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OK getting ready to rebuild my bass......

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Philbiker, Dec 29, 2005.


  1. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Hey I'm going to be asking questions of you guys so don't be surprised by a flurry of posts from me.

    Here's the deal. In the back of my closet I've got the ghost of the first "real" bass I ever owned. It's been there for at least 10 years. I practically ruined it modding it to death. Today it looks like this:

    [​IMG]
    The body was originally my first ever "real" bass, an "Aspen" that I bought in 1978/79 at Sam Goody in New Jersey. It was a pickguardless P-bass copy. The mods that I have done over the years are numerous and somewhat irrelevant at this point. What I'm left with is a crappy hideous/interesting looking body with a horribly routed poorly located J bass pickup location and a lot of sentimental value. I've had the body stripped long ago, it's three pieces, medium weight, very lighly grained. It looks like Poplar or Agathis.

    I recently noticed that Rondo Music got some Team necks in. They look like this:
    [​IMG]

    I have really had no excuse or reason to want to rebuild this bass, as I've always had such better stuff handy. But I think would like a four string fretless P bass.

    I have successfully built basses from parts before. The lessons I learned ruining this bass were put into effect when I bought a parts bass years later and assembled it. That bass wasn't ruined, but it wasn't without significant problems (and lessons learned) either.

    Here's what I'm planning.

    Hardware:
    * The "Double Eagle" bridge stays, but I think I may have to move it away from the nut and the pickup (which would be a good thing) to maintain scale and allow for intonation. One of the problems with my terrible butchering mods was that I put the bridge in the wrong place.
    * The strat-style football output jack stays( because it has to, it was the first mod of all, and was installed when I stepped on the cord while practicing the first years I owned it.. I really hate basses that have a front output jack with no pickguard or anything. That's just asking for trouble.).
    * The tuners are very nice Schaller P-bass style tuners with a matching brass string tree. One is pretty bent. :meh:

    Pickups:
    * The empty bridge pickup cover will be replaced with one of the pickups from my old '95 MIM Jazz bass.
    * The P-Bass pickup is an old Jackson pickup that I have in the bottom of a box somewhere. - The pickup in there now is the original low end OEM DiMarzio that came on the Aspen in the 70s. It would probably sound wonderful if it worked but unfortunately I'm fairly sure one of the coils is dead. Any way to check the coils with a multimeter?

    Electronics: The reason there are four holes in the top of the bass is that I once had a Bartolini TIBIT (TBIBT?) EQ in there. Talk about cramming a lot of electronics in a tiny place. So I have to fill the holes. I'm planning Jazz bass style Vol/Vol/Tone from a kit from Stew-Mac, plus a series/parallel switch for the P-Bass pickup. Should give me a nice range of sounds.

    I am looking forward to having a fretless maple neck P-Bass. What do you think?

    The old neck was way overcranked on the truss rod by stupid young me. But it may be salvagable by someone who knows more than I.
     
  2. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    Yes, exactly as you described. Use the multimeter to check the resistance of each coil. I don't know what P-bass pickups usually are, but I'd look for it to be a few kilo-ohms. Less than about 1k or more than about 10k is probably trouble. You're most likely, IME, to find the coil is open, and the break is very close to the pickup lead.

    Never tried series/parallel on a P-bass pickup, so I don't know how useful it would be. If it was my bass, I'd have a series/parallel switch for the P/J combination.

    I think it's a good idea. Nothing like bring a neglected piece of gear back to its full potential. There is no guarantee that the SX neck will fit the Aspen body, but, with a little "fine tuning," I'm sure you'll get it worked out.
     
  3. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I didn't know this was possible. The J pickup is too close to the bridge, making it virtually worthless. I think this bass is going to end up being used purely as a P-bass 90% of the time or more. I thought a Series/Parallel switch was common on P-basses. ?
     
  4. naja

    naja

    Oct 14, 2005
    East TN
    If you want to fill the holes so you can have more of a tradition knob config, you can use some dowels and one of these

    You could probably use it to fill the cavity for the jazz pup if you wanted to take the time to fill and cut it.
     
  5. fookgub

    fookgub

    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    It's possible to do it either way. Series with the P/J combination is a slight bit trickier if you want to keep the two volume controls in series mode. I think there is a Bartolini schematic floating around somewhere, so you might try to dig that up. Either way, you'll need a DPDT switch, so you could try both.
     
  6. Figjam

    Figjam

    Aug 5, 2003
    Boston, MA
    Id suggest a better neck. The Rondo ones arent the greatest. Ive had a replacement fretless and a fretted one, didnt really like either one.
     
  7. Mike N

    Mike N Missing the old TB

    Jan 28, 2001
    New York
    If you ever solo the J pup, it may hum being it's of the MIM variety. You may want to consider a hum-cancelling bridge pup like the DiMarzio DP148 Ultra Jazz.
     
  8. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The body is incredibly cheap, but servicable. Probably not as good as the current Rondo bodies. It's not worth the money to get a better neck than that. All I'm after here is a working servicable fretless P style bass. Not anything "nice". I've already got "nice", in lots of other configurations.
     
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I don't care. It will almost never get used. The rout is too close to the bridge. I don't mind single coil hum.
     
  10. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I'll probably never use the P/J together, I'm going to use this as a P bass. So the series/parallel on the P solo pickup only is more useful for me.
     
  11. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Thanks for the suggestions so far everybody! I'm going to put my workbench together and start disassembling the bass as it stands this weekend.
     
  12. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    Hey Phil, I have a couple of P style pickups laying around if you want to try some other flavors. I have an old Bartolini, and an old SD QuarterPounder.
     
  13. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Thanks I'll keep that in mind. Hopefully the old OEM DiMarzio will work, IIRC it sounds really nice and vintage, and the fact that it dates from the 70s is very cool IMO. I could kick myself because I sold off my parts P-bass that had a Fender Lace Sensor pickup in it, that thing sounded -amazing-. I loved the sound of that thing. And there is always the possibility that the Jackson pickup sounds good.
     
  14. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Update: I completely disassembled the bass over the weekend. The Jackson pickup is totally broken, it's trashed. I have to test the old DiMarzio but I have low expectations.
     
  15. Edwcdc

    Edwcdc I call shotgun!

    Jul 21, 2003
    Columbia MD USA
    My son found my old 70's something P-Bass copy in the attic and wants to do a restore job on it. The neck has no adjustment just a steel bar running through it and it's bent to hell and back. I'm taking the clamps to it as we speak. :D
     
  16. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Hee hee hee. Keep in mind that Rondo has those Team necks for a mere $39.99 in both fretted and fretless. DO you need tuners or a brass bridge? I have the original tuners and bridge from my Aspen, the tuners are very low quality, but servicable and they stay in tune. The bridge is very good, I'm actually considering using it instead of the "Double Eagle".

    Also, I appreciate you offering nice pickups, and I know Fuzzbass has an EMG P set as well, but I couldn't resist the deal on the Reverend prototype P pickup for $18. I'm not a big fan of QPs and so-so on Barts.
     
  17. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    Well, I put this bad boy together last night. The pickups are out of phase (see my post in the pickup & electronics section) but otherwise we're OK. I have to work out the shimming with the neck, the pocket from my non-standard body is different than the standard pocket. So far it looks like it will be usable, if hideous. Happily the Rondo neck I got is not as ugly as the one in the photo on their web site.
     
  18. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    sorry for the broken paragraph, but it's easier than scrolling....

    The switch is not in yet, I may install it and never wire it since I like the sound of the series Reverend pickup so much and it's really tight in there.
    I have three matching black P-bass style knobs ready to install, they just came in today, the knobs on there are a mishmash of what I had in my parts box.
    The rout for the J pickup would make Wishnevsky wince. It sounds really nice! The Reverend pickup is fantastic, and the MIM J pickup from 1995 sounds great, too.
    Why did I ever replace the pickups on that bass? The stockers on MIM Standards are very underappreciated.
    Together the two pickups have that classic P-J tone, and they sound great soloed also, I'm thrilled!
    Everything's grounded and the wiring is solid and well shielded (despite the hole in the front!).

    Sorry for the large size of some of these photos.

    Fullon frontal shot:
    [​IMG]

    Looking up the neck from the body. I think I need to remove and re-shim the neck.
    [​IMG]

    Body closeup:
    [​IMG]

    Angle shot of entire bass:
    [​IMG]
     
  19. duckbutter

    duckbutter

    Mar 30, 2005
    Looks good.
    How does the Rondo neck "feel" ?
     
  20. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    The neck feels good actually. But the fingerboard is a bit uneven.
    This really sucks because it means some specific note near "high spots" buzz like crazy while the rest is nice.
    This is why I think I have to change the shimming of the neck.