Ideas for making my crappy bass more "Fun"

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Ely, Oct 19, 2001.

  1. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    Here's the deal. I'm sick of my boring Blue Ibanez Gio P-Bass copy. The Neck is a bit too thin for me, but I can live with that, I'm just sick of the look of it, the hardware sucks, it rattles if I dig in too hard, and it has a REALLY bad plugged-in tone. Any suggestions how to make it look/sound better? I was thinking of defretting it first off, any resources on how to do this without all that equipment that article on says to use? (sending an electrical charge through the fret) I also was thinking of carving the ugly headstock into a nicer shape, that thing sticking out of it looks really ugly, any suggestions on how to do this safely? Any other suggestions, like ways to finish it, sand it down, etc? What about hardware upgrades? I was thinking a Gotoh 201, a better jack (the jack comes loose and rattles while I'm playing and causes some noise) and pots, and a Basslines 1/4 lbs P-Bass pickup. What about shielding the control cavity, replacing the nut, or sanding things (I want to sand the word Gio off, as well as the ugly gray dot inlays)
    I was also thinking about refinishing it, any tips on how to do that?

  2. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    Come on? Anyone? You'd think this would get a whole lot of replies! Any suggestions at all? I'll see what I can and can't do out of all the suggestions.

    Here's what I was thinking:

    -Defret the neck, fill the fret slots with something, maybe glow-in-the-dark plastic...
    -Sand the fretboard smooth (right now it's a crappy indian rosewood fretboard full of bumps and scratches and has some glue on it, not quite suitable for a fretless) and coat it in Marine Epoxy (a REALLY thick coating, too)
    -Sand the headstock down a little bit to take care of my ugly-headstock problem
    -take off the pickguard, fill in the screw holes with wood putty or something, and put something else over the control cavity
    -seal up the tone-knob thing and just have a volume knob
    -get a better pot for the volume knob
    -put in a Seymour Duncan Basslines 1/4 lbs P-bass PUp
    -Gotoh 201 Bridge
    -Better Tuners, these damn things are hard to turn and usually slip past the point I want them to once I get them moving
    -Straplocks and a better strap, the strap on this thing wont stay on, is really uncomfortable, and doesn't quite go low enough (its designed for acoustic guitars methinks)
    -Sand off the inlays on the neck
    -Color over the finish on the body
    -instead of changing the color, cover the body in stickers then coat the body in a clear hard finish
    -Shield the control cavity

    What do you think? Any suggestions?
  3. Aaron


    Jun 2, 2001
    Seattle, WA
    Would acetone disolve a finish? You could brighten up the look of your finger board with acetone.

    Actually, if it is an Ibanez, burn it.
  4. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    I'm planning on doing that too, once I get a better bass, but right now I only have the Gio, and I want some experience modifying basses anyway, and it's either a new amp or a new bass, and right now I'd rather have a crappy bass that I can hear rather than an unamplified good bass
  6. After all that trouble, and buying new hardware and materials, why not buy a new bass?

    Although u would gain valuable experience in the finishing of basses, but what if u stuff it up? you aint got no bass. lol

  7. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Certainly the new pickup and bridge are going to be the things that change the tone. This alone may inspire you enough to keep you going on this bass.

    The pots will also help. But there are LOTS of different kinds -- a good guitar tech can help you pick the right ones. Also, change the jack for sure. $5 is WAY worth eliminating the aggravation of a bad one.

    Getting a different color pickguard can radically change the look. If it's a reasonably faithful P copy, that shouldn't be hard to find.

    That and the stickers plan sounds like a pretty decent anount of changing without drastic amounts of time invested. And I have to agree that after this upgrade program you will feel considerably more bonded to your bass, which can only be a good thing!
  8. Newsted


    Jun 24, 2001
    stickers is realy a good idea my friend stick pokemon stickers and the bass looks great

  9. Go for the defret but don't waste time on the glow-in-the-dark stuff. You won't see it and your audience won't for long.

    Don't go sanding on your fretboard if you don't have a radius block to keep the shape. You'll have flat spots and an inconsistent profile that would make setup a nightmare. You can buy or make one but it'll do a better job than a flat block. If you have'nt done an epoxy job, I would avoid that too. Messy, and not forgiving in the event of disaster. How about lightly touching up the "bumps" (if they are that noticeable) and then dyeing the fingerboard black? The dye can be gotten at Stewart MacDonald

    Get one of the headstock decal kits from ebay and create your own design for a logo or moniker. Your going into this thing deep anyway so an extra $15.00 should'nt hurt.

    Use a portion of the original pickguard to make your cavity cover. Hope that your wiring route doesn't go from pup cavity to pot cavity continuously! If it does just get a new pickguard from aftermarket sources.

    Cool idea - minimalism rulz!

    If I were to spend as much as $5 - $8 dollars here, I would consider it well deserved.

    There ya go! What good is a hot rod without horsepower?

    Gotoh 201's are nice for a slight improvement on the Fender standard but your new axe might require some real beef - try a Schaller roller or a BadAss II. They look better and are much heavier.

    There are some great deals on knock-off tuners on ebay from a seller named MailBox Music in Clearwater FL. Do a search. All kinds of enclosed type sets. If you need an large open gear (Fender) style you should try Stewart MacDonald again. They've got an economical set with adjustable gear lash. That's the problem with your current tuners.

    Doubtful that the dots are just painted on. It is more likely that you'll have to pry them out (with a center drill hole, of course!) and refill them when you do your fret slots. If you can do a good job of color matching it'll look fine.

    Lotsa work here! But remember that your bass is on the inexpensive side - don't expect sand it down and find some nice figured maple or something. Sticking with a solid color might be the best thing here. At the very least your refinish should be opaque. You can get what you need including the advice at


    A simple addition that usually always helps. Look for a product at Stain Glass stores that is a copper foil (1.5 mil) with an adhesive back. It comes in 12" square pieces and can be soldered to. Easy to line the cavity and ground with a solder lead.

    I think you've got about 4-60 hours of work ahead of you depending on your ambition. You are certainly looking at about $200 of repairs and upgrades not including the new strings. I think you should really assess how important it is to you to put this amount of time and money into this particular bass. Simple guitar truth #1: You can't polish a turd.
  10. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Actually, you can. You just end up with a very shiny turd!! :D My Hondo P-copy is a case in point. De-fretted it and filled with plastic for lines. Added a J-Bass pickup in the bridge position, two volumes, no tone knob. I'd probably just trash the thing, but the neck on it has a very nice profile. Last night was about the fifth gig in a row that I brought it to where I didn't even take it out for a song. That tells me that it's time to move it over to the project bench. Time for some new inspiration!

  11. Ely


    Jun 8, 2001
    Huntsville, AL
    Ahh forget it, I'll just wait til I can get a decent bass if it ain't worth it! I'm gettin a job soon, so it won't be that much trouble.

    I just wanted to hotrod this POS because of the fact that to get a new bass I'll be unable to play with a band for a while, because of the problems with this bass, like the fact that it looks like a polished turd in the first place and you can see fingerprints on it from 5 feet away, it has a REALLY uncomfortable neck that's about a little less than an inch wide at the nut and about as thick as a pencil, sounds like a snoring constipated gorilla, and cuts through like a spork through a brick wall.

    Thanks anyway
  12. You can't polish a turd.. but you can stick a flag in it!

    I sort of hotrodded my Peavey for the same reasons as rllefebv.. I like the neck but the sound just wasn't doing it for me. I'm pretty pleased with the current tone of the bass with a Dimarzio PJ set in it. I might change the bridge eventually because the current bridge rattles sometimes.
  13. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    heres my ideas:

    -dont defret it!!! :eek: you will regret not having a fretted bass to play!!!
    -get the Quarter Pound pickup. They sound great.
    -get a Badass II bridge. I love mine :)
    -refinish it, but in a solid color
    -get some new tuners - like Hipshot Ultralites
    -try to get some abalone dot inlays. they rule!!!
    -think about straplock buttons

    these are the mods I made on my squier. enjoy:

    -removed my J-bass pup and corresponding volume knob.
    -had my dad rewire it so the j bass pup's volume pot was taken "out of the loop" so to speak. it is now wired with p bass vol and tone.
    -installed a Seymour Duncan quarter pounder for P Bass pickup
    -installed a Badass II bridge
    -filed off the word "squier" so now it just says Fender Precision Bass. I also filed off Made in Indonesia, the serial number :eek: , and a little thing that said "standard series."
    -I wrote "Made In Pennsylvania" on the back of the headstock where the made in indonesia used to be.
    -Im gonna get new tuners, new pickguard, new strap buttons, new inlays, and refinish it soon. It will have Hipshot Ultralites, a white pearloid pickguard, dunlop straplocks, abalone dot inlays, and refinish it in Daphne Blue.
    -I also took this bass to a really excellent luthier in Philadelphia who used to be Clapton's guitar tech and had him set it up. It plays better than any stingray or MIA Fender I've played at GC. :cool:

    when you modify your bass, its an experience that really brings you closer to your instrument. it makes it more of a "lifelong partner" than just your junker bass that you cant wait to replace.
  14. Lo-end, I hope Ely is old enough not to take your Hipshot Ultralight tuner suggestion seriously. Talk about a strong link in a weak chain!! The $15+ each for some of the finest tuners on the market is more than overkill for his little project. Jeez, for half that you could have new, perfectly decent tuners and have enough beans left over for a new pickguard or something.
  15. lo-end


    Jun 15, 2001
    yeah, but Badass II bridges cost $40 and new pickups are $60.
  16. kirbywrx

    kirbywrx formerly James Hetfield

    Jul 27, 2000
    Melbourne, Australia.
    all i can say is
    good luck and take a before and after shot of what u have done coz i think it will be well worth it
  17. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Cover the entire body and headstock with shag carpeting. :D

    Hey, if you do it, so will I! ;)
  18. Cover it in empty condom wrappers, and then try and tell people there is a story behind each one.
  19. rllefebv


    Oct 17, 2000
    Newberg, Oregon
    Simply Classic :D

  20. Each of which will do more to make playing and hearing the bass a lot more "fun" than tuners used on the most expensive basses made.