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Could I make a John Paul Jones style bass out of a MIM J bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thezerech, Feb 16, 2015.

  1. I want to eventually replace a MII Squier affinity J of mine, that I'm keeping at my high school band room, and I didn't want to go overboard and figured I could get a good MIM J bass, used for around $500. However I'm a HUGE Led Zeppelin and John Paul Jones is my favorite bassist (and the best ever IMHO). I was wondering if I could eventually modify this bass to give the appearance of his '62, however I'm wondering what I would need to do for that. I know the '62s were supposed to have stacked knobs, however I've seen pictures of him with stacked knobs and without? What did his '62 look like? and if so, could I effectively turn a stock MIM standard J bass into something similar to what he used ( I would eventually modify the pickups, to if possible vintage Fenders)? Also did he play his '62 on Heartbraker? It's in my opinion the LZ song that I enjoy the most, so it's what gave me this idea.
  2. a used '60s classic is going to be closer to what he used versus a modded standard... The Heartbreaker tone I believe was created using a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet. JPJ also used a '53 (I think) single coil P Bass on some tracks and from Presence onwards was almost exclusively using Alembic basses.
    Fabian_Aryo and Tbone76 like this.
  3. Thanks, I'll be on the lookout for a used one if I can. Should I mod the classic series, to have stacked knobs or did JPJ's '62 not have them? I've pictures of both.
  4. I always thought he used the regular 3 knob layout, never seen him play a stack knob set up
  5. ahc


    Jul 31, 2009
    No. Virginia
    Yes you can. Fenders are probably the easiest instruments to modify. If you're handy with soldering the parts are available to DIY. There are also pre-wired harnesses available that make the job easier albeit more expensive. Now, will it sound exactly like his? Hard to know. Find the bass you like and play it for a while and then figure out what it needs if anything.
  6. I don't think I'll ever sound like John Paul Jones. He said he played a '62 and I saw one photo of him recently with a stacked knob, I thought all '62 Jazz basses had the stacked knobs.
  7. He played a late 61, possibly a 62. In an interview in 1977 he mentioned "it was right after they changed the knobs", in other words - his was three knob: volume, volume, tone. Fender changed to the three knob setup in late 61. The RI Jazz with stacked knobs was dubbed a 62 because they wanted brand consistency, and they were producing a 62 RI P Bass, so it was best to call the RI Jazz a 62, even though the stack knobs were gone by then.

    Basically any three knob, three tone 'burst jazz with a tort guard is gonna be close, some closer than others. Look at my avatar - thats a 62 AVRI Jazz - a three knob setup on that and it would be a dead ringer for his at a glance.

    I agree if on a budget, a used 60s classic in burst will be the way to go. Or a road worn Jazz. These are basically the 60s classic with a nitro finish plus some factory wear. HIs was actually rather beat up by the early 70s, but the wear on the road worn Fenders is more drastic than what his looked like, just saying'.

    Oh, and you will hear word to the contrary, but he strung his Jazz with flats. Rotosound RS77s specifically.

    I don't care what anyone else says to the contrary, including JPJ himself. It was flats. He said so in the same 1977 interview.
  8. NO. 62 Re Issue Jazz basses have stacked knobs (see my avatar), but original Fender Jazz Basses lost the stack knobs in late 61.
  9. Turbo Jaw

    Turbo Jaw

    Sep 29, 2014
    South Jersey
    I've also seen interviews where he states he tried flats early on in his career before Led Zeppelin and never liked the thumpy sound. However, on Rotosound's website he is listed under both RS77s and 66s. I think he just used whichever suited his needs.
  10. Okay thanks, I think I'll just grab a MIM Standard, I'm not even looking for this as my primary bass, just to use at school. What are the difference between the MIM Standard J and the 60s J bass? I would try to make it more like JPJs bass.
  11. I use rounds on my Kramer, and my Affinity, I've actually only used flats once in a Music go round on a MIC Hofner, sounded awesome. I think I should probably use flats, I'll probably be playing jazz, my school's big into Jazz, I don't know how everyone will play, I guess I'll play what everyone else is... But I'll decide what strings to use once I've got the bass.
  12. Joce


    Jul 20, 2005

    This cool interview was posted in the JPJ Thread here. There he says he knows it's a 1962 Jazz Bass, because that's the year he bought it. Just after 03:00 min in. Nothing about the knobs, though IIRC.
  13. It's definitely doable. But btw, $500 is more along the lines of a new MIM Jazzzz, you can get good ones used for as low as $250. MIA you can get used for around $650.
    Osztertag2112 and spectorfreak like this.
  14. Really? I've been looking and I can't seem to find alot MIMs for around that price, I'll look again, though. Do you guys know what mods I'd have to do to make it really a '62? Also what about the '62 MIJ reissue? It doesn't have stacked knobs.
    EDIT: The MIJ is Basswood not Alder, plus I don't think they're any for a good price point for me. Also the cheapest MIM standard I could find was $400, and for sunburst it was $500 in good condition
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  15. Not all of them. While it's true that they introduced the VVT layout in 61, Fender was still using parts for stack knobbed basses into late 62. I've seen quite a few true 62s with stack knobs.
  16. Ric5

    Ric5 Supporting Member

    Jan 29, 2008
    I disclose nothing

  17. Thanks, I'll check what the specific differences are though to see if they can be rectified
  18. BassShark


    Feb 16, 2007
    Metuchen, NJ
    The Squier Affinity has a much flatter fingerboard radius than a real vintage Jazz Bass' 7.25" radius. Might not affect the sound but it definitely affects the feel and vibe. Squires also have cheap agathis wood bodies rather than alder or ash and the pickups would probably need to be replaced. It's not worth the time and effort, you still won't end up with something you'd likely be happy with.

    As someone metioned, the MIM '60s Jazz Bass would get you pretty close.

    JPJ's Jazz was a 3-knob. As has been said, the "'62 stacknob" is a myth created by Fender to maintain parity with the rest of the US Vintage Reissue line which were all either '57 or '62. BTW, Fender actually began the change to 3-knob in mid 1961, earlier than most info online suggests. As for what they look like, they have slab fingerboards (until the middle of 1962 when Fender changed to the round lam boards) 4 individual metal mutes with white felt pads (or usually 4 holes between the bridge and bridge pickup where they once were) a brass grounding strip that runs from the brass grounding plate under the treble pickup to under the bridge and a certian style of 3-tone sunburst and a nitrocellulose tortoise pickguard. Without playing one it's difficult to convey what they're all about, you really have to play a properly set up example to understand. If there's a vintage guitar show in your area, stop in and have a look. I'm sure a dealer would be happy to let you try one out if they happen to have one.

    About 20 years ago I owned a super clean 100% original one owner 1961 Jazz Bass with a 5-61 neck date. I've owned many '60s Jazz Basses over the last 36 years...I just sold my last vintage Jazz Bass a few months ago, a slab board 1962 exactly like JPJs that I owned since 1993. They are great basses. I've owned Custom Shops, AVRIs, MIM, and many other varieties of vintage style Fender Jazz Basses, including kit type basses I assembled and finished myself. I have to say that nothing exactly duplicates the sound or feel of the originals. The MIMs are a good deal for the money so are some of the MIJ basses.

    My recommendation is a MIJ Noel Redding Jazz Bass, which were a limited run of 1000 basses made in 1997. I used to own a couple of them, VERY NICE basses, although mine were both on the heavy side, maybe 9 or 9.5 pounds. They turn up regularly on eBay for around $750 and are well worth it. Those are actually much closer to a JPJ 1962 model than a Noel Redding '65. Slab 'board, the most accurate reverse Kluson replicas I've ever seen, '62 looking sunburst, the closest I've seen to a real pre-65 tortoise guard. I always wondered if that was gonna be a JPJ model but Noel agreed to a lower royalty! Guess we'll never know...
  19. 96tbird

    96tbird PLEASE STAND BY

    Nope 62 models were three knob. I know because I have an early 62 neck date Oct 61.

    JPJ played right in the end of the neck. His fave because he could smack the strings on the frets to get his tone. That's a huge part if his finger style tone.

    A sunburst j bass with unbound rosewood neck and a tort guard is the look. No magic there.
  20. ptensioned


    Jan 12, 2013
    Hamilton, ON
    I guess it all depends on if you just want it to LOOK like JPJ's jazz, or sound like it, too. The cheapest way to get the look is pick up a good Vintage Modified Squier in three-tone sunburst. It won't be a dead ringer for a '62, but it'll be close enough. Any 3TS with tort PG and rosewood board will look close, so the next step up is the MIM Classic Series '60s Jazz Bass, followed by the lacquer model and then the Road Worn. After that, it's American models all the way up to Custom Shop beauties. Jones' '62 is definitely NOT stack knob, just to be clear.

    Chasing his sound is a much more complicated task. First off, there's very little concrete info about what gear he actually used in the studio. Second, replicating studio sounds can be tough because of how much can be changed after recording. Third, Jones changed his playing technique quite a bit depending on the song. Sometimes he plays way up over the neck, plucking with the sides of his fingers to get a very soft attack with the neck pup soloed, sometimes he uses a pick down near the bridge, or almost any place in between. It's one of the many reasons why he's my choice for GOAT (insert subjective opinion disclaimer here), but it sure makes him tough to pin down. All in the hands, etc.

    I ended up grabbing a MIM Road Worn Jazz, and paired it with an Acoustic 370 run through some old JBL K140 15" speakers. I gave up trying to cop Jones' tone ages ago, but that combination sounds better than any other rig I've tried for a '70s vibe. In fact, I think it sounds as good or better than any modern style rig I've heard from any era (copy/paste subjective opinion disclaimer here).

    EDIT - As I was typing this, BassShark put in the above. Great info there, for sure. Much more useful than mine, anyway...
  21. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

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