NBD: my Threecision/Threelecaster Frankenbass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by solderfumes, Jun 21, 2016.

  1. solderfumes


    Mar 16, 2016
    New bass day! Except that the entire process took half a year. I spotted this beauty on Boxing Day for $99CDN:

    27740255196_c752afa534_k.jpg 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.

    27496250400_6c16ea842d_k.jpg 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.

    27699849341_604bced076_k.jpg 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.

    27162529374_915a5f4f65_k.jpg 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.

    27699871851_8a9706158f_k.jpg 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.

    27699861791_d3b67c23a6_k.jpg IMG_2749 by dickolaswang, on Flickr

    And at last, the almost-finished product:

    27673800562_d2b27bfa05_k.jpg 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!
    Instagator, NKBassman, pudge and 47 others like this.
  2. Korladis

    Korladis Inactive

    Love it.
  3. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i admire your ingenuity!
  4. 2saddleslab

    2saddleslab Supporting Member

    May 30, 2003
    Kinda overkill, imho. However, kudos for seeing your concept thru!

    Why the long wait for the TV Jones? I've ordered those twice and received them in just a few days.
  5. Gaolee

    Gaolee Official leathers tester and crash dummy

    I have a similar project in mind. My body gets along with Thunderbirds best for some reason, but I want more of a thump machine than an angry piano sometimes. I also have an EB-2 with a Dimarzio One in lieu of the mudbucker, and it sounds amazing. Which leads to a bolt-on Thunderbird that will get a Dimarzio One up by the neck. I haven't decided what to do with the other two humbuckers. One might get replaced, but I like the way Korean Thunderbirds sound for the most part. The project has been stalled out due to other priorities and requirements, but it will happen eventually. Your post is an inspiration.
    solderfumes likes this.
  6. solderfumes


    Mar 16, 2016
    "Kinda overkill" is charitable, I'm fully aware of how ridiculous it is :) But really, most of my bass playing is for recording purposes, so I don't mind having a million options at my fingertips. That said, I'll probably also use this with my band in rehearsals/live, at which point it might be a bit of an adventure. I'll just put duct tape over the switches so that it's permanently set to the ThunderBlade, I guess.

    I live in Canada, so direct ordering the ThunderBlade might have meant paying extra duty and taxes. Also, I wanted to support my local store (Exile Music, in Vancouver), which is a really cool new shop with an interesting backstory, and was in the process of becoming a TV Jones dealer. Unfortunately, this was during the time that everyone was getting ready for NAMM, and the people at TV Jones kept putting off the actual closing of the deal. After two months of me pestering -- and a period in there when I had given up entirely on ever getting the TVJ -- they were finally able to put in their initial order, and a few weeks after that I finally got the pickup.
    2saddleslab likes this.
  7. lug

    lug Supporting Member

    Feb 11, 2005
    League City, Tx
  8. Blaargh

    Blaargh Guest

    Apr 4, 2016
    That's incredible, I love it. Mudbuckers are great pickups, I really want to frankenstein a bass to have dual ones, but I'll probably never get around to it.
    grrg63 and Sartori like this.
  9. bluesdoubler


    Apr 14, 2011
  10. Crusher47

    Crusher47 Tattoo'ed Freak

    Apr 12, 2014
    Fort Worth, TX
    Very cool
  11. wintremute

    wintremute mediocrity at its finest

    Oct 16, 2014
    Endorsing Artist: Langstrom Carrot Farms
    Freaky and Fantastic! Nice job.
  12. elgranluis


    Feb 14, 2003
    Vail, CO
    Great build. Just my 0.2 , if the tv jones works in series and single coil , then the 4 cable conversion pobably missed something.
  13. solderfumes


    Mar 16, 2016
    Ah, I didn't convert the ThunderBlade to 4-wire cable, I converted the mudbucker. The ThunderBlade came with 4-conductor wiring, and there's something wrong inside. I've been in contact with Tom at TV Jones (I assume he's actually Thomas V. Jones), and am in the process of getting a replacement.
  14. themarshall


    Jun 26, 2008
    cochrane wi
    The six pack of toggle switches was the best thing I've seen all day. Why'd you stop at 3? You've got room for at least 2 and maybe 3 more pickups in there :)
    solderfumes likes this.
  15. solderfumes


    Mar 16, 2016
    A Stingray pickup has crossed my mind....

    Really, though, my goal was to capture the three main flavours of Telecaster Bass: SCPB, neck mudbucker, and Cabronita. Plus there's no more room in the control cavity :)
    bholder likes this.
  16. themarshall


    Jun 26, 2008
    cochrane wi
    :thumbsup: You know, that's the first time I noticed that the cabronita pickup is not at the end of the pickgaurd.
  17. Needs a J and MM pickup in there.
    solderfumes likes this.
  18. solderfumes


    Mar 16, 2016
    In my mind, the exact positioning of the ThunderBlade is important. They mention in the Proto Precision video how when they first developed the La Cabronita Porazzo Bass, they moved the pickup around and found a sweet spot for it. If you compare the now-discontinued MIM Fender Cabronita Precision Bass to the Squier Cabronita Precision Bass, it looks like the Squier's pickup position is true to the Proto Precision (and the original La Cabronita Porazzo Bass), while the MIM Fender's pickup is in a different place -- closer to the position of a regular split-coil P. Based on the YouTube demos of both basses, and my hands-on experience with both those basses in stores, the difference is very noticeable, and I much prefer the Squier. I made my position measurements on a Proto Precision in my local Long & McQuade, and we tried to get it as precise as possible.
  19. bigtone23


    Dec 10, 2014
    Denver, CO
    That's cool! I has a notion to do the same to my Squier Tele Bass: add a single coil P to it, possibly something else near the bridge. Saw it as a way to get a couple basses' worth of tone from one bass.
    ChronicPyromaniac likes this.
  20. I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it, I want it!!!!
    bholder and rllefebv like this.