Bass Modding club

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Sundogue, Jan 13, 2015.


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  1. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    A recent thread posed the question asking why would anyone choose to buy a bass with the sole purpose of modding it rather than just buying a better bass. So I thought I would start a Bass Modding Club thread. It is not an official club with numbers, but I thought it would be interesting to see just how many people bought a bass knowing they would mod it and what the bass was and how you modded it to your liking.

    I'll start it off. I got an ESP-LTD B205SM 5 string bass for practically nothing. I exchanged my services as an artist for a small mural in the music store for it. The mural only took me two days to do and I got the bass.

    First, it had a spalted maple top, but IMO the spalting was rather minimal and not very attractive. I sanded it down to the Ash body and finished it with gloss poly.

    Secondly, the stock ESP soapbar pickups were rather thin sounding and overly bright with not much punch. They weren't horrible but not what I was after. I swapped out the pups with Seymour Duncan NYC Phase II Passive soapbars (humbuckers) and wired them up to two switches so they can be switched in Series/Single Coil/Parallel. Punchy, powerful and tonally versatile.

    Thirdly, I absolutely hated the pointy headstock. I cut off the headstock point, reshaped it and sanded off the LTD logo and replaced it with an Om symbol.

    A major improvement in looks and sound. As it came to me stock, it played beautifully with extremely low action and in almost every other way I loved the bass. I have about $270 into modding it and some of my time and it is, in every way, very much the perfect bass for me now without having to shell out thousands.

    Here's before shots...

    w.talkbass.com%2Fproxy.php%3Fimage%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252F2ndnaturecreations.com%252FMusic%252Fesp.png proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2F2ndnaturecreations.com%2FMusic%2Fold.png

    And after shots...

    proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2F2ndnaturecreations.com%2FMusic%2FESP-LTD-NYC2.png

    proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2F2ndnaturecreations.com%2FMusic%2FESP-LTD-NYC.png

    bass.com%2Fproxy.php%3Fimage%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252F2ndnaturecreations.com%252FMusic%252Fheadstock.png

    So what else has everyone done with buying a bass specifically knowing they were going to mod it?
     
  2. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Except on my very best instruments, I'm always tinkering with things, and yes, I've bought SXes with the intent to mod them. I practice mods and setup work on the cheap ones before I cut into the good ones. Why? Well, it's cheaper to find a bass with good wood and junk electronics then replace the latter. And I like having "test beds" for playing with different pickups and wiring ideas. (And yeah, I'm another "luthier wannabe".)
     
    GlassToMouth and Sundogue like this.
  3. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    +1 to the good wood and junk electronics. Especially these days with high quality CNC machines turning out very solid bodies and necks. The fit and finish of my ESP was VERY good. Very high end, from the flawless neck and body to the perfectly done fret job. I could have lived with the looks, but I had to change the pickups.
     
    zapped777 likes this.
  4. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    20150113_125545.jpg 20150113_125606.jpg I found a MIM Jazz for $275 that was stock. Figured it would be a back up especially for outdoors. Decided it would be a great test bed for any whims that came along.
    I already had a SD bridge 1/4 pounder in a drawer so I got a neck one to match. While not bad, I found that I would try something else in the future.
    Next came the push/pull pot for series/parallel.
    Then I tried my first shielding job.
    Then after a year of searching, I finally found a glass sparkle PG. Apparently rare as hen's teeth (especially in Canada).
    Finally tarted it up with some chrome for the old school look.
    Was going to put a thumb rest on but there's too much stuff in the way now (covers) so I left it off.
    Nothing too crazy added up but it looks good on my wall while I'm playing something else.
    Downsides, it now weighs 10 pounds. (The PG is noticibly heavier plus the chrome) and I found out today that pre 2001 MIM's are less desireable than later ones. (Shh. ...don't say anything...it's looking at me right now ;))
    I do enjoy playing it as it's the only bass that has rounds on it in my house right now, but it won't become my main player any time soon.

    This maybe one of those not so good wood or electronics deals but there's no more than $400 in it.
     
  5. Aaron Houts

    Aaron Houts

    Jan 10, 2014
    Flo Rida
    I also did it to learn setups and repairs.

    I initially bought an MiM Fender P, completely rewired it and added a Seymour Duncan QP, Gotoh 201 Bridge and Hipshot HB7 tuners.

    When I was comfortable with that, I bought an American Special P specifically to mod it. I restored the MiM to stock and sold it. Then I moved all the mods to the Special. I love it!

    The only thing I'm going to do now is replace the HB7s with Hipshot ultralites to improve balance. I'm nervous about this one because I have to drill. The HB7s were drop-in replacements. I have to figure out how to make sure that the tuners are straight. Any suggestions would be appreciated!
     
    zapped777 likes this.
  6. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I would absolutely LOVE to hear this bass. Can you post some audio of it on here?
     
  7. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I'd take some pics of my mods, but there's not much to show. On al three of my Fenders, I've put Nordstrands in them and they look pretty similar to the stock pups.

    Besides, I"m not a modder for the sake of being a modder, but I sorely wish I had the time to mod some instruments and even build some kit basses.

    But with my schedule, I just mod the basses on an as-needed basis. I replaced the pups in the fenders because I prefer the sound of the Nords. Nord preamps are going in next.
     
  8. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Maybe in February. I'm working days and nights on two huge projects right now. I'm lucky to get home, get something to eat and go to bed. I planned on doing a review of the SD NYC pickups because there is very little out there right now on them. There is this SD video on YouTube explaining them. It's how I wired them up. Note that the poles on the outside strings do not line up centered (neither on my bass, nor the one in the video). But it has no effect on the sound. They are drop in replacements for EMG size 40 pups (4 or 5 string).
     
    Geri O likes this.
  9. rtav

    rtav Millionaire Stuntman, Half-Jackalope

    Dec 12, 2008
    Chicago, IL
    While I haven't done it (yet), I'm considering buying an ESP LTD B1006 and having it defretted as I've always thought these basses sounded great - but there was no fretless model.

    Another reason to buy with the intent of modding. Now I just have to buy the thing!
     
  10. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    Which Nordys did you use. I'm considering that route.
    Interested on your take on them.
     
  11. snyderz

    snyderz

    Aug 20, 2000
    AZ mountains
    Since I 'assembled' 5 of my 7 basses, I suppose all of those are modded. Fretless necks installed on all of them, ranging from MightyMite, to Warmoth, to Allparts. I like Quarter Pounders, so several of them are so equipped. The Geddy has Sadowsky pups. Some have Schaller tuners, and some cheap clones. The mutt seafoam P has Jazz covers! All of them play great.

    All basses 2014 003.JPG
     
  12. Geri O

    Geri O Endorsing Artist, Mike Lull Guitars and Basses Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 6, 2013
    Florence, MS
    I love them. I was looking for a noise-free solution to a Mexican Jazz I had de-fretted. I installed the NJ5FSs in the bass. Not only was it quieter, but it sounded warmer and less edgy while still keeping the bite. I use primarily the rear pup on this bass. I just got a AM STD Jazz V that I installed the same set of pups in it, too. Man, they sound nice. And quiet, too!

    I also put a set of the NP5Fs on my Precision V. Same results. I love the gnarly bite of the Precision tone. The Nords give me that same nice sound, but without the edginess that I didn't like with the stock pups.

    My next move will be to replace the preamps in those 3 basses with the Nordstrand preamps.

    I get my Nords from Bestbassgear.com. They have great prices and are great to talk with when I have questions or need some advice. They've never steered me wrong.

    Good luck.
     
    Sundogue likes this.
  13. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    I've installed a U-Retro preamp in my Modulus Q5, that's about it for successful mods to my basses.

    Oh yeah, and I've detroyed a perfectly fine P bass clone by cutting off various pieces of wood, ripping out the frets and putting in an EMG pickup and preamp. It's now completely unplayable, but it was a fun project. ;)

    BastardBass.jpg
     
  14. Lowendtech

    Lowendtech Happily trending in my own peculiar direction. Supporting Member

    Great, thanks. Not much in the way of Nordy dealers here in Canada that I can find so I guess it'll be direct to mfr for me.
     
  15. bholder

    bholder Affable Sociopath Supporting Member

    Sep 2, 2001
    Vestal, NY
    Received a gift from Sire* (see sig)
    Sure doesn't look unplayable... What's the problem?
     
  16. I've always bought and played stock, but I do have a few pet projects in mind...

    1. Nice and cheap... Sterling MM SUB Ray 4 with Aguilar MM pickup and OBP-2 preamp, then getting the neck properly poly glossed professionally.

    2. Dan Lakin Bob Glaub P with extra rout for Aguilar J 60's HC pickup.

    3. Fender American Standard or American Special Jazz with Aguilar HC 60's.

    Yep, you've guessed the theme - I love the sound of the Aguilars!
     
  17. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    The fretboard isn't that flat and with saddles bottomed out the strings are still too high. I think it could be saved with some more work, levelling the fretboard and maybe shimming the neck, but I lost interest once I got better basses.
     
  18. Sundogue

    Sundogue

    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I think I've modded every bass I've ever owned over the last 35 years, except for a beautiful Rickenbacker I had a long time ago. And I've had some pretty expensive basses over the years. In fact, I think if I bought another Ric I doubt I would do anything to it except change strings! Modding basses is just something I like to do, even if it's something fairly small or insignificant.

    Makes me think I need a Ric. ;)
     
  19. mapleglo

    mapleglo Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 7, 2013
    phoenix, az
    I used to think that.

    1zxnzwp.jpg

    First I swapped out the white pick guard and truss rod cover for black ones. Then I put copper shielding in the pickup and control panel cavities, while I swapped out the bridge pickup for a horseshoe pickup. Then I changed the knobs to the vintage style. Then I added the thumb rest because I started using my fingers instead of pick more often. I'm now in the process of getting a toaster pickup for the neck. I might be done by then...
     
    Sundogue likes this.
  20. Ken J

    Ken J Hartford Hot Several Brass Band

    Aug 19, 2011
    Middlefield, CT
    image.jpg
    Cort Action Junior active EMG
    De-fretted
    American Deluxe Fender bridge

    image.jpg
    Dyna Unity with Bart's
    image.jpg
    De-fretted
    Bass Lines
    Schaller bridge
    image.jpg
    SX fretless short scale
    Fender American pickups
     
  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.

     
    Jul 25, 2021

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