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Bass Mod's Over The Years

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Bassmickeyd, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. This idea came off the Jaco JPI website when someone posted about what 'mod's' can be done to a bass.
    It started me thinking about all the good and bad 'mod's' offered up over the years. So I started a list.

    It seemed back in the 70's when the 'mod-craze' started, players would own one instrument and do all they're mod's to it.
    I guess that's pretty well what started the 'mod' industry.

    From which came.
    1) Dimarzio, Bartolini, EMG, Duncan, Fralin, pickups.
    2) Who remembers the Fathead. The metal plate you'd screw to your Fender headstock to give you more sustain. As if a Fender bass wasn't 'neck heavy' enough.
    3) Badass bridges
    4) Hipstock D-tuners
    5) Internal pre-amps.
    6) Wammy bars for bass. As if guitar players didn't hate us enough.
    7) The body guard you'd put on your bass so you didn't scratch the surface. Another way to insure it didn't get scratched was to leave it in the case.
    8) The brass craze of the 70's. Those heavy brass bridges are worth more at your local scrap mental yard than they are on Ebay.
    9) Different designs of bass strings. How about the piano wire design bass string. I put a set of those on my 66 P-bass with the original threaded bridge. Half way through the night the bridge cut thru the wire and sent the E-string hurtling out into the crowd. I didn't want to know where it landed.
    10) Not to forget, Warmoth, Mighty Mite, Stuart Macdonald, Musician Friend.
    11) The "Brass Nut"

    Who remembers what?
  2. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008


  3. funkytoe

    funkytoe Supporting Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Northern California
    Boy...that's a pretty good laundry list. And I confess to doing most of these mods to one bass or another over the past 30 years.

    I would add:
    Shielding the electronics cavity, and
    Adding the J pickup at the bridge on all your P basses.
  4. What? No teardrop shaped P bass mod?

  5. Jim C

    Jim C Is that what you meant to play or is this jazz? Supporting Member

    Nov 29, 2008
    Bethesda, MD
    A couple of thoughts:
    * The pickup craze started when guitar players wanted hotter pups or something closer to a PAF, although you didn't ned to be Einstein to know that some 70's bass pups were awful
    * The Bodygaurd was purely a marketing tool by CBS to sell more product
    * Don't think the Fathead was an original idea as savy recording studio guys used a C-clamp on the end of the neck to gain sustain and decrease C# / D dead spots long ago; same effect can be had by holding the edn of your bass against a wall
    * How about active pre-amps; not sure what year they started but that was a big deal; perhaps Alembic was one of the first?

    Still amazed that many (including myself) still prefer the basics from back in the day; amazing since most other products (TV's, car, motorcycles, bicycles, anything electronic non-audio)has been improved 100 fold
  6. I own a 64 P-bass that's been tear-dropped. With the head stock weight issue, not to mention saying good bye to playing while sitting, the fellow who did the tear drop mod also installed a large chuck of brass beneath the bridge which works to correct the head stock weight issue but adds a nice sustaining quality to the bass. I installed the first year (mid-70's) Bartolini HI-A P-bass pickups to really make it sing.
    Preamps: I'd agree Alembic were the first out of the gate on that one. I bought, in the mid or late 70's, the Bartolini Chip bass preamp. Still own it but don't really like active basses.
    Refinishing: Who ain't guilty of that one. The 70's "Natural" look swept many a sunburst finish off a Fender's back. Maybe the reason for the re-interest in the 70's Mocha Brown Fender's was because so many of those finishes where lost to a power sander.
    Relicing; Is a relatively new mod, that might be looked upon in the future as more of a "fad". Refinishing is one thing. Different color, different look. But, relicing came from guy's trying to be dishonest in selling old looking instruments to unsuspecting buyers. The late 80's early 90's Japanese market started the 'vintage' craze and many were sold relic's thinking they had the real thing.
    Relicing makes people think because your instrument looks old you must be real good. Isn't it funny that the guitar market is the only instrument market that buys into that.
    Speaks volumes.
  7. Showdown

    Showdown Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2002
    Honolulu, Hawaii
    I remember all of those.
  8. JTE

    JTE Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Central Illinois, USA
    It was in the early '60s and it protected the back of the instrument from belt buckle scratches.


    On factor the started the interest in mods (plural, not the possesive "mod's", BTW), was that by that time people noticed that most new instruments were NOT as good as the older ones. Add in that most companies weren't making vary many options available. In 1974 you could get a Precision in your choice of maple or rosewood fingerboard, fretless or fretted. With a Jazz, the choice was even smaller- maple or rosewood only. Now FMIC alone makes a bout a million Jazz basses, and almost as many Precisions. But at that time if you wanted a hotter signal, better tone control, etc. it was either mod a Fender or buy an Alembic. The cheaper stuff wasn't nearlly as good in most cases, and there just wasn't much other than that.

  9. How about the Wilkinson 5 string conversion kit?I laid down about $180.00 for that junk.Oh,well.At least it helped me determine if I was a 5 string player at heart.
  10. On the subject of piano design strings... I had a set of Rotosound's exposed core strings once. I never had any trouble with them (weird harmonics or strings breaking), other than the hassle they were to put on... But I always wondered just how bad it'd be if I ever broke at the bridge without any winding to hold it together.


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