Upgrading a Fender P-Bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Claypool_is_god, Oct 10, 2001.

  1. hey all, im new to talk bass and i just wanted to say hi......anyway
    i just started to play bass around 2 months ago, and i bought a Fender P-Bass for my first bass (i heard it was a good chice overall) and the guy at the store said i would be a good idea to upgrade it as soon as i can. what should i upgrade and what is the best equipment to upgrade it with?
  2. Always upgrade for a reason. Don't just 'upgrade', whatever the salesman said. work out what the bass can't do that you want it to do, and then sort out the problem. In other words, wait.

    Which P bass BTW? Fender produce many different models.
  3. Its an American Series
  4. Then i think the salesperson just wanted you to spend more money with him... I don't really think anything on the American Series P-Bass begs to be upgraded... The most common upgrade on a Fender is the pickups, because most of us buy MIM (Made in Mexico) and some claim the need the pup upgrade. The US pups are supposed to be nice anyway.. If you ever have any actual problems, then you might consider say, replacing the bridge or tuners.. but I think the MIA's are pretty nice to begin with..

    I pretty much agree with the original suggestion to upgrade to do something specific.

    Off topic question: Maple fretboard or rosewood, and what color? :D
  5. I totally agree with HWK2. The American P basses are fine. You have a very good bass there, which will be great to learn on. Good for rock, punk, blues, jazz..you name it.

    The bridge, nut, tuners and electronics are all good quality, and don't need any upgrades. I have tried many different P bass pickups, and I think that the one that comes stock is one of the best.

    If you decide that the P bass sound is NOT what you want, then don't upgrade the bass. Sell it and buy something you DO want. But for the moment, just enjoy the thing!
  6. bassmangreg


    Jun 20, 2001
    Warrenton, NC
    I will agree with the other guys as to leaving your
    bass as it came. The value will decrease as soon as
    you take the pick-guard off. Don't even look inside of it if you really don't need to. Play it, kick it, and
    break it in but for heavens sake, leave her be. You got one of the best bass ever made.
  7. barroso


    Aug 16, 2000
    in my opinion the p bass is among the best design in bass guitar. if you have an american serie i higly suggest to spend money only to change strings. i own a black, maple neck american p.
  8. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Of course he said that...so you would spend more money in his store.

    A Fender P-bass, whether US or Mexican made, is a fine bass to begin with and professional quality.

    Enjoy your new bass and have fun.
  9. bassmonkeee

    bassmonkeee Supporting Member

    Sep 13, 2000
    Decatur, GA
    I agree with all of my esteemed cohorts. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. The key to a first bass is to make sure that you aren't fighting the instrument to learn how to play. If you have a MIA P Bass, then you are far ahead of the curve as it is. I would suggest you take it to a qualified repairman to get it set up when you need to change the strings. A good set up is much more important than upgrading parts on a bass at your stage of the game.
  10. Funkster

    Funkster Supporting Member

    Apr 6, 2000
    Wormtown, MA
    Leave it stock! I have a stock 83 P and they are supposed to be toneless and I'll tell ya what it's the total opposite, Tone up the butt!
    Play it the way it is!
  11. TheBassPreacher

    TheBassPreacher Supporting Member

    Jul 7, 2000
    White Deer, TX
    Yea, I concur with everyone else. P's over all series (MIM, MIJ, and MIA) are all good basses, and there is no need to mess with them. Mainly with Fenders, people upgrade Jazzes (Mainly because of the hum of the Pickups, which the P doesn't have). All in all, don't worry about it, especially if you have a MIA.
  12. thanks, and the fretboard is rosewood and its brownish color
  13. Hategear

    Hategear Workin' hard at hardly workin'.

    Apr 6, 2001
    Appleton, Swissconsin
    Yeah, I wouldn't upgrade the American P-Bass either, unless it was to replace those tiny-ass screws they use to mount the tuning machines to the headstock.

    What is up with that?
  14. trainyourhuman

    trainyourhuman Supporting Member

    Apr 12, 2000
    THe only tip that I have as far as uprades are concerened, are STAINLESS STEEL STRINGS. THey really brought my P to life. It still has plenty of thump, but it is so much a "tighter" thump. Here are some other things that I have done that you may want to think about:

    New nut (to maximize the string spacing on the neck)
    Shell scratchplate
    Frets dressed during proper set-up

    I absolutely love my P. All of this buzz about the Fender anniversary makes me love her even more! :D
  15. lo-end

    lo-end Guest

    Jun 15, 2001

    ummm.... people dont know if you take the pickguard off. you can unscrew it and take it off and put it right back on with no difference. I do this all the time. I tighten the pots if they get loose, fix the wires or re solder stuff if it gets loose, or take the pickguard off to put a sticker on it and then put the pickguard back on. As long as you dont change anything obvious, no one can tell that you took the pickguard off.

    As for upgrades, the only thing I would change is the bridge or the tuners or the pickguard.

    I would upgrade the tuners to make the neck slightly lighter, or just for the sake of having better tuners. I heard that Fender basses have crappy tuners, but that was for the American Standard series and this may or may not have been changed on the American series. I dont know yet.

    I would change the pickguard if I wanted my bass to have a different look, say white pearloid instead of the traditional white parchment. Theres absolutely nothing wrong with the pickguard it comes with, so theres no need to change unless you broke it, or you just want a different color one.

    I would change the bridge to maybe a Badass II bridge for more punch because I like P Basses with Badass II bridges better. They are top loading instead of string through body, so some will tell you that this is a bad idea. But many pros (like Mike Dirnt of Green Day) have taken a Badass 2 bridge instead of the traditional Fender strings-thru-body bridge just because of the increased punch. I like these bridges more myself.

    The pickups in the American Series bass I would never touch because they are already excellent ones. Unless you want a different tone, then I would recommend the Seymour Duncan Quarter Pound for P Bass pickups, which cost about $60 a set.

    this was probably a very long post, but I am here to help! Please excuse my poor writing because I am very tired right now. Usually I dont write like a little kid :D
  16. Turock


    Apr 30, 2000
    You have a nice instrument. Leave it that way.
  17. After you have played it for a while, and decide that you DO want to modify it, what I'm doing with mine is adding a Duncan J-pup at the bridge. It takes a bit of routing, and this is something that should be done by a luthier or professional carpenter.

    Also, maybe you want to go fretless. Strip off the frets, and fill the spaces with some sort of blonde wood, like maple or ash.

    Or, if you just want to make it look cooler, paint it up somehow. I go in big for motifs, and my P-bass is currently undergoing a paint job to look like an American flag. A cool paint job/sticker cover can really make your bass stand out.

    But, like the others have said, play it for a while. You might find that you like the sound as it is. Besides, within the next 4 years you will have another. And another, and another, and another........:D

    Rock on
  18. embellisher

    embellisher Holy Ghost filled Bass Player Supporting Member

    Claypool, welcome to Talkbass. Do you really live in Dawson's Creek?:)

    I agree with most of the posters in this thread.

    The Fender American Series Precision bass is a fine bass, and I wouldn't change a thing on it.
  19. nope i live in dawson creek, although i dont know why they call it that because there is no creek, it's more of a pond filled with leeches
  20. malibu

    malibu Guest

    Dec 26, 2001
    I will eventually have to get a new string nut on an American string-through-body P-Bass --

    I am wondering about any other nut materials available - bone, corian, tusq - but will probably just get the Fender replacement nut when back in LA next month--

    also the volume and tone knobs were very loose and when taking these P-Bass/Tele style knobs off , well they are darn heavy little things - are they made of a lead alloy or what ?

    anyone with any insight into these kinds of minor tweaks ?