70s Jazz Bass 3 bolt to 4 neck conversion

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Aiden Mustafa, Apr 22, 2022.

  1. Aiden Mustafa

    Aiden Mustafa

    Apr 22, 2022
    A friend of mine gave me this 70s era jazz bass for me to own and restore to playing order. It's got all sorts of problems, but it has a body and that's all I need, I love that bridge pickup slot position.

    I want this to project go ahead, however there is just one problem... the neck is absolutely knackered, basically unplayable (unless I want my fingers to be shredded into pieces). The bass also a 3 bolt system, so finding an exact replacement neck is tough, especially on a budget and in the UK.

    I was thinking about buying a 70s style neck from fender, but they only come with the 4 bolt holes.

    So my question is, could I modify the bass by drilling 4 holes into the body where the neck would go? Would the neck fit into the slot or would that be something I have to worry about? Has anyone done this before and/or is it possible?

    I'm not worried about looks, and I'm not looking to hold any value, as I have no plans of selling the bass at all once I get it up to my playing standard.

    (I am sorry if this seems like sacrelige to some people)

    If anyone can help and/or want to ask questions about the bass please do not hesitate to ask
    StereoPlayer likes this.
  2. Welcome to TalkBass!
    I’m sure more help is on the way.

    pics are always nice,
  3. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    I thought I spoke English...

    knackered > "damage (something) severely"

    Are we sure the neck is beyond any help or redemption?

  4. Aiden Mustafa

    Aiden Mustafa

    Apr 22, 2022
    Hi Riis,

    There's dents on the fretboard, both inner and on the edges, playing is tough and the frets themselves are sharp and curling into the dents in the board.

    To me it seems that way, but I can post a picture in the morning, I'd like to get yours and any others opinion on it, see whether I'm just over-reacting maybe.

    Thank you
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  5. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    I was wondering about neck salvage too. The wood is well aged, so if it is good shape (including truss-rod!), fret-removal, neck-planing and refretting (stainless!) might make sense. Even if the bullet-nut on the truss-rod is worn, it is easily replaced.

    The 3-screw Jazz system has a tilt-function (set screw) that substitutes for shimming. Pretty cool.

    Main things I would watch on the neck:
    • Again, bad truss-rod.
    • Back-bow: probably a single-action truss-rod, useless for back-bow.
    • Excessive "ski-jump", twists or humps that neck-planing can't solve.
    The price for the above is probably competitive with a new (Fender) neck, the wood is better aged, and you could probably get stainless frets.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2022
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  6. The other option would be to get an undrilled neck or plug the holes on a 4 bolt neck and drill for the 3 bolts. Might be easier then drilling a finished body. It depends on your skill set and tools.
    Picton, 96tbird and Zooberwerx like this.
  7. Aiden Mustafa

    Aiden Mustafa

    Apr 22, 2022
    Hey everyone, thanks for the advice so far

    Here's some pictures of the bass, some things to note:
    • The neck isn't as bad as I expected, it's worn but playable. Aside from a piece of the binding has gone missing.
    • There's a pretty bad gap between the pocket and neck joint, when I pick it up and push on the side of the neck it'll move. I don't know whether it's because the neck isn't screwed in properly, damage, or its a design flaw
    I have zero experience with modifying basses, I know some things about electronics, so that's about it. And I don't know any local luthiers who could help with a job like this.

    Again, thank you to everyone so far with your feedback, I'm very happy to see everyone is lending a hand with this project of mine. All of the considerations so far are very valid, does anyone know any luthiers/bass repair specialists (inner or outer of London) who could take on a job like this?

    (I'm based in Hertfordshire, so something local to that would be brilliant! But again, inner or outer London is great too!) 20220423_112237.jpg 20220423_112224.jpg 20220423_112214.jpg 20220423_112200.jpg 20220423_112237.jpg 20220423_112224.jpg 20220423_112214.jpg 20220423_112200.jpg
  8. OldSchoolFlats


    May 29, 2021
    Oh. I can't speak for instrument restorers, but as a simple bass-player? Damn!!!

    Due to excessive cost/labor, I would not take-on that bass. I would just cry a little, and give it a proper burial.

    My first bass was a natural 70s Jazz, so I do not say that lightly.

    The binding on the neck is a mess, but havng said the above, if I kept it, I'd get the the whole bass refinished, plane the neck if needed, definitely refret, and get all new hardware, probably including pickups. The wood looks solid, and is well aged now. This assumes there is no unsalvageable neck humps or twist, no back-bow (with strings on), and the truss-rod is OK.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
    Zooberwerx likes this.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Agreed. Unless you're smitten with the bass and/or capable of the work, I'd pass (sell) this off to someone better-equipped and apply the funds to another purchase. I'm sure your benefactor will understand. OTOH, I know folks who'd exclaim "whoa...a 70's jazz bass!" and sink 1-2k into its restoration...I do not reside in that camp.

    Picton likes this.
  10. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    If it was mine, I’d get it strung up and making noise. If that checks out, and the neck was otherwise ok, I have ideas for decent ghetto repairs to address the fret markers, divots and missing binding. It’s a survivor. To me that can be interesting, I mean look at it. It doesn’t deserve to die.

    But paying to restore? Nah. This is strictly ghetto now. Doesn’t matter much what neck you slap on it at this point.
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2022
  11. Picton


    Aug 16, 2017
    Reading, MA
    I'd love to take a stab at messing with that thing, but then I love '70s Jazzes and I also love a challenge. No offense, OP, but unless you're a pretty high-level DIYer, that thing might be beyond you.

    You say he gave it to you? As in, you now own it? You can flip that, as-is, for a healthy chunk of money toward a reissue with the '70s spacing, either MIJ or MIA (depending on price where you are). Might even be able to find someone here willing to trade straight-up, if the '70s pickup spacing is what you're mostly looking for.

    Just a thought. That sucker's got mojo for weeks.
    96tbird likes this.