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Gibson Explorer bass deader than a doornail??!

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Thasher4001, Aug 3, 2012.

  1. Thasher4001


    Aug 22, 2010
    I recently scored a white 1984 Gibson explorer bass in white that was miraculously at my local music store. I've always wanted one of these and after testing it out i had to buy it. Now it had strings on it probably from 84' so I didn't think too much of the dead sound. So I took it home and threw some brand new daddario xls on it and... Pretty much the same sound. When I play it with no amp it has barely any note resonance especially on the g string. The sound is similar as if the sting had a foam mute on it. I'm feeling pretty bummed seeing how this was one of my dream instruments and it's seeming like a dud. Any help??
  2. jlepre


    Nov 12, 2007
    Parsippany, NJ
    PUPS might be shot. Take it to a luthier
  3. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    clean the pots and jack.
    Not all basses sound good unplugged.
    My Spector sounds dead and lifeless unplugged, plug it into my tube amp and it comes to life.
  4. 66Atlas


    May 19, 2012
    Like hdracer said, not all basses have a lot of life unplugged.

    But things you could do - take bridge off and clean it & make sure it is tightened down properly and none of the screws are stripped. Make sure the nut is clean.
  5. 66Atlas


    May 19, 2012
    oh, and post some pics!:bassist:
  6. Panther


    Dec 9, 2004
    Nova Scotia
    Gibson Explorer basses aren't really known for their pickups and sound...but it might need TLC nonetheless.
  7. smcd


    Jun 28, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Why are you judging an electric bass on it's acoustic sound???
  8. Johnny Crab

    Johnny Crab ACME,QSC,Fame/Hondo/Greco/HELIX user & BOSE Abuser

    Feb 11, 2004
    South Texas
    All of the above and try raising the pickups. On more than one bass, initial playing sounded lifeless but "came alive" after the pickups were set at a proper elevation.
    Usually that means the bass outputs the same as my other basses.
  9. PlungerModerno


    Apr 12, 2012
    +1... but the pickup height really needs to incorporated into a careful setup for best results... A bass like that might benefit from some experienced TLC. Give her a clean and a setup, If nothing strikes you as amiss, have it seen to.
  10. Thasher4001


    Aug 22, 2010
    Because that is the sound that is amplified I guess. The bass is pretty clean considering it's age. I believe it's just dead frets all over fret board. I don't know if that's possible but that's what it seems. It has an ebony fretboard. So confused..
  11. hdracer


    Feb 15, 2009
    Elk River, MN.
    Yes you are....
  12. superdick2112

    superdick2112 Mile High Bassist Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2010
    The Centennial State
    Get a pro-setup done on it before passing final judgement. Could be a truss rod issue, could be pups/electronics - any number of things. Don't give up just yet...
  13. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Ummm....have you plugged it in and played it yet?
  14. throbgod13


    Mar 26, 2005
    i'd take it to a reputable tech and have it looked over..
  15. sugarsand


    Mar 1, 2009
    I have an 84 explorer with ebony fretboard. It's built like a tank. And is a great sounding bass. Mine was painted puke green at one time, it survived the Hollywood hair-metal scene without getting broken... it looks well worn and might have a drug prob. I had a scratchy sound coming from it after a few years of giging and kept looking at the solder joints near the jack which is one of those long throat type inputs. It turns out there was years of built up smeg on the outside of the bas, on input jack ring, making the cord ground not completely. I knock of the junk with a chopstick, plugged in, it sounds perfect. Make no mistake that is a great bass.

    You might want to:
    Test one pickup then the other, you have V/V/T
    check the solder joints see if they have been resoldered,
    if they are original they will look clean and molten. If it's been resoldered make sure the pick up wires aren't reversed would give you a thin sound, it should sound big, huge like a thunderbird and mine sounds a bit overdriven (in a very good way)at all volumes, and my pickup are as far away from the strings as I can get them.

    To loosen the truss rod, loosen the strings, floppy.
    Loosen the truss rod, then tune it up, standard tuning, see if it frets out, also make sure the intonation on the G string is in the right spot, on mine the G saddle is father forward than the E for instance. The distance is shorter, all this matter on how the neck reacts. I play heavy strings too, 50,70 90 110 like all my basses I have to adjust the truss rod alot. My explorer I turn the truss rod all the time since I live in the mojave desert, it's hotter than hell. Don't be afraid to work on your bass, it's built really well. If you loosen the truss rod the neck will for sure make the action higher. Never force the truss rod, you might have to apply a little pressure to get it to turn the first time.

    If you can't figure out the wiring let me know I could photograph the inside of mine.
  16. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner
    The bass is "dead" sounding when played unplugged and new strings didn't help?

    Sorry to say, but the electronics aren't where you should be looking. New pickups aren't going to make that bass "come alive."

    You might get lucky and it be some sort of mechanical problem as mentioned, bridge not bolted down, truss rod needs a turn or something.... but sometimes, it's just "in the wood" and no amount of chasing electronics is goingg to do anything but (hopefully) mask that.
  17. sugarsand


    Mar 1, 2009
    Forgot to mention brass nut, that bass has a brass nut, the strings have to seat in the slot. While the bass is in tune gently push the strings on the tuner side of the nut. and And inspect the slot and see if the brass got malformed or dented from a hit.

    If the nut was cut too low then you have to get a new one.

    True if it's not plugged in it can't be electronic. I suppose I read something "trying out" and jumped to conclusion it was plugged in.
  18. FrednBass


    Feb 24, 2012
    For crying out loud, test it PLUGED!
  19. wvbass

    wvbass Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2004
    West Virginia
    Yes, pluge it, for heaven's sake!

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