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Great "downgrade" story...for once

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by scuzzy, Feb 17, 2013.

  1. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I love bass, and although I'm not technically spectacular, I'm picky about my tone. You could throw me into the great gear, crappy bassist category. I play my single-cut 5 at church and "worship" gigs but prefer a 4-string for pop-rock gigs that I play with a friend. My primary 4 string was most recently a killer big Al...
    Due to some rather large student loan debt, I felt it would be best to sell the big Al and downgrade so that I could pay off a chunk. Sadly, an email came and the bass was sold. I was on the search for a new bass. My only knock on the big Al was the rosewood fretboard. I am very partial to maple FB's, and wanted my new bass to have one. I have also always loved the PJ setup. Luckily, I found an LTD vintage 204 on Hello Music and got it for $178. I received it and was blown away by the build quality and the fret dressing. great neck, and the stock pickups had respectable tone, although they lacked on string balance and the "P" had poor sustain.

    I decided I wanted to switch it up a bit, since I'm not a fan of plain white pickguards. I also wanted to improve some on the pickups. So I ordered some DiMarzio's in creme and a tort pickguard off ebay. Got it all intstalled yesterday, and I gotta say, this thing is a monster. Low action, very little buzz, killer growl, great sustain...better than any Mexi-Fender I've ever played. I wasn't sure if I could transition to passive since I've only played actives for the past 15 years. So far, I have no regrets selling the Big Al (not to say this is as good, let's be honest). But this one will do great for what it needs to do. Plus, I love the classic look. This just shows that great things can be had for little cash. for over $1000 less than it's predecessor, this bass is an outstanding value. I would highly recommend. Now I just need to shield the cavity a bit....on the "to do" list.
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    VERY nice! For anyone who's wondering why so many of us here love the tort guard, they need only look at your before and after pics. The creme pups were an inspired choice too.
  3. ShirazBop

    ShirazBop When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro Gold Supporting Member

    Sep 29, 2006
    Greensboro, NC
    Great testimony! Good looking amp rig as well I might add!
  4. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    Love the new color scheme. There's just something about creme colored pickups on a black bass with a tort PG...
  5. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    yet sadly, I couldn't find a picture of one with a maple fretboard as a bass....the strat guys have been doing it for a while, which was my inspiration.
  6. Is it just the photos, or is that a matte black finish?

    Great job - she really looks sweet!
  7. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    Yes, this model is matte black with a road worn look. It has buckle rash, a stained neck with finger marks and fretboard wear. Not quite as good as the fender road worn series, but not bad for a Vietnamese made instrument. I'll post a pic of the wear later.
  8. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon. Supporting Member


    Nothing wrong with that bass. Looks killer and I bet sounds great.

    Same with the rig!
  9. GK Growl

    GK Growl

    Dec 31, 2011
    "Downgrading" is sometimes just becoming practical. As people, we tend to value certain things for all the wrong reasons while judging other things as worthless or cheap for all the wrong reasons. Out of all the basses I've ever owned, my two favorites are Squier P/J 4 strings. I paid $150 for one and $99 for the other. I've had others play them and say they were great only to be concerned about actually bringing them to a gig because of perception. Perception of whom?
  10. PBnJBassist


    Mar 8, 2011
    Dallas, TX
    Glad you got a good one. I had one not too long ago and half of it was just poor quality. Sharp frets, badly cut nut, tuners were not stable, and the sound was weak. Might have been a lemon, tho. Got rid of it locally and broke even. Congrats on the bass!
  11. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    With that price, there are probably more lemons than good ones. I got lucky, and I'm glad. I've had the same experience with the modern squiers. I've played some that were absolutely stunning. Others weren't worthy of leaving the house.

    I'm amazed at the fret finish on this bass. Uber smooth. I was a little worried about the nut before delivery, but it's cut well. Neck needed a little relief out of the box, and that remedied the majority of the buzz initially present. About the same amount of buzz my big al had. I play with a heavy touch on the rock stuff, so some is expected.
  12. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I think I am done modifying it. I copper shielded the cavities and it is silent as can be. I added in series/parallel switches on each pickup for some more variety and a 3-way toggle so i can isolate out a true p-bass or jazz-bridge tone. It sounds fantastic now with the DR strings. I am really loving this bass. Here are a few pics to show off some of the details. All "wear" is from the factory. only gripes are some buzz on the first 2 frets of the E-string and a poorly leveled 20th fret on the G-string.

    Wife got a new camera, so I snapped some pics after I got the new mods completed.

  13. I too snagged on of these on the cheap recently


    though I paid about $60.00 more than you did (they run about $350.00 normally)


    i almost bought the black because i really really wanted the maple board....(if you ever decide you don't want that maple board i would be more than happy to trade you for my rosewood)

    i found this bass to blow the doors off stuff coasting twice as much...the quality was even much nicer the the squiers that everybody seems to gush over...and the neck is absolutely to die for! can't believe how comfortable this thing is...
  14. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I wish i could have gotten sunburst with maple fretboard....but it was not to be had. Very clean!
  15. Yep hence the reason I suggested the trade...Lol

    ESP has discontinued the 204 in favor of the 214 and the sunburst is only available as a fretless now....

    I wonder if I can order a replacement neck with a maple board?
  16. Don't mean to hijack the thread, but where did you get that matching rack for your avatar???
  17. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    I ordered a black carpet covered rack on eBay, stripped it, found out where i could get the same tweed that avatar uses and i just covered it myself. Turned out better than i expected.
  18. scuzzy


    Feb 15, 2006
    Troy, MO
    If you get any luck with that, let me know. I emailed them months ago about selling me a tortoise pickguard and still haven't received a response...
  19. ubnomnar

    ubnomnar Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2009
    So Cal
    Nice story. I'll be watching for an LTD204 now.

    I'm thinking about starting my own "great downgrade" story...

    But... GAS is a tough beast to slay!
  20. Dr. Cheese

    Dr. Cheese Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 3, 2004
    Metro St. Louis

    Play what is practical for you. If your money would better serve you paying a debt or in savings, why tie it up in a bass?