Junk bass projects?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thobie, Apr 19, 2012.

  1. thobie


    Sep 4, 2011
    Hi guys, I thought it might be interesting to take a junk bass and messing around with the electronics/pickups to try and make it sound better than it should. I would also like something to use as a guinea pig for bad ideas. :bassist: is there any way to tell what's worth putting elbow grease into and whats always going to be junk?
  2. Lo-E


    Dec 19, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    This is exactly how a lot of us on this board got started doing our own repairs.
    It's also how we learned the answer to the question! :)

    No matter how crappy something is, there's almost always something you can learn from it. Search yard sales for basket-cases and see if you can get them playable. Then take it from there....
  3. M.R. Ogle

    M.R. Ogle Supporting Member Commercial User

    Nov 5, 2004
    Mount Vernon, Illinois
    Backstage Guitar Lab owner

    There's nothing more fun to me than improving a low-end bass, like learning setups, trying electronic stuff, re-finishing, or fret work, Of course, don't go crazy and put $200 worth of pickups and a preamp into a $90 Korean Crapwood bass, but use these inexpensive instruments as training experiments!
  4. coyote1


    Mar 23, 2012
    I have a 'junk' bass, a Robelli SWD. Sound is good, but action & playability sucked.

    After extended time mucking with the truss rod, the action is now better than I have a right to expect from a hundred dollar bass that I was given for free. So next up is fret dressing, so I don't slice my hands on the fret edges. I have started that, and will continue it at leisure until finished. From there, who knows??
  5. Every bass I own gets a fret polishing and my own set up. That alone makes them play better. Then I try to touch up any nicks, dings or scratches.

    I only buy second hand, and my budget is around $250.00 max. In many cases small mods can make a big difference in the tone and playability of a modest instrument. The more I learn about guitar repairs, the more value I can put into an instrument.

    There is a wealth of information out there, and it can help you to personalize your bass.
  6. capnjim


    Mar 13, 2008
    Well...I believe that a bass is metal and wood. It really comes down to the truss rod and frets. If you can adjust the truss rod to get minimal relief and work the frets level, the electronics are pretty easy. But....I also think that there are an awful lot of overpriced hunks of metal and wood out there that folks are scrambling to buy(Then re-sell right here in the classifieds). Some of the best basses i have ever played have been MIJ copies that have had good fret work.....I go against the popular opinion that says you get what you pay for. Other than fancy woods and cosmetics, some of these 2-3K boutique basses are just ridiculous.
  7. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    You bet. "Crap" bass are all excellent educational projects. I was about to say that I sort of prefer to look for crap basses with reasonably decent wood, so you have decent raw materials to start with. But then thinking about it I have to admit for example that a Danelectro is made of masonite which is about as far down as one can go and yet it's one of the coolest basses on the planet!

    Hence, I have to fall back to my old rule: Tone is where you find it! So you look for those basket cases and get them going and if you find something special there, great. If not, dump it and look for another.
  8. thobie


    Sep 4, 2011
    sweet guys, thanks for all the input. I think I'll have myself a dandy time when I find some money :D
  9. Geroi Asfalta

    Geroi Asfalta

    Aug 23, 2011
    I think the same way. Squiers are good, they can be better if you replace the pickups.

    I've learned quite a bit from tinkering with my basses, as well as ones I get from friends and at random shops/yard sales.

    Out of 9 basses, I've only had two new out of the box. One was a gift, the other was too cheap to pass up ($180 with free strings). I figure, if I pay less than $100, and it doesn't work, I have my money back in parts alone.

    I'm planning on a simple build I call the two by four string, which is exactly what it sounds like, a 2x4 with a pickup, strngs, bridge, and tuners. Fretless :D