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How do you know whether the bass is worthy of upgrading?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jg42, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    From 3 of my upgraded basses, 1 gained a lot, the other two not that much. (All 3 are ibanez).
    So the question is how to tell whether pre or/and pickup upgrades are worth it? And how much the sound will change?

    It's almost like playing Russian roulette: "let's see whether this combination works better". Well, obviously, there are certain obvious things like "flexcore is transparent" and "EMG DCs are edgy".
    I mean, we're in the 21st century - and we still can't figure out/ predict/ calculate how this guitar will sound with that pre and those pickups in given positions...
  2. You have answered your question : "It's almost like playing Russian roulette."
  3. Jazzdogg

    Jazzdogg Less barking, more wagging!

    Jul 29, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What, specifically, are you talking about upgrading?

    Pickups? Pre-amp? Tuning machines? Bridge? Strings?
  4. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    Pre / pickups
  5. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    Yes, but I want to win :)
  6. Lee H

    Lee H

    Nov 30, 2011
    Redding CA
    do you like the bass?

    there are always better pups, preamps, strings..etc...etc..etc...

    a lot depends on what you are willing to spend. If you are trying to put budget parts into a budget bass, you may not gain. If you are willing to really do your homework, to find out what upgrades really work, and spend the money on quality parts, you have a better chance of "winning" .
  7. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I think it's ''worth it'' when you don't like the current pickups and / or preamp ;)
  8. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    G.A.S. determines whether the bass is worthy of upgrading.

    Remorse, or satisfaction is what follows.

    Some of us even learn somethin in tha process.

    Just sayin,

  9. bolophonic


    Dec 10, 2009
    Durham, NC
    Pretty much what he said.
  10. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    Example at hand: ibanez sr370f. I like the playability but not the sound. Took out the pups/pre - put in Barts mk4cbc and 5.2 NTMB pre. Much better. But still "close but no cigar".
    Do I still want to invest more into this bass? I love it though - with all it's shortcomings.

    But then again I'm comparing it to my gvb36 - same neck/body wood, both are BO. Oh, I forgot - gvb is probably twice as heavy and has a different bridge. ;-)

    Subjectively though, gvb sustains till cow comes home, whereas 370 sounds almost "muted" (in comparison, not by itself).
  11. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    Hm-m-m, it's all "in comparison to", no? :)
  12. jg42


    Jul 12, 2012
    True, well I just want to minimize remorse and maximize satisfaction...
  13. For me its never been Russian roulette. I either did a ton of research on a specific bass, tried a friends, or was willing to deal with it if things didn't go as planned.

    My favorite bass is my conklin gt7. I saw it used in local store for $700. The flamed maple top first caught my eye. With no exaggeration I really do think I got the best top of any gt7 Ive ever seen. Anyways I looked at it and thought man that thing is huge but oddly when I started jamming on it I realized very quickly that it was perfect for my hands. Everything just felt right. Sure it was heavy, but I like heavy basses because I absolutely hate when im slapping or playing aggressively and pop the d or g string and the bass flops all over the place. Another thing that stood out right away was how great it was for tapping. I was a big warwick fanboy at the time but when it came to tapping my warwicks were horrible. Without something to mute the strings on the warwicks I couldn't get rid of hearing two different tones when I tapped note. It was like the string vibrating between my fretting finger and the bridge and my fretting finger and the nut were both picked up by the pickups at the same time. My wife was with me at the store that day. She is a very good violin player so originally was looking at stuff for herself. By the time she came by I was well into jamming on it and I was like "I'm not leaving without atleast putting it on layaway." I was tapping on it and she said it sounded great and was down so I put it on layaway sold a bass on eBay and went back and picked it up.

    The gt7 turned into a combination of being willing to return the bass to stock and deal with it if need be and research mostly done right here on talkbass. I really loved the feel of the bass and was willing to spend whatever I needed to get it up to par with my German made warwicks. In my research on talkbass the general thing I read over and over was the weakness was the onboard pre. So i had the preamp and all the pots swapped. I spent about $300 on parts and $75 in labor. The improvement was so good my warwicks sat in the closet and eventually were sold. And I'm not talking "rock basses" my main bass before the gt7 was a neck through thumb 5.

    There's a local bassist in my area with a modded mim 4 string fender jazz. Its actually so good I would never consider spending more for a Mia fender anymore. His mods include nut and bridge setup for low b tuning, a badass bridge, Seymour Duncan basslines quarter pounder pickups, and the bass is wired with just an on/off toggle then to the jack. No volume or tone pots at all. Its more of a one trick pony but for rock and metal its all any 4 string player would need IMO. Very aggressive and beefy sounding.

    I totally support modding. I know for me a bass I modded is typically worth more to me than a production bass I spent more money on. I'm currently saving for custom conklin (if they even still build customs anymore or by the time I have the money) but my gt7 will be a big influence. I want a neck that's as close to the same shape as possible, Aguilar 3 band, the biggest differences I want are more frets for the deeper cutaway and an ebony fingerboard, headstock cap and pickguard and maybe a bubinga top. I also want midi capability so I can track my virtual instruments with my bass and not have to deal with midi controllers or monophonic converters.
  14. I just keep everything I remove & make sure it's included in the sale. Usually minimizes the loss. I've not made money on any bass I've upgraded or modified though & I think you kind of have to expect a loss. People want stock basses for a reason unless it's a cheap bass & at that point you're throwing pricey components on a cheap bass and most likely won't make your money back, anyway.

    The only time I've modified instruments are when I know I'm going to keep them or I think I'm going to keep them. If you're planning on selling, there's no good reason to do it unless you happen on some cheap or free upgrade parts.

    But, I've always learned something... That's true for sure. Soldering is fun.
  15. tabdog


    Feb 9, 2011
    Obviously not.

    Strange response?

  16. Thomas Kievit

    Thomas Kievit Guest

    May 19, 2012
    I can't answer that :) I can only say that you upgrade your bass cause you want it :) Lets say for example you have a bass guitar that your love to death cause of it looks, playability and sound, but you can get more out of it with different pickups, than you should go for it :)

  17. Betrayer_Bass

    Betrayer_Bass Profanity Fish. Supporting Member

    Sep 24, 2011
    Oslo, Norway
    Endorsing: Spector basses, Winspear Picks, Spector Formula 603 strings
    Yup, the only bass worth upgrading is the one you love anyway.