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The Carvanez Project

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by frozenbolt, Nov 4, 2013.


  1. frozenbolt

    frozenbolt

    Jan 28, 2013
    Shevegas
    As previously mentioned in other posts of mine, I got this bass, a 1990 Ibanez EXSeries EXB404 as a 'throwaway' when the chapel at work got a donation of an entire new backline, instruments included. I'd worked on this bass in the past at work, as the users didn't care about it and beat it up a bit, breaking pots, jacks, nicking it here and there.

    [​IMG]


    Nonetheless, rather than throw it out, I took it and it sat around the house until the band I was in lost it's bass player and I volunteered to step in. Had to come up with an instrument quickly, so I looked at this one and decided to bring it back from the dead once more, to fill in with the band and get me to the point of getting a new bass, once I decided what instrument I want(ed).

    First things first, after pulling a P/J scnematic off the Net, I went to the local music store and bought a set of pots (250K audio taper) and a new jack and put the electronics back together as it was originally intended (I'd made some mods at work due to lack of proper parts). Started playing it and thought, due to the high action and dull sound that it was 'just a cheap instrument.' Looked at the nut and it was all out of whack, so I thought I'd give replacing that a chance to improve the instrument's playability. Researching nut replacement and set up brought me to Elixer's site and the awesome bass setup videos.

    After putting in the new nut, adding a new set of strings, setting the string height properly above the fretboard and going through the videos to check the truss rod, set the action and intonation, it turned out that this bass wasn't a POS, after all, and plays nicely for the price range of instrument that it is (they sell used around 100 bucks, so Squire would be a comparable instrument). Used it with the last band I was in and decided it was a 'keeper'.

    So after a bit more use, I decided to replace the old J pup and picked up a Carvin H50, their ceramic humbucker, as they were closing them out and got one for a good price last time I was out West. Played a bunch of their basses in the showroom, but that's a different story. :) As I mentioned in the other post about replacing the pup, it added to the sound of the insturment, so I also decided that rather than go get a Carvin Kit, I'd just keep on going with this bass and replace more electronics with Carvin parts (got an entire control set of parts), creating the hybrid I call "The Carvanez". :)

    So here's the pics of the pup replacement, for anyone else who's new at replacing pups in their basses and wants some pics of what to expect and the whole process. I'll add some more pics when I replace all the control electronics, but one rabbit at a time. Sorry about the quality of the pics, I was using my tablet, which isn't all that good at closeups. Next time, I'll try the digicam.

    Bass on the 'workbench' (kitchen table :) ) strings off and old pup still in place:

    [​IMG]

    The replacement pup:

    [​IMG]

    The 'original' electronics cavity, all passive, 250K pots all around, tone cap, jack and bridge grounding wire:

    [​IMG]

    New pup on top, old on bottom. First problem: mounting screws were different heights and the piece of foam used for mounting the old one provided the height 'adjustment.' Simple solution: Use the springs for the new pup and the screws for the old one.

    [​IMG]

    Next problem: New pup was too tight of a fit for the old cavity, so a simple, but slow opening of the cavity with a dremel tool allowed it to sit in there, nicely.

    [​IMG]

    New pup dropped in and setting the initial height to the same as the front P pup. The ruler was one of the tools I had to get to do the setup via the Elixer video, so it came in handy again.

    [​IMG]

    The humbucker wire routed and ready to solder. The silver lead is the shield for the pup wires and gets soldered to the case of one of the pots, usually the one the wires get routed to. Red to hot, black to ground and you're ready to go.

    [​IMG]

    The new pup in place with the strings back on the bass, ready to rock! I like the clean look of no poles, so the next pup replacment will include the P pup, as Carvin's new P pups don't have the poles showing.

    [​IMG]

    So there you have it! Step 1 is completed, the bass sounds better than it did before, I get the added tone I was looking for, but the problem of immediate roll off from the audio pots still exitst. That's what the Carvin total control electronics upgrade is for: their pots are linear. We'll see how it goes, literally. :)

    Rock on,
    'Bolt
     
  2. frozenbolt

    frozenbolt

    Jan 28, 2013
    Shevegas
    Well, the project took an unexpected turn when I installed a blend pot I had picked up a while ago. I like the results of the blend pot, it gives the combination of these two pups a nice tonal range and I rarely back down the volume now, just move the blend pot between pups to get the tone and thump I want, so this is where the Carvanez project will be put on the shelf.

    The blend pot installation was pretty straight forward, just followed the same schematic as below, with the exception that I put the blend pot at the front and the volume in the middle. Easy peasy. :)

    ms.

    Seeing I'm starting with a new band in the new year, I'm prolly gonna get a new bass, as well, so there's not much sense in putting a lot more money into this one.

    Glad I was able to play around with it a bit and learn a lot more about the bass guitar than I ever knew before I finally picked one up and got hooked on it. :)

    Rock on,
    'Bolt
     
  3. bassbenj

    bassbenj

    Aug 11, 2009
    Great Description of your great educational project. And it produced a great "keeper" bass as well.

    I did a similar project with a Squier Special P/J 5 string. This oddball "p-bass" came with two jazz pickups. So I modded it with a Dimarzio humcancelling ultra Jazz for the bridge which needed a tiny bit of dremel cavity stretching just as yours did. And I changed the neck Jazz pickup to a real Fender P-bass 5er pickup. And like yours the project was not only highly educational but turned out an excellent bass as well:

    [​IMG]

    Note this started as a used bass and it's amazing what a new pickguard and some cleaning and polishing did to it!

    The only thing is (and yours may have this problem too) is that the P pickup is hotter than the J pickup. So to balance them you have to set the P (mine is Vol/vol) at about 80% or use the p-pickup in parallel mode (Series/parallel is wired push-pull on the p-pickup volume control).
     

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