Telecaster Bass: curing "Mudbucker Syndrome"

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chef, Sep 17, 2006.

  1. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    hear more here:
  2. Please keep in mind- The point of my post is not "I don't believe you," it's more of "I don't understand this- and this is why..."

    I NEVER liked those 2nd gen Tele basses. The neck wasn't right for me, and were totally unusable for the sound I was looking for.

    I don't understand the principle behind the Darkstar pickups- I've only heard the best things about them, however I've never used them.

    The pickup is in a given location- and that location on the string is a lot of what the bass sounds like amplified. That difference is because the string is physically vibrating more the closer you get to the center of the scale length. So at the neck pickup area, the string is vibrating more than at the bridge pickup area. It's the same reason you can take a pickup from the bridge and place it at the neck and it'll sound completely different.

    I don't understand how it would be possible to have a pickup at the end of the fretboard and electrically change that signal to resemble the signal of the string vibrations 2-3" towards the bridge.

    Traditionally, the standard Fender basses (original P, P, Jazz, Mustang, Musicmaster)all have the pickup located at approximately the same location at a distance from the 12th fret equaling the distance from the 12th fret to the 3rd- and that distance has always been the same- the distance on the bridge pickup of Jazz bass HAS changed over the years, however, the "neck" pickup has always been the constant position.

    My first "real" bass that I owned is a 71 EB-0. It sounded like poop. I don't even think I had that thing a couple of months before I was sharpening a screwdriver on the garage floor and hacking out wood for a set of P pickups- in a position I determined to be good (measuring was for sissies back then). Over the years I've replaced the bridge, put probably a dozen different pickups in the rout that I first made- and have enlarged and deepend the rout to the point of moving the mudbucker closer to the bridge. But it always sounded like poop.

    It wasn't until I actually measured where the pickups were on basses that I liked the sound of. Whether it's a harmonic "sweet spot" or whatever- that's where Fender's always put their pickups. So I busted out the Dremel tool and enlarged the rout yet again, going closer to the neck. As if by magic- the bass sounded leagues better. The actual distance I moved the center of the pickup was probably an inch- but the difference in tone was amazing. The bass is still made of mahogany, has a set neck and is short scale, and nothing is ever going to change those tonal characteristics determined by those factors.

    If you've seen my "Gigged the EB-0" thread- I've done some more playing with the bass and the wiring to get it to do what I want. Right now, I have the pickups on their own separate volumes- (but with no tone control) and I reversed the pot leads, so the "in" lug of the pot is now the "out." That allows me to blend the two signals without one pickup overpowering the other (specifically the mudbucker overpowering the SCPB pickup).


    I do congratulate you for not hacking into your bass the way I've carved mine up. :smug:

    In fairness to myself- I got the bass as a basket case, and I was 16 to begin with. Maybe if I'd have gotten that bass as a pristine example of a slotted headstock EB-0 I wouldn't be so proud to show all these pics all over the intArwebs. If there is a lesson in my saga of overcoming the Mudbucker Syndrome, it's about getting a bass that suits your sound, and don't try to enforce your will on the bass. It's taken me 22-23 years to get to a point where I'm pretty "happy" with the sound of my bass- but it's still a different sound than what I was looking for when I bought the bass, and for most any other project that I'd be doing.
  3. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Not to sound harsh; but just 'cause you don't understand it don't mean it don't work.

    The stock pickup was waaay dark, and humbucking besides. Humbuckers are never as clear and pure as single coils.

    The DarkStar is single coil, clear, clean, and pure, very dynamic, and works great in that position...despite the fact, yes, that position is inherently darker than the bridge pup on a 70's Jazz bass.

    You not liking the neck profile on a baseball bat neck'd P/Tele/whatever has nothing at all to do with curing the tone problem; that's an ergonomics issue.

    All this is intended in the friendliest way, btw...;)
  4. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
  5. Sorry Chef, I didn't mean to poo on your thread or take anything away from your opinion of the change in your instrument.

    My apologies if you took offense to my post.
  6. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    No offense taken, at all.
    I had a Gibson very similar to yours for a while; didn't suit me, and I couldn't see a way to "cure it" without wrecking it;)
    Short scale weren't really my bag either.

    I really dig the Tele look, I love big necks, and this one in particular was real light and resonant. There were just very few uses for it, the way it sounded stock.

    The DS cured that for me, and now this bass is a regular part of my toolkit.

    All things aren't for all people, and that's great, cause probably not that many people would like my junk anyhoo!
  7. "A 'light' 2nd Gen Tele Bass?"

  8. GregC

    GregC Questlove, Black Thought, Hamilton Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 19, 2007
    Hey Chef, I snagged a Dark Star'd Skyline Glaub last night! Should be here next week, I can't wait.:D

    Thanks again for the heads-up on that other DS'd bass.
  9. pjmuck


    Feb 8, 2006
    New Joisey
    Just curious 'cause I haven't had the pleasure of playing a bass with Darkstars yet, but are they designed to overdrive slightly when you hit them hard like the old Starfire Hagstrom PUPs?
  10. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Golden: yeah; just under 8lbs...
    Greg: sweeet.
    PJ: dunno what design goals Fred had in mind. go look at the website I posted, or ask him directly.
  11. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    When I put this together, I left enough lead on the pickup wires to reverse the pickup and move the poles from "next to the neck" to "further away from the fingerboard."

    It's about 1 1/4" difference.

    It still has tons-o-booty, but it cleans up it up some.

    Running it thru a Mesa M6 and two LDS 2x8 cabs, I still hadda trim the bass to about three clicks left of flat to keep it from having destructive amounts of low end;) Don't want to set off the New Madrid Fault Line ya know!

    It had plenty of top end as it was, but maybe is a tad clearer, and maybe has a little more mid push.

    I think I'll leave it there; there's so much native low end in the "up against the fingerboard" pickup placement that I'd rather have whatever small amount of bright/clear that spinning it 180 degrees added; and sure won't miss the low end reduction as it's so phat anyways!
  12. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Small update:
    I took off the DA XL170 nickelrounds, and put on some LaBella black nylon tape wounds.

    Man, they are coo-oool on this bass. A little bit of mid scoop, solid but not overwhelming lows, and nice clear highs. It was beautiful on the chart-readin'-jazz gig I had tonight.

    Tele>MB F1> LDS 2x8+5...nice!
  13. whoatherechunk


    Apr 4, 2008
    hey chef any way we can still see the pics? photobucket says they dont exist anymore.
  14. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    I'm curing the syndrome this way:


  15. Jjango


    Nov 16, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Wow! Please tell and show us more!
  16. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    the bass is now on finish line.
    neck is a cheap bue surprisingly nice from a P-bass squier. it also shows a little flame.
    pickup is the famous seth lover i bought it on ebay it was a NOS replacement one, never installed. it came with nice old carton box and installation schematics too.
    body is aluminium, hollow made by a close freind of mine who's, by the way a nice guy, great bass player and builder.
    you can find more info about the guy on his dylan tribute band website
    i guess that on the website you could see some picture of the guy playing live with some other basses made by him.
    despite the aluminium the bass is super warm sounding.

    here's a pic that shows the back and the little flame maple on the squier neck:

  17. Alienation


    Jul 29, 2008
    More please......!
  18. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Wow...Barrosso...that body looks a lot like a Fender Precision A/E:

    And, here's my stock Tele:

    And, after the p/g and DarkStar replacement:

    The two together:
  19. Chef

    Chef In Memoriam

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    The original post is too old for me to go back and edit/ my photobucket album and broke the links...
  20. bh2


    Jun 16, 2008
    Oxford, UK
    Cor... but the DarkStars look fugly and the bridge covers don't look right reversed. Nice tho'.
  21. Primary

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    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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