Dismiss Notice

Psst... Ready to join TalkBass and start posting, make new friends, sell your gear, and more?  Register your free account in 30 seconds.

Are some basses not worth upgrading?

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Aaron, Oct 24, 2001.


  1. Aaron

    Aaron

    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    I'm just wondering. Is it worth it to add new pups, bridge, tuners, preamp... to basses like:
    -mim jazz/p-bass
    -Hohner Firewood Pro
    -Any POS rouge
    -cheap yammahas
    -squiers
    ...
     
  2. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Define "worth it".

    If it's firewood, probably not - unless you have a strong emotional tie to the bass, then anything goes.

    If the neck and body are sound, and you like the instrument, why not?

    Not everything has to be a financial decision!
     
  3. gweimer

    gweimer

    Apr 6, 2000
    Columbus, OH
    You have to consider the cost of upgrading vs. the cost of getting another bass. The phrase to keep in your mind would be "putting earrings on a pig".
     
  4. Suburban

    Suburban

    Jan 15, 2001
    lower mid Sweden
    If wood is good......don't burn it:rolleyes:

    Whether it's worth it depends on the quality of the backbone = neck (and the part of the body that connects a separate neck to the bridge and string retainer)

    If that is great, upgrade if you whish.
    If that is crap, use it for firewood.
     
  5. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Do the math:

    1. Price out the cost of the upgrades

    2. Price out the cheapest bass that already plays and sounds the way you like. Subtract how much you can get selling your current bass.

    3. Compare the two numbers, how much (if anything) are you saving?


    Rule of thumb: if the upgrades cost more than 50% of the value of the bass, you are probably wasting your money.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I generally agree with the advice given so far; but I would add that Fenders are far better for upgrading than anything else. So Fender have been around for quite a while now, keeping more or less the same shapes/spec for Jazz and P, so the spare parts industry has had time to grow up and make some pretty good stuff - like bridges and even whole necks - like Warmouth.

    There are also some pretty good replacement pickups and onboard preamps - and the thing is you know they will fit. Whereas most cheap instrument manufacturers have changed their models so often it will be quite difficult to find anyone who knows whether the model you have is compatible with any replacement parts.

    But a MIM Jazz for example has a vast range of potential upgrades that are certain to fit.
     
  7. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    It really depends. It is worth it in that you can improve the quality of your instrument. Especially with the MIM Fenders as mentioned.

    It is certainly NOT worth it as far as value of the instrument. A $200 used MIM Jazz with a $100 set of bartolini pickups, a $80 preamp, a $50 Leo Quan bridge and a $75 set of tuners is never going to sell for $500. No way. Never. You might get a minimal premium for the upgrades, but the bass mentioned above is probably going to sell for $275-300 at the most.

    If you are going to put together a player and play it into the ground, I say go for it. If you are going to get tired of it in a year and trade it, you'll lose your shirt.


    Chas
     
  8. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    If you're looking to ever recoup your investment - No

    If that's not a consideration, then just remember you won't get the full potential out of the upgrades because the instrument doesn't have great "bones."

    If you could make a fine bass with just upgrades, the higher-end and custom markets wouldn't be flourishing.

    Out of those basses, I'd find the Fender MIM most deserving of upgrades (I've never played a Hohner and don't even know what a "POS" is, though).
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That's what I was trying to stress - a lot of people have made very good basses out of upgrading these. I actually liked the feel of the neck better on the MIM Jazz than the US Jazz basses I've tried, but the MIM does skimp on some parts; so I think it's worth it if you like the MIM in the first place.

    Of course this is assuming that you are just trying to get the best bass you can, in terms of tone, playability etc, rather than looking at market values.

    I must say that the latter doesn't interest me at all so I tend to ignore this. I have basses only to play and not as "investments" or whatever.
     
  10. MIM Fenders are worth upgrading IMHO plus if you are smart and keep the old parts you can always take your upgrades off if you decide to get rid or it.
     
  11. Aaron

    Aaron

    Jun 2, 2001
    Bellingham, WA
    Really? I should have put P.O.S. It means Peice of ****. I know some people that have those basses, but i was more trying to say low-budget bass. I have a mim jazz that i'm thinking of upgrading. It is not for an investment because it obvisously isn't a good investment to upgrade a bass to sell it.

    I just wondered if it was ridiculous to spend $400 of upgrades for a $200 bass, even if it is a keeper. For example, would a new set of batolini pickups, a leo quan bridge, a bartolini preamp, and hipshot pegs be worth putting on a MIM P-bass?
     
  12. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    Why not?

    Let's say you really like that MIM and it's in good mechanical condition (tight neck pocket, straight neck, decent fretwork, a color you like). You can't see ever wanting to sell it. What's wrong with making it better?

    Not everything in life has to be a commodity. Sometimes impractical toys make the best toys.
     
  13. re. Squiers, if it's a 91 or 92 plywood bodied Korean Squier precision (my first bass) then it's definitely NOT worth upgrading.
    I feel that any of those basses remaining (I smashed mine) should be rounded up and burned to prevent any more beginners suffering.
     
  14. rllefebv

    rllefebv

    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    My '92 MIM J Bass is getting the full gamut of upgrades including a J-Retro pre-amp, in part because, as Bruce pointed out, I happen to like the feel of this neck better than many MIA's I've played. I have no plans of selling it ever, (I'm one of those guys who keeps things forever)...

    I paid $250 for it and will be putting better than $500 in parts in it. Definitely worth it for me. YMMV

    -robert
     
  15. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member


    Thanks Tracy! I just hadn't seen anyone take the care to properly capitalize it. Plus, I recently saw/heard P.O.D. :rolleyes: (studio and live 2 very different things).

    ------- "...I just wondered if it was ridiculous to spend $400 of upgrades for a $200 bass, even if it is a keeper. For example, would a new set of batolini pickups, a leo quan bridge, a bartolini preamp, and hipshot pegs be worth putting on a MIM P-bass?...."---------

    IMO, not ridiculous but not always sage idea. You're into a price range that will get you a used bass that is designed with all the components in harmony and better woods and construction.

    Sure, those upgrades can't hurt, but you may not get full benefit of the upgrades potential. As Rick Turner said years ago, "if you add all sorts of pickups, knobs and switches to your trusty P-bass, you probably won't get a cornucopia of good tones.....". A polished turd is just shiny s**t.
     
  16. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    I take it that they weren't very good live?
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    But a lot of people don't necessarily want a a load of different tones, but rather just one good tone that they like. If you like the basic sound of the bass, then why not upgrade as you know what you're starting from and can add better quality hardware simply to make it more of a practical tool.

    Of course, if you don't like the basic tone and are looking for something completely different, then I don't think that upgrading will make any difference and you would be better off buying another bass.
     
  18. rickbass

    rickbass Supporting Member

    Jeff - It was the vocals. Disappointing, in the way that many bands are when there is a stark difference between what is recorded and what goes down live.

    For instance, "Alive" really caught my ear on the radio. The vocals sounded lush and thick, especially on the refrain. But live, it was just bassist, Traa, singing the line, "For the very first time" in the type of voice men use when they're trying to sound like women. And it sounded like he was tired of singing it for the 4,000th time.