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Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by smperry, Apr 24, 2012.
Continued from Squier vintage modified club - TalkBass Forums
anyone upgraded/changed pups in the
VMJ 4 or 5, and why? results? I can always stand more bottom, though I love the balance between 'bottom' and 'cut clear' in the standard 4.
the VMJ5 to me is more problematic. it has hot spots and cold spots - in the mids it does not have the character of the vmj 4. or, i need to change strings.... a distinct possibility.
Part Twooooo... subbed!
My VMJ5 arrived yesterday. I do notice that it misses midrange punch and the lows aren't as articulate as I'd like (spoiled by the Sadowsky pickups, no doubt). I am thinking about changing the pickups to something different, perhaps a set of Nordstrand or Bartolini jazz pups. I guess I should get my calipers out to measure the size...
Also pondering a Nordy big singles pair or one jazz or big single with a Nordy MM at the bridge with a split tap and front/both/back switch for more power and 60s vs 70s bridge position options.
Here is my modified Vintage Modified. It is a Fretless Jazz that I put a fretted neck and pickguard on. I also put vintage knobs on it. It went from sitting in the closet never being played to a daily player. I also used it at my lat 2 gigs.
Relaxing at home.
I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on the Nordy Jazz pups... bought them from Best Bass Gear... which is apparently a mile or two from my house...
Looking forward to your comparison between the Nordy pups and the stock Duncan Designed. I am in the same boat with picking pups. I put a Sadowsky pre I had lying around in my VMJ5. Lots of people comment on how good the tone of this axe is.
I am too. Currently I run the bass thru a Sadowsky outboard preamp and it sounds good solo on headphones but doesn't sit as well in a mix as I would like and aren't as sensitive as I'd like.
I'll see about making some recordings for comparison.
My new VM J5...
Got a second vintage modified. This time the precision:
Nice figuring on the maple! I'm jealous mine doesn't look like that.
So after fooling around with this Squier Vintage Modified Jazz V for a while I've finished forming an opinion on it. I think it's a great modding platform for what you get for the money.
Granted this one will need some fret work done but I am handy enough I can do it myself. The frets will need leveling and the fret edges will need dressed as well, lots of sharp edges. Nothing you'll cut yourself with, mind you, but it just feels a little rough. I'm surprised that the neck has actual inlays and binging and not just painted on lines. Granted there are a couple imperfections in the work but it's very minor cosmetic stuff that you have to know what you're looking for and be looking closely to find. The nut work is acceptable, nothing fancy but functional and still fairly clean. The B string feels a little floppy but not terrible... not as bad as some other Squiers I've played. A string change and a retainer tree will help with that. The G string has less break than the rest of the strings, nothing that makes a huge difference but it is noticeable to me.
Tuners are a little better than most tuners I've come to expect from Squier, they turn smoothly and don't feel cheap. They aren't as nice as some of the ones Fender offers (the ones on the Geddy Lee for example are pretty great) but for price they're better than expected.
The frets, strings, and tuners all show spots of a little corrosion, I was disappointed in that. The strings will be replaced and the frets will be clean after I level and crown them, the tuners won't be so noticeable unless you look closely.
The finish on the neck is a matte finish and is fairly smooth, I do wish they had taken more time to sand it a little more but it's acceptable for the moment. I prefer a Nitro finish on necks but this will do for $300, lol. The finish on the body is the standard Squier/Fender Poly. It has shielding paint under the control plate and inside the pickup routes as well as the routing channel to the neck pickup. Don't plan on ditching the pickguard because it's hiding a wiring channel. The pots in the control plate are ok, they're the cheap dime sized ones. They work. Sometimes they're a little scratchy but it's not often and I hardly ever change the settings on the bass anyway. The stock bridge is... well, a stock bridge. It works, does an ok job... I don't care for the "poke the string through the hole" bridges. I would prefer a Hipshot A style or something similar to make string changes less tedious... but like I said, it hold the strings on there and the parts all work like they're supposed to.
The pickups are ok. They sound better than I expected, not fantastic mind you, but the sensitivity of the pickups got to me. I felt I had to play quite a bit harder to get sound out of them.
Here's a sample of my absent minded playing with the stock setup.
After some consideration I decided I would change the pickups first to Nordstrand NJ5F single coil pickups. They're a lot more sensitive than the stock and I felt had a little cleaner tone with the stock strings, I felt it tightened up the bottom end. Play too hard though and you'll get a distorted sound from them, this may or may not be a bonus for you.
Here's a sample with the stock strings.
I changed the Strings to Ernie Ball Slinky Cobalt 130-45s and the floppy B is now gone entirely, it's very quick and responsive and feels as tight as all the others now. The strings are more sensitive than the stocks ones making it so I barely have to do anything to get them to sing. They have a full round and punchy tone to them. These will be the strings I keep on this bass... until I can be convinced otherwise anyway, lol.
Here's a sample of the Cobalts on the Nordys:
That's it for now... I'll update as I change more things out on the bass... It's no Sadowsky but for right now though I'm satisfied (enough) with the current sound. I'll be addressing the frets next. I hope you guys find this useful.
Fire, do you have a link to a 'how to" on dressing the fret edges? I have not observed it being done and dont want to butcher the finish.
I found, surprisingly, the V pickups to be quite diff sounding/tone/etc than the 4 - I have both. I find the V to be uneven - as you mention it can be insensitive, but to me that insensitivity is spotty. I find the 4 to be quite musical and very responsive, pup-wise [I use the ghs pressurewounds on the 4]. I'm thinking also, on the V, about fitting a nut that has the spacing of the STingray 5 [previously mentioned here]. its just a personal thing.... if find the vmjV neck to be 'unfast'... There are things I cannot articulate well with it, that I can articulate well with SR5 [speaking of, I was floored to find the radius of the vmj V to be actually tighter than the stingray. playing both, I was dead certain it was the other way around, with a considerable delta].
I like the Pups on the 4 so much I'm leery of messing with them, now that I have it setup for my hands. I also have the CVJ 4, and have it setup to B tuning with some D'addario 5 string [minus one] strings - it makes a good "5" . darker voice, higher gain. getting rid of one of these will be a tough decision, but it won't be the vmj4
This article gives a good explanation on how to level the frets.
The sides of the frets will be sanded with a block and some wet/dry high grit sandpaper to make sure you're mostly sanding metal and notsomuch wood/binding. You can build a guard to cradle the neck and protect the side you're sanding so that the block will only go so low if you need as well.
I posted my lefty VM before but thought it was worth another look for anyone looking for some simple upgrades. I added a BadassII bridge, Dimarzio Model J pups and replaced the pots with USA CTS pots. The bridge is a direct replacement. The holes lined up perfectly. The pickups and electronics were a breeze to change but I needed a new control plate as the stock Squier plate has smaller holes for the cheap pots they use.
The real work went into the neck. I spent a bit of time sanding the neck and headstock to smooth out the rough patches with 0000 grit steel wool. I then applied 8 or 9 very thin coats of True Oil to the entire neck including the headstock and fingerboard. I sanded with steel wool between each coat taking most of the finish off of the back of the neck but allowed it to build a bit on the fingerboard and head stock.
Its not as glossy as nitro but it cost nothing but time and the maple board really looks gorgeous now in person. Plus the black blocks and binding are now protected from ever wearing off. The neck feels really good and the whole bass sounds and feels so good for what I have into it.
Click for larger pic!
Love my Mustang!!!!!!!
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the before and after tone.
pups to me are still a mystery, in that it is really hard to tell what you're going to get before you actually make a change.
re Pots: is it just mine? the pots on the vmj are the most liquid I've had on anything.... a puff of air will move them. if I accidentally bump one while playing.... yikes.
I'd love to replace them with something that is a bit more planted.
Fortunately the frets were level and had no sprout on both of my VMs. While building my own bass, I had a little sprout and took care of it easily enough:::
If you use a file, you won't risk cutting the wood at all, as the file doesn't bend but rides just on the edges of the wires and trims them evenly:::
Then finish off with 80# aluminum oxide and a hard rubber block:::
Then take needle files and round off the ends of the wires as you see fit.
There's no secret and you certainly don't need a lot of sophisticate tools and a luthier's license - there ARE people who'd like to keep this stuff in the dark and mysterious however.
The pots are truly junk in these bases but its not expensive at all to upgrade them. Pickups are a funny thing. I didn't mind the stock Duncan Designed pups at all, but I had these Dimarzio's in a different bass and just love how aggressive and punchy they are. They are not as sweet sounding as a true single coil but to my ears they have more 'personality' if that makes any sense.
I'm in! VM Jazz with midrange boost stacked pot.