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Should I upgrade my cheap bass or buy a new one?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by SweetKetchup, Feb 16, 2016.

  1. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015
    I've bought a cheap Harley Benton 6er a few years ago. All was good until I noticed I only use the low B/high C on a couple of songs, so I said my next bass will definitely be a 4-string. Then I bought a Standard MIM Fender which I absolutely love (looks awesome and plays great!), but once in a while I feel like jamming on an extended range.

    The problem is my 6er feels like it's just not making me pick it up and play it like my Fender does. Not because of the price or the brand, but there are a few issues which affect my playing:
    - it is a HUGE battery consumer! I buy a brand-new 9V battery, and in 1 week of moderate practicing (no gigs or intensive use) it is empty! I do not leave it plugged, and other people complained about this as well.
    - since the batteries die so fast, I mostly play it on passive, which means only volume knob = not a really impressive tone. The tone on active is slightly better (I can use the onboard bass and treble knobs).
    - the knobs have a ridiculously small sweep! Even the pickup blend knob is barely doing anything. Switching to neck pickup gives a volume boost, but no tone difference, no matter how much I turn it.
    - I think the neck needs adjustment - playing high on the fretboard gives a thin sound and a very low-volume buzz (it's different than the fret buzz, can't really explain it unless you play the bass).

    Does fixing these problems cost a lot? I'd rather fix the bass I already have than buy a new one, but if the cost of repairs is too big, I might as well save myself the effort and get an ESP or Ibanez.
  2. @SweetKetchup

    Is your 6 string HB similar to this one ?
    Shine 6 (2).

    I know it's a Shine but the older HB's were made by Shine just rebranded. There's plenty of affordable preamps out there or an alternate method would be use a pedal preamp.
    That's really the easiest option,no modding required just plug your bass into the pedal in passive mode. Only really a hassle if you need to change settings while playing.

    Artec and G&B OEM build for lots of the brand-names but have their own lines and can be got from eBay around 150 Leu, Artec Para EQ pedal is slightly more at around 200 Leu.

    How do those options feel pricewise ?
  3. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015

    Yes, it is very similar indeed. I can definitely afford new preamp/pickups, but the problem is there's no one in my area that I know who can replace them :( I would prefer an onboard preamp than a pedal one.
  4. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    To me, your question can only be answered by answering this question: Is the bass made from good wood?

    To answer that, you need to know what the body wood is and you need to have the neck checked out by someone who really knows what they're doing. If the body wood is something good (e.g. alder or ash) and if the neck is really straight (no S-bend, ski ramp, bowing, or twist) and the fretboard decently level, then it is probably a reasonable base platform to upgrade. But, there is no point in spending money on preamps, pickups, etc., if you're installing them on top of junk.

    Given that you said there is no one in your area that can replace pickups, I guess there's probably no one who can do a good assessment on the neck and give it some decent fret work if it needs it. In that case, if you're going to keep living there and you're going to keep playing bass, it is probably time to invest a little in some fairly inexpensive tools and learn how to do this stuff yourself. Including soldering, so you can install your own pickups, pots, and wiring.

    If there is no one in your area that can do that, it would also be an opportunity for you to pick up side work doing that stuff for other people, too, if you wanted.
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2016
  5. SweetKetchup


    Nov 29, 2015
    The body is Alder, while the neck is a D-shape bolt-on, Canadian Maple with Rosewood fretboard.
  6. 5544


    Dec 1, 2015
    At the end of the day the name on the headstock will dictate the used price.
  7. Anachronism

    Anachronism Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2014
    I think Stuart nailed this. If the bass feels good and plays well (or can play well when given a good set up), it may be worth modding. Or not, depending on the cost of the mods vs. the cost of just buying something better. However, there aren't any mods to the electronics or hardware that can save a bass that has a bad body or neck.
    StuartV likes this.
  8. mbelue


    Dec 11, 2010
    If he intends on selling.

    Upgrading pickups/preamp could make this a real player.

    Assuming good wood of course.
  9. Marko 1

    Marko 1

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
  10. StuartV

    StuartV Finally figuring out what I really like Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2006
    Manassas, VA
    Figuring out what is up with this is the key to your question, really. That could mean a neck gone (or going) bad and the bass is junk. Or it could just need some adjustment and some minor fret work. You need someone to look at it who knows how to figure it out. Or learn how to diagnose and fix it yourself. I don't think the latter is as hard as you might think. I think it's mainly a matter of the right tools and a little bit of knowledge (which you can probably get from your awesome fellow TB'ers).
  11. @SweetKetchup

    I'll have a word couple of places to find somebody in Romania who could help. I know folks in Croatia and Bulgaria,they maybe know somebody.

    Get back to you on that OK.
  12. Whereabouts in Romania are you located @SweetKetchup ?
    It's a big place but borders so many other countries if I know where you are I can target folk closest for help.

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