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Modifying a cheap Ibanez

Discussion in 'Pickups & Electronics [BG]' started by Lowner, Aug 26, 2005.

  1. Lowner


    May 14, 2005
    Over Here
    This guy I work with who is also is a bass player says that its the wood that makkes a bass or guitar sound good not the electronics. I think its both and I want to add better pick ups to this Ibanez I have because I like the way the neck feels. I also want to upgrade the bridge to a badass and change out the tuners maybe. he says I should just trade it in fro a better bass made of better materials. I think I could improve the sound with better pick ups and bridge. Is it worth upgrading or just trading in?

    I am also looking for suggestions on what kind of pick ups would be good. It has a P bass and a J bass style pick up.
  2. It depends how cheap it is

    You probably would be better getting another bass, because altho electronics can change the sound a fair bit, the woods and construction are something that will not be able to be changed and they do affect ALOT of the sound

    what model of ibanez is it? most of them have nice necks :)
  3. Lowner


    May 14, 2005
    Over Here
    Its an Ibanez Ct or Gt sereis I'm not sure. i was told it came from a starter kit.
  4. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Tough one. A lot of these so-called beginner basses are really not bad at all except for the electronics, but pickups will only reproduce what the strings are giving off vibrating on the body, so that won't change with new pickups. Like the sound of it unplugged? Then spend $60-70 on pickups. If not, get rid of it.
  5. Aerolithe


    Jan 23, 2005
    Columbia, MO
    Unless the bass is incredibly cheap, the wood is probably the same type used on much more expensive instruments, which is an alder body and maple neck. Alder isn't much to look at, but sounds plenty fine.

    While its true the wood used in a bass is going to have an effect on the tone, most people seem to disagree as to how much it will affect it. However, it would appear none of the mainstream woods (alder included) have a 'bad' tone per se, just different.

    Upgrade the bridge, electronics, and tuners and you should have a fine bass. If you like the looks and feel, I say go for it. Worst case scenario, it may fetch a better price when selling or you can take out/off everything you changed and put it on something else. What you are doing is pretty much what everyone who buy's an SX bass here does - buying a cheap but decent body and neck thats already finished and doing a better job on everything else, and it seems to work just fine for them.
  6. Zebra


    Jun 26, 2005
    If this is your only bass it's better to get a new one first, at least I would say so. Then go back and upgrade it. I wouldn't trade it in, a cheap used bass doesn't have much value.
  7. Aerolithe


    Jan 23, 2005
    Columbia, MO
    +1 to have a second bass around, serious upgrades could leave you without a bass for a while, and if you decide to paint it (which may be necessary if you do any new routing that could ruin the paint around the area) the instrument could be out of commission for some time.
  8. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Trust them on that one...I was once out of playing for 3 months when I modded and painted my bass and didn't have a second.
  9. tiredman9


    Aug 15, 2005
    New York
    Well I have a cheap ibanez GSR and am in a similar situation. I am going to modify it. I do have another bass though and dont ever really use this one. Well this is what I am gonna do. Im going to defret it! (neck is great though and it sounds nice unplugged) Then Im going to add Flats (fender flats). And add a mute to my bridge (from allparts.com).
    Defretting=O (unless I decide to buy those fret pullers from Stewmac) so 25.
    Ive done this to a bass before in the past (it broke, my bad) and it gives it a whole new sound and use for under 100 bucks. Then maybe later buy some nice pickups (once I find a P-J set i like). So maybe a total of 150
  10. Id say its a good ivestment, Because these basses are great to play, And the SR necks are great, Mine is Maple/ rosewood fingerboard. The body, Is I believe Agathis, WHich according to Ibanez is a relative of Mahogany and the tone is similar(Which is true, my Thunderbird is Mahogany, And acoustic, They sound almost the same). Heres what Ive done to my GSR 190 so far...

    Used Badass II bridge - $40 (a new one is around $50-70 depending on where and color)

    Dimarzio Ultra Jazz pickups - $100(I hacked out space in the p route for the Jazz neck pup)

    Ive got the pups wired straigt to the jack at the moment, But I plan to buy a bartolini preamp, To experiment with active electronics(All my basses are passive). I dont regret anything ive done to my Ibanez, It was my first bass, And Ill probably never part with it. When I first installed the Jazz pups, It had Dead as all hell Dadarrios on it and it was Thump-Zilla, I tell you, It sounded great, but the feel just wasnt my thing, I hated it. So I went and bought some DR High Beams(40 60 80 100) And it sounds great, Its no Jazz bass by all means, but it fairly punchy, With a nice growl. I think all the under $400 and the lesser expensive of each series Ibanez basses are good for modding, Because they all have crappy electronics, And thats about it.

    Ive rambled anough, I say go for it. :smug:
  11. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    You're absolutely right :) How much each matters is open to long and redundant debate. One thing for sure is almost everyone who has an opinion is basing it on what they have decided is most important with almost no scientific research.

    If I was in your shoes I would start with some new strings if you haven't already changed them and see if you get a good action and decent tone. Then put whatever pickups you want in the correct position for the tone you're after and I think you'll be 90% of the way to what you're after.

    Remember in the mythical world of magic tone woods and basses what's crap one year is magic the next. '70's jazz basses being a good example.

    So go for it, even if it doesn't work you'll know much more about basses and your next decision will be much more informed. Then you can be a know it all like me :)