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Upgrades to a Fender 50's Classic P...?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by CLMSHQ, Aug 19, 2012.



    Apr 17, 2007
    Danielson, CT
    I know, I know...I said I want to sell her, but I do not have the heart as it is a fun playing Bass...I would regret it..

    So what do people recommend for upgrades...I like the sound..BUT I believe it can sound even better...There seams to be a lack of power or bite to this bass...maybe it just hungers for flats, which will be going back on as soon as my strings go dead....The jack is very tight and there is a little bit of crackling...is it the pots or does it need to be shielded?

    I can do my own set up, intonation, neck adjustments..But when it comes to the electronics, I am hands off!

    What have others done and feel they have made improvements to this lovely Bass???

    Attached Files:

  2. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    The only things I did to mine was to sand the neck for better playability and replace the pups with Lindy Fralins. It's a really simple change if you have any ability with a soldering iron, darned straightforward and the directions are included.
  3. Chef FourString

    Chef FourString

    Feb 4, 2011
    Around what parts of the neck did you sand and how much. I love my 50's P but I do wish the neck was a little more, I don't know, fluid.
  4. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    I sanded from about the third fret to the 12th-ish with 800 grit, then the entire length with 1500 grit, then the entire length with #0000 steel wool. This really speeds up the action, and makes it very fluid.
  5. solderjunkie


    Jan 27, 2008
    Nashville TN
    Before you shell out cash for pickups, try adjusting the height.
  6. Hello CLMSHQ:

    I have the same bass in 2 tone sunburst. I thought right from the day I bought it that it was/is a solid P bass. However, I have done a lot of mods on it since:

    The neck: unlike many others, I found the neck too big to handle. I've always been a J bass guy and this was my first P bass. So I sent the neck to Michael Dolan to have it re shaped to match the same profile as the Geddy Lee Jazz bass neck. While he had it, I also had him replace the tuners with Hipshot tuners and make a new nut made from bone. I then had a Badass II Bridge installed. I was stringing it with Rotosound SS strings and I liked that tone but in true talkbass fashion, I got gas for the P bass with flats tone so I've since switched to LaBella flats. I find the pickup really nice sounding so I feel no need to change it. The bass now has some serious P thump.

    Not sure if this helps yet I wanted to share my experience.


    Apr 17, 2007
    Danielson, CT
    I play a Jazz too..but like a P' here and there...I got used to the big neck on the 50's P'.
  8. lpdeluxe

    lpdeluxe Still rockin'

    Nov 22, 2004
    Deep E Texas
    I changed to a Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound pickup and installed Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Flat strings. It is now a tone monster, and I think it sounds better than my AV '57.

  9. Chef FourString

    Chef FourString

    Feb 4, 2011
    Awsome. I'ma give that some thought. I appreciate the help.
  10. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    yeah, a pickup upgrade and some lightweight keys and you've really got a winner.

    AFAICT tekdiver's sanding is only about "de-glossing" the neck, not re-shaping it; the poly finish is still there, just no longer shiny. as such, there's no risk to the wood itself.
  11. 68Goldfish

    68Goldfish Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Port Orchard WA
    I completely modified mine...
  12. f.c.geil


    May 12, 2011
    Yes, exactly. I remove enough to make it smooth and fast, not enough to damage anything.
  13. bigswifty1


    Dec 8, 2011
    I think having the "parallel" mod done is a quick, cheap and useful mod.

    I have a push/pull on the tone pot to switch, so it's totally non destructive.
  14. Add THICK flatwounds, and remove the gloss from the back of the neck, and you're done!
  15. Wallace320

    Wallace320 Commercial User

    Mar 19, 2012
    Milan, Italy
    Jazz bridge pickup (can you describe the concentric pots?) and the particular of the screws filling thumbrest holes are brilliant!

  16. bassbully

    bassbully Endorsed by The PHALEX CORN BASS..mmm...corn!

    Sep 7, 2006
    Blimp City USA
    For mine I used set it up added flats and played it, one hell of a great bass right out of the box.
  17. 68Goldfish

    68Goldfish Supporting Member

    Nov 4, 2006
    Port Orchard WA
    Well, the bridge pickup is a dimarzio ultra jazz and the stacked pot is volume/volume and the other is the tone knob of course. The neck is a B@B allparts jazz neck.
  18. MrRobert

    MrRobert Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Costa Mesa, CA
    I say you hide it away for a few months and play something else. When you pick it up and play it again you will be super stoked that you didn't get rid of it!
  19. EricF

    EricF Habitual User

    Sep 26, 2005
    Pasadena, CA
    Whatever you do, do it one step at a time instead of a bunch of things at once. That way you can evaluate the changes individually. You might get to "that's it!" after just an upgrade or two.

    For me, a P with Fralin pups with either La Bella flats or DR Fat Beams (depending on the type of sound I'm going for) has proven to be a magic combination. Fralin P pups are vintagey, and wonderfully detailed and clear.

    As for a crackly jack, it sounds like a possible bad solder joint. Learn to solder. With even the most basic of skills you can handle everything on a passive Fender easily.
  20. Chef FourString

    Chef FourString

    Feb 4, 2011
    Cool, thanks. I was thinking about how far to go.

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