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Uprading my MIA Jazz Bass

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Papersen, Aug 17, 2005.

  1. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Hi everyone.
    The typical 70`s Jazz Bass sound gave some serious GAS during this year. I`ve never had a bass with a trademark "growly" jazz tone (think Geddy Lee)

    So I`ve recently incorporated a 1999 MIA Fender Jazz Bass American Traditional (which I think is quite similar to an American Standard). I`ve realized that the bass sounds great for fingerstlye and slap and is a pleasure to play.

    However, pickups are a bit noisy (I found they`re the ones used in MIM models) and I`m planning to record some tunes for our band upcoming album.

    I`ve considered upgrading it with Fender Custom Shop 60`s and a Badass II bridge (for more growl and sustain).
    Do you think it will dramatically improve the overall sound or is it an expensive upgrade (at least for me) with minimal impact ?

    I`d like to hear some opinions before making my decision.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. The pickups will change the inherent sound, but not as much as a new setup (strings, action, relief, so forth).

    A bridge will aesthetically change the appearence of your instrument and may increase sustain, but honestly the difference is subtle.

    I'd suggest (based on what you mentioned above) purchasing the DiMarzio Ultra Jazz pickup set. They are fantastic.

    In any event, if you are interested in a 60's pickup set, I have a set available.

    Good luck!
  3. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    CS 60's would be a fair choice, but I'd recommend checking out Dimarzio Model J's as well. They were designed in the '70's and may give a more timely tone.
  4. Papersen, I highly doubt MIA pickups are the same as MIMs. It wouldn't make sense.
  5. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    The bridge replacement is useless, IMHO. Sustain increase is minimal at best and would never be noticed in a band setting. As for the pickups, are they noisy when they're both full-up? If so, then I would consider a replacement (and I love the CS 60's). But if they're just noisy when one pickup is turned down, that's the inherent nature of single coil pickups to pick up noise from outside sources sometimes and won't be cured by CS 60's. You would need humbuckers, or just leave them both on full, or do what I do...only turn down one pickup when the music is playing and you can't hear it ;)
  6. Aerolithe


    Jan 23, 2005
    Columbia, MO
    Noise is not an inherent problem with single coils, its an inherent problem with lazy manufacturing. Shielding an electric guitar or bass is very simple, but it is rare to find manufacturers who do it as a standard feature on their instruments. Getting rid of that hum is as easy as going to stewmacs site, ordering a few rolls of conductive copper tape ($16 for the set of 3 different sized rolls), take off the pickguard and carefully cover the cavity making sure the tape overlaps so it makes a good connection. Then you take a screw and screw it into the body through the tape (this is the method I used, there may be others that wouldn't make any extra holes bass, but I can't imagine a small hole in the cavity making a difference), and connect a wire from the screw to ground. I don't know what the item is called, but theres a peice of hardware that the screw went through to make the connection, and you slid your ground wire into it and crimped it. My crappy Ibanez P-bass had the worst case of hum I've ever seen, it was ridiculous. My dad and I shielded it, and now its completly silent no matter where I take it, and the mod only took a few hours, which included changing out all the electronics and soldering together a new set.

    Theres a really good tutorial on the internet written specifically for Strats but useful for any instrument, check google for it if you need more detailed instructions. My experiences with this have been great so far, I just bought a new bass and I'm going to shield it this weekend hopefully.

    Edit: My dad bought the set of 3 rolls, shielded 1 strat, 1 pbass, and probably has enough tape for one more instrument, so this mod only cost a little over $5 per instrument.
  7. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    If I were in your shoes I'd do the pickups exactly as you've specified, with Fender 60s ones. My '97 American Standard V has some really amazing sounding pickups in it. Fender makes some really great sounding pickups, it's a wonder to me how people toss them. I actually like the MIM ones a lot.

    I would recommend against a bridge change. If you want a high mass bridge there are much better choices than the Badass II, but few of them look as cool. IMO looks are a main reason to change the bridge.
  8. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Thanks everyone for the helpful input.

    I`m definitely not gonna change the bridge.
    I really don`t care so much about aesthetics. I thought
    I`d have more impact in the tone.

    The bass looks exactly like this (but in black)
    It`s a discontinued model with cheaper electronics
    (no control plate, no body-thru strings, and maybe poplar body). However, it sounds great to my ears and is one the best playing Fender Jazz I`ve had (not many but a MIM and MIJ `75 RI serve me as reference)

    The bass is a bit noisy when I record it (with both pups full).
    I`ll check the audio clips tonight to compare those pickups.
    I was thinking about the DM UltraJazz too.
    I`ll keep you informed with the decisions / results.

    Thanks once again
  9. Philbiker

    Philbiker Pat's the best!

    Dec 28, 2000
    Northern Virginia, USA
    That is a very obscure USA Fender Jazz Bass you have there. :)
  10. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002
    Yep, that`s true.
    AFAIK, it was built for markets outside the US.
    The headstock says "Made in USA", but hardware (pups, bridge) is surely not.

    I`m still trying to decide between the Custom Shop 60`s pups or DM Ultra Jazz. I`ve read several reviews / comparisons.
    Most of them agree they`re great pickups, but sonically different.
  11. stingray56funk

    stingray56funk Supporting Member

    Feb 16, 2005
    I have a '96 Am. Jazz and I took out the original pups and replaced them with CS '60s and didn't really like the sound of the pups so I then replaced those with Lindy Fralin Jazz's and they are amazing! I reach for my Jazz first all the time because of those pups. They are quiet for passive pickups, sound incredibly similar to the 60s-70s era Fender pickups, but are also far better in noise sensitivity and output! The set of J pups are expensive ($160), but well worth the change. I wouldn't trade them in on any Dimarzio, EMG, Bartolini, Nordastrand...anyday! Check out those and oh...the bridge change would make a good difference in sustain and overall depth of your notes while making it easier to set up the intonation on your Jazz!
  12. Papersen

    Papersen Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2002

    Better late than never.
    I`ve just checked the clips. First of all: NICE WORK !!!

    The sound of the RB5 is close to what I`m looking for (maybe even a bit more midrangy). I think I`ll look for the DM Ultra Jazz.

    Thanks for the input.