How About Blonde & Brunette? My Hohner P Makeover Project

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by FlaCharlie, Dec 24, 2014.

  1. Anyone into blonde and brunette? Here's some before and after pics of my recent, low budget, makeover project.

    I found this beat up Japanese-made Hohner P at a flea market last month. The seller wanted $165. I was able to play it a bit at a jam and (when it worked) it had a nice solid tone. It's a bit unusual in that it has a soapbar style pickup instead of the traditional split P. Got it for $20 and a Dean fretless acoustic, which I had picked up used a couple years ago and rarely played. This beast has obviously seen numerous owners over the years, including one who moved the strap pin to the lower horn and played it lefty. Not sure who made it - maybe Matsumoku - probably from the late '60s or early '70s.

    How beat up was it? Some of the height adjusters on the bridge were broken off and some were bent, so no adjustment was possible. The pickguard had holes from the (I assume) original tugbar and two different pickup covers with different screw spacing which had been fitted, and then removed, over the years. When I opened it up I noticed that there was no tone cap. So it was essentially two volume pots in series. One of the wires was loosely wrapped around a pot terminal with no attempt to solder it. The person I got it from said she had paid someone $65 to do some work on the electronics. Scary! The volume pot measured 500k and the "tone" was 250k. The volume pot might have been original but the "tone" pot had been replaced sometime in the distant past. I measured them during rotation in an attempt to discern whether they were audio or linear pots but the values jumped around so much it was impossible to tell. Lots of dings on the body and one of the holes for the original bridge cover is really rough. The neck seemed to have two different layers of clear on it and the top one was peeling off. Although it (miraculously) stayed in tune, there was about a half inch of free play in the tuners, the posts of which were attached with four different types of screws and washers.

    My goal was to fix it up a bit on the cheap. A low budget makeover. Parts were mostly sourced from ebay. Cheap bridge - under $7 shipped. Filled the pickguard holes and painted it with some satin finish 'Brown Velvet' paint I already had. Shielded the pickup/control cavity with adhesive copper sheet. I get this from a local stained glass artist, who is also a musician. By the way, the adhesive on this IS conductive and it's wayyy cheaper than the stuff sold by a luthier supply. After a few posts and a lot of archive reading on the Pickups and Electronics board, I decided to start with the most common setup - a pair of 250k audio pots and .047 cap, which actually measured .052. The tone wasn't to my liking unless it was rolled all the way down so I went up to a .068 (.07 actual), which was too dark, and ended up with a combination of two caps for an actual .0605. Replaced the scarred aluminum knobs with chrome knobs that had come off my Squier Fretless P. Sanded the dirty, peeling, "clear" off the neck and sprayed it with several coats of semi-gloss Minwax Polyurethane that I also had. Won an ebay auction for a set of Squier tuners - $13.50 shipped. Put on a set of LaBella copper tapewounds I had bought a while back and . . . voila!

    I'm lovin' it. The tones I'm getting from this are awesome! Lots of deep fundamental with tone rolled off and lots of useable variations on the way up. I've always struggled playing a fretted bass - always had a much easier time with fretless. Yeah, I'm weird. Yet I'm playing better on this than any fretted bass I've ever tried. I think it's the combination of the traditional thick P neck, low fret height and the smooth, low tension, tapewounds.

    And I love the blonde and brunette look. Something a little different.

    . . . Charlie
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2014
  2. Grrrrrrrrrrr pics aren't working.
  3. Stripes


    Sep 14, 2014
    Took forever to load them (could read the story and still had to wait a bit) but they do load! And they're worth it :)

    Quite like the way that soapbar looks and you did some pretty rad work on it. Happy sort of new bass day!
  4. There we go! Nice...and looks like some pretty maple on that board! Me dig.
  5. Yeah, I thought about leaving the fretboard in its "distressed" state but I could tell there was some nice looking maple lurking underneath. Plus it felt really rough with the clear peeling up. When I first played it I actually thought it was the fretboard coming apart until I took a closer look.
  6. ronin614

    ronin614 Supporting Member

    May 15, 2008
    New York
  7. Just noticed your post. Your Hohner seems to be in a bit better condition than mine. Mine had definitely seen some heavy use. Have you fixed yours up any? I'm generally not too fond of white pickguards so I just spray painted mine with Valspar Brown Velvet Satin finish. I think it works well with the natural finish and it's somewhat unique too.

    Looks like there are a few differences between them. Yours seems to have the typical split P pickup, not the soapbar. The neck seems different too - mine has truss rod access at the top under a plastic cover, yours is at the bottom. How do you like it? I'm lovin mine!
  8. When I put a link to this old post of mine in my recent "rescue bass" post here:

    50's Precision Inspired Fretless |

    I noticed that my pics had disappeared so I'm just trying to repost them, in case anyone is interested. For some reason the links above that say "click here" to see the pics take you to someone else's Flickr account. I'm going to post these one at a time. Perhaps posting several together was the problem??

    Here's a before pic:

  9. And here's an after pic:

    JRA likes this.
  10. I love the neck on this thing! Both the look and the feel, nice and thick like a P should be.

    JRA likes this.