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Upgrading a Jazz Bass....

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by charley, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Hi all,

    I'm going to be getting a 5 string Jazz Bass in the coming days....most likely an American Standard V or Am Deluxe V.

    I want to really just max it out....

    The first step is new hardware....electronics to come later....

    What are, hands down, the very best tuners and bridge on the market? Price is not an issue. I'm not totally sold that I need to change any hardware, but just wondering what's out there?

    I've been a guitarist for 20 years, and know the ins and outs of guitars......but not basses!!!!!
  2. Goldmember

    Goldmember Johan van der Smut

    If price is not an issue, I suggest you go the Fender Custom Shop route. This would be wiser than buying such a fine instrument as one of the two you listed, then switching out parts. Have it built to your specs from the start. Of course, if time is an issue, than disregard the above advice. :)
  3. tedsalt


    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    These aren't Squiers. Upon review of the American Standard or American Deluxe, it looks like the hardware is pretty good. Unless you're looking for lightweight, in which case you might consider Gotoh Res-O-Lite tuners.
  4. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    The tuners on the American Deluxe are just fine. I believe they are Hipshot. The bridge isn't bad either. If I was going to do anything, I might be tempted to swap out the bridge for one of the new model Babicz's that use the 3 screw pattern and string through of the new Fender bridges.
  5. neckdive

    neckdive Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 11, 2013
    I second the Gotoh lite tuners. About half the weight if instrument balance is an issue. No difference in sound or performance though.

    I also highly recommend David Allen pickups.

    I have a Hipshot A on my jazz which I really like for the tone, the ease of string changes since they are threaded through the hole, and the fine-tuned lateral adjustment to dial in and customize your perfect string distances. Since money is not an issue, getting several sets of strings and changing them out quickly with this bridge is much faster.


  6. garp


    Feb 7, 2009
    Connecticut USA
    Get the bass, play it for a while, and then decide if you want to start “upgrading.” As tedsalt noted, one is not exactly starting out at the bottom of the barrel with an American Standard or an American Deluxe. And even with a Squier or an MIM, it shouldn’t automatically be presumed that “upgrades” will be required for personal satisfaction. OEM parts work perfectly fine for many of us. Of course, YMMV.
  7. ShoeManiac


    Jan 19, 2006
    New Jersey
    I've got a 2013 American Standard Jazz bass 5 string. And truth be told, the stock hardware is really good. If I were to consider upgrading anything on the bass, I might consider aftermarket pickups, like a set of Fralins. And if I really wanted to go crazy, I might consider an onboard preamp.

    But like everyone has said, give this new bass some time to breathe, first. Play it and see if there is anything that needs to be addressed. Otherwise it seems like you might be tinkering with the instrument needlessly.
  8. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    I'm liking the Hipshot stuff...

    Seems like the A Bridge would be the way to go with a Jazz V....
  9. The Hipshot A is pretty, but the Babicz is prettier.

    (I only mention this because it's probably the only reason to consider changing the bridge)
  10. tedsalt


    Aug 5, 2010
    Kansas City
    If you were to consider pickups, I really like my Lollar J's.
  11. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Those Babicz bridges do look great. I am noticing that they are top loading whereas the Hipshot can be loaded either way. I am under the assumption that through the body loading gives a tighter bass response, correct? Why would this not be desirable?
  12. WoodyG3


    May 6, 2003
    Colorado, USA
    If price is not an issue, I guess I'd look at Lakland or Mike Lull basses, which have great hardware, electronics and finish work. A slightly different style Jazz style bass with great components would be the Carvin SB5000.

    That said, there's nothing wrong with a stock Fender, and As others have said, you might just play it for a while and decide it's great as it is.
  13. JoeWPgh


    Dec 21, 2012
    The new Babicz's load either way. They also have a smaller footprint than the originals. The footprint is closer to that of the Hipshot.
  14. Lack of adjustable string spacing was the downfall of the Babicz for me. Other than that its a great bridge. Straight up sexy.
  15. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area

    When I say "price is not an issue," I am only talking about money spent upgrading the hardware. I'm figuring that, no matter what, it would not be possible to spend more than $400 on replacement tuners/bridge. The "price is not an issue" comment was made under the assumption that I could not possibly go over my TOTAL budget upgrading hardware.

    Total INITIAL budget being ~$1500-1700
    $800-1200 for a used Amer Deluxe or Amer Standard Jazz V
    $300-500 for hardware
    $300 for pickups

    I'm sure for $1700 I could get a nice bass off the shelf, but would rather get one with good "bones" and upgrade it to get the sound I want. As a guitarist, I have had much greater luck doing things this way then spending more for something stock. Initially, I will get the bass, bridge, and tuners.....as I can swap those parts out myself. Down the line, in a few months, I'll tackle the electronics, which I'll need some assistance with from a professional. That's the progression I see....

    I have a Heritage 535 (335 copy) at home that I did this with. I upgraded the hardware, pickups, and wiring.....and now I think it sounds as good as a 1959 ES335....and I constantly receive comments on just how great it sounds. I am applying the same philosophy to this bass...
  16. American Std don't need no upgrading. However, if you wanna have it built custom consider one of the Carvin P or J basses.
  17. tjh

    tjh Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2006
    JMHO, but the word 'upgrade' is over used, and often misunderstood ... especially when starting with quality components preferred by the average buyer ... this is a perfect example of 'modifications' made to suit the owners specific taste, and not to be construed as a change made as a general overall improvement in the playability or performance of a bass ...

    ... as a general rule, should the bass ever be placed in the market for sale, 'modifications' will usually limit the size of the potential market for the piece, and will in many cases affect the sales price in a less than favorable manner ... if I have an interest, I always ask if the 'original' components are still available, and I see many others do the same .. JMHO
  18. SanDiegoHarry

    SanDiegoHarry Banned Supporting Member

    Feb 28, 2014
    San Diego, CA
    I'd leave the tuners & bridge alone;
    I'd consider pickups (depending on the sound you want) and a pro setup. Maybe straplocks. That's about it.
  19. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Absolutely agree. These are changes I want to make for my needs/desires. Are they absolutely necessary? No. But, I have found that replacing hardware on guitars of this price point to be very advantageous for my needs, and add enjoyment to my playing.

    As far as mods de-valuing the bass. I disagree. Maybe if we were talking about a vintage instrument, then in that case the more original the better. But we are talking about a mid level current instrument, in stock and available readily worldwide. In this case, I think resale of a modded instrument will either show no difference in price (since most looking at this level of instrument will not know/not care about the details) or will add value for the customers who are aware of the upgrades.
  20. charley


    Apr 8, 2006
    SF Bay Area
    Yes....pickups will be done at a later date. Again, the reason has to do with the fact that I can replace the tuners/bridge myself....I would need to take it to a tech for the electronics.....then again, I'm sure I could tackle a pickup replacement on my own...I have done it on one of my guitars.