Help deciding whether to get a Mexican Jazz or build a warmoth one.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Jacob M, Aug 28, 2004.

  1. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    Hi, my name is Jacob (obviously), this is my first post here at Talk Bass. I've been playing guitar for about 4 years, and I don't own a bass, but I'd like to. Recently I jammed with some friends and played a friends' Mexican Fender Jazz Bass, and I liked how it played alot. I'd been considering getting a bass for a long time, but the fun I had jamming on it pushed me over the edge, and now I'm pretty much committed to getting a bass. I could spend $450 and get the same bass my friend had, or (as I've figured it out), $581.98 building a bass cosisting of a Warmoth neck/body and order hardware from Allparts and get some Seymour Duncan pickups.

    I'm heavily into modifying my guitars, so, aside from drilling the mounting holes into the neck, assembling/wiring the bass up would be no problem for me.

    I had decided that if I end up getting a Warmoth bass, I'd get a black Korina one and only get an oil finish, partially because I've always had a thing for Korina, partially because it'd cost less than getting an alder painted body, and partially because it looks really cool. Is there anything I should know about oil finished Korina bodies that Warmoth wouldn't tell me, any problems or anything?

    What I really need is someone who has experience with Warmoth to guide me and tell me whether the extra money and effort is really worth it, since I obviously can't play a warmoth bass to make my own conclusions. Also, I was just going to order a no-name bridge from Allparts, is there anything that would really justify spending $15 extra on this Gotoh bridge as opposed to the bridge I listed below?

    Something else I'd like some guidance in is pickup choices. I love Seymour Duncan guitar pickups, so I figure that I'll like their bass pickups as well, but I realize that may not be true. If anyone has some recommendations for a better set of Jazz Bass pickups to get than what I listed, please recommend them. From the bridge pickup I'm looking for a fat, punchy and very tight sound, medium-high output, and it would need to be great clarity with low mids prominent. For the neck (I guess you'd call it that), I'm looking for a more vintage output and vintage tone, I wnat a pickup that's also very clear and tight, but not so fat or punchy, instead I'd like a bright, slightly aggressive tone with mids and high mids prominent.

    Anyway, here are all the parts that I've comiled which I'd need to build a bass. If I've forgotten any key components (besides things needed for wiring the bass), please tell me so that I don't end up being stuck with a bass that won't be playable. All the allparts materials I've listed have a 25% off price because this site will order allparts materials and sell them to you for 25% off.

    Body: $185.00
    Black Korina J bass

    Neck: $201
    Maple neck, rosewood board, clear satin finish, 6105 frets

    Chrome Bridge: $15
    Order from Steven Kersting. & SINGLE STRING

    Chrome Gotoh Tuners: $30

    Chrome Strap Buttons: $2.50 BUTTONS

    Black Pickguard: $20 BASS GUITARS

    Control Plate: $9.75
    Order from Steven Kersting. PLATES

    Pickups: 100.74
    Jazz bass vintage neck Bass

    Jazz bass hot bridge Bass

    4 CTS Pots: $15
    2 Audio, 2 linear, order from Steven Kersting. POTS

    Locking Strap: $2.99

    Thanks for any help/recommendations etc.
  2. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    I would suggest that you buy a bass in the price range of your friend's Fender. I wouldn't buy anything cheaper and I wouldn't spend much more, either. There are lots of basses available in that price range so try 'em.

    You don't want to buy anything cheaper because it will have little or no trade-value when you want to upgrade. Don't buy something more expensive because your tastes will, more than likely, change. There is a lot to learn about this stuff.

    As to building a parts bass...There is a LOT of stuff to decide before you start buying parts and you had better know what contributes to tone and playability and what sort of sound you want. There are other parts manufacturers out there besides Warmoth and it would be a good idea to spend some time on these forums finding out about the experiences others have had building a parts bass. I would strongly suggest that you put off buiding a bass until you really know what you want.

    Oh, yeah. It's going to cost more than you think to build a good parts bass. Just as a for-instance, a good bridge will cost you a lot more than $15.00.
  3. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    If you want a jazz buy a used USA or Japanese reissue jazz. You will see alot for sale for around $600.
  4. of the two, i'd make the warmoth one. otherwise odie has a good idea too, just pop some SDs in there, and rock on!

  5. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    Well, as I said, I've been playing guitar and modifying mine for 4 years, I would like to think I know alot about what contributes to tone, as I heavily modify them and have done tons of research about what effects what. Do you really think $130 extra would be too much? While my tastes in tone will likely change, will my tastes in what feels comfortable to play change that much? I can always exchange my pickups and get new ones if I don't like them..

    As for other parts manufacturers, yeah, I know, I was planing on getting Gotoh tuners, and probabally going nuts and spending $30 on a gotoh bridge as well (after reading your comment), but I totally understand what you mean about not jumping into the prospect of building a bass.

    What other parts would you point out besides the bridge? The tuners are Gotoh, I could get a Gotoh bridge for $15 more, the pots I plan on getting are CTS, the strap-buttons are no-name, but that's not really important, the pickups are Seymour Duncans, the caps I get won't really matter much... Aside from the crappy bridge I was considering, what other unexpected costs do you foresee?

    The thing is, the Warmoth would cost about $600 with the SD's, buying an American Jazz + SD's would come out to around $700...
  6. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Here's the thing. When you buy the American Jazz (or whatever you buy) you'll know EXACTLY what it's going to sound like and how it will play. You'll know what it's going to cost and if the store you do business with has a tech, he can set it up before you buy it so you'll know where you are.

    If I were in your shoes and I'd look at the Fender HWY 1 Jazz. I don't care what anyone else tells you, it's a good bass for the money. They may look kinda funky, but they are good playing (and sounding) basses. Play more than one because not all of them play/sound the same.

    Back to home-brew basses. I'm doing one now. I'm having it screwed together because i'm not good at wood or soldering. I won't really now what it's going to sound like 'til it's done. I may love it or it may not sound good to me and Ill wind up selling it to someone who does like it. It's a crap-shoot so don't put yourself through that on your first bass.
  7. odie

    odie Supporting Member

    Good point. If you liked the Mexi bass you will probably like the USA even more.

    Warmoth and other parts basses often times cost much more than you planned and you might end up with pie in your face.

    A point I would consider is re-sale. Others here will say it doesnt matter. But I believe it is something to consider when taking a risk at building one. The Fender wont lose re-sale much if bought used.

    Plus if you got a USA fender I think it wouldnt need pups.
  8. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    you cant go wrong getting a fender, get the MIM jazz! :bassist:
  9. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    The thing that I can't get over is that buying a Warmoth body and neck, Gotoh tuners and bridge, CTS pots and a set of mexican jazz pickups and all the rest of the stuff I'd need would only cost like $30 or $40 more than a MIM Jazz, when I'd assume that Gotoh hardware and Warmoth woods are superior to those used on MIM Fenders. The only reason the Warmoth bass'd be alot more expensive would be the Seymour Duncan pickups, and I'd probabally end up spending $110 on Seymour Duncan pickups for any bass I got...
  10. bizzaro


    Aug 21, 2000
    There are a lot of decent basses in that price range. Try a bunch of them, not just Fender. I don't care for Fenders much. Some are fine, I am sure, but I wonder about the quality control. Also used stuff can be a real bargain. The Fender jazz and P tone are certainly standards for bass guitar. If you are confident you can put together a good bass, go for it! Good luck. And, last I knew, you can get a great Gotoh bridge for around 20 bucks. :eyebrow:
  11. BucketButt


    Sep 10, 2003
    Medina, TN USA
    If you have a fair amount of woodworking (or more accurately, wood *finishing*) experience and you enjoy a challenge, you can probably make a better bass for the money by building a Warmoth. But consider it a "project" bass that you'll either keep for a long time (possibly upgrading a few times) or sell for less than you have invested in it.

    With MIM Fenders, quality will vary a bit and some will feel/sound/look better than others; but the variation these days is not anywhere near as great as it used to be. You'l want to play several before deciding, but that's my standard operating procedure for buying any factory-produced instrument. ( I've never bought a custom-made instrument ... yet.) Look for a good "unplugged" tone, and check for a solid neck-to-body union; if the wood isn't good, it doesn't really matter what hardware and electronics are installed.

    I own a pretty nice MIM Precision, totally stock except for strings; I replaced the standard Fenders with Rotosounds early on, and it improved the sound dramatically. I have toyed with the idea of upgrading the electronics, but every time I play it I question whether it really needs anything else.. In stock trim it will keep its value better; if/when i see the need I'll upgrade the pickups and pots, but until then I'll just leave it as-is. Nice thing about Fenders, replacement/upgrade parts are plentiful and generally don't require any body modifications.

    Here's what I'd do: Go to a few stores in your area, and play every bass that comes close to your price range, regardless of brand. One bass in particular will "speak to you"; when you play it, you'll know it's the one. If it happens to be a Fender Jazz, so much the better, since you know you'll be able to upgrade it later (if you really feel you need to) with a minimum of fuss. But you may discover that something you never even considered is everything you were looking for all along, and you won't have to change a thing.

    FWIW. I'm VERY partial to Fenders, and own a Geddy Lee model Jazz in additon to my MIM Precision; right now I have my eye on a certain American-series Precision that appeared on my favorite store's wall this past week. But if an entirely different bass sings sweetly enough, I'm more than willing to bring it home -- just as soon as I replenish my musical-equipment fund, of course. (But I don't intend to sell either of my Fenders just to buy something else.)
  12. angrydad


    Jul 31, 2004
    :) Well, here goes my two cents on the matter...
    I agree with quite a few of the posts that address the "Re-sale Value" issue. But, if re-sale is not a consideration...and it sounds to me like you're really "jonesing" to build a bass, then Do It! Have fun ! Enjoy ! IT'S ONLY AN INSTRUMENT !!!!!!
    I have both four, and five string J style basses made from Warmoth parts, and I love them. Alder bodies w/maple tops, maple fingerboards, passive Bartolini pickups, round wound strings, poly finishes. They are both very versatile ( fingerstyle, slap ) and require little maintanence. My son has a Mexi Fender J, and it actually has a very cool "old school" finger funk tone. I'm sure with some upgrades it could be a killer bass, but, as is, it suits his "jungle boogie/the chicken" needs.
    As far as oiled finished Korina. A buddy of mine has an oil finished Korina MTD 5. The sound is wonderfully warm...a great bass for laying down a fat solid finger style R&B groove !!!! The slap sound, with new strings and the preamped juiced slightly is also very nice, though not as bright and edgey as a 70's J bass ( but that's a completely different animal altogether !)
    The bottom line (in my opinion ) is this : if a bass is structurally sound, has an inherent tone that you feel works with your touch/style, then regardless of manufacturer (Fender, Warmoth, Allparts, etc.) you can make it do what you need.
  13. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    Good points, Angry dad, but did you build your first bass? How long had you been playing before you did a parts bass? If you built your own first bass and it went together without a hitch you either had experience, lots of help, or you were lucky. The man would probably like to have something he can play soon, if not now, and sometimes things don't go together as planned and a lot of time (not to mention money) can get wasted.
  14. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    I don't really get the point that alot of people are making about how the bass I might construct could be a total failure/waste of money.

    I've worked extensively on guitars before, I have no doubt whatsoever I could go from having no strings to fully wired up and strung in about 30 minutes. With the holes for the bridge drilled, all it is is a matter of screwing the bridge in place, only a dufus could mess that up. I've removed and replaced bolt-on necks before, and noticed no difference in the before/after playing, so if the holes are drilled in the neck (as I would ask Warmoth to do), it would again, just be screwing something into place. I've never installed tuners, but that's the only thing that I've never done, and if that's the only thing that really presents a problem, I could have it done for me, though I doubt I'd need to...

    Is there something I'm missing here, or are people just assuming that because I don't own a bass I don't know how to use a soldering iron and a screwdriver?
  15. IvanMike

    IvanMike Player Characters fear me... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Nov 10, 2002
    Middletown CT, USA
    or you could look at the valenti website and really start freaking :) (see nino brown)
  16. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    One majot problem I see is that you have two neck position pickups listed.

    The routes are slightly different and so is string spacing at either picup position so you would have to correct that. Warmoth would probably route them both for neck picups if you ask though.... oh and I believe bridge picups are wound hotter to make up for the lower amplitude of the strings vibration closer to the bridge.

    That asside, Id recommend Valenti if it was in your price range. Since its not Id recommend a used USA or Japanese Fender. Ive seen a few Warmoth instruments that were assembled by amateurs and they didnt really play or sound that great. Ive played and own one (Valenti) that was assembled by someone Id consider a pro and it rocks. Im not saying you cant, but if it ends up being that you cant, you will be out a nice wad of cash.
  17. Nick man

    Nick man

    Apr 7, 2002
    Tampa Bay
    The amatuers I speak of are:

    - A guy with some setup experience on his own instruments.
    - A guy who had been playing and setting up his own guitars for years.
    - A guitar tech who works as Ricky Martin's official guitar tech, and was the official tech at the Latin Grammys.

    Neither of these played all that great, the best one was around the level of an American Fender.
  18. r379


    Jul 28, 2004
    Dallas, Texas
    No offense, Jacob, but bass and guitar setup are not the same and experience gained in picking/choosing parts for guitar does not necessarily translate to bass. Bass and guitar are quite different. In my opinion you would be better off gaining experience in playing and setting up a bass by learning on one that was already built.
  19. Jacob M

    Jacob M

    Aug 28, 2004
    New York
    Nick, the 2 neck pickup thing was just a typo, I realize the difference in spacing/winding/tone and I planned on getting a Jazz Hot Bridge.

    I understand what you guys are saying about even though I've worked on a guitar, it doesn't necessarily translate to being able to construct a bass well, but I'd like to know specifically what you feel I'd have trouble with, so that I could see if I might be able to get a professional to do it without it costing an insane amount. As I said before, I'm 100% confident with my wiring abilities, I don't think I'll have any problems installing the strap buttons:rolleyes: and I can't imagine the bridge would be any more than just screwing something in. The only thing I could see there being problems would be installing the neck and possibly the tuners. Are those the only things that people who say I could mess up and end up regretting it/having wasted money are concerned that I'd screwup, and would you guys trust a professional tech to do these jobs and expect a better result?