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Total upgrade to an Ibanez EXB404 fretless conversion...need your recommendations

Discussion in 'Luthier's Corner' started by TimBosby, Sep 28, 2008.

  1. TimBosby

    TimBosby Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 19, 2004
    Omaha, NE, USA
    I posted this in the regular bass forum but thought it may be more appropriate in the luthier forum considering I want to modify the snot out of it (i.e. pay someone else to modify the snot out of it.)

    So I found a 1991 Korean-made Ibanez EX Series bass locally for $25. Which, despite the fact that it had been dropped and has a nice chunk taken out of the wood around the input jack, was still a killer deal. Still plays just fine. Just like the first bass I ever owned back in 1994, but mine was a PP fretted and this one is PJ fretless conversion.

    I couldn't resist a $25 bass, and promptly cleaned her up and went out and bought strings... for $27...haha. The de-fretting job is not the prettiest, but overall the board feels smooth and anyone who knows these things knows the necks are thin and fast.

    Here are the mods I'd like to make, and I'd appreciate any suggestions as to individuals who I could pay to have these things done (where applicable)

    First mod: New pickups. I'd love Bartolinis but I'm not sure if they'll fit. Otherwise maybe EMGs or something else. I'm normally partial to Duncans and Dimarzios, and I have one bass with Fralins...I love all those brands but it'd be neat to try something "different" on this one maybe. Anyone who has ever swapped out pickups on this thing and would like to recommend something, feel free. Spacing could be an issue. I did a rough measurement of the PJ pickups currently in it and they seem comparable to the Duncans on my Aerodyne and the Dimarzios on my Ibanez Roadster. Ideally routing will NOT happen with this project.. I know someone who can do a pickup swap for me for free.

    Second mod: All gold hardware (even down to the pickup height screws). I can hopefully do this myself. I think Gotoh tuners will fit. Not sure about a Badass II or something else. I took rough measurements and the current bridge seems to be a basic Fender size. I'd like gold/mother of pearl volume/tone knobs and possibly new pots. Not sure where to go with that.

    More expensive mods:

    Body re-finish. Not sure about this yet. I have kind of a hankering for black sparkle after seeing a few Lakland and Musicman basses on here. I wonder if black sparkle would require a full stripping/sanding or if I could get away with a little slop since it'd be black going over black. I'd definitely appreciate any recommendations as to refinishing services where I could send it...affordable ones. I'm too inept to do this myself. Along with this would be the ability to fix the cracked input jack.

    Fret gaps filled and possible fretboard epoxy. I know this gets expensive. I'm willing to wait on this service. I just bought an epoxied fretless Fender and LOVE it so I definitely think it has its merits. The first step of course would be filling the fret gaps. The frets were taken out fairly cleanly but it's not perfect. Pretty nice smooth medium-dark grain rosewood board. Ideally I'd like the "gap lines" to be as faint as possible. I'd love side lines... I know there are some services that'll do that. I'm not willing to wait or pay for HG Thor so any alternative suggestions for all fretboard issues would be appreciated.

    Any thoughts appreciated...thanks :)
    vishalicious likes this.

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