Custom Build - Help Needed!

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Peeks, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. Peeks


    May 16, 2019
    Hey everyone! I plan on building a custom Jazz bass sometime in the near future. I want it to look and sound like my ideal bass would- I mean why wouldn’t I since I’ll be dumping loads of money into it! But anyways, I’m still kind of new in the bass world and have a very very very small knowledge of bass pickups, electronics, bridges, and tuning machines. I want this bass to pack a punch and really make a statement. With that being said, I’m looking for recommendations on what parts may make this bass sound like I hope. Any links to reviews on suggested parts would be appreciated! Thank you!
  2. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Can you be a little more specific? Otherwise I’d recommend a P bass ;)
    Peeks likes this.
  3. Peeks


    May 16, 2019
    Are you recommending P Bass pickups on a J Bass? For some reason, the newer P Basses just don’t do it for me... I find them unattractive! The only P Basses I like are the are the early versions.
    But by ‘pack a punch’ I’m just referring to that ‘boom’ sound you get from a nice set of pickups... I’ve been listening to Nirvana’s Live at Reading a lot lately and I just love the way Krist’s bass really booms.
  4. lz4005


    Oct 22, 2013
    Figure out what frequencies you're hearing and look at the response graphs of pickups.
  5. sikamikanico


    Mar 17, 2004
    Nah, I just think that P basses pack punch and make a statement (not J basses).

    Didn’t Krist play a Thunderbird at Reading? That may be a challenge, getting that sound on a Jazz, but some beefy J pickups might do. I’d start with DiMarzio Model Js, see how that goes... I’d use 500K pots for extra bite, volume-volume-tone. Or even just volume-volume....

    As for hardware, anything functional should do. If weight is a consideration, that’s where you can save a couple oz...
    Peeks likes this.
  6. Peeks


    May 16, 2019
    Yes, Krist did play a Thunderbird there. I used to have a Thunderbird, but again, wasn’t my thing. I found it to be way too neck heavy, which was the biggest problem. There were many things I didn’t like about about besides that, and although I could’ve modded it to my liking, I opted to sell it. Now I’m just figuring I can build my own bass, the shape I want, specs I want, and that’s it.

    As for weight, that’s not really a concern, I just want the best possible playability I can get.
  7. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism

    My advice, buy and sell some used basses slowly over the next year or two and get a feel for exactly what you want out of a bass. Going the custom route is something that I only recommend to long-time players who know exactly what they want and have no other way of obtaining it. A custom bass costs a lot of money and loses a lot on resale. Odds are, your tastes will change as you become more familiar with the instrument.

    As far as getting a bass that packs a punch and makes a statement, there are countless off-the-shelf offerings that meet that criteria. A Fender Jazz is a timeless classic but something like a StingRay fits the bill perfectly too - both basses are, however, very different to play.

    Also, I would suggest getting an HPF for your signal chain. You'd be amazed at how much punchier your tone becomes when you get rid of all that low end noise. You might be more satisfied with your current axe.
    Peeks likes this.
  8. Peeks


    May 16, 2019
    Thanks man! I will definitely take all that into consideration! Even as being somewhat new to the Bass world, I have played quite a few different Basses thanks to friends and local stores. The J Bass is my absolute favorite and I basically just wanted to build my ‘dream J bass’. The one I currently own is NOT up to be customized... it’s a Fender 50th Anniversary Jazz Bass. You know, the Candy Apple Red, block inlays, painted headstock one... an absolute beauty and my #1... but I don’t want to lose value on that... trying to keep it all original.
  9. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    Can you provide some examples (songs or vids) of tone you are seeking? Joe Osbourn and Marcus Miller sound pretty different, but both play a J Bass.

    Also, choosing pickups and electronics is really more about the trade-off between “simple” (ie something that does one or two sounds well) or “versatile” (something that can do many sounds, but might be difficult to control and might not do any of those sounds quite perfectly.)

    So, what sound is good to you? And how much knob fiddling do you want to do?
  10. MVE


    Aug 8, 2010
    I would suggest you choose an electronic setup first and then pups.
    Passive: Stack, VVT, VTB? Add on Series? Then choose pups that match well to passive. SDs, Nords, Fender CS, etc...

    Active: choose a pre and then get pups to match. Ie Aguilar, Bartollini, EMG, etc.

    On my Warmoth fretless J, I went for the most complicated passive setup I could imagine, a Stack with separate Varitone (5 different tone caps selected from a rotary knob) for each pup. Its got four knobs (two stacked) and a series switch. Its cool, but I know my next build will be a simple VTB. lol
  11. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Happy Cynic Supporting Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Inland Northwest
    Endorsing Artist: Turnstyle Switch
    What do you plan on starting with? If you haven't already decided, I'd recommend getting a Warmoth neck and body. They're licensed by Fender, so their Fender-shaped parts are compatible with Fender parts. Not only are those parts less expensive than the equivalent Fender parts when buying them from Fender, but the variety of options is mind-blowing (like a bubinga neck with a wenge fretboard). Plus they will do some custom work for an additional fee (like routing for three pickups instead of two). My main player is a custom Warmoth Jazz:
    The three pickups are Fender Super 55 hum-canceling split-coil pickups that sound fantastic. Those pickups aren't made any more and are kind of hard to find, but a lot of companies make split-coil J pickups. Depending on your budget, I'd recommend DiMarzio or Nordstrand.

    My bass is different in some obvious ways, but the thing you can't see is a big part of what makes this bass unique. That control that's not in line with the others is a Turnstyle Switch. It's a 6-position rotary switch that allows me to have full manual control in one position, and then have five tone presets. So my bass can mimic the tone of a normal Jazz, a Precision, a Rickenbacker, a Thunderbird, and there's also an overdrive position.

    So if you're concerned about getting a specific tone, that one exact precise perfect sound, allow me to suggest you can have more than one.
    Funkinthetrunk likes this.
  12. It should be easy enough to switch in a new set of pickups and/or drop in a ready-to-go preamp with a jazz plate like an Audere or an East. Just keep the stock stuff kicking around.