Creating Frankenstein

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Mar 25, 2004.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    I've asked some of these questions before but never got satisfactory answers. Gonna try again, but here's the deal first. I've often wanted to take one of my basses and make it REALLY my own, customize it, upgrade it, change things to make it suit me. The reason I don't - I don't know anything at all about upgrading a bass, never did it, and I'm concerned that i'm just gonna wreck an otherwise good instrument. First few of probably MANY questions to come.....

    What's the deal with badass bridge? How does it affect the sound. Why do people seem to unanimously think these are the best bridges? Can one be installed on ANY bass (i'm thinking of upgrading a danelectro hodad)?

    Does anyone have any other suggestions for a bridge/tailpiece for a Hodad.

    If i want to upgrade a tone control, how do I go about knowing if i'm getting a better one than the one that's in there and can I even upgrade? The present tone control doesn't have much flexibility - it almost acts as an on off switch.

    Is it possibly to make a neck stronger? The neck is very subject to temperature changes. Can a better truss rod be put in? Is there any way to get better reinforcement?

    That's it for now. Any help is appreciated.

  2. Joe, I'm no pro at building but I can share my experiences with you!

    This was copied and pasted directly from the Leo Quan - Bad Ass site!

    I'm not personally sold completely on the idea that these bridges are the best on the market. I have had several Fender basses with Bad Add II bridges installed and I prefer the stock bridge for my sound and feel!

    No, these bridges are not designed to be installed on just any bass, although you can if you don't mind routing new holes for the screws in your Hodad. The Hodad is made from some type of acrylic though and I would be hesitant to even try this bridge myself. YMMV!

    Tone control, have you tried changing the pot to a different level, much like a pot for volume, tone pots and their value will have an effect on your sound, so by all means upgrade!

    Control pots are typically wired to control the volume or tone of your instrument. In some other case they are used to blend to sources or signals together, or can be wired to control onboard effects.

    You can read more info at:

    Hope this helps some, but maybe someone else will chime in and be more specific!

  3. seanm

    seanm I'd kill for a Nobel Peace Prize! Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2004
    Ottawa, Canada
    Is your bass passive? On off sounds wrong, unless you mean it goes from "sounds good" to mud very quickly?

    A passive tone control basically works by bleeding off high frequencies through a cap to ground. Most tone controls are 250K. A higher value, such as 500K or even 1M might give you more brightness and more range. You can also play around with the value of the cap.

    If you can use a soldering iron, changing caps and/or pots is inexpensive in a passive bass.

    I think it would be very hard to replace the truss rod. You would be better off getting a replacement neck.
  4. Hello, Joe! I agree with Treena on the Badass. I think most modern basses have adequate bridges. Changing weights, alloys, string anchoring methods, etc. will affect your tone, but in my opinion the difference in tone from one bridge to another is very subtle, and there aren't many women or men who can predict how a different bridge will affect the tone of your bass. If I am working on a customizing job or a Frankenstein job, I wait until I'm totally satisfied with the neck, frets, and pickups/electronics before I start putting too much money into hardware, because the hardware changes probably won't change a bass from one you don't like to one that you do like. A good source to look for different styles of all kinds of components is the Allparts catalog ( It doesn't offer much in the line of description, but you can use it as a guide to the manufacturer's web sites for more info. The tone control (I assume you're talking about a passive harness) is a good place to start experimenting for very little money. Most factory passive setups use a .047 (or .05) microfarad capacitor on basses, probably because Leo did. The .05 mfd cap cuts a lot more treble than the .02 or .033 caps used in most guitars. I prefer the range of the .02 cap in my basses, because with the .05, most of the range of the control is too muffled for my taste. You can try substituting a .02 cap in the harness you have, or you can try using a linear taper potentiometer as well, which some feel gives a more user friendly range of control on treble bleed tone controls. There may be a linear taper pot in your bass now, but most manufacturers use audio taper pots for their volume controls, and it is easier for them to use the same pot for both. I don't know if using a 250K, 500K, or even 1Meg ohm pot for a tone control makes any difference, but using a higher value pot for your volume control usually yields slightly more treble and a slightly higher output. Most Fenders have 250 ohm volume pots, and changing to a 500K can "wake up a bass". Putting a .001 mfd cap across lugs one and two of your volume control can prevent loss of treble response when you don't have the control wide open. As far as making a neck stronger, there are no cheap and easy ways to do this that I am aware of. The fingerboard can be removed, channels routed for graphite or steel reinforcing bars, and the fingerboard can be replaced, but this is not cheap, fast, or easy. The board can be replaced with a thicker board, or a stiffer board, or a thicker, stiffer board, but this is not cheap, quick, or easy and it can change the feel and tone of the instrument. If you have a bolt on neck, it might be time to think about a replacement neck. Allparts sells Dano replacements if that is the one that is giving you trouble. Get up with me off-line if you have any more detailed questions. Building Frankensteins can be fun!
  5. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Thanks everyone. This info is helpful, just gotta challenge my fear now i think and start digging in.

    The bass is passive. The problem with the tone control is that it goes from thump to clack about a third of the way up, and there isn't much (if anything) in between. If I could roll off about one quarter of the highs the bass would be giving me precisely what I want. Can't do that. It's kinda all the way up or all the way down. I want to replace it with something that will blend more gradually. Any specific suggestions on that???

    I've never had a desire to change a bridge except on these basses. They don't sit properly on the posts, and I have them lowered on both basses (i own 2 in case i didn't mention that) pretty much to the max. I'd be able to go even lower on the action without buzzing if I replaced the tailpiece - but as Treena mentioned I'm concerned about cracking the whole bass in half. I don't know what it's made out of but I don't trust that drilling a hole into it is the safest or wisest thing to do.

    Fer the record, what I love about this bass is that it really gets a unique tone, probably due to the semi hollow body and lipstick pickups. It has tons and tons of bottom, yet doesn't get muddy at all. It can really cut through the mix. My favorite thing is that it feeds back amazingly - none of my other basses do that. Not the annoying shrill kind of feedback, but the awsome Jimmy Hendrix kind - but an octave lower. :) If I take the dive and start fiddling with it i'm going to eventually consider taking out one of the lipstick p/us and throwing in a MM. I've a feeling I'm light years away from that though. Why can't my best friend be a luthier?

    ps. i've mentioned this before but it's worth mentioning again. nobody but bass players and guitarists know the definition of luthier. not even the most educated people. go ask - it's fun for some reason.
  6. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    A lower mass Fender style bridge might work better than a Badass for the Hodad. You might also look into changing the Pot for the tone control to give you a better taper on the treble roll off. I'm no luthier and I never do this stuff myself, fortunately for me one of my best friends is a luthier. ;)
  7. Tim Barber

    Tim Barber Commercial User

    Apr 28, 2003
    Serenity Valley
    Owner: Barber Music
    What you describe sounds like you have an audio taper pot on the tone control. A linear taper will give you a more even response throughout the pot rotation. A caveat: I have ordered linear tone pots from A******* and gotten pots that were labeled linear but were in fact audio taper. :spit:

    I personally wouldn't put a MM or a BadAss in a Dano; the hassles of dealing with the atypical internal construction would be significant and the result would quite likely lack the character you enjoy about the Hodad in the first place.

    my $0.02
  8. re. Badass bridge, also bear in mind the size of the baseplate on these bridges- if I tried fitting a BadassII to my Yamaha RBX270F it would hang over the edge of the body.

    I'd go for a lightweight bridge of some sort to preserve the hollowbody tone-
    Hipshot aluminium or pressed vintage style?