Hotrod my bass, or just get a new one?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by MikeyFingers, Aug 1, 2005.

  1. I have a Standard (Made in Mexico) Fretless Fender Jazz Bass. I love it, it plays great and sounds pretty good if I turn it up, but I think it's time for something new. I'm debating wether I should work on this bass (new pickups, neck bridge) or just buy an American. I know for a fact that a hotrodded Mexican sounds pretty nice, but Americans are even nicer. I'm just not sure if it's worth the extra couple hundred dollars. Any input?
  2. Bigwan


    Feb 22, 2002
    Ballymena (hey)
    The dude took the words right outta my mouth...

    New pickups might add some too.

    Maybe a badass bridge.

    You can always remove the mods and transfer them if you decide to go with a US model in the future. Why not consider going Skyline? Kicked every US fender I've ever played right into touch. YMMV
  3. new pickups? ok...i can see that
    but a new bridge?...if the original works, why change it? it's not really going to affect the sound much at all.

    if you really want to update a bass' sound, then get a really good pre-amp. An outboard would be the best choice, too, because it would be transportable from bass to bass.

    Check out something like an Aguilar or a Sadowsky...take your bass (and amp for that matter) to a music shoppe, plug in one of these bad boys, and tell me how right I was, later.
  4. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    +1 +1 +1 +1 +1 +1

    My main bass is a Carvin LB75A. Carvin electronics are notoriously "eh," (though I do like the P-series electronics on my other bass, a fretless Carvin BB75).

    When I felt it was time for something new, I put a pair of Bartolini pups and an Aguilar OBP-3 in it.

    Best couple of hundred bucks I ever spent. It's fantastic now.

    These guys are right...pups AND a preamp will transform your bass, and you can always transfer them. If it were me, I'd go for the j-retro and a good set of pups in a heartbeat. I'd probably do the base j-retro, though...the upscale one doesn't look like it adds all that much in terms of sound or capability, and you'd have to dig a new cavity in your bass for the battery. The base j-retro just drops in to the existing control cavity.
  5. Bigwan


    Feb 22, 2002
    Ballymena (hey)
    You've obviously never changed out a standard bridge. The difference, depending on the original's quality of course, can be astounding. Replacing what is basically a folded piece of tin with a large chunk of machined brass adds an awful lot in terms of sustain and attack. Who cares whether the original works - if the bass is playable at all then it obviously works. The question is "how well does it work?"

    While you're at it, replacing the original plastic nut with a brass one would also be to your advantage.
  6. Bigwan


    Feb 22, 2002
    Ballymena (hey)
    Don't count on it! There's been a few folks around that thought that. I wouldn't let this put you off though.
  7. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    Ah, okay. I thought it said it was a straight drop-on on the j-retro site. In fact it says "A crucial factor for the installation of a J-RETRO 01 Pre is the size of the routed slot. These do vary sligthly from bass to bass. Althought the pre-amp is likely to fit without a problem, it's an absolute must to check that the slot is wide enough to take a PP3 battery (that's a 9v to us Amurricuhns). The depth is important too, which ideally needs to be a minimum of 32.5 mm to allow a little clearance."

    Still, enlarging the cavity a little bit is not nearly as drastic as digging an entirely new hole to fit the battery....
  8. I have a BA II on one of my basses and it's fine, and a "folded piece of tin" on another. I disagree that a BA II adds "an awful (sic) lot in terms of sustain and attack." The mass of the bridge which becomes part of the entire vibrating instrument, is microscopic when compared to the mass of the whole instrument.

    Go ahead and spend the money on a new bridge...and then swear how good it is to justify the purchase...I don't's not where I would spend my money is all...

    and don't get me started on nuts...nuts are cheap, so I'd go brass, because plastic IMO sucks...but remember they ONLY affect the tone on open strings...fret it, and nut is out-of-the-picture.
  9. adouglas


    Jun 23, 2003
    Bridgeport, CT
    I'd recommend a bridge from Placebo Products (tm).

    Absolutely guaranteed to make your bass play and sound better.

    At least for a little while.

    :D :D :D :D

    They make strings, too. And cables.

    I can't comment on the actual effect a new bridge would have, since I've never replaced a bridge. I suspect that it would make some difference, but a very small one.

    However, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that new pups and a preamp WILL make a huge difference. It totally transformed my bass.
  10. Bigwan


    Feb 22, 2002
    Ballymena (hey)
    My apologies mate - my experience of switching out a bridge was totally different. It was like night and day difference.

    I would agree that it would be the last component I would change on the instrument that i'd change, but in my experience it still made a massive difference.
  11. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    One MIM bass, it was night and day, the other wasn't too obvious when I swapped.

    Pickups would definately help, a nut is almost always a must on MIM basses for me, and even though it doesn't make a HUGE difference, I swap tuners for Hipshots. A Gotoh or Badass bridge usually makes my list of upgrades as well.
  12. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I spent a lot of time and effort to hot rod my MIM Jazz Bass. Badass II Bridge, BassLines Quarter Pound pickups, new pickguard. In the end I spent a lot of money and had fun doing the upgrades, and ended up with a nice bass that no longer had that "Jazz Bass Vibe" that I originally bought it for!

    If you want to explore upgrading the bass yourself, see and feel what it's like to change out pickups and bridge and such, take the thing apart and tinker, then do it. There's a lot to be said for tinkering and a relatively low priced, good quality like an MIM Fender Jazz is the perfect bass to tinker with.

    If you want a better bass save your money.

    BTW I was no happier with the Basslines pickups than the originals. The pickups that Fender puts in their MIM basses are highly underrated and underappreciated IMO. They really do sound sweet and give that classic Jazz Bass single coil bite. I loved 'em, should have never changed them.

    Same for the bridge.

    If you do change the bridge out for a high mass model, I recommend the Gotoh 201. It's better than the Badass and cheaper, too. But the badass looks extremely cool.