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NBD Fender Jaguar Bass - review

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by johnk_10, Jun 25, 2010.


  1. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    well, i had been contemplating getting a jag bass for the last four years and finally gave in to the urge to have one in my arsenal, so i just bought this black one yesterday.

    blackjag-1.


    first impressions:
    i prefer the sound and comfort of lighter weight fender basses and this one weighed in at a reasonable 9 lbs 4 oz. even though it's a bit heavier than my other fenders, when worn on a strap it doesn't really feel as heavy as it is.

    the nut was cut a bit too high (which i quickly remedied) as well as the neck had a bit of a front bow. after addressing those two issues, and adjusting the action/pickups, it plays like butter, and the neck is now as straight as any bass that i've ever owned (more than 150).

    time to plug it in.
    the preamp was noisey, hissing and spitting, so i took the 9V battery out and measured it. it measured 8.6V, and even though it should be enough voltage, i replaced it with a new one and after testing it, all of the hiss and noise was gone.

    first of all, i'm not fan of the 70's J bass pickup spacing as i find the bridge pickup too harsh and brittle when it's that close to the bridge. and when you couple that with the Jag's weak J bass pickups, it's even worse. i removed the bridge pickup and measured it's DC resistance to be 5.68K ohms (very low), so i had a USA fender Jazz bass bridge pickup in my parts drawer and replaced it with that. it helped, having higher output, with more lows, mids and a smoother top end but, IMO still leaves something to be desired.

    i do like the pickup selector and series/parallel switch, since it yields yet another usuable tone from a standard j bass.

    IMO, the preamp is okay, as long as you don't roll either the trble or bass up very high. the highs are very bright, and the bottom can come on like gangbusters, if you roll either one of them in any more than 20%.

    i already replaced the pots with USA CTS ones so it would fit the USA j bass knobs (IMO, the japanese ones look cheap).

    i first thought about installing some duncan hot stack j bass pickups, but have since decided to try a set of dimarzio ultra bass ones (scooped) since, for me, this bass just has too much mids and a clackiness in it right now. they should be here by the middle of next week.

    and even though i think this bass has a nice feeling neck (straight with a nice J bass profile), i prefer the look of block/bound jazz bass necks, so i'm going to install a solid one piece maple one (with white binding w/MOP inlay) in about a week. i'm going to re-shape and shoot the new one with nitro so it feels like what i'm accustomed to. plus, i really like the look of fenders with a black finish, white guard with a maple neck.

    i'll try to update this thread with new pics after the mods are done to it.
     
  2. Nothing personal, but if you did all those change-outs, then why did you buy the bass in the first place?

    I mean - that's a long list - and unless the leprechauns left it under a cabbage head and you found it for free, then it's kinda sounding like a bad deal on a lot of different levels.

    I cite:
    Seems to me that there was so much wrong with it that you put a whole 'nother bass guitar under, over and on top of the hood.

    You didn't seem to mind the color though. That's nice. Maybe we'll just call it a 'draw' (thanks: Monty Python)

    This may add credence to the idea that MIA Fenders aren't as good as they are touted to be and that a Squier may be the best and most viable bass currently produced. And cheaper in the first place.

    That kinda reminds me of a famous question to Mrs. Abraham Lincoln: "...other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"
     
    TanglefooT1959 likes this.
  3. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    i've been building basses since 1973 and i like the look and features of the jag bass (body). for me, the mods that i'm going to do to it are very simple and it will make it into something that i can really use.

    when i sell the jag's stock neck, it'll pay for the new one, and i always replace the pickups in imported basses anyway.
     
  4. IPA

    IPA

    May 5, 2010
    Wow, sounds like I'll wait patiently for you to put it up in the for sale section...
     
  5. Bongolation

    Bongolation

    Nov 9, 2001
    California
    No Bogus Endorsements
    It wasn't the battery, it was oxidation on that stupid non-connector.

    I went through the same thing. Just fiddling with the old battery would have made clean contact and fixed the problem just as well as replacing it.
     
  6. Meddle

    Meddle

    Jul 27, 2009
    Scotland
    Might as well have got the SX jag bass and modded that!
     
  7. ishouldbeking

    ishouldbeking

    Feb 5, 2007
    Hollywood, CA
    Endorsing: SIT, Eastwood, Hanson
    yeah, my experience when playing these echoes yours John. they look cool, and the feature-set is pretty cool, but out of the box it left me wanting more. since i'm pretty inept at all the mods you're doing I don't think I could justify one for myself, but i bet when you're through with it you'll have a helluva bass!
     
  8. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    IMO, the SX doesn't look like a real jaguar. kind of a cross between a jazzmaster and a jaguar.

    i may end up removing the stock preamp altogether, or install a better one with a mid control. to me, it's kinda cloudy and useless. i'm starting to see why these basses were discontinued, but i still like their look.

    but after i'm done with it, this bass will see things MY way. ;)
     
  9. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses

    i believe you. thanks for the tip.
     
  10. Meddle

    Meddle

    Jul 27, 2009
    Scotland
    Or atleast the body, pickguard and knobs will!
     
  11. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    yeah, it's going to look something like this (thanks to photoshop)

    blackjag-3.
     
  12. jasper383

    jasper383 Supporting Member

    Dec 5, 2004
    Durham NC
    Maple neck on the black Jaguar is going to be great looking.

    I wish I were as adept at swapping out parts as you are; basses would stick around here longer. :)
     
  13. Well done johnk.

    I have a hell of a lot more respect for someone who personalizes and works a bass up to his expectations than someone who can do nothing more than bitch about its shortcomings.

    BTW, I love my Jag too.
     
  14. I sold my Hot Rod Red to a really cool kid recently, and the problem I had with it is kinda similar.

    I love the look and vibe, but it had some crazy quirks and it left me "wanting more" like ishouldbeking said.

    The Jag made me realize I wanted a J bass after all and so I got one today.

    This has been said several times and is a bit of a dead horse but I still wonder if the Jag had been US made if it would have been more successful and if I would have kept it. Would a bit more in the quality department made i a keeper?

    CIJ is not bad, but I really love my American stuff.
     
  15. steamthief

    steamthief

    Jan 25, 2006
    Mentone Beach
    Huh? How do you draw that conclusion from a review of a mid-level Japanese Fender?
     
  16. AlexanderB

    AlexanderB

    Feb 25, 2007
    Sweden
    Nice and balanced review, johnk_10!
    I had the same experience (with the pick ups) that you had - could not really get the sound I wanted. But in my case I did not feel it worth the effort of modifying a new bass, not being sure where the mods would result in. It is a cool looking bass anyway, with a distictive sound. Not just "my" sound. Maybe the Squier Jaguar P + J P/U is the right choise?

    /Alexander
     
  17. johnk_10

    johnk_10 vintage bass nut Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 16, 2008
    Thousand Oaks, CA
    John K Custom Basses
    IMO, the quality of it's main ingredients is on par with most of the USA fender offerings (i.e nice solid alder body, nice bridge, machine heads, a quality neck with a nice fit and finsih). i think that it's weakest link are the pickups, and then the preamp. IMO, the preamp has too much boost and it is a bit noisey, but after looking at it, it looks like a discreet transistor type as opposed to using a chip. i suppose that i coud investigate the preamp circuit schematic and mod it more to my liking. if i do, i would change/raise the bass frequency a bit and convert the treble control to a mid bass control and make them both boost and cut, as opposed to their 'boost only' feature. but it's probably easier just to buy a good new one and replace it altogether. the other option is to wire it like a vintage Jaguar guitar, and have an extra set of volume and tone controls on the upper horn for quickly changing volume/tone at the flick of the switch.

    either way, i believe that after i replace the pickups, i'm going to like it alot more.
     
  18. A-Step-Towards

    A-Step-Towards Supporting Member

    Nov 16, 2009
    Los Angeles California
    I dont see why people complain about someone doing upgrades. You buy a bass sell the parts you dont want and upgrade to better parts, its a production instrument you cant expect everyone to be happy with a stock jag.

    I hated mine stock , I dont like J width necks so I got a P neck , the jag neck paid for a "better" IMO neck, and better on a bass I play is worth it to me.

    Mod it to hell
     
  19. GeneralElectric

    GeneralElectric

    Dec 26, 2007
    NY, NY
    Lemme know when you sell that neck, I'll take her off your hands. :bassist:
     
  20. I was being sarcastic. Maybe I shoulda tossed in a rubber chicken.

    I'm not really complaining about someone rodding a bass or fixing a perceived shortcoming, but a full boob job, pumped lips, tummy tuck and lipo is a long way off from taking a basically good bass (the MIA-part here) and then taking all the moving parts out and replacing them.

    The reason I drew the conclusion I did was that I see since the neck, p'ups, pots, and whatever else is going to be hacked away, why not start with a cheaper platform.

    If the bass was that bad, maybe a MIM or MIJ would suffice and leave the MIA for a return-to-stock rebuild - but not a whole organ-by-organ transplant.

    It's just me making the long statement, and of course anyone can do to their bass as they see fit - I just like to keep these MIAs in a semi stock condition.

    I've grown to accept them (Fenders) for all their shortcomings and QC problems and quite frankly, I like them to have some character or differentials and factory uniqueness.

    Adjust: Si, esta bueno
    Body swap: Esta no bueno​

    Again, that's just me.