upgrading a j-bass

Discussion in 'Hardware, Setup & Repair [BG]' started by Joe Nerve, Oct 4, 2003.

  1. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    i'm going to go buy myself an sx or brice fretless jazz bass today. i'm looking forward to creating a monster of a bass out of it, yet have never done anything of the sort before.

    what i'd like the bass to do: have lots of punch, be able to cut through a mix against really loud drums, have lots of bottom, a decent amount of high (but not sizzly highs - i hate that), heavy on the upper mids.... ummm, and i'd like to remain passive as i don't wanna throw TOO much money into it. my 2 favorite easily identifyable bass sounds are jaco's and flea's. wouldn't mind being able to get a motown like sound out of it also. ok. i'm aksin a lot here, but i'm going to shoot for the stars.

    what i'd like from you, please, is to start making recomendations for upgrades, bridge, pickups, anything that would bring the above closer to it's reality. if possible i'd love if you could include the price of each item, and what you think the item helps the bass to do. example - i hear everyone talking about putting a badass bridge on their basses. how does this affect the sound? i don't have a clue. does it give the bass more bottom??? more punch? more clarity? does it weigh down the bass a lot.

    anything and everything is mucho appreciated. thanks.
  2. jondog


    Mar 14, 2002
    NYC metro area
    IMO used active pups or used active preamp will get you the most noticable improvements in tone. I've had very good experiences w/ emgs and they're easy to install.
  3. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    got the bass. first things first.


    haven't taken the control cover off but my guess is there's little to no shielding. can i wrap it in aluminum foil or something??? is there anything i can do to stop the buzzing????

    smash, i read your review of pickups before posting this thread. awesome job!!!!! i'm going to use that and the BP article for reference when i decide to buy pickups.

    again... HOW DO I STOP THE NOISE!!!!!
  4. yeah, i was concerned about the noise, but my solution was to put in a set of shielded pickups. No more noise!
  5. JPJ


    Apr 21, 2001
    Chicago, IL
    The following are some pretty common and fairly easy things you can do to upgrade your bass:

    Pickups: Nordstrand NJ4SE pickups. Split-coil design for ZERO noise.

    Jack: Switchcraft jack

    Tuners: Hipshot ultralites

    Bridge: Hipshot style A

    Pots: Various types available, depending on tone

    Nut: Replace with profesionally cut bone, delrin, or brass, etc.

    Just a few suggestions. Good luck! :D
  6. Over on the Dudepit, one of the posters discovered that one of the best, cheap upgrades for the Japanese Fenders was to put in high quality pots. Made all of the difference in output from the Japanese pups.

    I don't think you'll be able to get quite the passive tone you want from the basses you've mentioned unless you stick with the alder body versions. I had an Essex Jazz and now have an Essex P. They have the range you want. BUT, if the bass is ash with a maple neck, you can forget low-mid tones unless you go active. That combo of woods just won't get that tone.

    JPJ has some good suggestions. The most prominent (concerning Essex) is the nut. Get a new one like suggested. The Essex nuts are simple plastic and need upgrading. The necks on these basses are excellent and deserve that new nut.

    My final suggestion is one that will require professional help but will do wonders for the tone of the instrument. Have threaded inserts installed in the neck. How does this affect tone? Threaded inserts allow the neck to be bolted to the body with 4 times the force of wood screws. This helps transfer vibrations back to the body and IMO "fills" out an instruments tone. In fact, in my experience, you get a lot of the characteristics of the neck thru with greater sustain and range of tone.

    Hope this helps.
  7. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses, Hipshot products
    Thanks everyone. This stuff and the suggestions in the essex/brice thread are really helpful. Right now I'm basically just digging the bass. After I use it in a rehearsal next week I'll start getting a feel for exactly what I want to upgrade, IF I want to upgrade, and what needs to be addressed first. I can never tell what a bass really sounds like until I put it against the guys in my band. I've had basses that I thought were killer in the house, and then disintegrated at rehearsal or a gig (same with amps). Thursday nite will tell all!
  8. Prahainspring


    Oct 22, 2002
    New Jersey
    Holy crap Smash...thank you! I thought the posts were unscrewing because of me...wow its like i'm seeing sunlight for the first time.:D
  9. Prahainspring


    Oct 22, 2002
    New Jersey
    I'm going to go do that now. thanks
  10. WildBill


    Jul 7, 2002
    J- Retro, I put one in my fender jazz and it made it pretty kick ass. They go for about $200-250