What bass should I stay with for a MOD project bass?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Grufolo, Jun 7, 2020.

  1. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020
    So here's the thing... I would like to start a modding project to learn more about bass inner workings.

    I own 3 instruments now, which cover most of the spectrum that 4-strung fretted basses offer:
    - a passive 4-string with flats (Italian luthier's, beautiful, with 3 pickups j-p-j)
    - an active-passive G&L L-2000 tribute (a very classic fender-ish style bass with 2 humbuckers)
    - a semi hollow Eastwood classic 4 (2 humbuckers, too).

    So I thought that buying a super-cheap 4 string and then starting to mod would yield yet another fretted 4-string with little room for use in my personal harem...

    Hence the idea of working with something entirely different: a 5-string fretless ....
    I can't play 5-string and I fell in love with the sound of fretless piezo pickups when I tried the Ibanez srf700 (can't afford that baby tho).

    Because that is so much distant from my playing expertise, I was hoping it would give me the chance to play something that I couldn't put time in (learning fretless and 5-string) while at the same time learning how to do basic things like working with electronics - soldering - tampering with the neck, painting, ....)

    What's your idea? Could this work?
    Is it possible to find a cheap one in this category?
  2. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020
    Of course I'm hoping for input from those with experience in experimenting and tampering :)
  3. cholyoke

    cholyoke Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2016
    Rubber City
    Why not buy a cheap fretted five string bass, modify the body/electronics and play it for a while to see if you enjoy having the fifth string. If you do like the five string, you can always pull the frets. There is a good thread about pulling frets here. I read that thread and Dan Erlewine's fretless neck conversion before pulling the frets from a neck I have (not the one below).

    Another option is to buy a four string bass you like that has a wider neck and add a fifth string! If you search around, you'll find plenty of threads about this conversion. Ric5 and mapleglo are two folks who have documented their conversions and I used their threads when I did mine (a precision bass, which I will shamelessly post below).

    425 red and white MOD.jpg
  4. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020

    Thanks a lot! That's really helpful.
    What would you recommend? My fears are that I may not be able to find the exact spots for the lining (for defretting) ... Do you think that's possible?

    Also, do you think that a regular 4-string neck can withstand the tension from 5 roundwound strings? They are generally way more tense than roundwounds....

    Also, would such a neck be unsuitable for slapping after making room for 5 strings?
  5. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Gold Supporting Member

    there are quite a few "modding threads" on TB, but here's one in which i am involved --- maybe this group could give you some ideas:
    Official Exquisite/Glarry/Burning Fire Bass Club?
    you'll have to read past the 'social stuff' --- but just looking at some of the pics might spur your imagination and help you in some way. good luck with your 'tinkering'! :thumbsup:
    B-Mac and Grufolo like this.
  6. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    The more common the instrument, the more there are parts available. It depends how far down the rabbit hole you intend to dig.
    Thegrandwazoo likes this.
  7. cholyoke

    cholyoke Supporting Member

    Oct 1, 2016
    Rubber City
    I would recommend a four string bass that you like and has a large enough headstock to add an additional tuner with minimal effort. The Fender/Squier headstocks have plenty of extra space. Fender parts are easy to get (at least in the USA). I'm not so sure about what is easily available in Italy. If you pull out the frets, there is a small groove in the neck where the fret used to be. You fill the spots where the frets were to make lines. I used black plastic to fill the fret slots in my maple fingerboard. Some people like to use maple or another light colored wood veneer on darker fingerboards like rosewood. Some people like to use dark wood veneer to hide the lines or make them more subtle.

    I doubt a wider neck (>41 mm at the nut) will have any problems. Ibanez five string basses have narrow nuts and are thin front to back.

    My bridge is a Schaller 3DS and the string spacing is 16.5 mm. I am not a good slap bass player, but it seems a bit too close for slapping. Great for finger and pick playing, though. Maybe you are more precise than I am.

    Before you spend a single lira, find a bass that you like and determine the end product you want. I spent a long time planning my modifications, which also involved a bunch of reading. JRA's suggestion of the Glarry bass thread is a good one. The folks in that thread have been modifying the crap out of those basses and have probably done most everything you may want to do.

    Good luck!
    Grufolo likes this.
  8. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020
    So I was thinking this could be the starting point.

    Basso warwick rock bass 5 corde Subito.it

    Although I have to admit it looks like a lot like an instrument that's a pity to touch, because it's already beautiful.

    It looks very cheap, but I'm no expert of Warwick basses and I have no idea how to rate it and the price asked. Also, the bridge doesn't fit with what should be on a Corvette basic 5 according to the manufacturer's website.

    Another option could be to start from something like this:
    Eko mm 305 basso a 5 corde Subito.it

    Although it seems like a lot less interesting when comparing prices, or maybe something that's just super cheap and only works as a frame like this:

    Basso elettrico Subito.it

    We'll see
  9. S.F.Sorrow


    Dec 6, 2014
    How about a SHORT SCALE 4-string? The Squier Bronco is the ultimate mod object IMO: Completely useless junk out of the box but with a nice potential for upgrades. It's cheap enough not to matter so much if you mess something up the first time. You really get a sense of achivement when modding Broncos. They can be transformed from junk to cool with very little effort.
  10. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020
    I don't get enough joy playing short scales....

    Plus, can squier bronco compare, price-wise, with that corvette I linked right above your post?
  11. Hey man, I just started my first upgrade/mod project as well. The most important thing I think is that the bass have good bones, that is, a solid neck and body, beyond that sky is the limit. As you know the cost will never be recouped, but that is not the point. I landed on an old "Korean" made Ibanez SR405 that has a great neck and body, but terrible/noisy electronics and bad/unstable tuners. Here is me installing the preamp, and actually having some issues, got wires crossed or something, so going back to the drawing board. Good luck and have fun.
    Last edited: Jun 7, 2020
    AudioTaper and Grufolo like this.
  12. Thegrandwazoo

    Thegrandwazoo Supporting Member

    Sep 8, 2013
    West Virginia
    I'll just add that Fender-style instruments are pretty universally accepted as the best mod platforms since there's a virtually endless universe of parts available for them. Obviously, anything can become anything you want it to be, but if you start with a P or a J it's a hell of a lot easier than something less ubiquitous.
    TakeABreak likes this.
  13. Cutter8

    Cutter8 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2018
    This isn’t the easiest option, but it is extremely versatile:
    I took a Precision-width neck that will fit any standard Fender-sized neck pocket, drilled it for a fifth tuner and two string trees, and cut a 5-string nut for it. If you use it on a Jazz body and choose pickups with bar magnets rather than individual pole pieces, you can use the same pickups for a 4 or 5 string setup.
    8B45A629-83C3-47F1-BD66-2FA2597544CC.jpeg FCC37574-DCFB-4004-805E-A223BE5CDED5.jpeg 288A77D3-30C2-4B40-95EE-9D9032E15AF4.jpeg DB876267-3496-4769-BC9D-96390B7131EC.jpeg F6401AC5-C997-4102-B69B-D7119CAE39FE.jpeg 470AA9C7-9668-482F-8156-3FE5DF3545E4.jpeg 1A410540-26DA-4AB9-85E6-F299C93CD1C3.jpeg 76FEB9AD-AF5C-438B-8FE9-635D3F7BD0C9.jpeg 37296CD5-D8B8-4162-82FA-C684FC72866B.jpeg
    Grufolo likes this.
  14. You left the doothicky attached to the thingamabob but forgot to cross connect the ligaments to the thumbscrews.

    At least, that's what it says in the OBP-3 preamp instructions.
    CoffeeLove likes this.
  15. That's the fattest B string (Compared to the differences between the other string guages) I've seen in quite some time!
  16. Cutter8

    Cutter8 Supporting Member

    Feb 4, 2018
    That is a 32” Lowe conversion neck and a .135 was the only medium scale B string I had on hand when I first restrung the bass and took those pics. At least it wasn’t floppy!;)
    Grufolo and dkelley like this.
  17. Relsom

    Relsom Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2013
    The Old Dominion
    I used my '81 L2Ke as a test bed for all manners of electronics. The pickup routes are gigantic and the control plate was already drilled for 3 switches and 4(if you add a side jack) pots. Maybe a L2500 Trib will suit you.
  18. Exactly!
    Thegrandwazoo and dkelley like this.
  19. ejaggers


    Aug 18, 2009
    Fort Worth, TX
    I agree with Sorrow 99%.
    Bronco's are a great modding platform, I've modded two so far.

    Parts are plentiful, generally cheaper, and easy to find.
    However, I disagree that they are completely useless junk out of the box.

    My 1st project was the Squire AFN P in the link below:
    Hi, I’m <name goes here>, And I’m A Mod-Aholic
    dkelley likes this.
  20. Grufolo


    May 1, 2020
    But honestly, they're also very, very expensive to start with.

    The basis for a project bass is that you should be able to get stuff from the second-hand market for a pittance and then upgrade... if you start with a 500$ bass, there's already a wealth of basses that you can buy at that range that needs no upgrading