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Seeking advice: fun with beater basses

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by thlayli, Oct 7, 2005.

  1. thlayli


    May 8, 2005
    Cross Lanes, WV
    Hi again!

    A while back I was asking for advice on getting a "better" bass than what I had, and I asked about brands with wide nuts.

    Well, after long deliberation, I ended up spending the $50 to get the unspecified mid-to-late-90's Yamaha RBX-something back from the guy I sold it to, since I already knew I loved how it played.

    Anyway, now I have it in my head to hot rod the bastard. It's got a PJ pickup configuration, and a really small control cavity on the back. My idea right now is the stick Bartolinis in there and some sort of active electronics, and replace the bridge with something more solid than your average stock el cheapo.

    But I'm not sure about which active preamp would fit in the tiny control cavity. And I'm not sure which bridge I'd be able to lazily use the same screw holes for (five of 'em) and still have something solid (Leo Quan Badass II?). And I'm somewhat open to using a different brand of pickups, even though I have a Bartolini fetish.

    Mostly what I'm puzzled about is the bridge (which would most likely be a "Fender replacement" type) and if there's an active preamp that fits in a little cavity. Any suggestions?
  2. fookgub


    Jun 5, 2005
    Houston, TX
    I don't have any advice on pickups, but I think I can help on bridges.

    My favorite of the cheaper aftermarket bridges is the Gotoh 206. It's very adjustable, allows for string through body, and looks pretty good. Also, the saddles lock into place, so you only have to adjust it once (and don't have to worry about vibrating springs). That said, it's not a drop-in for fender bridges, so you'll need to be comfortable with drilling some holes in your bass.

    The Schaller 463 is a great bridge, too. It's got even better adjustability than the 206, but lacks the locking saddles and string through capabilities (though intrepid people have drilled the for string through). It's not a drop-in either.

    The Gotoh 201 is a drop in replacement, but lacks all of those nifty features the 206 has. It is sturdy and well made, though.

    The Badass II is, IMHO, overrated. It's a perfectly good bridge when properly installed, but is completely lacking in features compared to the competition. Installation isn't as hard as people make it out to be, provided you have some small files and are willing to take the time to do a good job. Honestly, I think most of its continued popularity is due to its name.

    The Hipshot B style bridge is a drop in replacement. It doesn't have adjustable spacing or locking saddles, but the quick stringing feature is nice. Besides the quick stringing, it's basically just a machined Fender-style bridge.

    Most people seem to consider the Hipshot A to be the Cadillac of bass bridges. It's adjustable in every direction, has quick stringing and string through, and is available in several finishes (as is the B style, btw). It still has those pesky springs, though, and it won't drop into your Yamaha (starting to notice a pattern here?).

    Also, I've never used them, but Custom Shop Parts has a pretty big selection of knock-off bridges. They seem to be well received, and the prices are pretty good. Check them out here: http://mailboxmusic.zoovy.com/category/bassparts.bridges.4string/

    Anyway, before you go all crazy with new bridges, you should ask yourself why you want to change it. If you have string spacing problems or some other bridge related problem, then go for it. If you're looking for better tone or "feel", you may be in for a letdown. You should decide how good this bass really is. It doesn't make much sense to dump $200 worth of electronics and hardware into a cheap bass unless you really think you're going to get your money's worth. In my experience, a $50 bass is always going to sound and play like a $50 bass, no matter what you do with it.
  3. thlayli


    May 8, 2005
    Cross Lanes, WV
    I'll take that into consideration... everything'd be done in steps anyway... pickups and electronics first (maybe just the preamp?), bridge later if there's an actual problem.

    The bass is definitely worth much more than $50 as is... plays really well (which is why I bought it and then bought it back) doesn't sound bad as is, but it could use some refinement.

    It's mine now, and I ain't getting rid of it, so I have a lot of time to think about things. I've got some similar mods in mind for my other cheapo bass, with an added bonus of "switch to tenor stringing" to have fun with... I may not have a lot of money, but I've somehow accumulated "extra" instruments. The Yamaha's basically just a new "main" 4... but I won't feel too bad about messing with it because of said starting price.
  4. Moo

    Moo Banned

    Dec 14, 2002
    Oakland, CA
    You really seem to like the way it plays, it's likely made better than a pre CBS Fender so go for it.

    If you can put 2 batteries in the cavity and close it you could probably get a Bart NTBT preamp in there or an Aguilar. You could even go outboard like a Sadowsky and not worry about it.