P-Bass Help needed -- Opinions Welcome.

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by IotaNet, Dec 8, 2005.

  1. Upgrade the pickups in the Fretlight

    6 vote(s)
  2. Buy an SX from Rondo

    8 vote(s)
  3. Wait a minute and buy an MIM Fender

    16 vote(s)
  4. Wait a long time and buy an MIA Fender

    19 vote(s)
  1. To the Group -

    I need some advice from folks who have more experience that me. Keep an open mind but give me your thoughts.

    I am not a gigging pro or even a gigging semi-pro (Nor do I want to be.) All I want to do is explore bass playing to the best of my ability and maybe even get good enough to be the backup bassist in my church.

    I've been playing bass for less than a year and I own a nice selection of basses (see my sig.) What I do NOT have however, is a Precision bass. Most of what I have is skewed to the classic Jazz sound. (Even my P-bass special has two J pickups.)

    I have read all of the things people say about the P-Bass sound and I decided to play one at a local music store. For better or worse, I picked up a Fender American model and now I understand the essence of the P-Bass tone. Whoa!

    I grew up listening to R&B/Funk/Urban gospel and I know that sound! Thick, thumpy, and Phat! Bottom line: I gotta have that tone in my arsenal. Unfortunately, I don't have a whole lot of $$ around right now. (Hey, it's Christmastime and money is tight!)

    That leads to my question ...

    I'm not sure what to do but I basically have 4 options:

    1) Add some Quarter Pounders to my Optek Fretlight.
    Before you sneer, please know that in addition to the whiz-bang electronics, this is an excellent instrument. Solid alder, excellent neck, good bridge. I've had my bass tech look over it and he's very impressed by the playability and construction.)

    The problem is that its P/J pickups are terrible. Microphonic, thin & boxy sounding. :spit:

    2) Buy an SX from Rondo.
    Since I'm not gigging, I suppose it won't matter if it's not the highest-quality bass out there. Theoretically, it IS a P-bass and it would allow me to explore the P-bass tonality. One could also make an argument for adding some QP's to this bass as well. (I will say that I would rather have a White one and Rondo doesn't make a white P-Bass.) :meh:

    3) Wait a while and buy a Mexican P.
    Not the best P available but it is a known quantity. Easy to sell if/when I want something better. Equally easy to mod to my tastes. The downside is that I'd have to wait a couple of months and I don't wanna! :bawl:

    4) Wait much longer and buy an American P.
    Very nice instrument! Sounded great, felt great -- everything one would expect -- the "Essence of PBass-ness." On the other hand, these things are EXPENSIVE!!! It'll be the better part of a year before I can afford this thing! (Besides, I have a Marcus Miller 5 on my 'long term saving-for' list but that's another topic.) :D

    As we know, TB'ers are an opinionated lot and I would like to hear those opinions. I've done my share of thread searching, people asking, and Internet researching. I realize that its ultimately my decision but I need some interactive feedback.

    Can ya'll help a Brother out? :help:
  2. MichaelScott


    Jul 27, 2004
    Moorpark CA
    Most people here would probably think that an SX is better then a MIM Fender /shrug
  3. If I were you, I'd definitely explore the Optek option first. You already have the bass, you like the way it plays and you've determined that it needs new pickups anyway. For $100 +/-, you're in business!
  4. Arthur U. Poon

    Arthur U. Poon

    Jan 30, 2004
    SLC, Utah -USA-
    Endorsing Artist: Mike Lull Custom Basses
    I would:
    Play a Rondo and if it has a good neck with nice fretwork. If so, buy it. I'd then replace it's stock pickup with a passive pickup with a classic vintage P-Bass tone.

    I personally like the Nordstrand NP-4. Lindy Fralin and and Duncan's Antiquity pickups are also highly regarded if you're striving for a vintage sound.

    I recently started playing in an old school funk band. I put a set of flatwounds on my P-Bass. IMO it gives a real classic "thump" to it's sound.
  5. Another option would be to have your tech do the series/parallel mod on your Fender (i.e. "S-1" in Fender-speak). Both pick-ups played together in series yield a fat, P-Bass like thump. The 2 Jazz pickups become a giant humbucker in the series mode. That would be, by far, the cheapest road for you to take. It won't sound exactly like a P-Bass but it will be damned close.
  6. i would buy a used Fender P. :cool:
  7. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    So would I.
  8. Jonki

    Jonki I will not slap my Bee!

    Oct 14, 2003
    Arendal, Norway
    +1 on used fender p
  9. CamMcIntyre


    Jun 6, 2000
    Used Fender P would be my first choice, except-make sure you play it first.

    I'm tempted, if i have enough cash left over after christmas, to pick up a Rondo P-Bass after playing a MIM P-Bass @ Guitar Center. The setup on the MIM was terrible, but-somehow i loved the sound.

    So yeah-that's me, a guy that longs for 6+ string basses w/active electronics, has serious gas for a4 string passive, 2 knob P-bas. [god, i wish i could find a cost efficient in other words less than $300 5 string REAL p-bass].

    It's on the list of things to buy.......and with the prices of em-i might just continue my trend of buying in 2s [last time i ordered 2 jazz 5s, a fretted and a fretless-i dig em] that way i could keep one with rounds and one with flats.
  10. CentralCoastBass

    CentralCoastBass Guest

    Feb 4, 2004
    fender p bass, a p bass by any other name would not smell as sweet.
  11. If you look around enough, you can find pretty nice MIM P-basses for not a lot of money. I scored one on the web at Annies Guitars. It was a limited run ash body, and I got it for around $400.00 delivered.

    It's pictured on the far right with some mods (Precision Special maple neck, SD QPs, and a Gotoh Bridge.


    I have since gone back to stock Fender USA pickups and it thumps like a mother!! (if you like that vintage P tone, the QPs may be a little too modern sounding for you)

    I agree with those that are advising you to be patient and get the real thing. Good things come to those who wait. I shopped for mine for 6 months before I found the one I wanted.

    A genuine P-Bass will round out your collection nicely.

    Just my .02
  12. pickles

    pickles Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 23, 2000
    Ventura, CA
    Absolutely hold out for an american P bass on the used market. Sell the old bass, take the money you'd spend on pickups, and you're probably just about there. Market price is about $550 for a basic late model american standard in good condition. They ARE great basses, I never should have sold my '95 :bawl:
  13. Coop Soup

    Coop Soup

    Aug 24, 2005
    Check out the used market. Sometimes you can find fantastic deals. I nearly got an '83 Squire for $199... it was gone when I went back. That's always my luck.
  14. Nedmundo

    Nedmundo Supporting Member

    Jan 7, 2005
    I'd also recommend selling your current bass and buying a used Fender, either MIM or MIA, unless you can A/B your current bass against the Fenders and prefer its feel. I've been following the MIA's on eBay, and over the past few months they've sold for prices from $480 to about $750, so it pays to be patient. I don't know about the MIM's, but I suspect a good one could be had for about $300. Another option might be the Peavey Milestone P-bass copy, which has a Jazz-like neck and very solid P-bass tone for the low price.

    And Marwady is right about pickups: the Quarter Pounder will sound quite different from the stock American Series pickup you liked. It has much more output, and a more full range, modern tone. If you want something closer to the stock MIA Fender at a sub-boutique price, get Seymour Duncan's SPB-1 or Fender's own "Original P-bass" pickup.
  15. mobax


    Dec 31, 2002
    New Baltimore, MI
    I too would suggest looking in the used market. I've seen many fine used USA P's selling at a good discount to cost of a new bass. Take your time and find the right bass. You may own it for the rest of your life. I've owned mine for over 30 years.
  16. rugrat

    rugrat Supporting Member

    Nov 12, 2003
    Northwest Illinois
    You wouldn't get as many chicks either.
  17. Tom Howland

    Tom Howland

    Feb 11, 2003
    If you can wait?
    Get the best bass youn can afford.
    You will have a better playing and sounding bass.
    A good bass is a bass you want to play over and over again.
    Plus the better the basss, the better the resale if you sell?
    I'am looking for a P-style bass also.
    Saving for a Lakland USA Glaub, with darkstar pickup.
    Or a Sadowski Ultra Vintage.
    I have to wait, but will have a bass I will never sell.
  18. srxplayer


    May 19, 2004
    Highland, CA
    I would get the Mexican P-Bass. You need to check a few out but with a good set up and a pick up upgrade I think they can play and sound every bit a good as a MIA one.
  19. bob04


    Aug 5, 2005
    Stourbridge, U.K.
    MIM precision, as long as you can find a good one, i bought a MIM precision special recently, and i played 3 before i found the one i eventually bought, i think it plays better than a MIA i tried
  20. Mudfuzz


    Apr 3, 2004
    As I said, a old P is the way to go, but if you do mod your bass I wouldn't use Quarter Pounders if you are after the old school P sound. Personally I think the SD Antiquity Pbass pickup is the way to go. When I got my 70 P it had EMGs in it, which just didn’t do it at all, so I put in a Antiquity PJ [the holes were already there] set and it gets the sound a 1970 Pbass should: big, meaty and round. Even if you went with the Sx or Mexican I’d still put one of those pickups in.