Mod a cheap bass or just buy the real thing?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Rocknrolljunkie, Mar 10, 2006.

  1. Rocknrolljunkie


    Jan 29, 2006
    hey guy's i wonna know some things and have your opinions please.

    within a couple of months i get tax money returned, so off course.. i'm gonna buy a new bass:hyper: .
    at the moment i play a epiphone thunderbird IV:bassist: . i'm wonna buy a fender precision or jazz bass now. i didnt go testing some in store yet. i will have +/- 1500€ to spend. here in belgium (where i live offcourse) mexicans cost 600-700€, americans 1100-1200€ and american deluxe +/- 1500€.

    or i could mod a cheaper bass. i can get a squier ( )who looks cool (new) for 250€ or something. also checked SX but that should be an internet order. i dont know much about electronics but i checked on
    that seymour duncan pickup-ups, bad ass bridge, some new tuners would cost like 300€ or something. total price +/-550€.
    and the i have a p/j combo, looks cool to me.

    so now the questions are: what you guys think i should best do? is a good modded squier or sx or whatever better/badder in quality then other fender models? any suggestions?
    i'm looking at fenders because they look cool and i like there tones. i play in a cover band who plays a wide range of rock (neil young, red hot chili peppers, metallica, queens of stone age, so wide range of rock styles.) and also in a stoner-rock band. i'm looking for deep, growling tones that cut trough. my amp is in my signature.
    tx in regards for any advice :):help: :ninja:
  2. Just my opinion - but I personally stay away from the Squire line....not even worth upgrading really....the Mexican J's and P's are remarkable basses for the money, one of my main basses is a Mexican J and it feels, sounds and plays every bit as good as my American....and I think it will deliver the variety of tones, mids and bottoms that you seem to be looking for.
    On a side note - how do you like the Epi Thunderbird.... Im thinking I might like to check into getting one myself...
  3. Rocknrolljunkie


    Jan 29, 2006

    i'm sure gonna try some mexicans out in my local music-store.
    i play the epiphone know for a year. i love that bass, great tone! the only thing that drives me reeeeaaally crazy is the neck-dive. if you have no problem with that it's really worth the money. even for me its worth it :) i played it with my teacher through a full tube koch amp and it really has a nice growling tone. the other student who came in immediatly said: WOW, thats one growling base!:bassist:

    altho ive i play it through my gear it doesnt growl as much as with the koch, but it still growls nice :p:ninja:

    btw i love the ninja emoticon :p
  4. Rocknrolljunkie


    Jan 29, 2006
  5. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN
    If you want the American, have a little patience and buy the American. An upgraded MIM will always be an upgraded MIM.
  6. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    I think modding a bass can be very rewarding. You can create your own "signature" bass, so to speak. I would make sure that the woods for the body and neck are of good quality. Most of the basses tone will come from the wood and if its a low-grade wood (like agathis) then, even if you upgrade everything else, it will still sound like crap.

    However, if I had the money, I would go for an American Deluxe Fender. Make sure you play them first, but the Am Del. Jazz and P-basses are really top-notch and versatile basses.
  7. personally i'd take the SX and upgrade it, but that would be because i would like to be good at modding basses, and that would be good practice...but if you want something good out of the box, i'd look at the more expensive fenders...although it has been my personal experiance that american fenders can be found at the same quality as a mexican made fender...although there is a lot of discussion on that...
  8. Rocknrolljunkie


    Jan 29, 2006

    but like you say, i would like to be good with electronics and modding basses and stuff. so modding a cheap bass seems like a good project, or not?
    in the case of modding: i know nothing from wood :p
    i cant take agathis so the squier is done. SX says solid alder, fender basses says also alder. so i suggest that is the good type of wood i am searching for, right? what about other brands like richwood ( )? the easiest thing to get for me is richwood because i know a guy in person who's dealer of them. (he used to do stagg, but stopped it because of qualitly lacks from stagg). should that be equal quality to sx? any have experience with it?
  9. Double Agent

    Double Agent

    Mar 10, 2006
    Lakeland, FL
    No experience with richwood. Alder is solid wood for bass tone. I have had two basses made of alder and got a good tone out of both of them. Its not a sexy choice, but very solid. I have heard many good things about SX and am seriously considering this:

    Ash is my personal favorite wood for a bass body. Just my $0.02.
  10. Sean Baumann

    Sean Baumann Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Livin' in the USA
    depends really. If you are a buyer/seller, such as myself, then upgrading makes little or no sense. What assurance do you have that you will like the end result? You will never get your money back from mods. However, if you are careful, and shop around you will get a significant amount, even all, of your money back off the real deal if you choose to part ways.
  11. i can't help you with richwood, but i will say their site is really on the electrics tab, and then scroll down, as you go down, the guitar changes!
  12. Toe-mas


    Apr 24, 2004
    St Louis, MO
    I've always felt like if you can get a bass which is fundamentally good for cheap, then all the other bits can be upgraded to suit your style. If it's solidly built, the truss rod is good and the neck is straight and free of defects then I say go for it. However, if you skimp on the bass and get a crappy neck, then no matter how nice the pickups, bridge, or anything else, it will feel cheap.

    +1 for the SX...I have a fretless J bass from them that is surprisingly nice. For the love of all that's holy, change the strings if you get one though. I'm pretty sure it was dental floss that mine was strung with.

    Oh yeah, another cool thing about modding, is that if you change your mind on the bass itself you can always take all your mods off and slap them on something else.

    All that said, American fenders are really quite nice. I don't even like fender because they are trying to buy out the entire music industry, but I have to admit that their american stuff is good.
  13. I say you can do even better than Fender at that price. Look for a Music Man, made by Ernie Ball. Some G&L basses are in that range. Look around, play everything you can, see what feels and sounds right for you, I just reccomend that you stay away from Fender.

    If you are deadset on getting a Fender, I'd go with the MIM. I don't care what anyone tells you, aside from the pickups, the MIM Fenders are the EXACT SAME as the Americans. Same woods, still bolt-on necks, machine made. Exact same. And if you do get the MIM, for around 600, as you said it was priced, you can get pickups that are better than the MIA pickups for around 200 american (I'm not sure about in belgan currency).
  14. lonotes

    lonotes A place for everything, & everything out of place

    Oct 15, 2003
    Port Richey,FL
    I think that the first step is for you to decide on what it is that you are looking for, as the requirements may be different. If you are looking for a new bass to play, then you need to look for fit, finish, and feel as well as tone. In other words, a bass that fits you perfectly. If, on the other hand, you are looking to learn about modding, your requirements would be different. For example, if you want to experiment with different pick-ups or active circuits, you may need to do some routing on the body. An American deluxe model may not be the best place to experiment with power tools.
  15. patrickj


    Aug 13, 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    If you like tinkering and get personal satisfaction out of it - then buy cheap and mod. If you're a klutz or don't enjoy - spend the cash. You'll end up with roughly the same thing either way with different routes getting there (either blood sweat and tears or some phat cash).
  16. ebe9


    Feb 26, 2006
    South Africa
    I would say it will depend on the degree to which you are wanting to mod it, i.e are you just wanting to change pups and simpler things or are you wanting to do an entire re-wiring job with the electrics and re-work the body and so on.

    If basic mod, then get an intermediate bass that is decent quality and go from there. you could of course try going the self construction route like warmoth or similar.
  17. Sippy


    Aug 1, 2005
    buy American or Japanese... MIM Sucks :p
  18. phxlbrmpf


    Dec 27, 2002
    I have a Squier like that, I like it a lot and it seems solid and already sounds good stock.
  19. Lia_G


    Oct 27, 2005
    You can come up with something pretty nice by modding cheapies, if the fundamentals are there (good body wood, nice neck, solid fit and feel, etc.). You'll never get your money back if you resell, though ... not sure if that's a concern for you or not.

    I've modded some of the MIM Fenders with good results. I also once took a Peavey Fury, added an EMG pickup and EMG Bass-Treble Control active electronics, and added a Schaller bridge and a Hipshot D-tuner. That was a killer bass for what I was doing back in the mid-90's ... I wouldn't like it much now, but loved it then.

    Whatever you decide, best of luck!
  20. instigata


    Feb 24, 2006
    New Jersey
    your talent involving modding basses can grow, but crappy wood will still sound crappy.

    one nice way to judge if you will like the upgraded sound is by playing the "soon-to-b-modded" bass NOT PLUGGED IN. hear what the wood itself sounds like. do you like it? then it may be worth modding. hate it? you won't be able to change it, buy something else.