Advice on updating 2004 Fender Aerodyne Jazz bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by bdhoward27, Sep 7, 2020.

  1. I’m looking to update my 2004 Fender Aerodyne 4-string passive Jazz bass and some advice from the TB community would be greatly appreciated! I will have help once the final decisions are made, but I am still nervous, nonetheless, as this will be my first time attempting anything of this magnitude on an electric instrument. This bass is very important to me and I want to make sure that my choices are solid…

    If anyone is curious on how a Fender Aerodyne Jazz looks and sounds, YouTuber Patrick Hunter did a good review of one a few years back (although mine is a bit older) -

    Fender Aerodyne Jazz Bass

    Originally, I was looking at updating the pickups, bridge and tuners, but now I’m second-guessing whether or not to take the plunge on pickups. Everything, aside from the addition of Strat-style VVT knobs, is stock just the way it was purchased 16 years ago. The stock PJ pickups still sound pretty decent, and of course I’d like to save the $$$, but I guess I’ll let the community persuade me in either direction. I will drop the extra if it will make a great difference. With pickups included, I would like to stay around $500 max, if possible...

    If I do decide to change the pickups, my friend that will be helping me has advised me to go with a 500K potentiometer and a .047 capacitor -

    Fender 500K Split Shaft potentiometer

    I know nothing of how to wire and solder. He will be teaching me. Thoughts on the potentiometer? 500k too much? Should I go 250k?...


    If I go with new pickups, I think I’ll want to stay with Seymour Duncan. I have entertained other brands and understand that there are some good quality products out there. Their passive pickups sound the best to me in the demos I’ve listened to. Although, I am asking for advice. I’m open to hearing why another brand will be better…

    Originally, I was planning to go with the SD Quarter Pound PJ set and call it a day, but after looking at the tone profile on their website and listening to some demos, I feel like they are lacking too much midrange. The output is very powerful, but they just sound too scooped in the midrange to my ear…

    I subscribe to The Bass Channel on YouTube and came across some well done demos comparing Seymour Duncan pickups. They are very thorough if anyone is interested in checking them out:

    SD Precision pickup demos

    SD Jazz pickup demos

    They explore many options, but none are in a PJ setup, but I was still able to get an idea of the sound I liked from each. My favorites were:

    SD Apollo Jazz bridge pickup

    SD Antiquity II P-Bass pickup

    Since I’ve never seen these pickups together in a PJ setup, I was curious if they would play well together. Here’s part of an email I sent to Seymour Duncan asking for their input:

    “ well will the Antiquity II P-pickup blend with the Apollo J bridge pickup? The very well done YouTube demos that I’ve listened to on The Bass Channel have led me in this direction. Although their demos on the Jazz and Precision pickups are separate and I cannot seem to find anyone in any bass forum, video, etc., that is using this combination in their P/J setup. The idea is for the tone to be very bright and punchy while still retaining a consistent, well-saturated low-end. I’m thinking the low-end on the QP PJ’s will be too “boomy” for my taste and, unless I split my signal, will cause undesired “pumping” from my compressor pedals. The Antiquity II/Apollo pickup combination seems, theoretically, that it would play well with high-gain distortion pedals and amps with no added noise or interference at high volumes. This is right up my alley, as blending different voices of distortion, fuzz and overdrive in parallel sounds amazing when fed the right bass signal! I also plan on adding thicker gauge (50-110) DR High Beams stainless steel strings to the bass once the pickups are changed. I’m not looking to go all-the-way vintage with my tone either, but there’s just something that I love about the overall smooth consistency and midrange feel of the Antiquity II. Alone, I favor it over the Antiquity and the SPB 1-4 from the demos I’ve listened to. I’m drawn more to the Apollo Jazz bridge over the Antiquity II Jazz bridge due to the fact that the Apollo is a linear humbucker. I feel this bridge is a must since I’ve had frustrating issues with grounding noise before. Not in my current bass, though. I also like its uniquely bright, punchy, harmonically rich upper midrange tone. The only concern is that the Apollo’s output volume will not be enough to flavor the Antiquity II P-pickup to taste…”

    Seymour Duncan rep Justin Jacoby replied:

    “Thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you've done your research! I think this would be a great combination of pickups based on everything you have described. The Apollo is essentially modernized version of a "traditional" jazz bass pickup, meaning you'll get a classic jazz bass tone but without any excess noise or hum and a little extra boost. Both the Apollo and Antiquity P Bass use an Alnico V magnet and should pair very nicely together, volume and tone wise. One thing worth mentioning about the aesthetic, the Apollo plastic covers are more of a housing and cannot be replaced. They have a bit of a matte finish. Our P-bass pickups and all other J-bass pickups have a more glossy cover.”

    I honestly don’t think I’ll mind the aesthetic differences if the sound is right. Does anyone here utilize this PJ setup? What does everyone think of this combo? Or should I just stick with what I already have? I’m open to ideas...

    *Intended price range based on research: $139 - $239


    The bridge is what prompted me to start updating in the first place. I’ve always had issues with the stock bridge. Amongst other issues, the most predominant problem has been a very annoying fret buzz around the 17th fret of the D-string. My E-string has got closer to the pick up over time as well. It cannot be played without clipping...

    I’ve been looking into two different styles. The one I originally decided to go with was the -

    KSM Foundations 4-string Nickel/Nickel, slotted

    The big concern I have is if this bridge will fit my particular bass. I read a forum out there in the online ether that stated the Aerodyne Jazz didn’t have enough space for a bigger, heavier bridge due to having a thinner body design. That’s what made me cautious to make a move without seeking the proper advice first. I can’t find the original forum where I read that, but I’ve only seen the issue come up once. It would be quite the chunk of change to drop if it wouldn’t work out. I love how customizable it is and I see no springs!

    The next bridge on my radar is the -

    Leo Quan Badass II

    I found out about this bridge via word-of-mouth. The guy that recommended this said it’s a “must” if I have a P-Bass. The issue I have right off the bat is that this bridge appears to just be a heavier, more updated version of my stock bridge. I see similarities, and it turns me off. It is, however, $60 less that the KSM...

    Price won’t be a concern if the result is noticeably better. Open to any other suggestions…

    *Intended price range based on research: $110 - $179


    This is where I’ll need a good bit of advice. I have no idea on what direction to go. My current E-string tuning machine needs to be turned multiple times before it “latches” to the string (for lack of a better term) and is able to tune properly. It also has issues of dropping out of tune often. All 4 tuning machines have become discolored over time as well...

    The main brand that comes up is Hipshot. I’ve read where many people swear by them. The HB7 seems to be the most popular. It would be cool if I could drop to D or C on a whim. Not sure if this particular style does that. If not, I’d like to be directed to a set that does. Seems very useful and fun. Regardless, the HB7 are quite pricey. Does the quality justify the price tag? -

    Hipshot HB7 Bass Tuning Machine

    Although, I have found things like this online that would seem to do the job very well and would be able to free up money to put toward the pickups or bridge -

    StewMac Adjustable Tension Bass Tuner Set

    *Intended price range based on research: $45 - $150

    Are there any other updates that I should know about? I’m here to learn! I know others would suggest that the nut should be replaced. I’m not sure about that as this would be the first time I’ve updated a bass. I don’t know how to check or test that...

    In case my style of play would be important, I’m a fingerstyle player that tends to attack the strings pretty aggressively. I rarely use a pick, but I attempt to emulate the initial transient attack of a pick. I have always preferred nickel roundwounds, but I’m planning on trying out a set of heavier gauge DR Hi Beams for drop-tuning. The ER-50’s (50-110) seem to be what I may be looking for. I have wanted to move toward stainless steel for quite some time. I always prefer to err on the side of a brighter tone and roll of treble as needed. I’m not much on slapping or tapping. Not that I don’t enjoy it. I’ve explored both, but only for occasional emphasis...

    After years of playing, I’m only just now starting to learn my instrument. As I mentioned earlier, this bass is very sentimental to me and has always been my favorite sounding bass when I come back to it. I’d like to give it the treatment it deserves. Thanks in advance for any input! I look forward to your responses!
  2. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    500k pots will make the bass brighter than 250k.

    You might get better suggestions if you defined what sound you are looking for in a pickup change.

    The problem you have with buzzing at the 17th fret isn't a bridge issue but a setup issue. That said I like bridges that are quick release for string changes. That to me is a good reason to change the bridge.

    Hipshot's are great. Gotoh GB640's are also a fine choice. They'll look exactly like your current tuners.
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Have you tried it with new strings and a thorough set up?
    MCF likes this.
  4. @jallenbass, I left bread crumbs among the rambling in my original post, but you’re right. I should have whittled it down and made clear the tonality I want to achieve. I’ll do that here...

    I’m looking to achieve something similar to Tool bassist, Justin Chancellor’s tone. Something about the upper midrange attack and the harmonics he’s able to get out of his lows and low mids really stands out to me. I know he also uses a pick and I mentioned that I’m a fingerstyle player. I do tend to naturally play slightly more aggressive, though. I’ve noticed striking more with the end of my fingertips gives it more of a pick attack. I could use a pick, but feel more in the pocket playing fingerstyle. Adam Jones has a very thick guitar tone and Justin is still able to punch through with authority without sounding clanky. Yes, I have a Fender PJ and I’m describing a Wal tone. I don’t want to copy his tone exactly. I’m aspiring to bring out the rich harmonics of my bass in hopes that I can sit in a mix that way..

    I’ve always preferred to err on the side of a brighter tone and roll of treble as needed. But, don’t confuse bright with “clank”. Not to be cynical, but the modern, Dingwall + Darkglass thing just isn't desirable to me. I’ve heard Dingwalls that sound amazing (Zachary Rizer on YouTube), and there are some Darkglass products that I desire to own one day. Currently I’m just not feeling the bass tone that they’re selling, unfortunately. The sound is too scooped in the midrange and that can render the bass almost useless on devices that can not replicate the full spectrum. I mentioned adding DR High Beams at some point to help bring out the brightness of the tone. I think Geddy Lee uses Rotosounds on his Fender Jazz and Billy Sheehan uses them on his Yamaha. A 500k potentiometer sounds like a great upgrade for a brighter tone, too. Thank you for the info!...

    Of course, just because I’m a fan of a brighter tone doesn’t mean that I want to lack low end. I know where I typically need to “sit” as a bassist. Low frequencies put out a lot of energy, and the guitar(s) + kick have to sit somewhere in the full context of a full mix, but I also know that low end can be perceived deeper and fuller with proper EQ, saturation and compression. I'm a big fan of HPF + LPF on bass. It’s about bringing out the proper harmonics of the instrument. I’m looking for color and clarity over boomy, scooped and clanky. Want to avoid initial clipping or “pumping” from a compressor, too...

    Even though the Antiquity II sounds great to my ear, I’m not looking to go vintage with my tone. If so, I’d get a P-Bass and play flatwounds. There’s just something that I love about the midrange feel of the Antiquity II P-Bass pickup, though. Nice warm color that feels “present”...

    The Apollo Jazz is a linear humbucker. I’ve had frustrating issues with grounding noise before that caused me to drastically alter my tone and limited the amount of overdrive I could use in a live setting. I would like it if my tone would play well with high-gain distortion pedals and amps with no added noise or interference at high volumes. I really enjoy blending different voices of distortion, fuzz and overdrive in parallel. See Karnivool bassist Jon Stockman in Sound Awake (He uses a 6-string Warwick Thumb)...

    Hopefully this accurately describes what I’m looking to achieve. Again, I’m open to any ideas!
  5. @Gorn, Yes, I’ve used many different types of Nickel roundwound strings since I’ve had this bass - Ernie Ball and D’Addario. I’ve also used Cobalt. What exactly do you mean by “thorough setup”?
  6. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Nothing special, just more in-depth. There's quick and dirty and there's taking your time. Getting it just right at every fret. Sometimes that means fret work. I tend to suggest a thorough set up in these situations because some times people ask about new parts when they haven't even bothered trying new strings. Sometimes they come on here asking about new parts and the bass is still in the mail.
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  7. @Gorn, I purchased this bass slightly used in 2004. Everything is stock aside from knobs and strings. It’s been through a lot with me in these last 16 years. Didn’t always care for it like I should have, so it probably needs fret work, along with other things I’m unaware of. Excuse my ignorance, but what is “fret work”, exactly? I may have to ask around to see who does that sort of thing in my area. Is there any other work that you can suggest? Anything else I should look into?
  8. Looking back on my original post and my response regarding tone, I’ve realized that I’ve been too long-winded. If I keep it up then this thread isn't going to get the traction I’d like. I would like to revamp this thread by whittling it down and noting some changes I’ve made since I created it…

    As I mentioned in one of my responses, I’m looking for color and clarity over boomy, scooped and clanky. I’ve decided that aesthetics do matter, but I won’t sacrifice tone for appearance. As of right now, I would like to keep my budget around $500. Again, my bass is a 2004 MIJ 4-string passive Fender Aerodyne Jazz bass with a PJ pickup configuration. Please give me your thoughts on these updates:

    DiMarzio DP126 pickups, cream

    Fender 500K Split Shaft potentiometer

    KSM Foundations bridge, black

    Hipshot HB10 Tuners, black

    ***is it worth spending the extra money to purchase Hipshot products directly from their website? Or is there a reputable retailer that carries their product that isn’t as pricey?***

    DR Fat Beams FB-45 -or- DR DDT-50

    ***tunings - EADG to CGCF (mainly E standard and drop D)***

    Couch guitar strap, black

    ***although it doesn’t affect tone, the strap is still part of the budget***

    Other things that have been mentioned to me are: changing the nut, adjusting the truss rod and getting fret work done. Any thoughts here? Any advice on nut materials?

    I would like to tag those TB’ers in the community that have helped me somewhere along the way in hopes that I could keep learning from your generous contributions. Your knowledge would be much appreciated here -

    @Dave W

    And thanks to @Gorn and @jallenbass for their prior contributions to this thread...

    If any of you that I’ve tagged would like to be removed from this message, please let me know. No hurt feelings. If this is against TB etiquette, please inform me. I don’t want to be an annoyance. You have helped me become a better bass player through your knowledge over these past 6 years and I just wanted to draw your attention to this thread. Any advice is welcome!

    Thanks in advance!
    Dave W likes this.
  9. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    Have you played around with amp settings to try to get this tone you're after?
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  10. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    I suggest starting with your amp and cab. Get a close sound there and listen for what's missing. If you love the feel of the bass you have, updating the pickups and pots could be the thing you need or maybe a pedal that hits the sound you are looking to bring to your setup.
    emal and bdhoward27 like this.
  11. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    try this

    Audere Preamps
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  12. @Gorn - Thanks for sticking w this thread! Over the past 4 years I’ve gone FOH almost always. In my prior band, I used a Hartke 4x10 and 1x15 and could never quite get the tone I was looking for. Now I know it’s bc I was going about it all wrong - scooping to much low mids, not compressing properly, wiring issues w the 4x10 cab, active preamp Tobias bass creating hiss, etc... When society returns to normal and I can comfortably set money aside, I’d LOVE to get me x2 Barefaced Big Baby II cabs and a Bergantino Forte HP 1200w amp. That’s probably too much power for me, but I can dream, can’t I? For now, I use my Fender 2x10 350w combo amp for practice. Tone shaping options are just fine for that, but the bass needs work and I feel I need to start there for the time being...

    @rratajski - like I mentioned, I’m almost always playing FOH nowadays. When my situation changes I will definitely take this approach. I did purchase a Broughton Audio Resonate Filter Equalizer in June and I love the HPF+LPF shaping I can do. HPF between 60-80hz w a +3db resonate bump and LPF cut off around 4-5khz. I also bump the midrange on the pedal somewhere between 750hz to 1.5khz in conjunction with a slight mid scoop between 400hz - 500hz on my combo amp. Sounds great, but after 16 years, the bridge absolutely needs replaced on my Aerodyne along with the tuners. No intonation issues that I can hear, but I’m sure it needs more than some cosmetic work. I’ve had to use my Yamaha 5-string jazz for a while now, which sounds great, but it’s not my Fender. The stock pickups still sound great, I just want to get more out of the bass if I can. Find harmonic content that I didn’t know was there. No amp, cab or pedal will fix these issues. It has to start w the bass and I want to make sure I’m doing things properly. Btw, my Fuzzrocious Rat Tail I purchased 5 years ago still remains one of my favorites!!!

    @Ric5 - excuse my ignorance, but is that active circuitry? I’ve never heard of these before, but I’m very intrigued! My Aerodyne is passive. I’ve not had much luck w active basses in the past. Will this preamp essentially make my bass active? I’m getting ready to watch another YouTube video on the Audere Preamp. Will they work with a PJ setup, too? I’ve read good things about the EMG Geezer Butler pickups on TB, but I was wanting to stay away from them bc of all the excess wiring, etc. But like I said, the Audere Preamp is intriguing. Can you explain these further? Have you installed one on a bass you play? You may have to explain these to me like I’m 5 years old...

    In addition, who here has, or still uses, these DiMarzio PJ pickups? Has anyone tried a KSM bridge and favors it over other bridges? What is a good nut to use for thicker gauge, stainless steel strings?
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2020
  13. rratajski

    rratajski Commercial User

    Jul 1, 2008
    Mount Laurel, NJ
    Maybe a tone shaping pedal or pedal with some character/voicing might work for ya?
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  14. @rratajski - believe me, my GAS has been on high alert over this whole pandemic! There are a few “harmonic saturation” pedals that I’ve had my eye on, especially the BecosFX Twain, Darkglass Harmonic Booster, Shift Line Olympic MkIIIS, Eden Glowplug, etc, etc. I was also speaking with Bryan at Saturnworks about the possibility of a custom bass preamp pedal that utilizes a 12au7 tube and he pointed me toward his Dark Matter Jr w a bass mod. I have also discussed with @tekhedd about the utilization of compression in the high loop of a frequency crossover pedal to bring out particular harmonics. The Broughton RFE is more of a cabinet simulation pedal, if I had to classify it as anything. I do own the your original version of the Fuzzrocious Feed Me as well! I love it’s tone-shaping capabilities! It’s also a favorite of mine...

    That said, amps, cabs and pedals aside, my bass needs work done. Even if I had the ability to get anything I wanted, I feel I need to start with the instrument itself - pickups, bridge, tuners, nut, etc. Maybe I’ve been too all over the place with my OP and tone response and that’s caused some confusion. That’s why I made the post I tagged you in. I’m searching for advice on how I can get the best out of my bass first, then the other stuff follows. This doesn’t mean I’m not up for learning anything. That’s why I’m here, to learn. I’m willing to change my outlook and take a different approach. I just feel that the pedal first approach won’t get me where I need for this particular bass.
  15. Does anyone watching or reading this thread own or play a bass with a PJ pickup configuration? If so, what pickups are you using and why?

    Is the bridge on your PJ bass stock, or did you replace it? If so, what bridge did you replace it with and why?

    If you’ve made any adjustments or updates at all, what are they? Are you happy with the changes you made, or do you wish you had done something differently?
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    Yes the Audere preamp is an active preamp that can be installed on your bass with your existing pickups ... with 4 tone knobs (treble, bass, mi-mid, low-mid) you can dial in many different tones
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  17. Have you installed an Audere preamp on any of your basses?
  18. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    ya about 15 different times

    bdhoward27 likes this.
  19. I see you’re a fan! What model do you recommend for a bass with a jazz and precision pickup?
  20. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing
    I prefer the classic 4 band myself
    bdhoward27 likes this.
  21. Primary

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    Jun 23, 2021

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