New bass day! Except that the entire process took half a year. I spotted this beauty on Boxing Day for $99CDN: IMG_2565 by dickolaswang, on Flickr SCPBs have never really been my thing but $99 for a decent-condition Classic Vibe model is an absolute no-brainer, if only just to look at. I didn't buy it to look at, though: I bought it because I've had a two-year-long obsession with this bass: I immediately started looking for a TV Jones ThunderBlade pickup. Getting one was a slow process, because instead of ordering one directly and possibly having to pay duty when it crossed the border, I ordered through a local shop that had agreed to become a TV Jones dealer. They had to wait a long time for TV Jones to close the deal because they were busy with NAMM. Ultimately it took about three months to get the pickup. I also wanted to try a mudbucker in the neck position like the 70s Telecaster Basses because I've always liked that big deep sound, especially when playing with a pick. I opted for an Artec mudbucker instead of a Fender Wide-Range humbucker, because when you think mudbucker, you think Gibson, not Fender. I opted for the alnico version, because I thought the ceramic one might be overwhelmingly hot. Once I finally got both pickups, I needed some woodwork done, so I called on my friend Ed Bond, of Halcyon Guitars (Home). He's a busy guy, but eventually he was able to squeeze me into his schedule. IMG_2733 by dickolaswang, on Flickr Ed was the production manager of the Vancouver Larrivee factory for something like 14 years, and he makes stripped-down but amazing sounding acoustics under the Halcyon brand. I have two of his acoustics. He's a great guy to work with and makes an awesome product. Unshown here: Ed filled a big distracting dent on the neck with some Crazy Glue so it's no longer a distraction while you're playing. IMG_2736 by dickolaswang, on Flickr With the body all done, it was time for the wiring. I wanted to be able to coil tap the mudbucker and/or wire it in parallel, but it comes stock with one-conductor cable, so I disassembled it and modded it with four-conductor cable. Good thing I did, too, because the coils were actually wired out of phase, as has happened to several people on this forum. You get what you pay for, I guess. IMG_2747 by dickolaswang, on Flickr Next, a no-load tone pot. I do this with a dab of Krazy Glue on the copper part of the outside track connected to pin 3 of the pot. IMG_2748 by dickolaswang, on Flickr To implement the coil splitting and parallel wiring, I used the volume push-pull switch and one SPDT toggle to implement Seymour Duncan Triple-Shot-type switching on the mudbucker. This way you can get the regular series wiring, or parallel wiring, or each coil on its own. I did the same using the tone push-pull switch and another SPDT toggle for the ThunderBlade. Even though I envisioned this bass as three single-pickup basses rather than as a three-pickup bass, one way or another I needed a pickup selector. I figured it'd be easier to drill three holes for toggle switches than to cut a slot for a Strat-style 5-way switch, and the result would be more fun. Given that it was going to take three toggle switches anyway, I opted for Dan Armstrong Super-Strat wiring, which uses two DPDTs and an on-on-on DPDT to give twelve combinations of the three pickups, including several series combinations of pickups. I hoped to find some series combination of the original single-coil pickup and one of the coils in the TV Jones pickup that would sound like a regular split-coil Precision. The last toggle switch bypasses the volume pot. It isn't a straight blow switch: it lifts pin 1 of the volume pot from ground, so that when the volume is turned all the way up, it doesn't load the signal at all. It's just a little easier to wire. I like to have the volume bypass and no-load tone pot for recording: in my mind, you're getting the purest possible signal recorded, allowing better tweakability after the fact. Also, it's repeatable if you need to go back and overdub. IMG_2749 by dickolaswang, on Flickr And at last, the almost-finished product: IMG_2780 by dickolaswang, on Flickr Frustratingly, the TV Jones pickup that I waited two months for is defective. The normal series mode works fine, as do the single-coil modes, but I can't get parallel wiring. It sounds good in series, at least: lean and powerful but not muddy. The mudbucker is wild! I've never used anything like it before. It's almost overwhelmingly hot and dark. I think that I should have gone with the ceramic version for just a little more clarity. It definitely delivers on its promises, though, and sounds great picked. The coil splitting and parallel wiring were a good call. It opens up in an interesting way when it's in parallel mode especially, and takes on a bit of growl. It doesn't play that well with the other pickups, because it's so hot that when it's combined in parallel with either of the other pickups, it gets almost totally dominated by them. I can't imagine you'd ever want to put it in series with the other pickups, either, as it's so loud and so dark already that you'd just be getting pure sludge. What might have been a better use of resources would be to use a stereo output jack and wire the mudbucker up to its own output for use as a "subwoofer", like Billy Sheehan does. I played around with a bit more last night, and found that the original SCPB pickup in series with the neck-side coil of the ThunderBlade produces a tone similar to a split-coil P. It's hard to compare, because the Precision I'm most familiar with, my dad's old Japanese Squier P, has a rosewood fretboard and old broken-in strings, while this one is much more zingy with the maple board and brand new strings. I'm really excited that after a long wait I finally have the bass I've been fantasizing about for two years, done my way. Feels good!