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Beatle Bass Overhaul

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Mosstone, Apr 9, 2017.


  1. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    I've been posting updates of this project in the Rogue VB100 Club thread, but I thought I'd give it a thread of its own, so that more people - who may not ever venture into the club thread - will have a chance to see it (big props to @SitDMC , @Stdjazz4 , and @GIBrat51 for being consistent followers and supporters of this project so far! :thumbsup:)

    This bass is almost finished (just waiting on a control panel from Pickguardian) so you all won't have to wait (sometimes weeks) between progress reports, but I will make these posts in installments. There's a lot of information and pictures and there's no way I can get it all down in one sitting.

    It's gonna be a long read, so if you're into projects like this, grab a cupa coffee and a muffin and settle in.

    Here's a little background... Back in November, I bought one of these when MF was blowing them out the door for $149 (I actually got mine for $131 as an 'open box' item. I can't find anything wrong with it).

    I used to own an Epiphone Viola a few years back (yeah, I'm a Beatles nerd) and it was a very high quality bass, but I just wasn't very inspired by the way it sounded. I put a set of Chromes on it and it sounded kinda boring. Maybe I just don't like Chromes, but I think the pickups were kinda lackluster, too. I was into modding back then, but I had no idea what kind of pickups I could replace the stock ones with, or where to find them (I wasn't very internet savvy yet).

    The Viola ended up collecting dust and I eventually sold it after a couple of years. Every now and then, I would start thinking it would be fun to have another Beatle bass, but the Icons/Ignitions/Whatevers aren't anywhere near the quality of the Epiphone Viola, and frankly, I didn't want to invest $350+ for another go at this project of sheer whimsy.

    Anyway... Along comes the Rogue, and I figure; for $131, what the heck... I didn't expect it to be as nice as the Epi Viola (and it's not) but it's a lot nicer than what I was expecting (which was a toy, honestly).

    In fact, this is a pretty well made bass. A surprisingly well made bass. I could only find the most minor of finish flaws. If I had paid the regular price of $229, I probably still wouldn't have complained at all. It played well right out of the box. The fret work was well done (I did have to file just the slightest bit off of a couple of frets, but that was it). They were all seated well, dressed well, no sharp ends, etc.

    This is a fully hollow bass, just like a Hofner, but unlike an Epiphone Viola - which was only semi-hollow. I think that's why I didn't like the sound of that bass. It just sounded dead and flat with that center-block. The Rogue is much more lively and resonant.

    The biggest surprise were the stock pickups. They sounded really good. Especially the neck pickup. I didn't care for the sound of the bridge pickup as much, but that had more to do with the fact that you couldn't get it close enough to the strings. At any rate, I was planning on making this into a Hofner clone, so the pickups would have to go, in favor of a pair of Hofner-licensed replacement pickups from Allparts, but I'll get to that later.

    Rogue%20VB100%202.png

    I like the fact that the Rogue has a Hofner style headstock and I think the body shape is closer to a Hofner than some of the other copies. What I didn't like was the 'lemon-drop' burst as it appears in the pics on the website, and it kept me from pulling the trigger on one for a long time. I found out that these are very old photos (MF has been using them since the '90s!) and they actually look more like this:

    60cc1ac6-a6e6-40f7-a02d-0ba62d32981b.jpg

    Note: By the time I had taken this photo, I had already changed the stock 'curly-Q' tailpiece for a genuine, German Hofner TP (found a good deal on one online). I also removed the hideous pickguard. It was the cheapest looking 'pearloid' PG I'd ever seen. Besides, why cover up that flame?

    The paint job and finish are surprisingly well done, and looks even better in person, IMO. The burst is a little lighter around the edges than it looks in this photo. It's kind of a honey sunburst, leaning towards tobacco.

    My original plan was to make a 'deluxe' Hofner clone out of this, since it already had the appropriate headstock and body shape. I figured the rest would just be a matter of getting the right parts. I knew I might have to get creative with some stuff, since there were sure to be structural differences between the two basses, but the further I got into the project, the more I realized that I would have to make too many compromises and it could never end up looking exactly like a real Hofner.

    I wasn't thinking of trying to trick anybody. I just took it as a personal challenge. I thought of it in terms of; if I were playing 'Paul' in a Beatles tribute band, could I get this bass close enough to the real deal to get away with it on stage?

    Anyway, I decided to go my own way with it, but my original plans informed most of my parts purchases, so it's still going to look (and hopefully sound) much like a Hofner, only with a few personal twists.

    After installing the new TP and getting rid of the pickguard, the next thing I wanted to do was get the Rogue logo off the headstock. In most cases the decal is just under a thin layer of poly and you can sand it off without going all the way down to the wood. Not so in this case. The Rogue logo was screen printed right on top of the paint, so I would have to re-paint and refinish the headstock.

    20161118_180621.jpg

    You'll notice a crack on the lower right side of the headstock, just above the nut. Someone went a little crazy with the glue when they installed the nut, so when I removed it, a big chip of wood came with it. Luckily, I was able to glue it back in and conceal the fissure in the end.

    roxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2F20161118_180633.png

    Since I was going to have to refinish the headstock, I decided to paint faux binding around the perimeter (as with many Hofners).

    Taped and ready to spray (sorry about the blurry pic):

    roxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2F20161231_122731.png

    I used 3M blue painter's tape (never again). It didn't come out as clean as I had hoped. Had a few spots where there was some paint creep under the tape.

    Left side - There's a couple of spots near the top of the headstock, and it's a little rough down toward the nut. I waited too long before pulling off the tape and it came off kinda chippy towards the bottom.

    image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fheadstock20binding20left.png

    Right side - Came out a little better.

    mage=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fheadstock20binding20right.png

    Top - another leak.

    ?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fheadstock20binding20top.png

    I cleaned up all of the leaks with an x-acto knife. Just put down a piece of masking tape to use as a guide and lightly scored/scraped the paint off with the x-acto blade. It all cleaned up quite nicely, but I CANNOT recommend the use of 3M Blue painter's tape for this application. It may be fine for water-based paints, like latex, but doesn't hold up to solvent-based paint.

    Even still, I used it again for the black. I didn't think it would be as bad this time, since I would only be spraying a single, light coat of black, as opposed to the several coats of cream white I had to spray previously.

    How wrong I was:

    image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fblack20paint20leak20left.png

    All kinds of creep... All the way around.

    mage=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fblack20paint20leak20top_2.png

    The right side of the headstock actually wasn't that bad, but it still needed a little cleaning up. According to my perfectionist nature).

    mage=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fblack20paint20leak20right.png

    I don't think the pics show it as bad as it truly looked, but I didn't panic. I was glad that I decided not to wait a day or two before removing the tape. I just waited until it was dry to the touch, because I knew I would have a better chance of cleaning up rough spots before the paint completely cured.

    The white paint had been drying for a week, so it was fully cured by then and could probably stand up to a mild solvent if I'm careful and go lightly. You should always try the least aggressive solvent first, so I tried rubbing alcohol on a Q-tip and it worked brilliantly! I could use the Q-tip as a tool to rub the black paint back to a smooth, clean line all around the edges of the headstock and it didn't affect the white paint at all. (whew!).

    For a first attempt (heck, for a 21st attempt) I couldn't be happier with the results (again... sorry about the photo quality. Photobucket sometimes make pics a little blurry when you reduce them, for some reason):

    e=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fheadstock20right-side20final.png

    ge=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fheadstock20left-side20final.png

    The challenge with painting the binding on this headstock came from the fact that the edges of the headstock are not sharp and square. There's a lot of spots where they rolled over the edge when sanding and the headstock has slightly less than uniform thickness from left to right, so I had to compensate for that as well.

    There are all kinds of inconsistencies all around the headstock that make it hard to maintain what looks like a band of uniform thickness all around the perimeter. When you're laying the masking tape down, you have to look at it from all angles to get a sense of what it's going to look like. I had positioned and re-positioned the tape several times, and often times, where I positioned the tape seemed counter-intuitive when looking at it from the side, but when you look at it from the front of the headstock, it made perfect sense.

    The fact that it looks uniform all the way around is partly an optical illusion... I had to fudge it a bit. This came into play when I was rubbing back the black too. I had to be careful not to expose too much white.

    Anyway, I'm delighted with the way it came out. Whenever I attempt stuff like this for the first time, it's usually a lot of trial and error and starting from scratch again, or attempting a series of heroic 'fixes', which often times make it worse. I like it when everything comes out right the first time and bumps in the road are easily overcome.

    Well, that's enough for now.

    Next post: Tinting the binding, then decal and poly time!
     
    D M C, Tbone76 and fermata like this.
  2. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    That's looking cool! My son has a Jay Turser that looks nearly identical. Nice job on the faux binding. Blue painters tape isn't good for much, really. Autozone and others sell a 3M fineline plastic tape for pinstripe masking that works better. Some people swear by putting a mist coat of clearcoat over the tape, which supposedly seals the edge against leaks. I'm about to find out , will be experimenting with real binding on scrap to see if the 3M tape works for masking a clean line, or if have to learn how to scrape binding.
     
    Mosstone likes this.
  3. Crusher47

    Crusher47 Tattoo'ed Freak

    Apr 12, 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
    Subscribed...
     
    Mosstone likes this.
  4. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    I picked up a roll of 'Frog Tape' when I was last at Home Depot. We'll see how that works. I had the choice when I bought the 3M Blue, but nine bucks a roll seemed a bit much (3M Blue ain't cheap either, at almost $7 per roll). I'm also planning on getting some pin-striping tape for another project, so I'll check that stuff too. Thanks.
     
  5. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
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  6. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    Ok, I had already put an order in with my regular decal maker for a Hofner logo about the same time I ordered the Rogue, which he went through some considerable effort to replicate. It's a shame it'll never get used (unless someone here wants 'em).

    .php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fhofner20logo20decal.png

    Instead, I had him make me a 'Mosstone' decal. Which also took a little doing, since the exact font I wanted was a little hard to find. But he found it.

    hp?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fmosstone20logo20decal.png

    Essentially, the same font that I used for the 'Earthling' logo on my previous builds.

    earthling20headstock20re.jpg

    The problem was; I had a computer stolen from me a while back that contained my old logos (and the software that I used to create them). This used to be a common font (I had it in Photoshop and a couple of other programs), but it's harder to find anymore.

    I also got some banjo tuner buttons from StewMac for a more appropriate look than the modern, chrome, stock tuner keys. Thanks to a tip from a fellow TB'er (sorry, I can't remember who it was at the moment), I knew they would fit:

    proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fbanjo20tuner.png

    Getting back to the binding... After removing the tape, it became clear that the 'cream white' paint that I used to paint the binding was still far too bright in contast with the neck binding. I still had a can of ReRanch amber spray laying around from a previous project:

    blushout.jpg

    I sprayed some of the tinted lacquer into a spray-can cap, dipped a Q-tip in it and dabbed it on the binding, all around the headstock. This kinda worked well. I ended up with the desired results, but it was real fiddly work. First of all, the lacquer had a tendency to start melting the paint. I know it might have gone better if I sprayed some poly on the binding first, but I was more concerned about the amber then melting into the poly, and disturbing the smooth surface (wet-sanding and buffing would remove the amber, so... I would be back at square one).

    It took some time and patience (and some re-painting of the white and re-ambering in spots), but it was worth it. It looks much better than just the paint itself.

    It's kind of hard to tell from this photo, but the effect was much more dramatic in 'real life'. It still doesn't match the neck binding perfectly, but it's much closer.

    Once I was satisfied with the binding, I glued the nut back on:

    proxy.php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fnut20clamp.png

    And did a dry-fit of the tuners and the black washers and bushings I had ordered to replace the chrome ones.

    http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fhead%2520w%2520tuners%2520rsz2.png

    I had originally planned to replace the stock tuners with the same tuners that come on a Hofner, but those things are like guitar tuners (actually, they are guitar tuners) and I would have to fill the current post-holes and drill new ones. The back of the neck and headstock have a trans burst finish, so any hole plugging would be visible on the back, and I would have to paint the whole neck black in order to hide it.

    I did not want to do that, but I also didn't like all that glaring chrome dominating the front of the headstock. Made the tuner posts look even bigger than they are. Decidedly not Hofneresque... So I decided to replace just the washers and bushings with black ones. They're still not vintage-appropriate ferulles, but you don't really notice them and they have the effect of making the tuners look smaller. More like the Hofner ones.

    I also had a truss rod cover made to replace the awful, fake pearloid TRC that came on the bass.

    http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fhead%2520with%2520tuners%25202.png

    3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fhead%2520w%2520tuners%25203%2520rsz.png

    Note that crack is still visible where the chip was replaced. I thought I sanded that completely flat before I painted the black. But it almost completely disappeared after the poly went down (you can just see a slight remnant of it if you angle it in the light just right).
     
  7. Still digging those banjo buttons!!
     
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  8. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    I've been thinking about cutting the 'rings' off of the bottom of those tuner buttons to get them a little closer to the headstock. Even with the changes I made, I still think they stick out a little too far. I dunno.. I may get used itm, or I might try some smaller buttons.
     
  9. 12BitSlab

    12BitSlab Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2016
    Liberty Township
    Looking good! You are far more talented than I am.

    Also love the fact that you are using your logo as opposed to the Hofner logo.

    Thanks for posting your trek.
     
    Tbone76 and Mosstone like this.
  10. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    Ok, a few words about the comedy of freaking errors that was getting these Allparts pickups mounted to this bass. Of course the stock pickup rings wouldn't work, as the Allparts pups are a bit smaller than the stock ones all the way around. I was expecting that, so as soon as the pickups came in, I drew up a template for new bezels and mailed it off to Tony at Pickguardian.

    A couple days later, on a groggy Saturday morning, I get an email from Tony asking me to confirm my measurements. He thought the rings were for mini-humbuckers, which are of different dimensions than what I had indicated.

    The dimension in question was the 'top-to-bottom' measurement of the pickup cut-out, and one of the pickups were laying on my desk, so I picked it up, measured it, and found that somehow, I had given Tony the wrong measurement.(??) So I email him back and tell him the new measurement and everything is back on track.

    About three weeks later, I get the pickup rings and they look gorgeous! Much better than the stock ones. There's only one problem... The pickups rings fit fine left-to-right, but the hole was too big top-to-bottom.

    How could this be?? Didn't I make double-damn sure that measurement was correct?? Reaching for the pickup on my desk - the one I had measured that Saturday morning - and realized that THIS IS NOT THE ALLPARTS PICKUP! It was the stock Rogue pickup. (!!)

    So now I have new bezels that fit the width of the new pickups, but not the height. Great.

    So, with all the dignity I could muster, I emailed Tony, explained the situation, and had him start making another set of rings (while I went and made another payment).

    Another 2.5 weeks later, the new bezels come in, I check the fit and it's perfect.... Everything's groovy, until...

    Until I try to mount the pickups on the rings. I'm turning and turning and turning the screw and it's not going anywhere. I'm not catching the threads. There's a pretty long, stiff spring between the pickup tab and the bezel, so I squeeze harder and apply more pressure with the screwdriver in an attempt to get the screw started, but still nothing...

    I pull the screw out to take a look at it, and I noticed that the threads at the end of the screw were pretty mashed up.

    I tried cutting the damaged bit off the end of the screw with my Dremel, but I couldn't get a clean cut. The metal just deformed under the friction.

    These are just soft, high-carbon screws. I didn't even bother with the rest of them. I knew I needed SS screws for this.

    So now I have to figure out what size these screws are and where the hell I can get any. Hardware stores are always a let-down when looking for guitar-related screws and fasteners, but I checked the Home Depot website just the same, (there's a store not too far from my house) and don't you know it, not only do they carry the screw I'm looking for, but they have it in stock at my local store! I can't believe my luck!

    Since the Home Depot is not that far, and it was a nice night, I decided to walk down there...

    After crawling on the floor ('cuz that's where they keep their metric screws) and scouring EVERY INCH of their fasteners department, I couldn't even find the category that screw fell under, let alone the screw itself... It was a long walk home.

    HOME DEPOT'S WEBSITE LIES!

    So now I'm back online looking, but fortunately, there's TONS of places that ONLY sell every kind of screw and fastener you can imagine (and some you never would). Ironically, I ended up finding exactly what I needed on ebay and it only cost like three bucks for ten screws shipped. If I ordered from one of these fastener wholesale/retail places, it would have been more like $8 for 6 screws.

    Thankfully, my reckoning on it being a metric screw and the size of it (2.5mm) were right on the money. Screwed right into the taps with no troubles. I was dreading the thought of having to make more than one purchase before getting it right.

    whew!

    So here's the Allparts Hofner-Licensed replacement pickups in their custom-made (correct size) bezels, with special-order stainless steel adjustment screws! (I'm gonna work that into the description somehow if I ever sell this bass!)

    .php?image=http%3A%2F%2Fi238.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fff96%2FKing_Lerxst%2Fpickups20and20rings.png

    These are both bridge pickups @ 6.8k ohm DC resistance. It will still be a while before I get to install these and experience the joy of a whole new series of problems to be solved.

    But in the next installment, we go back to the headstock.
     
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  11. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    Thanks, man.

    Yeah, the more I worked on that bass, the less inspired I became to use the Hofner logo. I like to get recognition for my work, so I would have never tried to pass it off as a real Hofner, :D and I realized, it doesn't have to look exactly like a Hofner to look good.
     
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  12. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    Yikes, that stuff is spendy! And I was complaining about $9 for a roll of Frog tape.
     
  13. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    Getting back to the project... As I mentioned earlier, there was a bit of back-and-forth with my decal guy (Mitchell). The printer he uses to print metallic inks has it's own proprietary hardware/software and he had a hard time finding the exact font I wanted, then converting it into a format that his printer could use without it coming out all screwed up. But he persevered, and soon enough I had a butt-load of 'Mosstone' decals.

    head20w20name.jpg

    After the nut was securely glued in place (not as 'secure' as it was glued on from the factory, though... I wasn't quite as liberal with the glue. Doesn't take a lot to keep a nut in place), I taped everything up again and sprayed a couple of coats of poly on the front and sides of the headstock. I wet-sanded 600-800 grit, just to level it out, then lightly buffed with McGuire's Scratch-X.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT07FEgIv2VxjHUiGSlGqQEcsQuYk8jwpvOr6jtuqd98WDUrXGh4DK8qXsg.jpg

    With the surface all smooth and glossy, I applied the decal and gave it a light coat of poly. You have to be very conservative with the first couple of coats, because if you go too heavy on top of a fresh decal, it can make the edges s curl and buckle, and there's no coming back from that except to sand the poly and decal off, and hope you don't go through to the paint.

    Here it is after the decal was applied, sprayed and wet-sanded:

    headstock-logo.jpg

    Applying the decal was a little tricky, as it seems the post-holes were drilled by eye, and the top left tuner hole is a little higher than the top right one. If I applied the decal perfectly straight, it would make the discrepancy in the location of the two tuners more obvious, so I skewed the decal slightly to compensate. Thanks to the wavy top of the headstock, the logo still looks straight.

    After this, I utterly blasted the headstock with poly to bury the decal. I think that over the years, I've become increasingly more conservative (i.e.; chickensh$t) when spraying poly/lacquer, putting down a couple dozen light coats (with wet-sanding every 3 coats) instead of 3 or 4 heavy ones. It's easy to get carried away when you're spraying and end up with a lot of runs, sags and unevenness, but you can go too far in the opposite direction and make more work for yourself. You just have to pay attention to what you're doing and develop a sense to stop just short of over-loading the surface.

    I think its best to let the poly dry on a horizontal surface (or as horizontal as you can make it. I prop up the neck to compensate for the headstock angle), so it won't have a tendancy to run, and I check it several times in the first hour of drying, looking for runs and build-up around the edges and back of the headstock.

    Here it is after 4 coats of poly, wet-sanded up to 2000 grit, buffed and waxed... Glassy!:

    headstock20final_1.jpg
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
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  14. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    After the headstock was finished, I was free to turn my attention to installing the new pickups with their shiny new bezels. As I mentioned before, I was originally planning on replicating the look of the 500/1, so I was going to try to keep the classic control configuration.

    I originally thought I would just replace the pots and switches with higher quality components and maybe either leave the 'Rhythm/Solo' switch out of the circuit (I could never understand why anyone would want to use the 'Rhythm' setting) or add a couple of caps (if possible), or make it a series/parallel switch... Those plans were dashed earlier on when I removed the stock pickups to make a template for the new rings and discovered that everything is mounted to a PC board.

    At the time, I though: No big deal, I'll just assemble my own control panel...

    Easier said than done.

    You can source switches that look similar, but there's no way to attach them to a control panel without using screws - which I didn't like the thought of. I tried sourcing third-party or used control panels from a Hofner Icon, but they were too small to cover the hole in the top of the Rogue. Besides, the electronics in a $350 Hofner are probably going to be pretty identical to what came in the Rogue, anyway, so no gain there.

    Other control panels I found on ebay were way too big (so big it made me wonder exactly what violin bass it was intended for!), and a lot of them (from China) had real hinky-looking electronics as well...

    I decided to pass.

    At this point, keeping the traditional control layout didn't really matter anymore, so it was time to place another order at Pickguardian. This time for a control plate in 'Marble Tortoise' (looks just like old-style celluloid tort) with three holes for pots.

    In the meantime, I wanted to hear what the new pickups sounded like, so I decided to wire them up to the existing electronics. It was only then that I noticed that the lead wire coming from each pickup were the same length (since I had to buy two bridge pickups) and I worried that the lead from the neck pickup wouldn't reach the control panel.

    The wire did reach, but there was not enough slack to solder them to the PCB with the pickup mounted. Since this bass is fully hollow, I figured I could solder the pickup to the controls outside of the body, and just shove the pickup in through the control cavity and push it up towards the neck position. Everything worked brilliantly. There was enough wire to get the neck pickup in position without any struggle and everything buttoned up nicely.

    I picked up a set of tea-cup knobs, but since I'm going off script, I decided to scratch that. There were a couple of gold bell reflector knobs laying around, so I stuck 'em on there to see how they'd look.

    body20shot20new20pickups_1.jpg

    full20shot20new20pups_1.jpg

    If I was feeling clever about engineering a solution for the whole neck pickup situation, it was pretty short lived. Lasted about as long as it took me to plug into an amp. Bridge pickup sounded ok, but the neck pickup sounded sketchy and cut in and out.

    Gonna have to take a look at the electronics... Oh yeah, and because I wired the neck pickup with very little slack, that means that every time I have to remove the control panel (for whatever reason) I'll first have to un-mount the neck pickup and drop it into the body. Not so clever after all.

    As I had suspected, the ground had broken loose from the circuit board at some point during installation. I would have to splice an extension onto the pickup wire. Fortunately, several years ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine got me hip to how they splice wires at NASA, so my splices are pretty solid (probably the only good thing to come out of that relationship). Not sure why I didn't just do that in the first place...

    Oh yeah, I know why... I was IMPATIENT.

    I was a in a big ol', fired-up hurry to hear what these pickups sounded like.

    But there would be a little more waiting yet to do...
     
  15. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Inquiring Minds need to know: how does NASA splice wires? Is the pup wire a simple multi strand, or is it shielded? I always just soldered the center wire and shielding wires separately, with plenty of heat shrink to reinforce it. Can you post photos of NASA technique??
     
    Mosstone likes this.
  16. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    I'll see if I can dig up the article. This was over ten years ago, so I know I don't have it on my computer anymore.

    The Allparts pickups are just two-conductor. I think both wires were insulated, but I've installed a bunch of pickups since then, so I could be wrong.
     
    Gilmourisgod likes this.
  17. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    My son has the Jay Turser version of this bass. He's used to the controls now, but whenever I pick it up, I'm like what the f**k were they thinking? That is a truly odd control configuration. These basses sound so good though, his came with roundwounds, just switched to flats and he's liking that tubby thump. If I had one, I'd probably ditch all the switches and wire it Master Volume, Pickup Blend, and Master Tone. Two volumes always throws me somehow.
     
    Mosstone likes this.
  18. I prefer it. With a blend, at least one pickup is always at 100%. I can't speak for Hofners but Jazz pickups don't really open up until you cut them a bit IMO.
     
    Mosstone likes this.
  19. Mosstone

    Mosstone

    Jun 20, 2009
    I thought I could get used to the controls, but the Rythm/Solo switch is pretty useless (just a resistor in the 'Rhythm' position that cuts output), and I don't like the fact that the only way I can control the tone is by turning pickups on and off.

    Yeah, I like that effect. I usually roll back the bridge pickup just a little to make the tone 'bloom' on a Jazz bass. I was hoping that wouldn't be lost with a blend pot. I'll let you know after I wire the new electronics.
     
    faceless_master likes this.
  20. fermata

    fermata

    Nov 10, 2015
    Great thread--I'm enjoying the photos and story of your work!

    Yes, the stock control panel is weird. (There is a logic to it, but I'm not so sure it's good logic.) I've done some extensive rewiring to mine, and it opened up some versatile new tonal options.

    First off, I'm in agreement with @Mosstone: the Rhythm/Solo switch is silly.

    The Bass On switch is good--I like the fully open tone, and the .1 uF tone capacitor with 8.2K Ohm resistor is a good one, too.

    On my Hofner I've repurposed these switches: the former Rhythm/Solo and Bass On switches allow me to switch between no cap, .015 uF, .03 uF (my all around favorite), and .047 uF. A standard tone control would probably be even better (you could even have a push-pull tone pot with two different capacitors). My set-up is mainly to preserve the original panel.

    The Treble On switch has great potential, but it the way Hofner wires it does not allow that potential to be exploited, since switching Treble On turns off the neck pickup. Treble Off is the straight bridge pickup; Treble On puts a .01 uF capacitor in series for a bass cut. With the pickup soloed, this doesn't make much sense. But if both pickups are on and the .01 uF cap is switched in, the pickup blending improves dramatically. This starts to open up a whole realm of sounds: it allows both pickups to be dimed without any phasing or comb filtering issues and it offers a slew of blending options, depending on whether the cap is inline or not. (And for this reason, I think two volumes is better than a blend in this case.)

    So if you're doing a whole new panel, I'd recommend volume, volume, tone, and a little toggle switch to put the .01 uF cap in series with the bridge pickup (and to switch it out). In my view, it's the single best mod you can make to a Hofner (or clone). And when you take the cap out of the circuit, you can use a tone control with the bridge pickup, so you can have a dark-sounding bridge tone. You can also put the bass-cut cap inline with the bridge pickup and then use the bridge pickup to dial some brightness back in when your tone control is at its darkest setting and you're favoring the neck pickup. (For instance, when I engage the .047 uF and .03 uF caps on my Hofner, I can then use the bridge pickup as a sort of tone control.)

    Here's more info on the subject, with sound samples and diagrams: Hofnerhounds :: View topic - Modified / improved control wiring (My handle in that thread is BassOn.)
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2017
    Ray Archie and Mosstone like this.
  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.

     
    May 16, 2021

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