To Build or Hot Rod?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by TyKao, Aug 9, 2003.

  1. TyKao


    Jun 29, 2003
    For a while I've been planning to make my own passive Jazz copy out of USACG/Warmoth parts.

    A friend of mine recently told me though that I might want to save myself some trouble and buy an MIM Fender and hot-rod the thing.

    The MIM route is becoming more appealing to me, but I am still worried about wood quality and sound. Plus, it seems that the MIM's only come in Alder and part of me does want a Swamp Ash axe...

    But it would be cheaper because a lot of the physical finishing and drilling work would be done.

    What do you guys think?
  2. PhilMan99


    Jul 18, 2003
    US, Maryland
    A couple of thoughts:

    * A hot-rodded bass will probably have better resale value than a "self-built", if it's based on a popular make/model.

    * If you start with an off-the-shelf bass, you can shop and find something with a good overall "sound" (tm). The combination of neck, body, wood type, wood quality, wood "defects", finish and "fit" (where stuff bolts together) uniquely define the sound of the un-amplified instrument. Why start from scratch if you can find a fundamentally good instrument, where you only need to worry about "add-ons" (pups, bridge, tuners and "nut").

    * Unless you plan on buying/replacing parts (neck, body...) and experimenting until you get the right "sound", you're taking a risk with building your own. You'll probably find it hard to compete with 50 cents/hour chinese labor...

    * What's more important in your life - playing bass, or being a luthier? Both are important, but folks tend to emphasize one or the other. I'm personally grateful that other folks know how to build basses so I don't have to. Likewise, I'd assume a lot of people get more satisfaction out of building instruments than performing.
  3. pmkelly


    Nov 28, 2000
    Kansas City, MO
    you can get most of the stuff pre-drilled from either Warmoth or USA Custom... the MIM hot rod route is fun, and that is what got me started on building... but building is way more rewarding. I have a jazz bass that was a Warmoth body (off ebay) a bunch of parts I happened to have, and a Fender reissue neck. It plays and sounds great, and I am now way too attached to it because I put all that work in it!

    It's the green one on the right. Here are the dirty details:

    Warmoth Alder body, Teal Green Metallic
    Fender '62 J Bass Reissue Neck
    Hipshot tuners
    Fender MIA pickups
    Leo Qwan BAII Bridge
    Pots, knobs, control plate - all Fender parts

    I think the pickguard may be a Warmoth, but I don't exactly remember anymore... Don't mind the modded Geddy Lee and the JO5 in the pic!


  4. TyKao


    Jun 29, 2003
    Thanks for all the replies so far. Any other opinions?

    If I was to hot rod an MIM, I'd probably keep the body, the pickguard, control plate and maybe the pots and tuners. I'd definitely replace the pickups, the neck and the bridge. Does that make hot-rodding less attractive a choice?
  5. if thats the case I would say hot-rodding is not worth it. For about the same price in the end, you'll have a much better quality bass. Not to mention you can skip having to buy one bass, gut it, take the neck off and sell all of the unused parts.

    If your worried about not getting a good price to sell the bass, than don't build one. Your going to take a beating if you build a warmoth and try to sell it most of the time.

    That said, building my fiver was the most rewarding experience of my life so far, and I have a fretless fiver planned out as soon as I have the money. The fretwork is excellent, I got to pick body weight, tuning machines, electronics, layout and everything. I got what I wanted, and than I got to apply the finish and put it together myself. I learned a ton and I loved it.

    Bottom line, for me, buildind is the way to go. If you think you might sell later on, buy something that will retain value better. Both will be fun and a new bass is always great.

    Here's my fiver-

  6. Brooks


    Apr 4, 2000
    Middle East
    IMO, Groovecenter nailed it. I tried both approaches - hotrod, and then building a Warmoth. Warmoth was way more fun, and I ended up with a very high quality instrument that I gig with. Since I don't plan on selling, resale value was never a factor.

    HotRod, '75 Jazz that I refinished, put in CS 60s pup, a J-Retro, new Fender RI bridge and a tort guard on the top, Warmoth Fretless bottom:


    PS. I am now building two more Warmoths - a fretted and a fretless. I also built a Tele for a friend which turned out great.
  7. In all honesty, I'd say built. You can have a sweet top like these other guys' basses and a swamp ash back. Heck, I've probably put together a bass with all of my experience.

    I've installed string retainers, new pickups (barts, highly recommended), new tuners, bridges, knobs, pots, input jacks, pickguards, and soon to add 2 brass nuts (one to my P-bass and one to my fretless SX Jazz.).

    No matter that I hot-rodded, I'd say build your own. Its well worth the effort and work, and then you can just apprechiate all the work you put into it everytime you pick the bass up.

    Speaking of which...I would not mind building a custom P Bass and a custom J bass right about now...'cept for the lack of money...