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Mustang Project Bass - Help with details

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Cran, Jul 10, 2019.


  1. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    So basically, I've had the itch for a short scale bass for a while, and I also really enjoy having an instrument which is solely unique to myself. So, to satisfy both of my desires, I have decided to create an abomination that few people would enjoy looking at. Fortunately, my band members are some of those few and are actually egging me on to do it.

    So, here's the main idea: I want to take a Fender Mustang body, add a Warmoth neck, and have three pickups in it: Rickenbacker bridge and neck, and a Guild DS-1 BiSonic Humbucker in the middle (Wired Volume x3 Tone x3 with three concentric knobs).

    The way I was thinking of doing this would be to buy a Fender MIM PJ Mustang body off of Reverb, getting a Warmoth short scale Warhead neck made (All maple, with white binding and pearloid blocks to get that Geddy J bass look :drool:), and then acquiring the pickups and going to town on the body.

    However, I've not the experience or tools to route out a body (or pickguard!) for three new pickups, so I am probably gonna get a local luthier or someone else to do it for me. The wiring should be easy enough, right? :laugh:

    Now, I've got a couple of questions. Obviously, I'm not going for the exact sound of a Ricky but similar would be nice.
    How do I measure the positioning for the bridge/neck pickups for them to be as similar as possible (Considering there is the big BiSonic in the middle)?
    On the same note, what kind of pickups do you guys recommend?
    Should I go for a whole mounting ring on the bridge pickup (Admittedly, would look cool), or should I just mount the pickup by itself?
    Should I get the neck specs to match those of an MIM Mustang neck, in order to ensure the nicest fit?

    I'm just doing some research as to how I should go about this, really. The plan will not be enacted for a while, as of now. Please keep that in mind.
     
  2. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    Is there room for all those pickups? I have two Guild BS-1s in my bass (see avatar!) and they are big pickups. The polepieces in them also sit closer to one edge of the pickup, so you might find only a little sonic difference between the BS-1 and the next closest pickup.

    Maybe smacking a sacred cow around a bit here, but the BS-1s aren't the ultimate bass pickup. They are quite low output and have quite a broad bandwidth. For a '60s pickup they sound good, but they are ultimately single coil pickups with big alnico magnets in a funky pickup cover and surround. The guts of these pickups are fairly ordinary.

    The pole spacing on the BS-1 is also probably closer than the string width on your Mustang.

    I would stick to your 'mini Rickenbacker' approach, and route for two single coils. I would use Dimarzio Area J pickups, in all honesty. You want something that sounds like a single coil, and I personally don't like single coil noise. Something that 'does' a low output single coil tone would be perfect.
     
    fhm555 and Cran like this.
  3. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    First of all, I'd like to say that that is one cool bass!

    And to answer your question, based on some other people's modding of the Pawn Shop Mustang to have a Novak BS-DS (photo attached), I thought the pickups would fit fine (Considering I'd use a smaller bridge than the original one in the PSM), because the rickenbacker pickups are relatively small. Based on this same image I thought that the pole pieces would fit fine, if they did on this one.
    [​IMG]
    But yeah, you're also right that I could just put two single coils into it to get that sorta "mini rick" idea going. But that wouldn't look as cool :p or sound as interesting, for that matter, haha. But I'll definitely keep it in mind! It would lower the price of the project, that's for sure.
     
  4. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    Ric pups are located almost exactly at the theoretical 24th and 36th fret lines for a 33.25" scale. Using the locations on a different scale length wont necessarily get a Ric tone, which is a combination of pups, maple body construction, etc. Sounds like a cool project. Dont sell yourself short on using a router, its not that difficult, and there are pup templates available for most common types, except the Ric pups.
     
    Cran and Axstar like this.
  5. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    Gives you a reason to build two Mustangs!

    Novak makes Bisonic pickups with Fender spacing, so that you can drop them into a P bass or 'Tractor' bass if you wanted. I wager that the Mustang you pictured is F-spaced. Guild spacing is a lot tighter; something like 48mm from the outside poles. I got lucky that the Guilds sit under the strings of my Dearmond Starfire. I took a gamble based on the Dearmond being a Guild copy of sorts.

    On my Fender PJ Mustang, the P pickup is closer to the neck than on a P bass, relative to the overall string length. Rickenbacker pickups are in the virtual 24th and 36th fret locations, so maybe work out those first?
     
    Cran likes this.
  6. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    To answer both of your guys' comments, it's probably worth doing some sketches on Illustrator and some math to figure out whether everything would *actually* fit. Plus, I like having something to visualise it with rather than a bunch of separate photos of individual pieces of gear (if it even works in the first place).
    However, I'm a bit busy during the day writing and tracking for an EP with my band using, well, non-imaginary basses, let's say :laugh:. I'll probably get around to it on friday/the weekend, but I'll keep you guys posted on the results when I do! Thanks for the help/support!
     
    Axstar likes this.
  7. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    Oh, and on the topic of Ric pups, what would you recommend I get? Just standard original 4001/4003 pups, or are there any better aftermarket alternatives, like maybe the SD or Bart set?
     
  8. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2002
    Reading Pa
    Are you sure the Warhammer neck fits the pocket on the Mustang body?... I looked into doing something like this and thought I read that that neck only fits the Warmoth mini P body.
     
    bcbckr and gln1955 like this.
  9. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    Hmmm... Now that you mention it, I'm not sure. Wouldn't hurt to send the sales team an email asking.
     
  10. Jim Ingraham

    Jim Ingraham Supporting Member

    Nov 14, 2002
    Reading Pa
    check out the Warmoth mini p body...ergonomiclly, it's a better shape than the mustang, better balance. I think you can order one with the pickups unrouted.
     
  11. Cran

    Cran

    Oct 24, 2018
    I'll look into it, but I think the Mustang bass fits better when it comes to looks and being short scale, compared to the short scale Js and Ps Warmoth offers. Plus, I've tried a MIM Mustang bass today and it felt fine, no real balance/ergonomics issues other than getting used to the shorter scale length.
     
    Axstar and Jim Ingraham like this.
  12. mellowgerman

    mellowgerman Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2008
    Orlando, FL
    This was my Mustang project bass about 10 years ago. Will recreate it one day. It went through a few more changes after the Dark Star / Model One combo you see below, but this arrangement was my favorite. Stacked vol/vol, tone control, and a mini-toggle to switch the Model One to single coil mode (which by a stroke of luck hum-cancelled perfectly with the Dark Star)

    ZufjkWW.jpg
     
  13. Duder

    Duder

    Dec 6, 2014
    Florida
    Well I'll be watching this thread. Can't wait to see what you come up with.
     
    Axstar likes this.
  14. dalkowski

    dalkowski Supporting Member

    May 20, 2009
    Massachusetts USofA
    Whatever you do electronically, you gotta have stripes. Can't wait to see the finished product!
     
  15. I can see this being very cool, or a total fail. What I'm saying is that with such experimentation there is a significant risk. My thought would be to get a cheap used Squier bronco and use it as a test mule. See if your ideas will work. If they do, then invest in the higher cost mustang and custom neck and use the parts from the Bronco. You can usually find Bronco's for around $75, so that is a cheap way to test your ideas
     
  16. gln1955

    gln1955 Supporting Member

    Aug 25, 2014
    Ohio, USA
    This. Warmoth says their SS necks only fit their SS bodies. If you don't have the skills and tools to make it fit, it will be a nightmare. Why not just use a Mustang neck?
     
  17. Duder

    Duder

    Dec 6, 2014
    Florida
    The Bronco necks are usually pretty comfortable, too. I got mine for about $65 shipped from a Goodwill auction.
     
  18. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    The decal also sands right off a Bronco neck!

    I will map out the locations for Rick pickups on my Mustang when I get home. The results might surprise you!
     
  19. Gilmourisgod

    Gilmourisgod

    Jun 23, 2014
    Cape Cod MA
    The general consensus on the Bart and SD is that they don't sound a whole lot like Ric single coils. The Classic Amplification Ric pups are very well regarded on TB, better built, better lead dress, etc, but not cheap. Ric neck style single coils run around $75 each last I checked. I used two stock Ric single coil Neck pickups (not bridge, which is a different form factor) on a recent build. They sound great, but they are single coils, so you do get some hum. I shielded the snot out of mine, and they are acceptably quiet. I had to make a custom template to route for them, as I had a wood top. If you are pickguard mounting the pups, the route doesn't have to be perfect, it will get covered anyway. You could do it with a drill and a sharp chisel ina pinch. Check out my build thread if you want to see how I made the routing template, a bit of a PITA, but it worked. Can't remember what page it was on, the build thread is interminable:
    The Hossenfeffer II Build
     
  20. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Scotland.
    I have Joe Bardens in my Rickenbacker. My logic here was that I needed humbuckers, but I didn't want dark sounding humbuckers. Joe Barden courted the Telecaster picker community for years, so I figured his pickups were bright enough to keep them happy. At a guess they are 75% Rickenbacker in tone. They have a nice even response and seem to be less fussy about playing dynamics? If anything they dump a wee bit more mids into the mix which, with all that maple sapping it away, is no bad thing!

    Not cheap pickups though. Maybe look at Retrovibe pickups in the UK? They offer repro Rickenbacker-style pickups that cost less than real Rickenbacker pickups and are made to a higher standard. I did a lot of work on the stock pickups in my 4003 and they were badly made garbage (and expensive garbage). I now have a Retrovibe carriage under the bridge pickup on my Rick.

    Pickups | Retrovibe

    And of Mustangs and Ricks, I used the harmonics on my Rick to suss out where the pickups should sit on a Mustang. The results are:
    [​IMG]

    The black tape lines are where the Rick pickups sit, harmonically. There is probably room in between the two locations for a BS-1 pickup as well.

    The Mustang neck is 19 frets long, and it comes quite far into the body. The Rickenbacker neck pickup location is closer to the stock P pickup than I thought, but this explains why the Mustang is a wee bit darker sounding, pound-for-pound, against my P bass.
     
    Duder and Gilmourisgod like this.

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