Replacing / Upgrading parts one at a time

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Glass Eyed Ogre, Jan 25, 2018.

  1. Glass Eyed Ogre

    Glass Eyed Ogre

    Jan 25, 2018
    Hello people of talkbass,
    First time poster here, and I'm hyped to join the group. Sorry if this question has been asked before, I couldn't find anything in the forums.

    I have a MIM Fender Jazz Bass I have had for 14 years and love. I have been contemplating upgrading this bass piece by piece from MIM pieces to American made, and am wondering if there are any risks to doing this, if anything could go wrong, or what I would be missing out on. If I buy an American P Bass neck for my MIM Jazz bass, will everything match up? When I replace the standard PUPs with the custom noiseless 60's PUPs am I gaining anything over a normal American Jazz Bass? When I finally work up to buying a new body, will my Frankenstein bass end up costing more and missing qualities I would have gained by just buying an American made Jazz Bass in the first place?

    The reason I am considering this piecemeal project is because I ultimately want an American Jazz Bass with a P Bass neck, and I figuring buying the American neck for my MIM, and then making the other additions may be cheaper in the long run, and a fun project to undertake. Anyone do something similar? Have recommendations? Horror stories?

    Thanks for any help, and feel free to use this thread for any other upgrading, mod, whatever conversation.
  2. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    It absolutely could be fun but don't expect a better bass or a cheaper alternative to just buying a new one. There's a very strong possibility you'll end up selling this bass that you once loved for a fraction of the money you put into it.
  3. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    A couple of thoughts:

    1. You said you love this bass, and have had it for over a decade. Don't change just to change. Only change a component if you are unhappy with it.
    2. Rather than buying a Fender, why not build exactly the bass you want - Warmoth and All Parts make great components. I wanted to re-create a 51 P. I did the wood finishing myself, and even with an upgraded pickup and a D tuner on the E string, it cost me under $700.
    3. A jazz bass with a P neck can be really nice. I've have the same one for over 30 years.
    Son of Wobble likes this.
  4. That's half the fun of P & J basses! The parts are interchangeable, but be aware that some fitting is usually involved. The neck may be slightly large or slightly small for the pocket. Pickup cavities often have to be adjusted to fit pickups.

    Don't expect to be able to sell the bass for the money you put into it. Just keep the original parts and if you swap out one piece at a time you can eventually rebuild the original bass from the parts pile.

    Or as above poster said, just buy some nice parts and build the bass you want.
    Ampslut likes this.
  5. Axstar

    Axstar Inactive

    Jul 8, 2016
    Agreed. :bassist:

    Early on I used to throw a bunch of mods at a bass simply because I thought I would get an expected outcome. I suppose the advantage to modding is that you can pay it incrementally and, if you are savvy, gain back some of your investment by selling the parts that didn't work out for you. Or sell the stock parts if they are 'name' parts. People pay more for a neck plate if they know it came from a Fender instrument, even if it looks like any generic neck plate... the heartbreak comes when you slap a new bridge on a bass, lighter tuners, different pickups etc, and then find you still don't bond with it. The problem is down there somewhere in the wood; it just doesn't want to be a nice bass for whatever reason. It is a cold, dead slab of tree.

    Sometimes, also, I would mod a bass simply because I thought it needed modding, rather than it actually needed modding. I sometimes planned mods to basses before they even made it into my hands. At my worst I would buy replacement parts, pickups etc for basses before I bought the bass! I have one or two parts in storage intended for basses I then bottled out of buying. Which is why I can't afford a car.

    Beyond all this gratuitous hyperbole and self flagulation, the used market doesn't consider a Mexican Fender bass modded (nominally) to MIA specs to be the same as a used MIA bass. Simple as that. Upgrade your bass with new, aftermarket parts and you will not see that money again. As a buyer of used basses I want to imagine that the only dude who ever tightened a screw on a used Fender was the dude wearing the Fender shirt, secretly worrying that somebody is in the staff fridge stealing his sandwiches. In a world where I've seen photos of sellotaped pickup wires, I feel that my concerns are justified. :cool:

    I personally consider buying a used bass to be a bit like buying used underwear... great if you can save money, but ideally I don't want to even know that somebody else ever wore this underwear. :laugh: Ideally they received that underwear as a Christmas gift and decided, belatedly, that they want it out the house. I like basses that some guitarist bought for a failed project... they record four tracks with it then hide it under the bed. Or some old guy with a bit of money decides to pick up the bass, then gives up and hocks that bass for cheap. Almost zero wear on either instrument. I don't want to buy either dirty underwear or underwear that has been tailored to fit some other dude's behind. I don't care if he paid $200 in tailoring to get it just right (firstly, it can't have been right if he's selling up). Likewise a dirty Babicz bridge, tricked out black hardware, or chintzy pearl-inlaid knobs will be going either on Ebay or straight in the bin. Don't tell me that you're doing me a favour because you want to claw back the money you sunk into ill-informed upgrades during your tone-chasing phase. :roflmao:
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    i agree! and do it piecemeal as you planned: you won't have a giant out-of-pocket expense all at once and you will be able to alter/reconsider your plan along the way as you enjoy your instrument's mods/upgrades.

    IMO: you've got the right idea: get the neck you want and go from there! good luck on your quest! :thumbsup:

    i like to do what exactly what you're contemplating: change out a piece, play, take stock, resolve any issues (rarely), and move on!

  7. BruceWane


    Oct 31, 2002
    Houston, TX
    If you've loved it for so long, I wouldn't change the body or neck. Wood is a very unpredictable material; you can make some general assumptions about specific species of wood, but two necks from the same tree will usually sound at least a little different.

    Changing everything else - bridge, pickups, tuners? Sure, if you want.

    Around here, you'll find a tort pickguard is a mandatory upgrade. 'Cause tort sounds best.

    Or, if you already have a tort guard, you must change it for a black one. "Cause black sounds best.
  8. Mark76


    Dec 1, 2015
    Do you plan to replace the body, neck, tuners, bridge, pick ups, electronics, output jack and pickguard?
  9. Ampslut


    May 15, 2017
    Barrackville WV
    It can be a lot of fun as long as you don't intend to ever sell it at a profit.
  10. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    "Up for sale is my heavily modified MIM jazz bass. The bridge, pickups, pickguard, electronics, tuners, nut, string retainers, neck, body and paint have all been upgraded with top quality components. It's an amazing bass well worth more than the sum of it's parts......

    Price drop.....

    Price drop.....

    Price drop....

    C'mon guys, one more price drop before it's off to the 'bay."

    Then you say goodbye to a bass that used to feel like a part of you and walk away with two hundred bucks.
  11. I wouldn't do anything to your current bass that can't be easily reversed. I would also keep all of your MIM parts. As you upgrade parts on the MIA frankenbass, you can slowly rebuild your current one back to its former glory. That way when you're finished with the project you'll have at least one bass that you love. Hopefully two.
  12. Glass Eyed Ogre

    Glass Eyed Ogre

    Jan 25, 2018
    Thanks for the responses everyone!

    I prefer a thicker P bass neck, and have always thought about putting that on my J Bass, which kicked off my whole thinking of updating everything. I'm not too concerned about resale value, but perhaps I should be thinking about the long term impacts I could be causing. Perhaps I should just end up buying a P bass for the neck and keep my J bass as is. Hmm...
    You've all given me a lot to think about, thanks!