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Project: MIM Jazz (complete overhaul)

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by rojo412, Apr 19, 2010.

  1. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Earlier this week I bought 2 basses for cheap. The 5'er is a Squier Deluxe Active Jazz V and that's what I wanted. Modding that and posting the progress elsewhere.

    ANYWAY, the other was a Rogue 6er which I didn't want. Put it on CL and managed to trade it for a 96 MIM Jazz. I thought it was a bass that would be an easier sale, seeing as a friend needed one.



    It was dirty, used for years and never really washed. Well, that's what I do. I decided to "wash it" for my buddy. That is, take it COMPLETELY apart and clean it up:


    So I started and everything I touched was cleaning up nicely. Other than rusty screws, the body was clean and relatively dent and scratch free.
    The neck, well, not so much. Big gouge in the back, dirty, nicked, gross board. I took the steel wool to it and it started to come back nicely. At this point, I decided to adopt this bass. I decided to refinish the neck. This is now my second project this week.

    Taped her off and sanded off the finish on the back and back of the headstock. Kept the front untouched:



    Sandpaper: 120 grit, 220 grit, some superfine as well. Sanded until I hit bare wood and then got rid of the scrapes.
    Next, oil finish: Gun stock oil, it's cheap and easy to use, leaves a great finish and you can do it at home in your basement. The more coats, the better (to a limit, I guess) for a nice shine. This was 1st coat, but I think I have 6 on now. You wipe it on, let dry for 2 hours, 0000 steel wool and smooth it, repeat as needed.


    Also wet sanded and polished the body. Get 1200+ grit wet/dry paper, sand under a tricking faucet until the fine scratches are gone. Dry. Repeat as needed.
    Once it was even, polished the body with Mother's Billet Polish. It's for billet aluminum, but works great for this. It puts a great shine with an old shirt and a lot of elbow grease... a LOT!


    After (with shielding)

    So at this point, I am waiting on coats to dry on the neck. Ordered a used EMG VJ set with a BTC (used). Once that's here, it's going back together. More to come.

    But I just wanted to say, these MIM basses are really nice and this is the first I've had that I decided to upgrade. And let me tell you: There are A TON of parts for these. I've been playing 5 strings for so long and never get to tinker with pickups because most of the ones I've had were limited in part selection. But this bass is like a blank canvas! And the value of these stays the same, so I can easily stick to a budget and still build up a killer sounding, killer playing bass! If I don't like it, I sell it. This is the first one of these I've played with for myself (a Modulus VJ was the closest I ever did and that was NOT cheap!).
  2. Engine207

    Engine207 Losing faith in humanity...one call at a time.

    Jul 10, 2008
    Higley, AZ
    subscribed...awaiting further progress/photos...
  3. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Did the last of the neck coats. Instead of the steel wool on the last coat, just buffed it with a rag. Shines nicely!



    Once that was done, I leveled the frets (a level with adhesive sandpaper works great!). Finished them off with some finer paper (660, then 1200), then lemon oiled the board nice and clean.
    Put a coat of Mother's Carnuba wax on the body, buffed it shiny, and voila!




    The body is such a nice candy apple red, the pics don't quite do it justice. But once I assemble it all, I will get some outdoor pics. That should help.

    Tomorrow, if I have time, I am putting the 2 parts together, maybe slap the bridge and tuners on as well. Just waiting on the pickups and pre (Friday, I hope!!!) EMG doesn't really require the shielding, but then again, this whole bass is kind of a monument of "Why are you doing that to such a cheap bass?"
    Well... because I want to!:spit: I am having a blast, I love doing this kind of stuff. I find it funny that there are people who do exactly the opposite of what I'm doing and turn parts into beat-up, relic'd basses and make it worth a fortune. I like restoration, myself.
    Either way, this is a great bass to hone skills on. You'd have to screw up pretty bad to make this unplayable.

    Just FYI, I have tuner tips for people with any bass like this:

    YOUR TUNERS: Do they rattle and flop around when there are no strings installed? Want to fix it in 2 minutes (each) for free?

    1) Take the tuners off the bass:


    2) Take it apart and clean every piece:


    3) Look for the tabs that look like pac man ghosts (kinda). One is metal, one is plastic:


    4) Put the tuner paddle into the frame. Install the pacman pieces so the metal piece puts pressure on the gear (instead of letting the tuner flop) and make sure the plastic piece is sandwiched between the paddle piece and the spring:


    5) Install the shaft and the gear


    6 ) Screw it together. Your tuner shouldn't flop anymore. If it does, you probably put it back together the same way it came apart or the spring is too flat. You can always flex it out a bit and put more pressure on the paddle shaft. Just be careful not to break it.

  4. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    Oh, by the way, may be a good idea to apply just a drop of oil to the area where the tuner shaft makes contact to the tuner frame. That way, it will smoothly turn. I think a teflon-based oil (Tri Flow) could work well, but even a dab of lithium grease or whatever will stay there should be fine.
  5. great job on the polishing! BTW that's one dirty keyboard man :help: :D
  6. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    I only know how to clean the fingerboards, not the keyboards! ;)

    Once assembled, I'm hoping this thing sounds as good as some I've heard in the past. Not too familiar with the EMG JV pickups, but I bet they sound EMGish.
  7. Nice job! I think we are bass twins i have a Candy Cola with a rosewood neck. you seem to have the same, mine is a 95 model.
  8. gafbass02


    Nov 9, 2005
    cheltenham uk
    Great job there! But just one word...gorgomyte. Seriously, google it, try it and never look back, it'll make those frets like mirrors!
  9. cool, the EMG JVs are my favorite EMG pickups, they sound punchy without sounding squashed like the regular EMG Js.
  10. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    It sounds intriguing! I have been doing the 2000 grit paper, then mothers billet polish and it just makes it so pretty! But it also involves more taping and cleaning than the gorgomyte does. I will check it out, though.

    Is this called "Candy Cola?" It's certainly appropriate, very candyish. Mine has a 95 serial number, but the neck is dated Aug 13 1996, so... hmm.

    The last time I heard the JVs in a bass was about 10 years ago in a Modulus Jazz and that was kind of unfair, as the Modulus has a Modulus tone. I am stoked that they sound punchier, though. I am pretty much thinking that this bass will be used in studio, effected situations. My main bass has a great, clean tone, but that doesn't make the effects pop out (auto wah, distortion, etc). I know the EMG output can be a bit beastlier and I'm glad, I need it every once in a while.
    This bass was actually destined for a friend of mine at first. I was just gonna clean it up and sell it to him cheap. But it was so nice once the gunk disappeared, I am afraid I may have to keep it. That kind of scares me as 5 string guy. I don't have it in the budget to keep this AND the Squier I bought (which is getting the Aggie OBP3). This may sound great, but the lack of the 5th string makes it a less than stellar backup for me...

    But hey, if it sounds THAT good, I may just have to work some overtime, write new music, and quit whining :bawl: about the money.
  11. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    It is back together. It's a bass again. But last night's assembly was one that I didn't expect to have so many bumps in the road...

    The pickups and preamp showed up the other day. They were packed incredibly well. But once I started assessing the preamp, there were some wires missing. No big deal, just had to put some new ones in.
    The preamp was also not the system, but the control. It had a generic pan pot in it and a 50k volume. As I started to work with it, it was clear to me that I didn't want to use it. But as luck would have it, I had 2 25k pots and went with the traditional jazz wiring. I also had to get a stereo jack that was surface mount to work on the plate.

    When I tried to fit the pickup into the body, guess what? It didn't fit at all. The LJV was not working. However, the shorter one went in just fine. The longer one was too long for the neck position, but that was just a matter of filing the pickguard sides until it fit.



    And so it was ready to assemble. One thing I will mention:
    Jazz bass pickup screws are not easy to come by.
    I went to the local shops, the hardware store, even GC and was only able to get a used screw from GC's parts bin in the guitar dept. If anyone has a source that I didn't know about, please let me know.

    Anyway, the pickups I installed with some foam pads under for spring action. Routed the cables, soldered them up, got the plate wired and ready to go. Once it was time to pack the wiring into the cavity, it was NOT easy. Took a few tries, but I got it in.


    Turns out that the shielding was not only unnecessary, but a real pain in my ass on this one. If you are doing this same job, EMGs into a Jazz, take heed:
    DON'T SHIELD THE BASS. It doesn't help with the EMGs. Hell, I even pulled the bridge ground wire off and it's quiet as a church mouse.
    If not EMGs, then please, shield the heck out of the bass.

    Preamp in, pickguard on. All new screws (only had to fix one hole with the toothpick/glue trick). The bridge on as well. It was time to put the neck on.
    No problems with that at all. Went in like planned.
    Boiled the nasty, nickel D'Addarios that came with the bass. Strung it up, plugged it in (at 12:45 am)... Houston, we have BASS!!!!







    It's together, it works well. Needs a little action adjustments as the neck settles in, but I gotta say:

    The oil finish on the neck is amazing. It's easy to do and if you have neck woes that make you want to refinish it, I say go for it. It's fun, easy, and worth the effort.

    EMG pickups and preamps are always quiet when installed right. They are easy to use and if they fit, you will always get that EMG tone and quality. If you like that tone, do 'em. They are great for an easy, quiet upgrade. More tone critiquing to come when I bring this to practice.

    The MIM jazz is a great project bass for the fact that you could completely make it insane and there's no real "vintage value" that you are tarnishing. If you made this bass fretless with routs for bigger pickups, painted it flat black, and made it play and sound good, it's worth money. It probably didn't appreciate in value a whole lot, but it's gonna be a bass that's nicer than a lot of off-the-shelf, cheapo basses. And it's a REAL Fender, so you get that vibe as well.

    More details on tone and setup to come. Wish the pictures came out a little better, but you get the idea:





  12. nato101010


    Dec 12, 2009
    Nice job! I like the tuner idea. Might need it for future SX's and Squier's.
  13. J. Crawford

    J. Crawford

    Feb 15, 2008
    Im still a fan of the old, but it looks good!
  14. I'm going to have to take heed your neck refin. I absolutely HATE how sticky fender necks have become. My fav. necks are on squires, which is a little irritating, I must say. My classic vibe p has a matte finished neck that is awesome.
  15. Paul M

    Paul M

    Jul 21, 2005
    So, when are you going to start the relic process? :bag:

  16. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The neck issue can be done using an easy, BS way if it's not all dinged up...

    Get some 000 or 0000 Steel wool and just rub the neck with it. The neck will lose its sticky, glossy shine quickly and easily. If your neck wasn't gouged up like mine was, it will feel a lot smoother and silkier and will take all of 5 minutes and $2 for steel wool. I've done that to other basses and guitars in the past and it works great.

    As for the Relic... I have a ton of parts that are relic'd already (the old stuff) and if I find another project J that is not as clean as this was, I may try it. But this was too shiny!
  17. blockinlay


    Feb 21, 2009
    Phila Pa
    It looks very nice.
    I love tuning up old instruments. I'm currently working on a 93 P bass that I cleaned up and mounted a jazz neck. I was just looking at the original Licensed by Schaller tuners, and they sure are sloppy. I just ordered a Warmoth neck and am thinking of going with Hipshot ultralites rather than the originals. I'm also thinking about doing a little swiss cheese with my plunge router under the pic guard to shave a couple ounces depending on how the neck feels. I plan to shave the neck close to Geddy Lee specs too. I drilled out the strap buttons and put long screws in as they were stripped, replaced a broken pic guard, and added new knobs. Here's a pic of mine with the american jazz neck I'm taking off when the Warmoth comes. The original neck had a broken truss rod. Mine had CTS pots and a switchcraft jack. Did your's have that? I don't see any reason for shielding. Don't have any issues with noise.
  18. rojo412

    rojo412 Sit down, Danny... Supporting Member

    Feb 26, 2000
    Cleveland, OH.
    The old stuff wouldn't work with the EMGs and I needed the stereo jack. The new one is a Switchcraft, though.
  19. Personally I would keep the body heavy if you're going for a warmoth neck. they're pretty heavy with the inserts in their necks. Obviously IMO.
  20. JaySwear


    Apr 15, 2010
    Gaithersburg, MD
    +1. i've never owned a warmoth bass neck, but thats what i've heard from the many who have owned them. ultralite tuners might be a good idea as well.

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