rod.
      • Googled to make sure I had the correct size hex wrench for a MIM Jazz bass (it's 3/16").
      • Fit the hex wrench into the nut and turned it gently about 1/8-1/4 turn counterclockwise (loosening).
        • IMG_0744.JPG
      • It had a little more resistance than I'm used to, but it turned. Yay! If this hadn't worked, back to Guitar Center would have gone the Analog Bass.
    • Tune the guitar to E-A-D-G, and checked the relief. (I used a notched straight edge resting on the D string in playing position, then checked the gap at 7th or 8th fret with feeler gauges.
    • Fender factory spec says .012" relief recommended. When I measured it was more like 0.188". I went to .011" as I tend to like it around there.
      • IMG_0755.JPG
        • NOTE- again this photo was taken after adjustments so the strings are much lower than they were, but this is a great action shot of a straight edge doing what it's supposed to do.
      • Slowly began tightening the truss rod. Each time detuning slightly to relieve the tension, turning the truss rod clockwise about 1/8", tuning back up and remeasuring. I had a long way to go. After many exciting repeats of this process, it started getting pretty tight.
        • Here I kind of started wondering if I was going to run out of room to tighten. I had to use more muscle, but still was avoiding really forcing it. Much.
        • I didn't clamp the neck straight like I've heard can help, but applied some pressure to the middle of the back of the neck while turning. Might've helped a little and eventually got to the target relief:
        • IMG_0758.JPG
        • The truss rod seemed tight by this point, and noticed there was a little play in the hex nut. Made a note to take a look at this later but for now priority was to make it play as well as it could with a basic setup and it was where it needed to be for this purpose.
    • Measure the action at the 12th fret.
      • Fender spec says this bad boy has a 9.5" radius neck, so we should target 6/64" at the 12th fret for the E and A strings, and 5/64" for D and G.
      • I measured it and it wasn't actually that bad. I was expecting worse given how far the neck was out.
      • This is about where it was:
        • IMG_0786.JPG
      • Worked on the old saddles a bit:
        • erlewine copy.jpg
          • Oh my. Look how disgusted legendary luthier Dan Erlewine is with my adjusting the saddles at this point.
          • I forgot to use a radius gauge first to determine whether the saddles were oriented properly before adjusting the saddles.
          • You're right to be disgusted, Dan.
        • Going to have to redo that part. Now checking the radius with some under-saddle gauges like I should have first.
        • So here we go with the 9.5" radius gauge from a set I bought on ebay for about $1.50
        • IMG_0796.JPG
        • And... it was pretty close. A few small tweaks and our radius now looks spot on.
        • IMG_0798.JPG
        • And back to the action adjustments at the saddle:
        • editeddan.jpg
        • Radiused correctly and right where we want it.
        • IMG_0790.JPG
    • I eyeballed the nut and it looked/felt pretty good so didn't mess with it.
      • IMG_0802.JPG
    OK- time to play the bass.

    Huge difference.

    Amazed that everything fell right into place and was able to bring this back to a point that it plays really well. All this setup stuff probably took around a half hour max, though I have set up instruments before. Lo and behold, this Analog Bass feels and plays great. Seriously, already know this isn't going back to GC, really fun to play.

    Has my YYZ improved? Kinda. At least my hands hurt less after playing it now.

    Still looks a mess, though...

    Next up --> Electronics.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2019
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  11. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    STEP 5: Electronics

    • Here's what it looked like under the control plate: the soldering and wiring looked neat and tidy. My guess is this is all stock.
    • IMG_0567_816x612.jpg As
    • As noted before, the tone pot was scratchy, so I knew at the very least it needed some cleaning. I love DeOxit for this:
    • IMG_0750_816x612.jpg
    • Even though the other pots were fine, I DeOxit-ed all of them.
    • IMG_0856_816x612.jpg
    • One quick squirt in each, then rotate the knobs through their full rotation a few times. Plugged in and tested and all scratchiness is gone! Man, that DeOxit is great stuff!!!
    Looking at the pickups now, my guess is these are stock. The wiring looks like it probably came from the factory that way, and while these didn't have any markings, I think they came with the bass. I was hoping for Alnico J-bass pickups. I really can't tell from looking at these, but @Eilif thought they were ceramic back on the original thread regarding this instrument.

    IMG_0571_816x612.jpg


    That said, they seem to sound good- so whatever they are doesn't matter that much.

    Also, the polepieces were really rusty. Cleaned up, but not too much- it's a bass with a workhorse history. I'm OK with a little bit of natural aging.

    IMG_0577_816x612.jpg

    Took an eraser to the polepieces and worked on them a bit. Here's a shot after I took the eraser to the neck pickup, but before I hit the bridge pickup:
    IMG_0578_816x612.jpg

    After working on the neck pickup, I put everything back together for awhile and just enjoyed playing the Analog Bass. Electronics are working smoothly with no scratchiness, plus I don't need to worry about getting a tetanus shot if I cut myself and then touch a rusty polepiece. At this point, a solid playable instrument!

    There are still a few things I will do later to improve feel and playability (mostly with the neck), but as a "player" it's about 90% at this point. Feeling much better about the Analog Bass than I did when I first opened the box, that's for sure!

    Still looks beat to hell- and that's OK. But why would I waste an opportunity to try to restore it closer to it's original look (and/or make it look even worse than it does now)? I've decided I'm ready to go ahead and use the Analog Bass as a guinea pig instrument to learn about working on and maintaining the cosmetic stuff.

    Next Up --> Uncharted Territory - Total Noob Attempt at Finish Repair. (Going to get ugly, methinks.)
     

    Attached Files:

  12. Eilif

    Eilif Holding it down in K-Town. Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    Chicago
    Yep, those are definitely ceramic. That they look like graphite and are glued to the bottom rather than being integral makes it a pretty sure bet they're ceramic. That said, if you like the tone, that's all that matters. There are plenty of great pickups that use ceramic.

    Looks like you've got good parts there and you're doing all the right things to get it in tip-top shap. I'd still highly recommend a Series/Parallel switch on a push-pull, but that's my own soapbox.

    Carry on and good luck with the rest of the cleanups and modifications!
     
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
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  13. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Love that midnight wine color. A little color match and drop fill might ease the worst of the dings, but poly is not easily repaired. Is the buckle rash into the color coat?
     
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  14. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    Well, I've already mostly repaired the back of the bass. Haven't written it up, but I got lucky with the buckle rash and it cleaned up pretty well. The rest, well some looks ok, some not as ok.

    I hear super glue bonds well with poly...? Haven't tried it yet though.
     
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2019
  15. sissy kathy

    sissy kathy Back to Bass-ics Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2014
    Arbutus, MD
    ...and if you're not careful you get it everywhere and soon have your butt stuck to the upper strap button. Use caution.
     
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  16. MCF

    MCF

    Sep 1, 2014
    US
    Nice! You got a nice bass and case for a reasonable price. Good setup work. Dave (of World of Fun Stuff) is smiling too. Looks like a fun project!
     
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  17. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    This was the only eraser I could find for the work on the pole pieces. I highly recommend this eraser for luthiering.

    eraser.jpg

    You can find these in your 11 year old daughter's school backpack. If you don't have an 11 year old daughter to steal from, I'm fairly sure StewMac sells these erasers for around $45...
     
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2019
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  18. Spidey2112

    Spidey2112

    Aug 3, 2016
    Listen up, folks... that's experience speaking there. :laugh:.
     
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  19. tlite

    tlite Supporting Member

    Aug 18, 2016
    Florida
    Ha! I have indeed logged quite a bit of YouTube time with Dave as well!
     
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  20. MCF

    MCF

    Sep 1, 2014
    US
    It shows from your post. Although you kept it suitable for PG audiences. I’ve learned a ton from watching him too. Doing what you’ve done to that wonderful MIM is fantastic.
     
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  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

     
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