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NBD: MIJ Fender MB4 - Save from the dead?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by ManyMountains, Dec 22, 2020.

  1. Quick summary: Frets pulled but not filled, unusual Seymour Duncan pups, body heavily dinged, wild knobs, and missing tuning peg. What should I do?
    I got this bass today from a neighbor who started this project a long time ago but clearly never finished. It was a Fender MB4, which apparently was only made for a few years in the mid 90s. Reviews are generally very favorable for this PJ that made in Japan. However, this one has been heavily modified. I'm kind of thinking out loud here as it's a new project. I like to hear all the different options presented by the TB Brain Trust.

    Frets were pulled but never filled in. I could probably finish this, though it is not something I've done before. I started playing fretless this year so it would be fun to have a second one around (unnecessary but fun).

    Aftermarket pups were installed - Seymour Duncan Active EQ, which each have 2 dip-switches *on the pickups* that affect the tone and bass. I've found more info about the model with 3 switches, but not 2. Either way, it appears these are well liked but weren't made for too many years. I'll likely keep these.

    The original Fender knobs were replaced with some oddball ones. I will likely replace these with metal chrome knobs.

    The body is pretty bruised up. Should I strip it back to the wood or repaint? I have no experience with either of these. Or leave it as is?

    One tuner is missing. Is it worth it finding a matching one or just replace them all?

    I have the original bridge and neck plate (not pictured). What else would you recommend? Thanks everyone!

    PXL_20201221_232917442~2.jpg PXL_20201221_232929490.jpg PXL_20201221_232949746~2.jpg PXL_20201221_232953762~2.jpg PXL_20201221_232940537.jpg PXL_20201221_233005105.jpg
    tindrum likes this.
  2. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    looks like this could end up being a cool fretless....we can never have enough of those! :D

    if you have any workable tuning machine laying around (or steal one, temporarily, from another ax) to assess the neck for oddities/problems/whatever, just to make sure you've got something workable (i'm sure that you do!), and to assess any neck dive --- to know whether you might want to look at lightweight (hipshot, gotoh, etc.) tuning machines. you can string it up and play it, check 'the hang', etc., before proceeding.

    i think you're on to a fun project that just might yield a fine player! i look forward to seeing what you get out of the project. good luck! :thumbsup:
  3. Great idea to set it up temporarily with a borrowed tuning machine and old strings. Make sure it balances well and everything works. This way I'll have a better idea of what I'm getting myself into!
    JRA likes this.
  4. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    all-in-all: it looks like you're going to end up with a nice player --- fretless, too! --- what's not to like! :thumbsup:
    ManyMountains likes this.
  5. I followed your advice @JRA and set up the bass with a borrowed tuner and old strings. It played well enough though the action was quite high (which can of course be fixed). The pickups are fully functional and fun to play around with. The bass balanced well. Want to know the best part? It weighs only 6 lbs 11 oz.

    I think this one is a keeper and with bringing back to life. It may even replaced my current fretless.
    Rabidhamster and JRA like this.
  6. b/o 402

    b/o 402

    Jul 14, 2015
    DC & MD
    Is this 32” scale?
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass **** Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I had some similar pickups put in a Jazz bass. Duncan Live Wires IIRC. Mine had 3 rocker switches. The switches didn’t seem to do a ton but they were outstanding pickups.
    Ironically I ended up filing the frets down and converted it to a fretless.
  8. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    :laugh: you win! you win! :thumbsup:

    that's so cool! glad you were able to make some gross/critical judgments. now it's onward and upward! way cool --- congrats, and good luck with the project! :thumbsup:
  9. 34" scale
  10. Rabidhamster


    Jan 15, 2014
    I vote put the frets back in it and leave the finish alone aside from polishing. Replace the tuner and play it.
    Congrats on the bass
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2020
    ManyMountains likes this.
  11. Thanks - I'm with you now about leaving the finish some. At first I was really not happy with the finish because there were so many deep dents that revealed the contrasting wood underneath. I filled those in with black paint and it already looks much better. I can ignore the remaining imperfections that are harder to see. Less work, more play.
    Rabidhamster likes this.
  12. I should correct that earlier statement. Last night when playing it seemed to balance well. This morning I played it again for a while and the bass neck kept diving. I was wearing a sil-nylon jacket, which is more slippery them last night's flannel shirt. But still, it make sense that such a light bass might have balance issues. I'll keep playing around with this.
    In other news, I filled down the nut slots a lot and adjusted the bridge, and now it plays much better.
    JRA likes this.
  13. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

    Feb 27, 2021

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