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Mustang Bass vs P Bass tone

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Basstress, Nov 24, 2017.

  1. Basstress


    Nov 24, 2017
    After playing bass for 50 years, upright, Steinberger and P Bass (I'm very much a senior) and having gone through arthritis thumb surgery last year, I bought a Hofner needing the short scale for my compromised left hand from surgery. Not totally happy with the Hof for lack of versatility to me, just bought a Japanese 2004 Mustang on Ebay. Now wondering if I'll ever be able to get that fat low end that the P Bass has.. The Mustang has that Fender general sound I crave, but something's missing.. bottom end. Maybe a short scale bass will never deliver that? For years I had round wounds on my '68 P Bass, wonderful tone and had just recently changed to flats, because of trying to help my hand after surgery. Now wondering if round wounds will sound better on the Mustang (it came with Tomastic flats). I have high hopes that a Mustang will work for me though now want an older American-made Mustang. No offense to Japan.. Any suggestions out there??
  2. oMetaloHead


    Jul 9, 2013
    I think tapewounds (especially D'addario's ETB92S) are the ideal strings for Mustangs. Just like how some people think P's with flats are just *the* sound for P's, I consider Mustangs and Tapes to be made for each other.
    Basstress likes this.
  3. Eric ER

    Eric ER

    Mar 22, 2015
    Seattle, wa
    Previous: Dusty Strings harp/dulcimer building
    I think some of it is the pickup. I’ve used a mustang with a p bass pickup that was mush closer to the p bass sound. I feel like you will likely never get ther 100% but maybe the LaBella flats (get the ones specifically for mustang bass) would make a big difference from the ti’s.
    MOSCOWBASS, Ampslut and Basstress like this.
  4. rockscott


    Aug 28, 2010
    My japan built mustang has the original Duncan split pick up. I agree with your description of the tonal range 100% There is a drop in replacement pick up available from one of the top pick up builders, I cant remember who. I play all shorscales, I own 3 now, but have bought and sold quite a few seeking the tone I desire. My humble opinion is that the closest you are going to get to that upright tone in a shortscale electric bass is a birdsong. The entry level birdsong is the shortbass, it will set you back about $1000.00 with case new. They are well worth the money, I purchased one 2 years ago, a joy to play and the tone is just amazing!
    Basstress likes this.
  5. There's a change in technique required when playing a shorty. Give it time, & fine tune the setup to your liking. Use a pick initially if that helps.

    Shorties can be fussier with amps. Try a couple of amps to find the right synergy.
    jonnybass1 likes this.
  6. jonnybass1


    Dec 9, 2011
    Brampton, On
    Nordstrand has a drop in replacement that might help.
    Basstress and Eric ER like this.
  7. dmt


    Apr 19, 2003
    Orbiting Sol
    Like you, I’m a long time P basser who has been led by hand issues to a CIJ Mustang. The Mustang is reminiscent of a P, but like you say, lacks some bottom end and punch. If not A/B-ing them, I soon forget about the difference and am happy enough. But yeah, there is a tonal loss involved.

    I’m pretty dang happy with my Mustang though, actually — it’s only partly in response to the hand issues that it’s my most played bass these days. Nevertheless, I think I’m going to try one of those Nordstrand drop-in replacement pickups at some point in 2018. Linky: NM4 Mustang Replacement The price is certainly right!

    The other option is to get a Mustang PJ, and in fact I may do both as I’m liking the Mustang format so much. The Mustang PJ has, I believe, a wider spread of the strings than the CIJ or vintage Mustang Bass so that it gets proper string spacing over a regular P (and J) pickup. Pickup placement is slightly different from where it would be in a Precision bass though, plus of course the scale length is different, so it’s naturally going to have somewhat of its own sound to it. Still, could be good; looks fun to me anyways!

    Mostly though, I’m just glad I found the Mustang. I still play and totally love my P, but the Mustang has its own charm
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2017
    Basstress likes this.
  8. A friend of mine over here in Melbourne, Australia recently picked up a 66 Mustang. All original. It sounds just as sweet and fat and round and growly as my 1968 Precision Bass. In fact up against my 67 Jazz Bass it was hard trying to work out which sounded sweeter. For the money they are worth every cent - and obviously they're a LOT cheaper than their longscale vintage cousins. GO for it - you'll love the sound of a pre-73 Mustang Bass.
    Groove Doctor, dmt and Basstress like this.
  9. Basstress


    Nov 24, 2017
  10. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    Short scale basses are normally more fundamental-rich and "tubbier" sounding than their long scale brethren, all things being equal. Given that pickup placement for Ps and Mustangs is similar, the lack of bottom end could be as simple as string selection. I managed to get some serious bottom end out of a Musicmaster using GHS Brite Flats (ground wounds), but have also used Chromes and TI flats to good effect on shorties.
    Basstress and BOSS302BASS like this.
  11. If the TI flats don't sound good on it, I hate to be the one to say it , it's not the strings.
    lowdownthump and Basstress like this.
  12. Basstress


    Nov 24, 2017
    My thoughts too - I think I'll just keep looking. After all, it's the first one I've ever played - and I'm VERY picky - this is what I do, play the bass for my (meager) living. I'm not sure I want to spend the money to try out different strings, but plan on investing in a different one! I'll have to sell my '68 P to afford an one but it'll be worth it - I hope!
  13. blue4


    Feb 3, 2013
    St. Louis area
    Wouldn't it be much cheaper to try some different strings then to try different basses?

    TI flats aren't all that impressive on SS basses IMO. Maybe it's a different story on 34"s idk.
    Basstress likes this.
  14. RRR

    RRR Supporting Member

    Feb 18, 2016
    I have the Nordstrand pickup that others have mentioned currently in my MIJ Reissue and I would highly recommend it - especially if you are seeking more low end. I also replaced the tuning machines with Hipshot Ultralites and it balances effortlessly now. Great little bass.
    Groove Doctor and Basstress like this.
  15. Mustang Surly

    Mustang Surly

    Jul 10, 2013
    Maybe one of the new Mustang PJs?

  16. Dabndug

    Dabndug Supporting Member

    Sep 27, 2017
    Somewhere in Oz
    It is interesting that they are underwhelming on the Mustang. I have used them on short scale basses (Mosrite Mk 1s) and on 4001s and had the same success - real '60s Macca style tone. The key difference may be pickup placement (bass pickup snug against the fingerboard) and type (single coil). Otherwise may just come down to the pickups in the Mustang.
  17. JIO

    JIO Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Jun 30, 2010
    Oceana (Pacifica) CA
    musician/artist/owner - Gildaxe

    LaBella flats for a ss - :thumbsup:
    Basstress likes this.
  18. GoesThump


    Jul 13, 2007
    Another vote for the Nordstrand NM-4 here. Brilliant pickup & it really brought my CIJ Mustang to another level. There's definitely more highs/lows to it than the stock PU. It's subtle, but I found it more than enough. Weirdly, I liked the stock PU on my Squier Mustang just fine, so I left it. But for the CIJ, the PU change was definitely the way to go.

    As for strings : Chromes seem to love the Mustangs, especially after they've broken in a bit.

    Good luck to you OP - I also came to short scales for hand issues & now the majority of my instruments are SS. The Mustang is a terrific instrument - really a winner IMHO.

  19. Figjam


    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    What changed after 73? I think mine is a 74.
  20. wongahcheng


    Oct 17, 2012
    The D'addario strings you mentioned are for short scale, will they fit MIJ Mustangs? Usually they used medium scale because of the through-body design. I have La Bella 760F-MUS on mine for about 2 years now, looking for something fresh...

    Also curious on which Hipshot Ultralites exactly. Direct fit, no-mod?

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