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nned suggestions for upgrading my MIM J bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by lucas vigor, Sep 21, 2004.

  1. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    Hi, I have a MIM Jazz bass, ash body (4 piece) with clear, natural finish. I recently added two lindy Fralin PUPs, which sound great. After reading posts about the insignificance of nut or bridge changes to the tone, I am wondering what other changes I can make that will seriously improve the tone even further. New tuners? Do they effect the tone at all? How about a new neck from warmoth or other replacement companies?

    I wish to keep my bass passive, so I don't want to go active at all...

    Is this 4 piece body and somewhat less then perfect neck going to ruin my tone? Are there room for improvements?

    I am not neccesarily addicted to the vintage tone, although I like it enough to have put Fralins on.
  2. Since you're keeping it passive, like SMASH said, a new neck is unlikely to change your tone. A new fretboard on the other hand, will change your tone (i.e. switching from Rosewood to Maple and vice-versa).

    Rosewood tends to be deeper and warmer, whereas Maple sound brighter.
  3. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    The thing I don't understand is that most modern basses have very substantial bridges, graphite nuts, ultralight tuners, etc....

    My tech guy says that the old (for example) fender bridges are just fine, but that the new badass and hipshot bridges are not good.....

    If they are not good, why are the modern basses not equipped with an old fender style flat-plate bridge?

    Other then adjustability, don't these higher mass bridges contribute anything to the tone?

    Another question: Since I have Fralins on my MIM jazz, what would really be the difference in tone between it and say, a MIA jazz at this point?
  4. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    Well, thanks for the info!

    Not having a MIA Jazz bass around to compare to, I can't really do an A/B....but my bass sounds pretty good..regardless.

    I have recorded a lot with it, and it sounds punchy, snappy and sparkly in the mix.

    I have a really nice MIA p bass, and from what I can tell, it seems to just be a matter of construction. My P bass has flatwounds and a bridge muffler, so the sounds of the two basses are way different of course, but surpisingly, the p-bass neck feels way better then the MIM jazz..the p also feels much more solid. :hyper:
  5. Beefbass

    Beefbass Guest

    Feb 4, 2001
    IMHO, if you have Lindy Fralin pickups in your bass, you don't need anything else-you're all set.

    I would not swap Fralins for standard Fender pickups. But thats just me.

    Truth be told, I have not heard Fralins myself. But, they are a high end pickup-in the league with SD Antiquities, and Nordstrand pickups.

    Even Skyline Laklands come with Fralin pickups standard. I have yet to hear anybody say they don't like them.

    I would suggest some TI Jazz flats to go with those Fralins. They are flatwounds. However, you would be amazed at how many different tones you can get from those, along with great pickups.
  6. permagrin


    May 1, 2003
    San Pedro, CA
    couple things not mentioned:

    first, in most cases a higher mass bridge will allow less string energy to be transferred to the body, and will lend greater sustain (personally i like the stamped bridges for fenders, but my mim was a pos functionally).

    next, changing the tuners to ones with different mass will change the mass of the headstock, which can alter the frequencies at which the bass naturally resonates, and can lead to dead notes and wolf tones or may change the location of those notes. better tuners can keep your stings in tune longer. higher gear ratios allow finer tuning. different weight tuners will also change the balance of the bass.

    the tone due to the nut will only be heard on open notes. however, a properly cut nut is ESSENTIAL to playability and operation of the bass. slots cut too low will allow open strings to buzz on the first fret. too high makes the action higher so your fretting fingers have to 'step' higher on the fretboard, and fretting in low positions can pull notes sharp. if the slots do not angle back properly you may not have a good witness point for intonation and the strings may not slide over it nicely when tuning.

    adding a string tree to hold the 'a' string down can help that string to voice stronger. adds very little mass to the headstock but if you've got a deadspot, it doesn't hurt....

    changing the electronics (pots, caps, jack) to high quality parts and ensuring clean solder joints is cheap, easy, and will help reduce noise and increase output.

    changing the pickup height can have a significant effect on tone; the closer it is to the strings, the more energy is transferred from the string, but less length of string is 'seen' by the pickup; you can usually find a 'sweet spot' to your liking. also, having the pickups mounted solidly, having enough springy material under the pickup, will allow more vibration from the body wood to color your tone.

    more? sanding down/rounding the bottom edge of the fretboard, even a teeny amount, can make a neck feel much more comfortable (be careful with the fret ends). you can also take the gloss off the back of the neck for a smoother feel, or you could sand off all the finish on the back of the neck. or you can take off more material and alter the profile. (btw, don't do this because... well, just don't, i'm just going to the extreme here).

    wait, more extreme? taking off the finish will allow the body wood to vibrate more and can really 'open up' the tone. (i did this to a thick polyester finish and was amazed at the difference).

    okay, i've gone off the deep end, just wanted to point out that there are a number of mods and setup things that will alter the tone/operation of your machine.

    changing the strings will give you a ton more mileage toward altering your tone than any of the little detail stuff, but sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference in the world, y'know? have fun!

    oh, and finally, tort pickgaurd. makes natural basses sound way better. really. ;)
  7. AngelCrusher

    AngelCrusher Supporting Member

    Sep 12, 2004
    Mesa Boogie, Tech 21, Taylor

    I just saw a renouned tech who said the same thing. He said the Fender bridges are made from high quality parts and you really don't need to replace them. Even if it's a mexican made. I had a modulus flea with a gotoh bridge and tuners, and the intonation was awesome, but my highway 1 jazz bass has the same if not better intonation.

    It's real easy to get caught up in the gloss of having high end basses, but Id' rather have a Fender P and Jazz as my main basses then anything else. Everytime you walk into a studio you will get a great bass sound, and when you tour your Tech and FOH guys will know exactly how to set up/mix those instruments better then your $3,000 active woodgrained bass with too much high end output.
  8. pyrohr


    Aug 28, 2001
    Pakistani compound
    I have a MIA standard jazz with Fralins in it, it needs nothing else. The original pups sounded fine I just wanted to see if I could got the bass to sound any better than it did. The Fralins more than acomplished that task for me. If you are still looking for sound enhancement from your bass,then maybe it's not the bass itself, but a different sound in which you are looking for that this bass will not give you. I have spent lot's of money chasing different sounds that I hear, there is only so much you can do to affect the tone on a bass without changing bodies and necks, you have done what you can. Enjoy!
  9. lucas vigor

    lucas vigor Banned

    Sep 2, 2004
    Orange County, Ca,
    Thanks guys for all the info!

    I have been playing bass for almost 28 years now, and am happy that I can still learn a few things from y'all!

    My Fralins rock....the more I record with them, the more I like them...

    I had thought about the flatwounds, since both my P's have them....(the sting has Chromes, the MIA has TI's)

    but this j is supposed to be my main roundwound machine..so I will stick with the roundies...

    So, the general consensus is that most modifications besides the pups and electronics are all about set-up/playability!!

    Good info! Thanks!