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Ok, just e-bayed me a Squier P-Bass... What now?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SteelBassPicker, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Welp, if y'all can tell from the name, I'm a pedal steel player by trade (mostly traditional country music) and am in school studying to be a commercial musician. I got a bass last week off evil-bay, a Squier Affinity P-Bass, made in Indonesia. I have searched for simple and cheap upgrades, but to no avail. My observations and questions are as follows:

    1.) Is this a so-called MIC bass I've been reading about? I'm guessing that means "Made in China?" as opposed to "Made in Mexico (MIM)" and America (MIA).

    2.) I took the strings, pickguard and neck off just to clean it up, it was pretty filthy, and looks to have been owned near the ocean, most of the screw heads were pretty rusty. I know enough about electronics to most likely change out the pots and jack plug, any suggestions on brand/upgrades for electronics (I don't want to worry about PUps right now, we're going to keep it cheap for now.)?

    3.) I was amazed to see that at the neck/body mating point there was what can only be described as an "@$$-load" of unpolished paint bumps on the body portion, with a piece (yes, you heard it here first) of heavy grit sandpaper for grip of the neck to the body. I have plans to sand this paint off in order to get a much smoother contact, thusly achieving better neck-to-body contact. Would any of you suggest using any sort of adhesive to make the contact more positive? I had a hard acrylic or epoxy in mind.

    4.) How much should I expect to pay for a fret job? The first 6 frets are noticeably dented from play. Is this necessary, or can I polish them down?

    5.) I know this probably doesn't have a "right answer," but what's the best inexpensive nut I can get to keep the action low and stay in tune? That Graph-Tech nut looks neat, but I don't know about their quality. I was looking at #PT-1204-00 to replace the stock plastic one.

    Thanks in advance,

    The cross-over Steel Man
  2. Well, I got the neck and body cleaned up and I definitely noticed a difference, but I guess that's more that I'm not playing across nasty rusted strings.

    Now, I'd planned on changing the nut, because these light strings (A string especially) are rattling in the nut groove. Would it behoove me to start messing with the guitar to bring the action down a little bit? It needs to be tweeked, because the E and A are especially out of tune by the time I get up to the 12th fret. (I'm talking as bad as 35-40 cents sharp of the 12th fret harmonic)

    Thanks for the quick reply. I think I'll definitely need the nut and frets done once we get the action further down on the guitar.

    Are there any articles here or otherwise about tuning and the physics of a bass guitar? I've played steel guitar for 3 years and mandolin for almost 2, so I know pretty much how tuning and etc. works, and I'd like to get to where I can tweek my own guitar without having to pay lots of money for someone to do an easy fix.


    -The Steel guy
  3. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    No offense, but why did you buy a bass w/ so many problems to start out on? For less than the price of that fret job you need, you can get a new SX from www.rondomusic.com Still MIC, but at least the quality of MIM at a great price.
  4. None taken. I've done plenty of reading on the subject, and I guess that you don't like the Squier P Bass, for whatever reason. My reasons for the Squier are few, but significant.

    1.) I am a steel guitar player, so I've already got PLENTY invested in a good axe, amp, effects, etc. My steel amp has enough low end to play bass through, so I'm good there. I don't want to be a professional bass player, I just need something to stand in with if someone wants to perhaps hire me for a hundred or two bucks a night. Your average Joe Q. Public doesn't even know if the bass player is in tune, yet he is one of the most popular on the stage, because nobody knows what a Steel Guitar is.

    2.) There's nothing at all wrong with the Squier P Bass, as I have been told by countless professionals, as well as bass instructors. It just needs a little care to get set up the way I like it, as any (used or new) bass would. So far as MIM and MIC? What's the difference? No racial comments like these, please.

    3.) I got this bass for right at $110. I'm willing to put a little bit of effort into fixing something up if it's going to serve me well for the next several years until I can afford to perhaps put a grand on a bass.

    It's not in that bad shape, most everything that's goofy on it is cosmetic. So far all's I've spent on it has been a $20 set of light gauge GHS Boomers. For another $50 I can get a good nut and bridge. If I can get the action down a little bit, I could make a fortune playing this bass and singing harmony with just about any country act in the nation. But I'd rather play Steel, (no offense, it's just what I've gotten used to playing) so I need a good entry-level bass that no-one will care if it's not a Stradavarius or some junk.

  5. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    OK, buy what you want. I really recommend not putting pro fret job money into that bass though -- you can get a whole new bass, or a whole new neck, for less. A fret job is a specialized task that even experienced bassists will pay a pro tech to do. If you are trying to adjust the action, the nut does come into play (obviously) but you should learn to adjust the truss rod and bridge first. If you can't get the action where you want it by adjusting those, and/or (re)shimming the neck, then look into a new nut. Do a search in the Setup forum to find out how. Also, some cheap basses will only go so low, even w/ a pro setup. I don't know about the Squier line, but I'm pretty sure they are not the same parts in Mexico and Indonesia. The Fender Standard line is assembled in Mexico from US made parts. This doesn't necessarily mean they're better or worse, just that the parts are different. Fender afficianados say most MIAs and MIJs are better.
  6. Groovy, now we're getting somewhere. I hadn't thought about just buying a new neck, but that makes a lot of sense. I know the bridge has those little adjustable allen set screw jobbers, and I talked to a bass player buddy of mine and he suggested to back those off a ways until just before the frets started buzzing. Let me find a thing about the truss rod as well, because the neck certainly does have a slight bow to it.

    Am I correct in assuming I'd have to take the tension off of the strings before I started yoinking around with the bridge and truss rod adjustments?

    Oh, and I was just thinking about the nut because these smaller gauge strings I'm using are buzzing in the nut. And they're only 10 bucks from GraphTech.

  7. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    Your friend is correct. No, you don't have to detune the bass to adjust the bridge and truss rod. The neck is supposed to have a slight forward bow, but how slight is up to the player's preference. Don't go to town on the truss rod, 1/4 turn and then let it sit overnight and recheck, repeat if necessary. The bridge adjustment may be all you need, so start there. Also, look up how to set intonation in the Setup forum when you're looking at the trussrod stuff. Yes buzzing in the nut is bad, are you really committed to light gauge strings?
  8. Not really committed to the light strings, I just thought I read somewhere on this board that you shouldn't go much higher than a 100 gauge for your E string because of the relative flimsiness of the neck, so mine is a 95-75-55-40 set. Also, the local music store is notorious for price gouging (small town) and the next set of strings were GHS "Bassics" and they wanted something like 26 bucks for them plus tax. These boomers were only 20. I'll put a small piece of felt in the nut to keep it from buzzing for now.

    Will the setup forum have instructions about which way to turn the truss rod? If I think like the engineer I once was, tightening the nut (turning it right) would drive the truss down, making the neck stiffer, right?

  9. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area

    I never buy strings at the store anymore, way overpriced. Most online retailers are a better deal. There are only so many string manufacturers, so even the cheapie brands are likely to be made at the same factories as the famous brands.
  10. That link in the other link didn't work, but I think this is going to do me good for right now. That bridge was cranked way up, and now that I've got it down a good ways, and back in tune, this dude is playing like a dream. It's much louder as well, and as soon as I get done practicing with this one band I'm going to come check the intonation on the rest of the neck. Thanks for the advice, and sometime I'll find that link on Gary's website.

  11. Toasted


    May 26, 2003
    Leeds, UK
    Hey, you'll probably need to adjust the pickup height aswell, if you've drastically changed the action.

    For example, it is reccomended that the pickups in my jazz-style bass should be 22mm below the string, when the string is depressed at the 12th fret.
  12. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    SteelBassPicker, please note your edited post above. PM me if you have any questions about this or any other TalkBass rule.
  13. Sorry. I don't see that as a racial comment, I was just trying to say it didn't matter to me who put the thing together.

    Nice signature, by the way... :D
  14. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
    No harm, no foul - just pointing it out.

    Which part?
  15. Four strings, two fingers, one bunghole!
  16. HeavyDuty

    HeavyDuty Supporting Curmudgeon Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 26, 2000
    Suburban Chicago, IL
  17. Matthew Bryson

    Matthew Bryson Guest

    Jul 30, 2001
    Wait a minute - We can get gigs that pay a 100 or 200 bucks a night and we don't even have to be in tune and the crowds will love us? Shoot, I didn't know it was that easy. So, if its so easy, and I don't have a gig - I must really really suck!
  18. Hmmm.

    If you continue to have problems then I'd really recommend getting a SX SJB62 CT bass. It's very high quality, particularly for that price.

    Either that or any of the Brice named basses on the same site.

    Frankly when a bass starts exhibiting problems they don't really go away. They might subside but they'll probably keep on coming back. So if you find yourself heading back to a repair shop, I'd suggest considering one of these.
  19. Yep, it's called Country Music. Most everything is 4/4 time and all's you have to play is root, fifth, root, fifth.

    Oh, and there's usually only 3 chords.

    Man I love country music! :D