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Getting a new MIM Jazz bass, want to upgrade

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by jmone, Jan 15, 2012.

  1. jmone

    jmone Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    I'm hoping this is the right section to post this in and I apologize if it is not.

    Alright so I may be buying a MIM Jazz bass very soon and I know I will never be happy with that bass stock. I'm just trying to narrow everything down and get a just of how much I will end up putting into this bass to make it my own.

    My logic is the first thing I want to change are the pups. I'm thinking I would get something passive because I have my active Bongo and last thing I want are two basses to die on me at once. Or maybe I'm being illogical and someone can convince me otherwise that I need active's on this bass in particular. I just need some good recommendations here since I wouldn't know where to start looking.

    Second is I want to change the pick guard because aesthetically I want this thing to look beast. Could someone point me in the right direction on how I could purchase one online since I am in no way artistic with these things. I tried Google but it's hard to decipher one site from the other. I just want a good recommendation as well.

    Apart from that, what else should I be looking at upgrading?
  2. zillo


    Jun 5, 2003
    Keep an open mind on that new bass...it might sound a bit nicer than you're giving it credit for.
  3. RustyAxe


    Jul 8, 2008
    I don't quite understand the popular practice of assuming that changing pickups is an upgrade. It may be, but it may not be needed at all. Why not wait and see how it plays stock? My MIM jazz bass is just fine with the stock pickups. I thought I'd upgrade my fretless Squier VM Jazz bass, but the Duncan Designed pickups do a a fine job.

    As for pick guard, that's just bling, and whatever floats yer boat will do. For me, though, bling don't sing.
  4. John D

    John D Guest

    Dec 27, 2009
    +1 on giving the bass a chance before you change anything. The pickups on mine sound fine, although the center pole pieces are a little too high for my liking. As for the guard, go here: Fender® Jazz Bass® Mexican Standard
    This is just one option, just make sure you buy a Fender brand that is made for the model bass you have. Mine is a MIM Standard, and the pick guard I bought was a perfect fit.
  5. jmone

    jmone Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Fair enough, will defiantly keep in mind. I just know that from stuff I've read online people say that is the first thing they will change on their MIM Jazz basses. So I just wanted to look and have an idea, hear sound example and at least have an idea of where to look once I have the bass if I ever decide to change them. Sort of just looking into the future.

    I like the pickups on the Squier VM Jazz basses from what I've heard of them although that may be irrelevant in this scenario.

    I agree with you on the pick guard thing. It's just something I would want to do. Sort of set me somewhat apart from the thousands upon thousands who also play this exact same bass. I feel like I need to make it my own to some degree. Won't make me any better of a player but will make it look pretty. That's it.

    Thanks for the site recommendation. I will give it a look :bassist:
  6. Masashi is God

    Masashi is God

    Nov 13, 2011
    +1 for trying it out first

    But the first change you might consider is sheilding all the cavities and running them to ground. It's the only change I made to my Mia jazz and my mij jaguar, it improved the sound so much buy removing all the excess noise, especially when turning up the gain knob on the amp.
  7. My bone stock MIM Jazz is f'ing awesome. No upgrade necessary. You shouldn't even buy it if your going to think that way. Just my 2 cents.
  8. Pilgrim

    Pilgrim Supporting Member

    "A lot of people" who post on this forum may say that, but frankly, there are many flakes who post here and others who don't know what they're talking about. It's certainly not true for me or a lot of other people. I'm very happy with the pickups on mine.

    Pickguards are purely cosmetic -knock yourself out. Just make sure you have the right screw pattern - they're different from US Jazz basses.

    As far as electronics..play it for a while, and keep in mind that strings will make nearly as much difference as pickups do in changing your sound.

    I agree. If you anticipate the bass being defective or inadequate, buy something else.
  9. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    i have to go against the grain here; the mexis are great hunks of wood, but the pickups are not as good as the rest of the bass is.

    they're made to a (low) budget, with cheap ceramic magnets glued to the bottom of the coils and steel polepiece slugs. they're nothing like "real" alnico-rod fender pickups.

    considering top-notch american-made offerings from the likes of fender or duncan can be had for not that much and will make a night-and-day difference in the tone, why not upgrade here?

    as for the pickguard, that's easy to change, you don't even need to loosen the strings. i've found actual fender-brand pickguards to fit best, and to be really good quality.

    the other tweak i like to recommend is a set of vintage threaded-rod steel saddles for the bridge; they correct the string spacing over the magnets, stop the sliding around that the stock ones can do from the gaps in-between them, fit right on the stock bridge and cost like $20.

    it's perfectly legit to buy basses like this as "platforms" for judicious upgrading; like i said, the neck and body are well-made, so the result can be a pretty nice bass when it's all done.
  10. I've only had my 2010 MIM Jazz Standard for a couple of days but I think its ONE of the best basses Ive ever had. Comparable to my T-40 and Xavier P in feel and build quality.
    The only changes Im inclined to make at the moment is to replace the stock volume pots with Linear taper CTS pots and a set of screw type saddles.
  11. Epitaph04

    Epitaph04 Always overcompensating Supporting Member

    Jul 5, 2010
    I dont have much experience with a lot of Fender basses, but my MIM Jazz sounds great with some new strings. Super tight, defined sound.
  12. nortonrider


    Nov 20, 2007
    Why exactly is that?

    From your post, you are wanting to "upgrade" without even knowing what you want to change.

    Am I reading it right that you haven't even bought the bass yet ?
  13. jmone

    jmone Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Thank you. Defiantly some stuff to consider

    Sorry should have been a lot more specific. I am trading for one on my local classifieds. I don't have the money to buy an amazing American made one. I know I love the tone of Fender Jazz basses. I've played them before doodling in music stores and stuff. I just want to do the few things here and there to make it that much better. That's all. I plan on spending thousands of dollars. I know from the sound samples I've heard, the Mexican one can sound even more fantastic from people who've upgraded them. That's where this whole idea is coming from.

    I apologize if it sounds like I'm just buying this bass for the f@$# of it. I'm not. I really do love these basses. I know I want to change it because I've played and heard many of them.
  14. Rocky McD

    Rocky McD

    Jun 28, 2005
    San Antonio, Texas
    Some people, myself included, are "Hot Roders" at heart. We just want to customize everything. No harm in that, it's really just self satisfaction because no one will notice the difference. I have owned many MIM Fenders and most were just fine stock. I put a set of Nordstrands in my P/J MIM and honestly, could not hear any difference. The $250.00 I spent kept trying to convince me there was a difference but I had to admit, there was no difference. So have fun, but don't expect to hear any improvement.
  15. jmone

    jmone Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Thank you for the honest opinion. You did somewhat describe my personality :( . I just want to make as much as a difference as possible. If it can't be done it can't be done and I will accept it. I know I like the bass. But my logic is there is always room for improvement.
  16. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    there is indeed "always room", but the trick is to avoid the "diminishing returns" trap on high-end stuff and the "polishing a turd" trap on low-end stuff.

    going through 10 different pickups on a lakland just because you read that one might be better would be an example of the former, while putting a $400 neck on a $200 squier would be the latter.

    the mexi fenders hit a sweet spot where they're pretty good as is, but the minor investment of better pickups yields a real return.
  17. spaz21387


    Feb 25, 2008
    Portland oregon
    Your amp/cab and strings make more of a difference then pickups. I made the mistake of "upgrading" a few sets of pickups before I found that having a nice amp is the real thing you need for tone. Little combo amps just lack the tone im looking for. My swr 6x10 blows away anything else I have owned. Even squier stock pickups sound amazing through that cab.
  18. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    +1 to a great amp making up for a not-so-great bass, but not the reverse.

    (DI into the PA is another story, though.)
  19. jmone

    jmone Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2010
    Thank you! This is exactly my concept. I don't want to broke trying to make this thing sound like it was sent down from the heavens. I just want to improve it a decent, fair and reasonable amount.

    I love my amp. That isn't even close to the problem here. I play my MM Bongo on it and I love the tone I'm getting out of it. Strings are something I'm always buying. I love a fresh pack of strings so I usually change them frequently. I know those aren't of any concern to me.

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