To replace hardware, to not replace hardware?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by jodathmorr, Jan 23, 2003.

  1. On my Essex i am pretty happy with my tone (but i've only played thro a guitar amp) but I want to do more with my sound.

    Do you think replacing some of the cheapo Essex hardware (bridges, pickups) would augment my sound any or should I just leave my bass alone for the time being?

    I wanna place an order at Warmoth for a bridge (4 string), maybe a new pick guard, and some new knobs. I might add some pickups if i knew if replacing them would do a lot. Any advice?
  2. I had an Essex Jazz fretless and I replaced the bridge (because I wanted to use tapewounds and the holes in the bridge that came with the bass were too small to accomodate the strings) and the pickups with Bartolinis (because there was some buzzing and I also wanted a warmer sound). It sounded a LOT better after that.

    As for the timing, I recommend getting a bass amp first, then seeing if you like the sound. Guitar amps really aren't made to handle bass frequencies.
  3. Nino Valenti

    Nino Valenti Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 2, 2001
    Staten Island NYC
    Builder: Valenti Basses
    I've owned 2 Essex & modified the hell out of them but I felt the tuning machines were fine so I feft them alone. Replacing the bridge would be a good start. Maybe a BadAss II or a Gotoh 201.

    Then the pick ups. OH, SO MANY to chose from. :)
  4. Yea i was thinking about a Goltoh 201 over the Badass II because aparently the holes in the Badass don't match up on the J Bass body.
  5. I totally agree with Nino on the tuning machines. These were fine. The only thing I wanted to do but didn't before selling it was upgrading the pots.

    Nino's also right about the pickups. I chose the Barts because of the sound I wanted. If you have the SJB 62, make sure to remember the pickups need to be made to fit a Fender jazz - they aren't the same size (neck pickup is slightly smaller). If you have a PJ setup then it's easier. A lot of companies make pickups for Fenders...
  6. I got the Gotoh bridge for mine at
  7. How do you like it Moltar?

    Also, what are the "pots". I see them described when talking about pickups but i dunno what they are.
  8. The Gotoh bridge was really well made. The screw holes aligned exactly with the existing holes from the stock bridge. It also came with its own allen wrench for adjustments. For $25, it's well worth it.

    "Pots" is short for potentiometers. They are basically what's under your volume and tone knobs & were all the wiring connects.

    Essex pretty much spends their money on the finish, not on electronics, so that's what made me want to replace them. The stock ones were OK, so it wasn't as much of a necessity.
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    I would save the money you would spend on upgrades and get a bass amp. Any bass, even a $3000 high end custom is going to sound like poop through most guitar amps.

    I've read of people getting great sound out of Essex basses right out of the box. Personally if it were me I'd leave well enough alone, probably upgrade the pots and jack.
  10. Well the reason im not too concerned with getting a really good amp currently is i have 2 friends who are kinda phasing out the bass. I'm aranging to get some $200 practice amp for like $30ish and I am probably going to his gig amp soon. We'll see how things go.

    Plus 40ish on upgrades isn't too bad IMHO.
  11. Sofa King

    Sofa King

    Aug 20, 2000
    Rowlett, TX
    Well, once you start replacing the electronics it'll shoot over $40ish ;)
  12. Chasarms

    Chasarms Casual Observer

    May 24, 2001
    Bettendorf, IA USA
    If you think this bass is something that you will love and honor 'til death do you part, then by all means, go to town.

    If not, think twice.

    But of the things you mentioned changing, only pickups will have a significant impact on the the way the bass sounds.

    The bridge change can impact sustain, allow for more precise setup, maybe even darken the tone color a bit, but IME, the changes are pretty subtle.

    The rest of the stuff is strictly cosmetic.

    Changing out the PUs to something that will impact the sound (Barts were mentioned) will cost well more than $40. $100 is a nice round number to use.

    I wish I could tell you how many times I have seen ads for entry-level basses that people have done heavy mods to and want to recover their costs.
    I have never seen it happen. For the most part, a $175 bass with $200 worth of PUs, preamp and posts installed is still a $175 bass.

    So take all that for what it is worth.

    I suggest saving the $$ for another bass, an amp or just a rainy day. But, half the time I don't even taken my own advice, so I certainly should expect you to.

    Either way, just keep playing.

  13. xyllion

    xyllion Commercial User

    Jan 14, 2003
    San Jose, CA, USA
    Owner, Looperlative Audio Products
    If you do upgrade the electronics and hardware, then save the old stuff. If you ever want to sell, you will get the most money back by restoring the instrument and selling everything seperately.

    As for your original question, definitely get a decent bass amp first. If you don't have that, nothing you do to your bass will matter. Remember that your total sound is only as good as the worst component of that sound.

    If you do upgrade the bass, the Gotoh bridges are nice. I've never had the pleasure of using them myself, but have seen a few on friend's basses. As for electronics, I had a cheap bass that I put EMGs into and it really came alive. I know that alot of people don't like EMG, but when it comes to upgrading a cheap bass, I think they really do a good job. BTW the very same bass I put a Schaller bridge on. The Schaller is not a drop-in replacement, but damn it is a nice bridge.
  14. .

    I totally disagree with that. I bought the bass for $140, and sold it, with Barts, a case and new bridge for $350.
  15. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA

    Your case is the exception, not the rule.

    I agree with Chasarms's assessment. If you care about getting any fo your investment back, upgrades are foolish. You might recoup, but probably won't.

    However, If you like the changes, and enjoy doing them (I do), it may be worth it for the fun factor.
  16. Well I don't think at this point in time im going to play around with the electronics. I was just wondering about it.

    I think I will do the bridge over just because I've heard some pretty good success stories and I figure why not. Also, I don't see myself getting a new bass in the next year or so (darn parents), so i figured ill play with what I have. Like Moltar, I can also sell it at a slightly higher price when the time comes.

    I'm not really sure what tone im looking for because im so new to the intrument and I just don't know what to compare it too.
  17. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    It really depends on how committed you are to keeping the bass. If you think you'll keep this bass for a long time, you should make the changes for your benefit.

    If you think you won't keep it long, you're basically paying to upgrade someone else's bass, IMPE (in my painful experience).