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Modifying a Fender Jazz bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jtm3183, Feb 18, 2014.

  1. jtm3183


    Feb 10, 2014
    I'm looking to buy a new bass. Right now I am playing a really old Squier Precision, and it's having issues. So I want to buy a Fender jazz bass. It seems like if you buy a Fender to last, you should buy American made. I have thought of something though.
    One thing I don't like about the US made ones compared to the MIM's is that the neck isn't sharp, they roll over it or something and sand and level the frets. I don't think the Mexicans have that, also the electronics and pickups are different.
    So a Fender Mexican runs up to around 1000, and the Americans are at least 1000.
    What if I buy a Mexican jazz bass, and go through and replace the wiring, buy new nicer pickups, a Fender bridge, and go get the frets leveled and sanded. Would that be cheaper than buying US made? How would it sound compared to a US made jazz bass? Also, I read that the US Fenders have the neck edges rolled over or something so the edge isn't so sharp, can you get that done? If I do this, around how much will this cost me? Would it just be cheaper to go American made?
  2. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Buy a used American Standard Jazz.
  3. davedblyoo

    davedblyoo "All the mayhem and none of the sticky mess." Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2012
    Augusta, GA
    +1. By the time you finish all of that modding, you'll still have a Mexican Jazz. Not saying that's a bad thing, but why go through all of that trouble to re-create one when you can just go get one for about the same amount of money? I was just on Guitar Center's used instruments site and they had a bunch of used American Standards for what you would spend on trying to modify a Mexi Jazz.
  4. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    I don't have an American bass to compare to, but there's absolutely nothing wrong with my Mexican-made Blacktop Jazz. It's as solid as a rock and roars like a beast! And as far as cost goes, I didn't pay even close to $1000, even if I didn't get a discount on it.
  5. Bassisgood4U

    Bassisgood4U Banned

    Jan 30, 2014
    Try to get one from the 1995-1999 American Standard era. Good stuff.
  6. jtm3183


    Feb 10, 2014
    I would get a used one, I want to go look at more pawn shops and used instrument stores around town, but I'm not willing to buy online. I was thinking about the American Special for 1000, but I gotta see if that's at my GC in town. There's a $500 FSR jazz bass that was nice but needed some fixing with frets. I just want to know if repairs like I'm talking about, mainly bridge & pickup change and the neck fixing if it would cost me a lot. I think pickups would run me around 100 or so, I'm not sure about the bridge and neck though.
  7. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    I agree with buying a used MIA Fender. Plenty of them available for under $1,000.
  8. bassbenj


    Aug 11, 2009
    As owner of a MIM Jazz that was brought up to snuff by me I have to agree with the above.

    Since the MIM was used, like new, and only $300 it wasn't so bad, but it still took new pickups, reshielding, work on setup including new nut and some rewiring. And that doesn't count the pot that went bad. I would have got an MIA Jazz had I found a decent used one, but this was the deal I found.

    And yes it is a VERY nice bass now. But even though it has probably the most stable and easy playing neck of any wood MIM jazz, it still doesn't have the reenforcement carbon bars of a MIA. And also while the body is alder and covered with a beautiful alder veneer so it looks like a one piece body, the truth is it's made of about 12 alder sticks glued together. Yeah, these are not serious issues, but I would have had more warm fuzzies had I found a deal on the same thing MIA.
  9. johnjbass


    Jan 19, 2014
    What about a made in Japan j bass? I have a 60s reissue MIJ jazz that I've had for 20 years, and I love it!
  10. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Maybe you’ve got the impression that MIMs are junk or something. Try some out and you might find you won’t need to upgrade all those things.

    And on the used market, they’re about the best value going.
  11. Jazzbassguy


    Jul 18, 2009

    Agree. I just picked up a mint '02 MIM Jazz for $300 last week, and I can't put the thing down. Love it.

  12. jtm3183


    Feb 10, 2014
    Yeah, the main thing I didn't like was the frets sticking out a bit on the one I played, and if I got that fixed I'd want to get the neck to get a more curved edge like a MIA to play easier. The pickups and bridge would be replaced later on if they needed too. I just know if I get a MIM I would put some more cash into it, but I feel like it'd still be cheaper than going with a MIA.
  13. jamminology101


    Aug 22, 2012
    Indianapolis In
    Endorsing Artist: Glockenklang
    All the off cuts and scrap wood that is laying on the american shops floor is boxed up and sent to the mexican shop where they glue as many small pieces it takes to cutout a body.
  14. Malak the Mad

    Malak the Mad Over the River and through the Looking Glass Supporting Member

    But wouldn't it be fair to say not all MIM's are put together this way?
  15. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Are you making that up?
  16. JimmyThunder

    JimmyThunder Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2008
    New Hampshire
  17. BassKnuckles


    Dec 17, 2013
    New Orleans
    This is a loaded question that gets asked a couple times a week here on TB.
    The correct answer is, there is no correct answer. Ive played mim's that sounded like jesus himself did the setup. Ive played mia's that no matter what you do, it just isn't right.
    if you find a mim jazz that when you pick it up, all the lights around you go dim and you feel electricity running through your arms and your hair stands up and a light breaks through the clouds and makes the bass glow, i'd say buy that one. :)
  18. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
    Then seek help from an electrician…

    or a psychiatrist. :)
  19. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Huh? So you do or do not want rolled edges?

    Just to clarify, the edges of the fretboard on an MIA Standard are rolled. Meaning it has a "broken in" type of feel from the start.
    Both MIM and MIA basses will have their fretwork done. Whether it's good enough it going to be up to you.

    IMO, I would just go for the MIA. By the time you go and swap out the bridge, tuners, electronics, have fretwork done, roll the edges of the fretboard, etc you're still going to have an MIM bass in the end that simply isn't worth even close to what you sank into it. It will also end up mostly more than just buying the MIA in the first place.
  20. landau roof

    landau roof Reupholstered User

    Jul 29, 2010
    Downstate CA
    Not all MIM's but all MIM Standards are except maybe ash-bodied FSR's.

    Yeah, this is confusing to me also. Who wants unleveled frets with sharp ends and a sharp fretboard? How is that at all desirable?