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got some q's about a MIM Jazz Bass project

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by erikwhitton, Oct 15, 2002.

  1. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    i currently play an American deluxe jazz bass. and i absolutely love it. (p.s. - i play through an SVT 3 Pro and 6x10 HLF).

    what i need now is a dependable back up bass, in case a string breaks during a set, etc. emergency situations.

    i am thinking of buying a cheap used mexican jazz bass - with a good feel neckwise & fretwise.

    then i would like to outfit it with some nice pickups, new bridge, etc.

    i think i would enjoy this project, learn a bit, and have a bass that i fell pretty good about.

    my questions are:

    1. is this as great of an idea as i think it is?

    2. what pickups,bridges, etc does this group recommend. bear in mind that i really love how my american deluxe sounds. those are noiseless something or others. forget who makes em.

    3. if i figure on getting the bass for under $300, spend a few hundred on a bridge and pickups - would i be better off just buying another american deluxe for apprx$900?

    any help you guys have would be great, i think it would be rewarding to build one rather than just buy another one ready to go.

    mostly i am wondering what specific upgrades i should prioritize with a cheapy used mexican jbass.

    thanks ,

  2. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Used MIM: $250
    New Bridge: $30 (Assuming a Gotoh is good enough)
    Pickups: $150
    EQ: $150 (approx)
    Installation (assuming you won't do it yourself): $150

    You're over $700 into the project.

    Now, You could make things a lot cheaper by doing the installation yourself, and forgoing an active EQ, which would make the new pickup installation pretty damn easy if you're at all conversent with a soldiering iron. But if you like the boost your EQ bands with your Deluxe you'll want an active EQ on the new bass.

    Doing all the work yourself will be a lot of fun and you'll learn a lot about the musical instrument in the process. It could be worth the money if that's what you want to get out of it.

    Personally I'd recommend using a passive Essex (www.rondomusic.com - look for the Essex Megathread) instead of a MIM Fender as the basis for your project.
  3. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Do the project for fun, but if you want to save money... you can buy the MIA Jazz for ~$500 used.
  4. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    you guys are helping!
    i do want to do it all myself - for the learning experience.

    screw buying another american. i want to learn about this stuff.

    philbiker - what kind of pickups should i get?

    i don't need an active EQ. i do not change too much of my tone during a song or even a set. I could keep it all passive.

    plus i'm not sure i could even do the active upgrade myself. wouldn't i have to bore a spot for a battery?

    so let's say i keep it passive, get some new pickups and a bridge.

    Is Gotoh the bridge to get? i heard something about a badassII

  5. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    What you think you would like. I would look for second hand pickups like the ones in your bass. There is a bewildering variety of pickups available and I don't know what's great and what's not.

    If you do a search on "Badass" you should find lots of conversation about bridges here. The Gotoh has similar sonic and feel characteristics to a Badass without some of the problems of a Badass. The Gotoh also has a lower price! For example, the Badass needs to be slotted, to be used, and I wouldn't recommend doing that at home. The Gotoh can just bolt on and you're good to go.

    Or you may find that you like the sound and vibe of the low mass bridge better. I know I do.
  6. pmkelly

    pmkelly Supporting Member

    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    I had an MIM sunburst jazz that I replaced the bridge with a Badass II and I replaced the pups with Dimarzio Model J's... and to this day I regret getting rid of it! It was a player, and it sounded like a monster with the mods.... I never did install the active eq like I thought I might, but I found I didn't need it with the Dimarzios. I probably should have replaced the tuners with hipshots, but that's just me.... It was a killer bass, and I should've kept it... anyway, the work on it wasn't terribly difficult, it wasn't that time consuming, and the results were amazing! I've been thinking about picking up another MIM (the 60's j bass model) and doing something similar!

  7. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    I'm doing a similar deal with my MIM Jazz fretless... great feeling neck!!

    Brand new off the store wall -- $300

    New nut -- 2 for $5.99, (genuine Fender part, cut and installed myself)

    Bartolini 9S pickups -- $85 off ebay

    Stewmac Fender Style Bass Bridge -- $20 (I like the plain old Fender bridge, but the MIM ones are very thin. This is a bit beefier. I've used these on several basses... yeah, there's 2 additional holes, but that doesn't worry me. You can always skip the front two...)

    Black Pickguard -- $16.50 (My bass is an '00 and so has a bridge sized pickup in both positions.)

    I was gonna J-Retro it for $250, but believe it or not, this has been a bad week for appliances in the ol' household... Dishwasher, microwave, and garbage disposal all crapped out within a few days of each other. There goes my gig money for the next month!!

    I'm pretty easy to please, basswise, and I'll tell you... Straight off the store wall, after the nut replacement, this bass was a player and has been to two gigs, (and will go to the next 6!!), with no mods. I tried out several before settling for 'That one that's been on the wall forever'... It was the best of the bunch to my hands...

    Stock, I'm sure you'll find an MIM that will do as a backup as soon as you get it home. Just try out all that you can... There're peaches amongst the lemons! Actually, I find more sweet MIM's than sour ones, but maybe that's just me... Part of the joy that these basses hold is that they're fun to upgrade... Just don't expect to recoup all your outlay. I never sell anything, so it's a moot point!!

    Have fun, and don't forget the pics!!!

  8. erikwhitton,
    If you're going to have around $700 into the project, did you ever think about building your own? You could get a Warmoth, or an All Parts bass for probably about the same price. You could save yourself some money and check out the stuff on Warmoths "Thrifty" outlet (or whatever it's called). and since you would be putting the entire bass together yourself, you would really learn something.

  9. Instead of spending the time and money on all of the modifications, spend the time and money in shopping and gas. . .

    Some MIM basses are real dogs. . .good for kindling and that is just about it. . but some of them are really great instruments. My MIM Jazz was a better sounding and playing bass than many american made basses. . .payed $300 and played it for years. . .STOCK! I had the setup tweaked a couple of times, but that was about it.

    I personally have found. . .and this has been reiforced by conversations with several other musicians, that if you buy a bass and modify it. . .it will ALWAYS need something else. . .it will ALWAYS be a project bass.

    Go out, play a bunch of $300 basses, and buy the one that knocks your socks off.
  10. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    you guys rock...thanks for all the advice. i am definitely listening to all of you.

    i have thought of building the entire bass - but i think i will save that for next time. someday, someday.

    and that's a valid point about a bass always being a 'project.' but i think i can keep it reasonable.

    i have 3 fender dealers in my immedate area. so i think i can play every single MIM jazz bass and find the darwin.

    i will play it as is for a while when needed, but when i can - i would like to swap the pups and the bridge. i am also really curious to see exactly how much difference these modification can make in a bass' sound.

    i will keep everyone posted.

    thanks again.

    ps - i think i have settled on aero pups. the ones reviewed in the bass play link above in this thread.

    and i will try to swap the bridge for the same one in my american deluxe. sorry i don't know the name of it. but i dig it.

    and that's pretty much it. hopefully i can find a blue or red jbass!
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    This may involve more work. The USA basses have string through, whereas the Mexico models have only top string design. You may beed to drill holes and add ferrules to accomodate through body stringing. I would go with Robert's recommendation above of a Stew-Mac Fender Style bridge.
  12. erikwhitton

    erikwhitton Guest

    Sep 20, 2002
    Portland, ME USA
    oh shoot - really?
    i thought some mexicans have string through.

    must be wrong.
  13. BoogieNight


    Jun 15, 2001
    Erikwhitton, I think you should buy one of the newers MIMs (from 2001 and up) because I think they're better. I have a 2001 MIM and recently discovered it has an alder body!

    I have made a lot of mods to my bass, and regret some of them. I think all you should do is change pickups to noiseless ones like Dimarzio Ultra Jazz (if the hum bothers you), and put a badass bridge if you still want a livelier sound. Nothing else.

    That's my 2 cents...
  14. Blues Bass 2

    Blues Bass 2 Supporting Member

    Oct 3, 2001
    Davenport Iowa
    Boogie Night has the right idea.Get a newer MIM jazz.They have an alder body instead of poplar and the bridge and neck pickups in the older MIMs were the same size unlike the new ones with the wider bridge pickup like thier American models.When getting replacement pickups you would have to do some routing to make the bridge pickup fit.With the newer model the pickups would fit right in.I agree with him on the Dimarzio pickups and Badass bridge too.If you can get one with a good neck they can be very good.
  15. ldiezman


    Jul 11, 2001
    You should really look into doing a warmoth bass... Its really not that hard to do.. you can get finished bodies and what not right there.. you can get everything for your bass there.. and if you do it right.. you will end up spending about the same as you would if you buy a used MIM and upgrade it..
  16. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB Staff Member Supporting Member

    Jan 28, 2001
    Spencerport, New York
    Take a look at a MIM Deluxe Jazz for a backup. I had one, put a Badass 2 on it and it was a great Bass, imo.

    Too bad I sold that one too.............. :(
  17. King David

    King David

    Dec 13, 1999
    I bought a badass bridge for 50 and put in the fender 60's custom shop pickups for 100. Bass cost me a little over 300 new. 450 for a nice backup isn't too bad. I love it!

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