Heres the story: I bought this MIJ jazz bass for US$450 around 3yrs ago. It has 'made in japan' written on the headstock, and the serial number written on the back of the neck. The bolt-on plate is blank. About 1yr after I got it, I removed the pickguard and sold it and pasted alot of stickers on it. After removing the pickguard, I started to slap the bass more often. However, I find the that its much harder to slap without the pickguard(due to the increased gap between strings and body) but I try to work my technique around it. I still prefer my yamaha or stingray for slapping. Just now, I went to this sessioned bassist's place to try out a thunderbird Im interested in buyin.... in the end it wasnt the sound im lookin for so I told him Ill pass on the deal. He has a good collection of basses hanging from his wall, and he allowed me to try some of them(nikki sixx thunderbird, rickenbacker, warwick). Finally, I asked him if he would allow me to try his american jazz on the wall, he agreed. I notice that the jazz didnt hav any pickguard on, but the distance between the strings and the body were much closer than mine. *I can put my 4fingers into the gap between my bass' strings and body*. So I told him about the big gap between my fender MIJ, and he told me that should not be possible. Because according to him, the distance between the strings and body for all MIJ and MIA fenders should be the same. He told me the previous owner must have changed the stock MIJ body with a warmoth one. What do you guys think? Btw, this guy seems to have an extensive knowledge in bass equipments eg. and hes a really nice guy, I would find any reason for him to BS me. And his fender jazz had a pickguard on before he removed it. Thanks for readin the wall of txt....and help!