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Hotrodding an Essex, good for beginners?

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by Greg Johnsen, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    Well, I have this crazy idea and dream (if my rents will let me..) to make a steve harris style SX jazz. I know where I would get the parts from, it's just I don't know how to level frets (I've heard that most SX basses need a fret leveling), make a neck fit correctly if it doesn't already (I'll be very careful to get the right dimensions if possible) and a few more things of that sort. I know how to solder, but wiring is tricky for me, would it be easier and a better choice to get someone to do it that know's what they're doing?

    I'm sure I could handle the project, and I will have plenty of money when the time comes, so that's not an issue, it's just I don't want to screw everything up...

    Should I just make an order to Hambone so he can do it correctly and professionaly? Or should I learn for myself?

    I appreciate your input.

  2. Do it yourself.

    In the final analysis, there's little to screw up that will truly cost you money. If you botch the neck, you can get another one for very little $. The rest of the project is comprised of pieces that won't get modified so you can't mess that up (I hope :D ). Just take your time, think about what you're going to do all the way through, and make sure to use quality materials and you'll do fine.
  3. nateo

    nateo Schubie Fan #1

    Mar 2, 2003
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Unless you lop off a finger or something, but that's tricky to do while levelling frets.

    Here's another vote for "go for it". It's hard to learn this sort of thing without getting your hands dirty, and cheapo basses are a personal favourite of mine. Speaking of which, I think I need to start mining for some pawn shop gold.

  4. PSWoods


    Aug 4, 2005
    I learned what little luthiery I know on SX lumber and other low-pricetag-low-pressure instruments. Working on stuff you can afford to lose a good way to get your nerves up; you don't want to have to be taking pulls off that bottle of Jack Daniels in your workshop.

    And if you are persistent, eventually you will be standing somewhere, basking in the admiration of good musicians saying, "I can't believe this is a $99 bass!"

    My SX is now my "breadboard" unit - I routed and wired it so I can drop any pickup combo into it (I wind my own pus).

    +1 for JUST GO FOR IT! You can read a shelf full of books and not know as much as the guy who just started hacking away out of unguided curiousity.
  5. This is a little known and oft misunderstood aspect of building.
  6. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    alright, well when the rents say it's good, then I'll do it. And I agree with the 120 dollars bass, the neck and all that, it's just I'm 15, and in highschool, so I'm not getting a continuous flow of cash, I get the real money over the summer, and I plan to have 2 jobs then.

    Thanks for the input guys, I really appreciate it.

    I do have a few questions though...

    Where can I find a cheap neck with a maple board that looks good, and fits into a SX jazz body.

    Do fender replacement pickguards work for SX's? or do I have to search for one of those as well?

    Does a BadAssII (might be a III when I buy it)fit right into the existing screw holes, or do I have to drill at all?

    Do SX jazz's have different sized pickups or different ones?

    Thanks for your help and input guys. Hambone, if I have some trouble, would it be ok if I contacted you for help (since you only live 30 miles away)?


  7. Greg, I would have thought these questions might have already been researched and answered from the SX megathread as part of the process to decide on the project. All of this has been in there for years. These are the most discussed instruments on TB. This basic stuff has all been hashed out. But since you've asked, this once, I'll oblige...

    Why not SX? Just buy a maple replacement neck if you can't get a maple one with the bass in the beginning. Besides, there are no "cheap" necks other than these. Allparts and MightyMite are mid priced between $100 and $250 for most of their products and Warmoth is the premium at $150 up for theirs. SX is your only bet until you roll yer own. Keep in mind that these necks, like most aftermarket necks, require a final finish to be applied.
    Yes they do but like all replacement PG's and the SX line, they might not line up with all the holes perfectly. This is as standard a feature on these basses as paint. Everyone that's toyed with these deals with it.
    This is simply the most asked question about SX basses. Yes, just like the Fenders, it's a drop in fit.
    The pups are standard Fender style Jazz pups with different sized bridge and neck pups. However, it's the pickguard that determines the neck pup location because the pup rout is a bit enlarged.

    The fact that money is tight and tools are short is a good thing. It will keep you hungry for progress and yet keep you slowed down at the same time. Use the downtime to plan and do extra stuff like shield the body, install inserts, etc - the cheap stuff.

    Sure, if you get in a bind I can help you out.
  8. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    I tried to look in the megathread, but it took me forever to find anything, and my computer hates that thread and likes to slow down to a crawl when I go in it (probably the 1000+ replies, lol)

    I appreciate you answers to my questions, I know it will help me out.

    How do I finish a neck? I've never done anything of that sort, and I am a bit reluctant to do so.

    I may keep the rosewood fretboard after all because it gives a darker sound, and it'll be a little easier on me.

    I guess it won't really be a steve harris tribute because he has some chrome on his bass, I won't have any, just black and LPB (not countng the neck of course).

    thanks again guys, I really appreciate it.

  9. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000
    I bought an SX flamed maple jazz a few months ago for $130.00 off ebay and dropped in an EMG BTC preamp and EMG jazz pickups, which I got off the internet used for $40.00 each and I put on a Gotoh bridge. This has become my primary gigging bass in my classic rock/R&B cover band, it sounds plays and looks great and the frets were just fine. The neck was completely finished and has a thick laquer finish (some like ,some do not, it looks good). Check ebay for good deals on parts and go for it.
  10. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    nice bass! That custom cut pickguard doesn't look bad at all!

    I'm going to put the things I'm buying for the bass here, and if you guy's see any problems with it, it'd help me figure out some bugs before I start building.

    SX SJB 62MG (lpb w/ matching headstock)
    Basslines 1/4 pounders
    BadAssII or III bidge
    Hipshot vintage tuners
    Pickguard (black)
    Control plate(Black)
    Strap buttons
    Pickup cover
    Tone Pot (from carvin)
    2XVolume pot (carvin)
    Wire and shielding kit (carvin)
    Black knobs

    For the wiring, do I need different colors? Or is the white that comes in the kit ok?


  11. When I said that the necks are finished, I was referring to the replacement necks Rondo offers on their website that you can pick up for $39.99. These are the SX necks before decaling and finishing.
  12. KeithPas


    May 16, 2000

    Thanks for clarifying, I did'nt even know that SX replacement necks were available from Rondo. That would be a good option for those of us that like a satin finished neck or for cheap experimentation.
  13. Greg Johnsen

    Greg Johnsen

    May 1, 2005
    Hickory NC
    wow, I wasn't even aware that they made replacement necks.

    What happens if you don't finish a neck? Is that when it's a satin feel, or would it be playing a piece of wood with no layer of finish? Does it feel bad?

    Change of plans, I like the black SX jazz better, so I'm getting a BAIII, an oversized bridge cover, SD quarter pounders, Jazz pickup cover, b/w/b pickguard, and black hardware except for the bridge, covers, and strap holders.