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Bottom of the line bass... good enough?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Wolzly, Oct 16, 2005.

  1. Wolzly


    Oct 16, 2005
    I've played upright bass for several years now and finally bit the bullet and bought an electric. I just toured my local shops and pawn-shops and picked the cheapest thing I could find (I know, you all just shuddered I'm sure). It's a Peavey P-Bass copy (I guess... that's what I'm assuming from what I've read around. I tried to look up Peavey basses but nothing that looked like my bass could be found. It cost me $175 canadian so I'm assuming that's what it is). I also bought a Yorkville 400B off someone locally (lots of power, but from what I've read not exactly top-of-the-line quality).

    So I'm at least *functional* but I think I'm pretty low-brow :\

    My question is whether you think it would be worth my while to buy good pickups for my crappy bass? I was thinking about buying fender p-bass pickups or "Seymour Duncan SPB3 Quarter Pound P-Bass Pickups" ... I don't really know a whole lot about bass guitars in general... so any feedback would be great.

    Also... if it's not worth it to upgrade a dirty little bass like mine then feel free to tell me ;)
  2. ducaticarl


    Oct 16, 2005
    My first bass years ago was A Peavey t-20...and I had swapped the pickups with Dimarzio p-bass pickups with vey good results....is it worth it???not really, if you get into playing elec. bass you probably won't keep this bass very long...and you probably won't get your money back for the upgrades you do to it...with the peavey I had I eventually redid the whole bass with emg pickups and a Kahler trem...and got nowhere near what it was worth when I got rid of it...
  3. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    I think it would be in your best interest to buy a higher quality bass. At least something decent, like a mexican Fender or something of the sort, around $400, if fundable.
  4. Geezerman


    Nov 28, 2004
    Chicago, IL
    It depends, if you like the feel of that bass, go ahead i say, or if you want to get a good knowledge of doing setups and electronics.

    If not, then hit up ebay or the TB classifieds :)
  5. Unchain

    Unchain I've seen footage.

    Jun 20, 2005
    Tucson, AZ

    I thought about just putting a new pickup in my old bass, but then just went for an MIM Fender.
  6. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    IMO, you could have done a lot worse than a Peavey.

    You might want to play your bass stock for the first few gigs and see how the bass sounds as is, you might have a pleasant surprise.

    One thing that doesn't get discussed a lot is that the majority of the general listening audience usually can't tell between a $500 and a $5000 bass if it's played well and stays in tune.

    Generally, upgrading cheap basses are not worth the investment because you'll never recoup upgrade costs when you resell the bass, unless you can do and undo them yourself.
  7. Slater

    Slater Leave that thing alone. Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2000
    The Great Lakes State
    If you like the way the bass plays and feels, then go ahead and put a new pickup in it if you want to. Just save the original pickup and re-install the original pickup if you decide to sell the bass...
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I'm completely of the opinion that if you can do what you need with a cheapo bass, then use it. I have expensive basses and not so expensive basses, and one downright cheap bass that I use strictly for fly gigs, and I get the same amount of money whether I use it or my MIA Fender Jazz bass, which is my main bass.
  9. parttimeluthier


    May 7, 2005
    Well the way I see it is I would much rather watch and hear a good player play on a $175.00 bass than watch and hear a mediocre player playing on a $1750.00 bass anyday.
  10. I've done this sort of thing with cheap guitars more than basses but I guess the same ideas apply. It's not just whether it's cheap or not, it's where exactly they have cut costs. It may be worth replacing the pickup (and possibly the tuners) if and only if:

    a) the body is made of solid wood: there's nothing a new pickup can do for a plywood body. Depending on the finish you may need to look inside the pickup or control cavity to find out;

    b) the neck is in good condition, i.e. no twists and not in urgent need of a fret dress or refret, which will cost you more than the bass. You will know if it's ok if once properly set up (see below) you don't get too many fret buzz problems, and

    c) the whole package feels reasonably comfortable to play, i.e. it doesn't weigh a ton, you like the neck size and shape and you can play it for a reasonably long time without much strain in your hands, wrists and forearms.

    Of course you will only find out if b) and c) apply after doing a proper set-up. For a bass of this price, don't even think about taking it to a luthier. Just follow these instructions:


    And even if you've never done it before, it will probably be good enough to get an idea if it's a keeper. Oh, and don't bother buying a set of feeler gauges for adjusting the action: :bag: the thickness of a business card is about right (c'mon guys, it's not a Fodera :D )
  11. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    Some of those cheaper Peavey's can be pretty nice, a MIM might not be an upgrade.
  12. Mojo-Man

    Mojo-Man Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2003
    Money is always an issue.
    But save and get the best bass you can.
  13. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    IME, lowline Peaveys are quite a bit better than your average MIM Fenders. They are carefully CNCed so the pieces fit together nicely, and there is an unusual level of attention to detail at the pricepoint.

    I agree about playing a few gigs with the stock pickup, it is probably fine, but if you do decide to upgrade the pickup, consider the duncan "Hot" for P-bass. Its a great all-around pickup.
  14. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Do you have any more information on the bass? More information would make it much easier to help.

    Older inexpensive Peaveys from the 80s and early 90s were made in the USA and can be exceptional instruments. If you've got a "Patriot" or "Foundation" from that era, you could have a "diamond in the rough" on your hands, a bass that can be a workhorse. Lots of bigtime session guys still keep Peavey Foundations in their arsenals.

    If it's a Patriot P copy in decent condition it's probable that a pickup swap could be a significant upgrade. Many patriots came with one single coil "super ferrite" pickup. My old Dyna-Bass had two and together they sounded fantastic, but I'm not sure what one of those pickups is going to sound like. You might need to do some routing and/or have a new pickguard made up. Or get a new pickguard from a place like this.

    Personally I'd recommend something labelled as a "vintage" pickup, and I'd look to see what Fender pickups are available first.
  15. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I'm not sure Peaveys are better that MIM Fenders, which seem to have improved of late, but I otherwise agree with this. I recently tried a new cheap Peavey P-bass copy, and was very impressed with the tone, neck feel, and solid construction. It needed a setup, because there was too much fret buzz, but with that it would have been gig-worthy for sure. And I'm darned picky about P-bass tone.

    The Hot for P-bass is an excellent all-around choice. I recently got one, and it provides vintage warmth with high output, which is exactly what I wanted. I'm learning I might prefer the more full-range power of the Quarter Pounder for some material, but if I go that route I'll get a new bass too -- I'm definitely keeping the Hot for P-bass in its current home.
  16. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    As far as the pickup goes, what is your opinion of how it currently sounds? If it sounds good to you, and isn't buzzing, crackling, or picking up radio stations, I don't reallly think there's any reason to upgrage.
  17. Wolzly


    Oct 16, 2005
    I was looking around this site at the "reviews" section and I think I found my bass.


    My bass says "fury" on the head, so I'm assuming it's a Fury 4. It's even the same color as the one in that review.

    I already replaced the strings with *real* cheap strings (but at least they're new), I can't remember the brand off the top of my head... but they were like 12$ for a set or something like that.

    The bass was giving me some serious fret-noises at first so I raised the action as far up as it would go and now it's alright (but if anyone who could actually play the thing got ahold of it they'd probably laugh at the action).

    That review that I posted above mentioned replacing the wiring as being the biggest improvement he did... maybe I should start with that and let the pickups stay for now?
  18. Eilif

    Eilif Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2001
    The early fury basses were made in the USA. They had bilaminate necks, with opposing grain, which were quite stable, but the back of the necks were not that attracitve due to the opposing grain. We had one at my church, and it was a nice bass that was very comfortable to play due to it's slimmer neck. It looked like a Fender P-bass, but the neck was much more of a Jazz bass width and feel.

    If you have a USA fury, keep it and upgrade the pickup (maybe a semour duncan quarterpunder) and you will have a very nice pbass for not much $. If it is a foreign made one, it might still be a nice instrument, but check it carefully like the posts before mine described.
  19. I started out with a 1995 Peavey Fury P-bass clone...great bass, but not exactly what I was looking for....I bought a Geddy Lee jazz and it is now my main bass. I still love my Peavey Fury...I defretted it, modded it with a new P pickup and a J pickup, shielding, and new pots...now this bass kicks butt too...can't complain and I absolutely love the necks on the old Peavey Fury basses. I say upgrade to another bass if you wish to (you don't necessarily need to and I agree the MIM P might not be a serious upgrade), but keep the Peavey too. :bassist:
  20. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    That is a nice bass, I'd keep it. Maybe upgrade the pickup, but I don't know that Peavey didn't put a good one in there in the first place.

    I would recommend bringing it to a local shop for a "setup". You've probably had to do the same thing with your upright at least when you first got it. The action should be kind of low. Low enough that the fret noise is coming from your fingers not the frets. You can also get flatwound strings which will feel smooth like you are used to on your upright and will offer much less finger noise on their own.