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Advice on upgrade for MIM Jazz

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by LowKee, Mar 17, 2009.

  1. LowKee


    Jan 18, 2009
    Bourbonnais, IL
    Hey everyone,
    I just bought a Fretless Fender MIM Jazz bass this morning and was hoping someone could give me their opinion. I want to begin upgrading hardware on it as soon as I can but don't really know much Fenders and their tone yet.
    What are your opinions on which bridge I should buy? What would give me the best sustain and tone without string though?
    Also, what pickups would you recommend in a fretless jazz? Keep in mind that I am a poor college student and can't spend loads of cash on upgrades.
    So basically, what will give me the best bang for my buck when it come to upgrading these two things?

    Thanks guys,
  2. Why don't you play it for a while and see what you think needs modification? If it sounds like you want it to sound, you don't to make any mods.
  3. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    Personally, I would only upgrade a MIM bass if it had parts falling off of it. (And I've had mine for 6 years without that happening.) :smug:
    But a lot of people will probably recommend a Badass bridge and pickups made by Seymour Duncan, Bartolini, Lindy Fralin and others. There are a lot of options out there.
    People will also probably ask you to give more info about what style(s) you play, etc.
  4. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
  5. LowKee


    Jan 18, 2009
    Bourbonnais, IL
    I be playing mostly jazz with this bass. I'll use my Carvin on a most of the other stuff I do.
  6. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    +100 - all the parts on that bass are fine. If you want to buy a bass to mod just for the sake of playing around with mods, a Squier or an SX or something else ultra-cheap would be a better starting point.
  7. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Just finished modding a MIM P bass... the only hardware change was machines... I fitted some Wilkinsons.

    Pickups and bridge are fine... piccy!
  8. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    One thing you *could* have fun playing around with is your choice of strings.
    If you're playing jazz on a fretless Jazz, you could try to emulate Jaco Pastorius and use Rotosound Swing Bass strings-- they give you a lot of high end, and, if your action is really low (and your bridge pickup is favored), some of the raspy "mwah" sound that he did so well. (They also eat your fingerboard like crazy. Oh well...) (Other manufacturers, particularly DR, make great roundwound strings that tend to be nicer to fingerboards.) On the other hand, if you're trying to emulate a darker, upright-like tone, you could try flatwound strings. Some of the favorite brands around here are LaBella, D'Addario and Thomasik-Infield.
    Use the search feature... there's a LOT of material on Talk Bass about all of this stuff.
    Have fun!
  9. WRXbase


    Jan 14, 2009
    Clayton, NC
    There are, actually. Well, I don't know about "superior" knobs. I bought some custom (and I use that term loosely b/c of my dealings with the company involved) wooden knobs for a bass I traded to another TBer.

    It took forever to get them and then they weren't right. I chalked it up to a learning experience.

    -- Other than that, I'll echo what other have said about the modular-ness (is that a word?) of Fender basses/guitars. It's also a good way to get a decent product and make it unique w/o having to make a bass from scratch.
  10. derrico1

    derrico1 Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2005
    Charlottesville, VA
    ..and at the end of the day, you won't get your money back on "upgrades."

    IMO, live with the bass for a while. If you decide it's a keeper but you want to change some specific element to solve a specific problem, at least then you won't be blindly turning your cash into redundant parts.

    If you want to change everything on a MIM, might as well get a different bass.
  11. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    This buying a bass and immediately wanting to "upgrade" it has always been a mystery to me.

    I guess it's just a lemming thing, just like buying a Harley and right away either start bolting things on - or taking things off that are already bolted on. Just changing things for the sake of changing things.

    Personalizing? Customizing? OK... but in my experience, those thing don't always equal Improving.

    And just like it is with both basses and motorcycles, in 30 years, the one that will fetch the highest resale price will be the one that hasn't been molested (improved) by a previous owner.

    Obvious rant Over!
    .....now, it's your bass, do whatever you want to it.
  12. Agreed. It ain't broke...
  13. LowKee


    Jan 18, 2009
    Bourbonnais, IL
    I see what you are saying about playing it for a while first. I have just always heard that the bridge and pickups are less than stellar on the MIMs, so I was just planning on upgrading them. I will wait a while on it and see how I like it, though.
    I'll post pics in a few days when it gets here.
  14. The best upgrade you can make on a bass is new strings. Stock strings generally suck IMO.
  15. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Yes... I only changed the machine heads as the originals were a bit loose... I could have tightened them I suppose... the other mods are just cosmetic...


    Sorry... can't have a thread with no piccys!
  16. ROGI


    Apr 25, 2005
    Croatia, Europe
    i allways carved for MIM jazz (or some cheap used CIJ or MIA) that i could mod with J-east , and get fralin, aero, SD & nordstrand pickups and mess around with them
  17. dougjwray


    Jul 20, 2005
    I think the thing is that the Mexican ones have gotten better. Years ago, you did hear about the bridges being so flimsy that the strings didn't stay in place, the screws came loose on the tuning keys, and things like that. But, I think the quality has really improved. I bought mine new in 2003, just after they started making them out of alder. (That was what sold me, actually.) And there isn't one non-functioning part of it. (And it sounds great, too!) (Including the stock pickups!)
    You also get some people who think they should be getting a "Fender on steroids" sound out of a stock Fender, probably after exposure to more expensive, "modernized" versions (Lull, Sadowsky, etc.). When I bought mine, I was actually LOOKING for the simple, natural sound of a plain ol' off-the-shelf Fender (just like the ones Jaco, James Jamerson, Larry Graham, et al. used to play). A Badass bridge WILL increase sustain and brightness, if you want that. But I didn't.
    It's all up to you.
    Looking forward to the pictures!
  18. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    Remember, too, that with each upgrade comes possible unforeseen problems. For instance, a new bridge may make it hard or impossible to set up with low action. That might require shimming the neck, which might mean the nut is no longer cut right, etc.

    I like to mess around with certain basses, trying different components, painting them, trying a variety of strings, etc. I have other basses that I have never changed a thing on, save for new strings. They sound and play the way I want them to, so why mess with them?

    In the end, I think you really need to play the bass for several weeks to decide what changes are really needed, if any. Then, if you find a deficit in the bass, come back and ask what people would recommend for that specific problem.

    Just my opinion, of course. I do think a lot of people buy a bass assuming they will need to mod it, and they could often save the money and time, since the bass is often just fine as is.
  19. Agreed, play it for a bit first and see how itsounds, it may be exactly what your lookin for and won't need any mods.

    However if you think it does after wards, do it step by step, a used BADASS II can be had on the cheap and also, 62RI MIA pups are also reasonably priced on the bay...........

    Hope this helps.

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