MIM Fender Jazz - the story?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by UCWhatUdid, Oct 2, 2000.

  1. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    Been playing bass for going on 30 years, though not much the past five. I've reawakened my interest cause my oldest son wants to learn. I've had many basses over the years (started on a Kay - 'member them? - on to Gibson, Fender P, Rickenbacker - which I still have - Warwicks - before they were cool).

    Was looking in the music store recently to find something for my son and low and behold, walked out with a MIM Fender Jazz for ME! Heck, I only paid $280 for it new - how could I go wrong? Action as set was low and fast, neck intonated (compensated) well - harmonics at 12th and 18th dead-on to fretted note. And had that - well - J Bass sound.

    Now, someone explain to me what I just bought. I played on some American made and, other than the tuners and a cheap L bridge/tailpiece (which I plan to replace anyway) what are the differences between the two? Besides money that is.

    Oh, and maybe I'll buy my son one too.
  2. DarkMazda


    Jun 3, 2000
    Well... What you bought was a bass made in Mexico... Well the parts are American made, but they are put together in Mexico. American made are obviously made in America.. Another different there usually is the Type of Wood/Quality of the Wood they use for the instrument. Also the parts, Bridge, Electronics, Accessories are cheaper ;) Even doh the MIM Jazz Basses are nice.. It all depends on timing, since they make lots and lots of those, its all luck to find the "RIGHT MIM BASS" -=) But for $280, I guess u can't go wrong! Congrats on the new Jazz Bass! I would upgrade the electronics to some EMG/Seymour Duncan doh :)

  3. Saint


    Mar 2, 2000
    DC - USA
    Unfortunately, I think the biggest difference is that it is assembled by folks willing to work for $2/hour with little to no benefits. In the US of course, there's those pesky unions and minimum wage laws that add significant cost onto the price of the bass. I will, however, give Fender credit for providing people the option of choosing where and how to spend their money.

    And now, I shall descend from the soapbox and suit up my armor...
  4. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Staff Member Supporting Member

    Unless the MIMs have changed recently, they have the same size pickup in both positions, which makes replacing the pickups a problem. IIRC, both pus are the size of a normal J bridge pu, which means you would have to buy 2 bridge pus, instead of a packaged J set.

    But if you like the tone it has, why change the pus at all, right?
  5. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    Thanks for the info, embellisher. Now, does that mean the string spacing is different on a MIM vs US or they just don't like using the narrower neck pup? Sound is pretty good as is, just don't like the bridge/tailpiece - thinking of putting a Badass Bass II on it. Hey, at the price it came for, what's another 40 bucks? But if the string spacing is different, that may be a problem.
  6. You are doing what I did, and love. See my profile.

    I think there are actually 2 neck pickups installed originally, not 2 bridge pickups, because you have to enlarge the bridge pickup cutout slightly to install standard bridge J pickup, which I did by hand with a 1/2" wood chisel, just scraped out the paint and about a 1/8th inch on each end of the route so the standard size Dimarzio J bridge pickup would fit. No trouble at all, only took 10 minutes for everything. Didn't have to drill any new holes.

    They use the same pickup in neck and bridge to save money, and because of this, there is no hum-bucking when both pickups are turned up. The Dimarzio's are actually split coil hum-bucking.

    Also put on a Badass 2. Love it. I haven't played my Rickenbacker live since I scored the Mexi Jazz.

  7. Gard

    Gard Commercial User

    Mar 31, 2000
    Greensboro, NC, USA
    General Manager, Roscoe Guitars
    Actually, the major, and overlooked difference (easily overlooked, because it's not a visible difference), is that the Am's all have graphite reinforced necks, and the MIM's are just standard flatsawn maple. Not that there's anything wrong with it, the MIM's are great basses, especially for the money. If you dig it, then it's a good bass.
  8. I certainly am getting my money's worth from my MIM Jazz and it sure as heck ain't broken, so I figure I better fix it. Replacing the bridge looks like a good way to spend money. I keep hearing about the Badassll bridge and I suppose I should have one of those. I wanna be a badass too. It looks like a simple installation and I'm told the screw holes will line right up. All of the instructions for changing strings say to change them one at a time so the neck doesn't get shocked from a sudden release of tension. What about when I go to change the bridge? Is the neck going to get wacked out of shape from taking all of the strings off?
  9. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    Thanks for all the replies guys. Overall, sounds like I got one sorta "like-they-used-to-make" for a price lower than what they used to sell 'em for. That works!

    throbbinnut - it's more eerie than you think! The one axe I've held on to all these years is a '73 Rick 4001 I bought used in '74, that, over the years, has been used in more church gig settings than you could shake a stick at. And at this rate, I'm retiring it for this Mexi J Bass - went out and bought the Badass II today. Gonna hang on to these stock pups for now, but at least I'll know what to do should I decide to change.

    Man, when I started playing, people woulda said "the interwhat?". Glad I found this forum, makes life easier.
  10. That's nuts about you and me having identical bass tastes. :D

    I bought my Mex Jazz bass with the intentions of changing the pickups and bridge immediately, although the original PU's sounded pretty good, they just had some hum at really high volumes. I used Dimarzio DP123 set for $90, just in case you ever feel froggy.

    The coolest thing to me, is that I have a great playing bass that I don't have to worry about! I can always replace it, and it didn't cost thousands, or even hundreds, of bucks.

    Enjoy it, I am.

  11. Another difference is the wood. Poplar is used to make all or most of the Fender Mexican instruments, while alder is used to make most of the American models. Poplar has a thicker sound, which isn't a bad thing. I like both woods and wouldn't mind having a poplar bass (hell, my g**tar is poplar, and with a pickup change it sounded better than my friend's American str*t).
  12. So UC, where does all of this leave the kid? ;)

  13. UCWhatUdid


    Oct 2, 2000
    Well, Hambone, I guess after I get through piddling around with this one, I'll have to take my son out to get one to match, huh?. At least, combined, I won't be paying any more for two than I originally thought I'd be shelling out for one for him. Gotta say the more I play with this, the more impressed I am with it - talk about bang (or slap or pop ;)) for the buck!
  14. JerryH


    Dec 13, 1999
    Helsinki, Finland
    Hello fellow bottom dwellers,

    I have seen this topic quite often here, so I decided to throw in my .02 - if you're interested!

    I bought my MIM from a local pawnshop here in Helsinki and the actual price was really the thing (~300USD). The playability and sound of the BASS also impressed me.

    After couple gigs and rehearsals I decided to go for new pick ups and found some from TBL (thanks for Ed) and got myself a pair for Seymour Duncan Hot Jazz Bass. At the time I was unaware of the different spacing between AIM and MIM.
    (I have '79 JB, but thought "a JB is always a JB" - period.) The pup did not go in without scraping away some paint and wood from the bridge cavity - but it was done by a luthier and he installed the pups too. I did look at the job after the job was done but did not notice the spacing problem (in the boutique there were some real nice handmade high-end basses I had to try - that's why!!!). Another thing he made too was the shielding. My luthier put the copper foils around the cavities inside and connected then all this to grounding point to reduce the hum (you know the 60 cycle stuff for these - see site http://www.lanepoor.com) and this works great.

    I got the bass to next rehearsal and there was something missing in the sound!!! The spark and attack was gone with some treble too. The SDs are tuned for a little bit darker side (bassier tone). My next step today is to put back the original pups that I have "hot wax dipped" with bee wax yesterday to reduce the clanking of the bass sound, because the pups in MIMs have a real special construction that allow some movement inside the pup and the wax kinda packs it all tightly together.

    The original pups are great - I have to tell you.
    Do not modify your MIM with any other pups or BADASSes - IMHO the bass works the best as it is or maybe I was lucky with mine. It almost! topped my '79 maple neck JB with the clarity and that is a lot.

    Hope this helps you guys just keep on playing those fine instruments not to speculate what can be replaced and make it better - the MIMs are well underrated in my humble opinion. I have no meaning to irritate or offend anyone.

    Greetings from Helsinki from a happy MIM owner