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To mod or not to mod: Upgrade my MIM or save for an MIA?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by officialjlox, Apr 28, 2010.

  1. Repost: I bumped a different thread from the search then realized it wasn't in the correct forum :meh:

    I currently have a MIM jazz that I'm looking into modding.

    I got some new strings, a BAII, and changed the pickguard for cosmetic purposes, but before I sink more money into it, here is my question...

    I've been debating for a while whether or not to make gradual upgrades/mods to the MIM, doing one thing at a time until I have a formidable #1 bass. I play in both a modern/pop/top 40 cover band as well as an experimental/heavy/alternative rock band. The mods I would make in the future would be as follows, one thing a time over the course of however long:

    New neck: I have a rosewood board now, and I want a maple, and am looking into the warmoth neck bc of the double reinforced truss, stainless steel frets and the graphtech nut.

    Upgrade pups: Haven't decided on the exact type, but I'm looking into either the ultra jazz or Basslines.

    Tuners: I haven't thought of changing all the tuners, but I am thinking about adding a D Tuner to my E string for ease of use in the alt band.

    I'm thinking of looking into shielding and/or upgrading the pots, but to be honest I don't know much about electronics and don't know if I'd really need it.

    What I have been debating over is whether or not the end result will be "it". It's easier for me to gradually upgrade what I have, but at the same time am wondering if it would be better for me to save that money in a piggy bank (for probably a long time) and eventually get a new MIA.

    I've never actually played an american jazz, since I try not to pick up instruments that I know I can't afford, because it will just make me want to cry. I could conceivably save enough money for an MIA after a few months,(including GC's 15% trade in deal for my Ibanez SR 505 that I never use) and use my current MIM as a backup. I'm a former guitarist that smartened up and moved to bass, and I have always wanted to have a bass version of my old strat. White w/black pearloid guard and a maple neck.

    It would be easier for me to upgrade the mexi, since I can do it gradually, but I don't want to sink a lot of money into it, then go to GC and pick up an MIA and regret my decision.

  2. grifff


    Jan 5, 2009
    Towson, Maryland
    If you think you can get what you want out of the MIM by upgrading and for less than a new MIA then go for it. Sell the SR505 and the MIM on the TB classifieds and you will be well on your way to owning a MIA if that's what you really want.

    I'd only upgrade the MIM if you really love the feel/playability of it. That's just my opinion though.
  3. Stinsok

    Stinsok Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2002
    Central Alabama
    You can make a killer bass, but when it comes time to sell it probably won't be worth the sum of the parts.
  4. I'd probably keep the MIM for 2 reasons:

    1- I'd need a bass for the mean time til I get the MIA


    2- It would be a fantastic backup as is.

    I guess I could probably get more for the SR505 by selling it here than selling it to GC, even after they give you and additional 15% off the new item when you apply the credit. I figured it out, and 15% of the list price of a new MIA is about $187. I'd probably only get $150-$200 for the SR505 if I'm lucky, so I should be able to get at least that from the classifieds, since it's pretty much brand new. Never gigged, only played at my house.
  5. I know I'll probably eventually sing a different tune somewhere down the line, but for right now I'm looking for a "#1". Something that will be my go-to for recording and gigs for a while to come, so resale value isn't particularly an issue at the moment.

    What I'm mainly concerned with is modding the crap out of my MIM and having it still not be able to hang with an MIA if A/B 'ed
  6. This lovely economy is making MIA's be obtained for 600$ and under pretty easily , so i would look into a used MIA.
  7. Stranger Danger

    Stranger Danger Feel Like A Stranger Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    To me, the main thing is the neck. If youre gonna change the neck then you may as well get a new bass. You wont regret an MIA. You should consider a G & L JB too. Fender CS quality at MIA prices.
  8. blockinlay


    Feb 21, 2009
    Phila Pa
    The grass is always greener...

    If you bought a Warmoth neck with a maple fretboard, ss frets, and nut, which will be about $350 minimum shipped if they paint it, you will have to put some effort into it, as they paint over the frets. You might get $125 - $150 for your old neck on ebay if you're lucky. Add the cost of pickups, pots, and a jack, and you will have spent probably more than half the cost of buying a mint used american bass. You'd still just have a modified MIM. Unless you don't like the MIM, I'd leave it the way it is, and just play it. Start saving and shopping around for a good used american, because you have GAS. Then you'll have two basses.
  9. Modding MIMs is fun, and the results can be great; I totally modded my MIM fretless jazz, (vintage tuners, BAII, cream guard, noiseless pickups) and it's on a par with my best basses. Of course, reselling is out of the question--and maybe that's a good thing.
    Too many of us sell instruments that we later regret.

  10. waynobass


    Feb 27, 2008
    Keep upgrading your MIM. You'll have a unique bass built to your exact specifications.

    Also, Warmoth necks are better than Fender USA necks, IMHO.
  11. This is one thing I was curious about that I've tried to find an objective answer to...

    In my case, I'd be eventually changing almost everything from the original mexi made instrument. In this case, after all is said and done, what would the tangible differences between a souped up MIM and a new MIA? Basically the only thing original would be the body itself
  12. Question: a poster above said that warmoth paints over the frets. What exactly does that mean?

    Say I get the vintage tint on a maple/maple neck w/ stainless frets... Would they stain over the frets? and if so how noticeable is it?
  13. blockinlay


    Feb 21, 2009
    Phila Pa
    I never had a warmoth bass neck, but I just ordered one with a rosewood board. Parts guitars cost as much as a new guitar. The thing is it's built from what you chose, so it's somewhat to your specs, but only if you know what you want. Cleaning the finish off frets is typical. The finish is what's tinted. The neck itself is not stained. Google taking the finish off frets and you'll see what's entailed.
  14. why not just save the money for a MIA? as you get the money to put things into it, just put it aside instead. MIM is a decent bass and at the end you'll have 2 basses, one being the real deal. like someone above said, you can get a used MIA fairly cheap these days.

    unless you want something to your exact specs... then go parts, but know it just won't have good resale value if you do want to sell it down the road.
  15. marantz10

    marantz10 Master Bass Playa

    Oct 21, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    Here are my views: If you want your MIM to sound and play like a MIA read (A). If you want your MIM to sound and play to your customizations read (B).

    A. To build a MIA would cost just as much as a MIA and then it still doesn't hold the value of a MIA because it's home built. Question to think about: is a MIA a #1 bass for you? When you go to the local guitar shop and you play one, have you fallen in love with it? If you answered no to either of these questions, now read (B).

    B. You get to customize a bass with the pickups you want, a specific style neck you desire, etc. You also can get a pro setup with fret leveling to get it to have perfect playability and in the end, you will have a product that you feel is way better than a MIA, thus concludes a #1 bass for your needs. If you put only parts that you know you like into it, then you'll never want to give it up or sell it. I chose this route with my P Bass: I had a MIM, replaced the neck, tuners, nut, bridge, pots/wiring, and put on chrome pickup covers. I also got the fret leveling and pro setup done at a good guitar shop. I probably dumped $1000 into the whole thing. But truth is, this bass plays better to me than any Fender MIA P Bass out there; and it has the exact parts I want on there to get exactly what I wanted in a bass--color, setup to the strings I play with, a vintage tinted neck, and even vintage reissue tuners made by Schaller. I've looked and haven't found a black P bass with a neck like this and quality vintage reissue parts made by Fender online. With that said, sure, that $1000 will never come back out if I ever sold it, but I love this bass so much I promise to all the talkbass.com, I will never never never sell it.

    Read all that, then post your feelings.
  16. Bob C

    Bob C

    Mar 26, 2000
    Duluth, MN
    I tend to agree with this. Had you not said you wanted a new neck, I would have asked how your current neck's profile, finish, trueness, frets, etc are, and go from there.

    Someone here said you might get $150 on eBay for your MIM neck. I think that's a pretty liberal estimate.

    When your dream bass is complete, about the only original part will be the body. This is fine - It will be a fun project, and you may like it more than a MIA Jazz. Just be aware that it wil cost more.

    If you're in it for the long haul and money is no object, keep swapping out parts until you get it right. A Warmoth neck is a good place to start, but they aren't cheap.
  17. Good points. Basically I got this bass for free (traded w/ a TBer for a p-bass I never used) and like it a lot as is. I know that it doesn't sound or play as good as it can, which is why I originally wanted to start modding. After looking at the "to-do list" i created, I started considering whether or not it would be worth it to simply save and buy an MIA.

    I do need to hit up the music shop and spend some serious time with various Am. Std. models and see if I fall in love with it. If not, I will probably go the modding route.

    The only other factor, which might seem mundane to some, is the fact that I do and have wanted a white/maple bass for a while. One of the reasons I would choose saving for an MIA would be so that i can keep my current black/rosewood MIM w/ mirror guard, and also have a white/tort/maple MIA. Cake and eat it too sort of thing. However, if I wind up playing various MIA's and not really falling totally in love with every aspect that would be changed if I modded my current bass, I would probably go the other route.
  18. I think the modding would actually cost about the same/slightly less than buying a new MIA after selling my ibanez. The thing of it is that i would "feel" it less, since it would be done in stages.

    I love the idea of having a bass that's totally customized to me, but at the same time, there are some superficial things that might make me lean toward the MIA

    -color as mentioned above
    -headstock. This is one I forgot to mention... If I got a warmoth neck, I'd probably be going with those waterslide decals for the fender logo. I had an old strat with those, and while they do look good, it's still a decal, and I would know that. I don't know how much that would bother me down the line.
  19. marantz10

    marantz10 Master Bass Playa

    Oct 21, 2008
    Seattle, WA
    $150 is liberal. I sold my MIM P bass neck on Craigslist for much lower. eBay for a J neck probably is higher than a P bass neck though.

    If I built my favorite bass from a "donor" bass and the parts I upgraded were no doubt better than the old ones, I sold off all the old parts like the neck and tuners. For some reason small parts like the pots, bridge, knobs, pickguard or whatever I kept because they weren't worth much in money but could save tons when building a very playable bass in the future but keeping the costs really low. e.g. if I picked up a Squire for kicks and giggles for cheap, I could upgrade the parts with my old parts and make it a bit better.
  20. Blues Bass Man

    Blues Bass Man

    Feb 2, 2010
    I have both. Remember,MIM Necks,and some of the Bodies are cut in the Corona Factory and shiped to Mexico for everything else,finish,hardware,ect. If you like your MIM Jazz...take it from there and make the mods. MIM Fenders are good Basses.

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