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Man vs. Bass: Episode One

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Dark Horse, Apr 18, 2010.

  1. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Those that know me are aware of a few things.

    1: I am constantly changing my bass gear. I buy, sell, trade, modify, and build a lot of basses.

    2: I buy a lot of parts, even if I don't need them at that time. I buy them because they are at a good deal, and I am pretty sure that I will eventually use them.

    3: Nearly every instrument I get, I believe I can make better. My friends think I'm nuts because I'll buy a bass and then dismantle it within minutes of getting it home.

    With those things in mind, I bring you our victim.

    Yesterday I felt I needed a project. Sure, there were other things I should have been doing, but there was playoff Hockey on and when I watch games I like to keep my hands busy. I don't know why...it's just how I am. Anyway, a while back I had bought a Seymour Duncan Antiquity II Tele Bass pickup here in the Classified (Thanks Jefenator !) for a great price. I didn't need it then, but I knew that "somewhere down the road" it would come in handy. I had also recently acquired a great feeling MIJ 51 Precision Bass neck, complete with tuners, nut, and tree (Thanks Doug !). I think you can see where this is going.

    I formulated a plan, and off to Bass Emporium I went ! After a few minutes of talking to Chuck and Kyle, I loaded up my new victim and headed on home !



    Now I think I should mention that this is a really nice bass right out of the box. It really doesn't require any modding or upgrading, but leaving things "stock" just isn't in my nature.

    So, time to dismantle it completely !

    Now normally at this stage I would take a bunch of photos, documenting the whole process....BUT....my girlfriend was off visiting her parents in Houston yesterday and she had the camera, so I'll just need to describe things to you instead...sorry.

    After dismantling the bass I could get started on rebuilding it with the changes I wanted.

    The first thing is that I didn't want a white pickguard. Unfortunately a new pickguard for this would need to be custom cut, and I'm simply not that patient. Besides, it would cost a lot of money, and I'm cheap ! So with pickguard in hand, I headed outside, grabbing a handy can of Satin Black Krylon Fusion on the way. Krylon Fusion is formulated specifically for painting on plastic, so no priming is necessary, and adhesion is excellent. I sprayed the pickguard with a nice coat of black and headed back inside, leaving the paint to dry while I made further changes to the bass.

    The next goal was to fit the neck. Let me tell you, the MIJ neck slid right into the neck pocket nice and tight... PERFECT FIT ! Well, things are not always that easy, and when I checked to see if the mounting holes lined up, I found out that they did not, and new holes would need to be drilled. Well, I kind of expected this, but it would have been nice to bolt it right up. Anyway, I marked the new hole locations, and off to the drill press I went. With the new holes drilled, I did the test fit again - everything lined up perfectly ! I didn't want to mount the neck just yet though, as I had some work to do on the electronics.

    One thing I do to most basses is change out the electronics. Not necessarily the pickup(s), like I did in this bass, but the pots, switch, cap, and wiring. Sure, it only makes a incremental difference typically, but it doesn't cost much to do, and I feel better about having nice, sturdy CTS pots, a Switchcraft jack, and a top notch capacitor in there. I also like the look of cloth wiring. Anyway, my fear was that this Squier Classic Vibe wouldn't have room in the control cavity for the full size CTS pots. The Squier comes with mini pots, and some manufacturers don't leave enough room in the cavity for the "bigguns". First things first though: The control plate would also need to have the holes enlarged to accommodate the larger pots. So back to the drill press I went. A few seconds later, and voila ...I had my CTS pots mounted to the plate !!! Now I was expecting to have to use a Forstner bit in my drill press to enlarge the cavity a bit (for the pots), but I was pleasantly surprised to find out the that CTS pots fit right in the cavity ! One less thing to do....woo hoo ! I then mounted the SD Antiquity pickup in place, and soldered up the controls. I chose a nice old Sangamo .047uF "Vitamin Q" style cap...they sound great, and I was smart enough to buy a couple dozen a while back before prices soared.

    I also didn't want to use the stock Tele style jack cup, as they can eventually work themselves loose...usually in the middle of a show...so I chose to use a Electrosocket jack cup. These are great because they retain the clean look of a Tele cup, but screw directly into the body so they stay secure. Additionally, the Switchcraft jack screws directly into the threads on the Electrosocket, so you don't need a washer and nut. The less things to loosen up, the better ! Oh, and with the Electrosocket you can also use a right angle plug... something you cannot do with the traditional Tele cup.

    Controls, pickup, etc are now all soldered up, so it is time to start the reassembly process. I mounted the neck, bridge, newly sprayed pickguard, etc up and put on a fresh set of D'Addario Chromes. After a quick setup, I decided the bass was still missing something, so off I went to dig through my parts pile. I knew I had them somewhere, but the question was where ! Finally, success....but they were a bit scratched up. I had found my set of pickup and bridge covers ! I would need to order a "fresh" set, but for now I will use the ones I have. Measured, mounted, and man, they look good. The black pickguard, chrome covers, and darker tint of the neck really set this bass off. In addition, the new pickups and electronics really bring it up to being a "pro level" bass...one that I can gig and use in sessions with no hesitation whatsoever. Also, with the upgraded pots, tuners, Electrosocket, etc, I had increased the instruments reliability !

    So in the time it took to watch the Boston Bruins play the Buffalo Sabres (great game, BTW), I was able to make the bass look better, sound better, and increase reliability !

    Now that my girlfriend has returned, I have the camera again, so I'll add some "completed" photos.

    But first, to remind you, here is what the bass looked like when I got it:


    And here is the bass completed ! I will add the new covers when they arrive, but I'm sure you can see what a difference they make:











    [/Man vs. Bass: Episode One]
  2. superfunk47


    Sep 9, 2007
    So. Awesome. You just never quit, DH. :bassist:
  3. thisSNsucks

    thisSNsucks I build Grosbeak Guitars and Basses Commercial User

    Dec 19, 2004
    Yonkers, NY
    Grosbeak Guitars
    Pretty cool, nice work as usual!

    I played one of those at GC yesterday and it was really nicely put together.

    I didn't like the tone until I rolled off all the highs, then that thing was thump city.
  4. Nice job! It looks great! It sounds like we are a lot alike. I am always buying and selling gear. I mod every bass I get and am always looking for a new project. There is something very satisfying about reworking a bass into something you feel is just right! Just got an unfinished jazz bass body on Friday that I'm going to start working on today. :hyper:
  5. Baird6869

    Baird6869 RIP Gord Downey. A True Canadian Icon.

    Looks good, man.
  6. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx
    The necks on those are perfectly decent! Infact they're awesome!

    Edit:The CV that is, anyways, I like it. Though I hate the color on those.
  7. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

    Absolutely... but I liked the beefier, darker tinted MIJ Fender neck that I put on it better. Just a personal preference. I'm gonna sell off the original neck and pickup to help recoup some costs.

  8. RickC

    RickC Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 9, 2005
    hey that 3rd period of the Bruins-Sabres was great, wasn't it!? That's what playoff hockey is all about.

    Nice bass!!!

  9. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Yeah - I was expecting the Sabres to win...they hadn't lost this year when leading going in to the 3rd... but Boston just out-hustled the Sabres defense. I can't put the blame on Miller, as his defensemen put him in a bad position. He was a bit over-aggressive on one goal though.

    I love hockey ! :D

    Wings vs. Coyotes today !

  10. Tommygunn


    Nov 8, 2008
    Houston, Tx

    Wish I could buy. I'd drive up for personal pickup. Plus my dirnt is begging for a maple fretboard. :D Also... another excuse to go to bass emporium :p
  11. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX

    If you want it I'll make you a smoking deal...

  12. BassForGrace


    Jul 3, 2009
    wow that's beautiful! but you should watch the habs vs caps series it's suprisingly even
  13. SpamBot


    Dec 25, 2008
    St. Paul, MN
    Let me put in a request for episode two: A FleaBass. That'd be a challenge ;)
  14. P. Aaron

    P. Aaron Supporting Member

    Thanks for sharing...again! Awesome project! Congrats.
  15. XXL

    XXL calm seas dont make skilled sailors Supporting Member

    Jun 14, 2007
    Awesome! Great Job.

    1 Question:
    How much difference does it make in tone adding all those electronics (sans pickups)? Lets say in percentages.
  16. JoZac21


    Nov 30, 2009
    Brooklyn, NY
    Woo-hoo Hockey!!!! Let's go Devils!!!!!!!

    Oh, and the bass looks sick, btw.
  17. DH, everything you touch turns to awesome. I think the main thing I didn't like about those basses is how bleach white the necks are. The MIJ necks are super nice. I had one on a fenderbird that I sold, but I wish I could have kept the neck.
  18. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Unfortunately I don't have cable. Someday I'll get smart and buy one less bass so I can have a years worth of cable TV.

  19. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    Again, proving, that Andy is the man.
  20. Dark Horse

    Dark Horse

    Jul 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I can't say that it is a huge improvement in tone by changing the pots....just better reliability...at least if the pots you are replacing are "equal in actual value" to the new ones. As far as the cap, a high quality cap helps smooth out the taper of the tone pot, and many people feel that the "rolled off" tone is better.

    I can't really say in "percentages" because we aren't dealing in absolutes...we're dealing in opinions. My "10% improvement" might be equal to someone else "30% improvement" which might be equal to another persons "2% improvement".

    The main thing is that it is cheap and easy to do, so I would recommend just trying it and seeing if you like the results.


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